Do you want to enhance the efficiency of your business operations and cultivate trust
within your team so that you could literally step away from the business and have it
keep running smoothly and successfully without you? Our guest, Alyson Caffrey, helps
business owners do just that. Today, she’s sharing solutions to help you improve
business efficiency through effective delegation and the establishment of trust so you
too could take a sabbatical if you want to.
Alyson Caffrey is the founder of Operations Agency,co-creator of the Operations Simplified™
Framework and best selling author of The Sabbatical Method: Create a business that can
function without you. She’s commonly referred to as ‘The Wolf’ among her clients because she
just gets stuff done. Alyson is best known for helping streamline the back-end ops for a
multitude of brands, but mostly digital and creative agencies.
As a fractional COO for many high-growth businesses, Alyson fell in love with the results that
clear ops bring to a service business. She and the team at Operations Agency are determined
to help businesses thrive profitably, serve more clients and create high-performing teams.
Alyson is a mom to two sons and enjoys spending her time at home with her growing family.
Listen in to hear more from Alyson on how to create a business that runs- even when you’re on
The 90/90 Principle for Project Focus
As business leaders, managing projects can be super time consuming. Alyson shared
with us how she’s implemented the 90/90 principle in her business to better manage
time spent on projects. She said, “What I do is I do 90 minutes of focus time for 90 days
on one specific project. I use it as a filter for my specific involvement in the business and
where I want to grow the business. Last quarter was big for marketing and Q Two, I
launched the book. So I was doing the finishing touches on the book and all those types
of things. So my 90 90 was 90 minutes of writing for 90 days. And then as the writing
piece fell off, I was doing 90 minutes of editing for the next phase of the project and then
90 minutes of marketing.
And so you can do that kind of project focus. If you create the 90 90 focus, you can filter
all of your business decision making through that. Ask yourself, does it serve the 90 90
principle? Does it serve my North Star for this quarter? If the answer is no, then you
shelf it. And then what we do internally at Operations Agency is we take a look at things
and we decide what every person’s 90 90 principle is so we can hold each other
accountable to that and we know what our focal points are. This way there’s no
question of priority and it’s just that’s what your focus is.”
Why The Sabbatical Method
As author of The Sabbatical Method, Alyson is passionate about helping business
leaders work themselves out of the core functions of their business. After growing her
business, Operations Agency, and then being hit with Covid and raising a family, Alyson
had to shift her priorities. This gave her the opportunity to really craft a business that ran
successfully without her being present in every facet all of the time.
She says, “I started considering how other ParentPreneurs or how other mompreneurs
kind of worked through this process because the birth part and the maternity leave part
is only the first phase. You have a kiddo now who demands lots of time. Kids go to
daycare, they get sick, they have lots of things that you want to be a part of after school
activities and sports and all the stuff. And so my thought was that if I could build a way
to strategically leverage time away from the business and kind of justify it as a
mechanism for growth, then we’ve got something. Then we really can understand how
to build a business that’s independent of us.”
Out of this season she was also able to craft the ultimate how-to guide to creating the
longevity you and your business needs to actually thrive in her book, The Sabbatical
Method, now available on Amazon. Listen into the podcast episode to hear more of
Alyson’s journey of creating and writing the Sabbatical Method.
This episode is brought to you by Quotable Media Co’s special visibility package for local businesses. Set up a call to see how this package can work for you!
If you’re not local but want to see how we can work together, let’s chat!
Connect with Alyson:
Visit Alyson Caffrey’s website, Operations Agency, to learn more about her services and how she can help streamline your business operations.
Purchase Alyson Caffrey’s book, The Sabbatical Method
I’m so excited to be here today with Alyson Caffrey as operations strategist and the
author of a new book, the Sabbatical Method create a Business That Can Function
Without You. Oh, my gosh, we all need that.
Thank you so much for coming on, Alyson, thank you so much for being here. I’m so
excited to be here. Thanks so much for having me. Absolutely. I feel like you have the
information that we all need, so I want to dive into all of it.
I always am completely in awe of anyone who’s written a book, so I want to dive into all
of those things. But let’s start by give people a little more of an introduction than I just
did. What is your business? What do you actually do? What is your business?
Let’s start there. And then I want to hear how you’ve actually built it to what it is today.
Yeah, totally. So I started back in 2017 as perhaps a lot of us start as a freelancer I was
doing part time fractional COO work for high growth companies. And I had previously
been full time a growing business as an operations manager and an operations director
and kind of rose up through the ranks of that growing organization.
And we got an opportunity to move, my husband and I. He was in the military at the time
and he was joining a different kind of function of the military. And I remember telling my
boss at the time that we were going to be moving on and that we were going to be
moving states. And I’ll never forget he asked me for a 90 day transition period.
Everything at the time was flowing through me.
I was training all the incoming team members, I had all the information up in my noggin.
It was just a lot and lot of things. So over a 90 day period, I obviously granted him that
transition. And I basically restructured the entire business from the ground up,
supporting everybody with systems and processes and job descriptions and training and
all the reports and all the things. And I remember feeling like I had revitalized that
business for the stage that it was at in its growth trajectory.
And within 30 days after departing from that business, I was a freelancer with a full book
of business of people that were like, please do what you did for that guy for me, please.
And so operations agency was born. I always say out of need, which is the best thing,
right? I think a lot of people begin businesses and they have an incredible skill set and
they can provide a really great result for a client or a customer. And then they end up
running a business.
They end up having to file in different states, and they have employees and they have
all these other things that are going on. They have to basically figure out how to run the
business and operate the business. And so that’s where I come in. I help growing
businesses, really streamline back end operations, and create a more peaceful work
environment behind the scenes. And at Operations Agency, that’s really, I mean, day in
and day out, what we’re really focused on is keeping businesses in business and really
demystifying the overwhelming project that is creating clear systems behind the scenes.
My God, I love that. You just made it sound easy and oh my gosh. Wow. So, first of all, I
need to go backwards to how you had us full book of business within 30 days of leading
that job, like leaving that job. How did you do that?
Where did that come from? What was that like? Yeah, so I think when I worked at my
nine to five, they were growing and serving lots of different clients. We did live events,
we did workshops, we had kind of an agency function of what we were doing, like digital
marketing, set up and all of those things and I think at the end of the day, I made a lot of
really great connections just by serving those clients really well. I was the point of
I was the person connecting them with the team members and onboarding the new
clients and managing the projects internally and making sure that everything was up to
date so they saw me as the glue internally. And then when my boss at the time had
made the announcement that, hey, Allie’s, moving on, I remember I got all of these
really lovely notes from a lot of our clients that we had served at that business, and they
were, is your what is your next step? And it’s funny because my answer at the time, I
was actually in an LSAT course. I was planning on going back to law school. I’ve always
been obsessed with contract writing, and I was an English major and have an English
And I remember just being like, this is my next step. I was kind of doing this, and I was
excited about operations, and I really liked it, but I think I’m going to go to law school.
And then literally two weeks later, I got a call from a friend of mine who was like, I just
started my business. I need you to help me set up systems so that it doesn’t bleed into
my personal life and so that it doesn’t just completely overtake all of my time and my
day. And I need you to come on and be my fractional COO.
And I was like, okay, sounds good. Love it when the clients just come to you and they’re
like, hey, you don’t even have a business yet, but I want to hire you. Oh, my goodness. I
remember at the time, too, the first two clients I had, they were like, I will make the
invoices and send them to myself in order to pay you. And I was like, how is this even
I remember being so humbled. I was like, especially in the very beginning, right? You go
through these feelings of, I can’t do this. I can’t work on my own. I need someone else
to be the source of information, the tasks, the direction.
And so when you start something on your own, there’s a lot of fear, right? There’s a lot
of like, can I do this? Can I actually be the person who is able to hunt down new
business or fulfill these contracts without the safety net of a salary, health insurance? All
these questions and things start popping up. And me, as the ultimate organizer, I
always have a running to do list of all the things that are happening behind the scenes
in my brain.
And so there was a lot of fear there. But I think it was really made simpler by the fact
that I knew exactly the specific result that I was providing, which was so impactful. And
in the beginning, it was super validating for folks to be approaching me for work versus
me just kind of going out on the socials or in the ethers and being like, hey guys, I’m
open for business. This is my brand new thing. So I think it helped me personally ease
my transition into entrepreneurship.
Yeah, totally. No, that sounds like the ultimate situation that everybody would want. And
I can relate to that too. I mean, I can’t really relate and nobody was like, oh, come do
this for me. I’ll make an invoice.
But just in starting off kind of almost unintentionally, that’s kind of how I started my
business too. I kind of was like, oh yeah, I want to do this for people, and met with my
first client on purpose, but it wasn’t like, oh, I’m opening a business, here’s my business,
my business is launched kind of thing. It was like I had a client for several months and
probably then had already brought on other clients before. I was like, oh yeah, this is a
business, I own a business. I knew I worked for myself, but it was more like, I guess
maybe that freelance sort of mindset, even though I didn’t use that word back then
But what did it look like from what does it look like now, I guess compared to then?
What has been the differences over time? How has the company changed or grown?
Yeah, so in the very beginning, I liked to and I referred to myself this way in the book as
well. I was the sweaty generalist of operations support.
So I was really hungry, really humble. I wanted to do good work and work with good
people and I would do pretty much anything. I was doing project management work, I
was doing data reporting, I was doing standard operations work, compiling standard
operating procedures, workflows rules of engagement, that sort of stuff. I was doing a
little bit of HR, a little bit of management chief of staffing type of vibe. And so a lot of
what I needed to go through in kind of my trajectory of my business was to really
crystallize what is my viewpoint of how operations needs to function inside of a small
And so I think one of the biggest breakthroughs that I personally had was moving from
fractional work to a little bit more of a consulting work. And I really needed to crystallize
my frameworks. I really needed to create some opportunities for people to engage and
interact with me in a little bit more of a project base. And so that’s what we did. I was in
a position where I was only able to handle a handful of clients in a fractional capacity.
We kind of tapered off from doing fractional support and we started taking on one off
projects. And so that looked like exactly how I served that original organization. It was a
90 day project. We would set one focus and I would just basically jump in there, get all
the things set up, train the new people and then I would go. Or folks could retain me
typically for like a strategic type of vibe within kind of their business and so I would be
like a strategic fractional COO.
So that was like lifecycle number two. I had two team members at the time of doing that
so that was within the first year of operations agency, I believe as we kind of rolled out
the project vibe. And now I working with you already. In the first year with two people.
Yeah, it was super. That’s like not saying to gloss over. A lot of people work for
themselves for a long time before being able to start to build out a team. So that’s pretty
big. I love collaborating.
It’s actually one of the things that I think is setting me apart slightly from a lot of other
operators. I think a lot of other operations people really enjoy working on their own and
doing their own projects and kind of completing things and then saying here, this is what
this looks like or here’s how I think this needs to go. I’m a big collaborator and I think
that ultimately, especially in a small lean team people are wearing several different hats
or occupying different jobs or positions inside of the organization. It was really important
to me to collaborate early. So I was actually working with contractors in the very
beginning even in my freelance time because I was like look, I can show somebody how
to do this.
And I think coming from a bigger team in a larger organization before that helped me
understand the power of delegation and helped me understand that I don’t always do
every single thing the best, right? I can really lean on other people’s skill sets. So I
remember I actually talked about this in the book as well, but like my very first hire,
Madison Stearns, she’s now more because she’s married and she has a beautiful little
girl. But I literally hired her and it challenged me in a lot of ways to do those frameworks
to crystallize my actual opinions and my thoughts and the worksheets and the things
that I was going through with clients. And I remember her asking a lot of amazing
questions and it really was a solid forcing function for me to create the first kind of
scalable way that I could serve entrepreneurs with operations.
And it was so impactful. So I think a lot of folks are scared to hire because they’re afraid
of the investment, they’re afraid of being tethered to somebody else to depend on them
for results or they’re perfectionist recovering, right? They’re like oh, I don’t want
somebody else to touch my stuff. And so I think hiring somebody or just bringing in
collaboration in small doses into the business was extremely impactful for me and I
think it accelerated our growth, actually pretty significantly because the questions that
were asked were extremely impactful. Yeah, and obviously you could take on more
work if you had more people.
But I also could see a lot of what the problems people have is like, well, they’re not
going to do it the same way I would do it. I could see that, especially being the case
when it comes to operations and systems and things, to trust someone else to kind of
take on those things when that’s what your business is all about. I feel like there’s
definitely a level of trust there. How did you find the first people that you brought on?
And I mean, it sounds like the frameworks that forced you to build out was such a good
thing, such a good idea, but how did you start doing that?
Yeah, so, I mean, I just took a leap at first. I was like, I need an admin assistant to help
me with some of the things. Because at first I was doing fractional work and I had a lot
of things that were kind of falling into my purview where I was like, look, they’re
spending an astronomical amount for me to be retained as a fractional piece of their
business. I owe it to them to be able to get this volume of work done and perhaps even
just outsource a slight bit to an assistant of mine, right. Data entry, responding to
emails, and all those types of things.
So I brought a person on in that direction. And I think the cool thing is I always say this,
everything I do in my business is like meta applied to how I serve other people.
Because literally, I talk with CEOs and founders and creative directors and everybody
all day long who for some reason just don’t have an assistant in their life. And whether
it’s all the reasons I mentioned before, or they just haven’t found the right person or
they’re a little bit afraid, it’s a good muscle to build, to start to consider. Like, I need to
be ruthless with my time and my involvement so that I can kind of stay in the things that
I feel like are going to be most impactful to the work I’m doing.
Right. So I think it helps me build that muscle. So going back to the Frameworking, it
really was helpful to define what are the low hanging fruit? Like, what are those
administrative things that everybody needs to get done. We all need to schedule, we all
need to respond to emails, we all need to update projects and check the boxes and
update the dates and all the things.
Right. So, like, training somebody on doing just kind of those baseline functions and
then showing them how to do so in an operational capacity. I did two things. I kind of
started with the top level, so the frameworks, and then I started with the bottom level, so
what are the standards or the baseline expectations for what I’m hoping that you’ll
produce for me? And so that gave a really solid, almost like bumpers on a bowling lane,
It gave a really solid space for somebody to come in and be slightly creative. And
Madison, when she joined my team, was really helping me define a lot of the ways that
we handled those 90 day projects initially, too. So she was asking great questions. She
was helping me compile information, asking and conducting interviews with me. And we
do this to this day with our clients.
We’ll jump in with an interview on something that they’re doing inside of sales or how
they’re managing their clients or how they’re finding new business. And it’s really cool
because we now get to just use those things to lean on as we serve future clients. So
everything we do behind the scenes, we’ll stress test it and then we’ll roll it out and use
it with our clients as well as they’re growing into high seven, eight figure businesses. It’s
super fun. Yeah, I love that.
I feel like you’re very organized and you would be great. See my little bins behind the
scenes? It’s so funny. A lot of people comment on that, and I swear I did not do it on
purpose. My husband just built this really cool built in behind me for my office, and I was
like, what is my perfect office scenario?
And it’s like everything’s labeled and organized, and I know when I need a journal, I can
go find it. But that’s what I do want to create inside of businesses. I think creating that
transparency where somebody opens a closet and they’re like, cool, I know exactly
where to find every single thing I’m looking for, and it’ll just help me function better in
this home, which is our business. That’s what I’m wanting. And I don’t know any person
who sees a nicely organized and very clean pantry or like, a very organized closet and
they don’t immediately stress level come down a little bit.
Right. You know, it just feels so authentic and so, again, transparent, sort of. Yes, it’s all
taken care of. Exactly. No, I love that.
I want to hear about writing the book. How long had you had your business before you
decided to write a book? And what has that process been like? I mean, just so I can slot
it into the time frame in my mind. Not that it matters how long you had your business
I just mean, where in that process were you like, hey, this is something I’m going to do
now, too. Yeah. So the inkling to write a book came transparently years ago when I had
first started the business, I was like, what is the ultimate kind of authority amplifier?
Right. I’m considering how I’m breaking into the space and crystallizing my frameworks.
And after the whole conversation that we just had, about all of that with Madison’s hire
and then Lauren, my second hire, I was know, I want to write a book. And I remember
thinking, like, I don’t really know how it fits into the model. I don’t know specifically how
we would do this. So I remember compiling a lot of free writing and I was just doing it
over the years. And so Operations Agency is going to be six years old in the fall, and I
just released the book last month in June.
So Operations Agency, when I started writing intentionally, was about five years old. So
it was just time. And it’s so interesting because I think all of us kind of know in our gut
when it’s time to launch a new thing or we have this bonk on the head. And for me, that
was when I had my son, my first son. It was about three years ago, and he’s going to be
three in August, which is so crazy to say out loud, but I remember being really involved
in every single aspect of my business and it was growing at the time, it was still super
We had two employees and a handful of contractors. It was a really well oiled machine
in the sense that we all knew what our respective goals were and what our respective
inputs on those were. And it was really great. And I really loved my business at that
stage. But the context around my business is I didn’t have any kids, right?
I was away from our family because my husband was still in the military and because he
had transferred to that new job, he was now gone about 50% of the time. So when I did
an actual assessment of how much time I was spending in my business, it would be
super common for me to work into the would very frequently just work through the day
and pick my head up at 230 and be like, oh, crap, I haven’t eaten lunch yet. And so the
business was so dependent on me as a human being and with my skill set and with my
strategy to actually run and to actually thrive. And then I remember when I got pregnant
with my son, COVID hit, and it was like three months later, I think, and everybody
wanted to come and work with somebody who could proverbially clean out their closets
operationally, right? You remember that big time in the beginning of COVID where
everyone was cleaning out their garage and everyone was purging all their stuff
because all they had to do was sit inside with all the messiness of their home.
So we have that for business. And so everyone came to me and they were like, hey, we
suddenly have all this budget, and we’re all just trying to find ways to work more
efficiently. Lots of teams went remote, so I was in a position where I was busier than
ever the year or busier than I had been up until that time when I was pregnant with my
son. And I remember thinking, I don’t even know how the heck I’m going to take a
maternity leave. Like, what am I going to do?
And so in that process of removing myself from my business, I was faced with the very
serious reality that my business couldn’t function without me. And as an operations
person, that was extremely confronting. I was like, I’m the systems gal. I’m supposed to
have all this stuff figured out. And it was kind of making me question my identity.
It was making me question what my purpose was and if I could even serve
entrepreneurs, if I could even help them through these processes. And I had fast
forward, like, nine months later, we had gotten pregnant with my second son. I have two
little boys under three right now, and I was forced to have to just kind of figure out taking
a second maternity leave, right? I was like, okay, now I felt. Like I got a second chance
maternity leave with the first had.
Oh, you couldn’t even I could hardly get out of bed, let alone be busier than ever and be
setting up systems. That sounds like a tough year, honestly. Alessandra I was in a
position where I was in the hospital. We had just birthed my son, and then we moved
over to the permanent overnight room, and there’s this beautiful photo of me with my
first son. I’m like, super.
Like, my hair is still, like, crazy because I had just given birth, and we’re, like, smiling,
and he’s about to fall asleep, and I literally put him over into the bassinet. And the next
thing that happened that wasn’t captured on photo was I was jumping onto my phone to
answer slack messages from my team and emails from our clients. And I feel like there
aren’t very many times in life where you get such a physical representation of where
your priorities are. But it was really clear for me, and especially as a first time mom, I
feel like you’re just very judgmental on yourself and that the mom guilt thing is real.
Plus, you add the waves of hormones in there and I was just like, what is happening?
I’ve built this business creating systems for others. I’m putting other people’s oxygen
masks on before I’m putting my own on, and then all of a sudden, I’m just going to have
nothing left to give. So I started considering how other ParentPreneurs or how other
mompreneurs kind of worked through this process because I was like, the birth part and
the maternity leave part is only the first phase, right? You have a kiddo now who
demands lots of time, demands lots of attention, and you want to be with them during
this super short infant time and toddler time. Kids go to daycare, they get sick, they
have lots of things that you want to be a part of after school activities and sports and all
And so my thought was that if I could build a way to strategically leverage time away
from the business and kind of justify it as a mechanism for growth, then we’ve got
something. Then we really can understand how to build a business that’s independent
of us. Because I don’t know about you, but when I consider what is the measure of
being a successful parent? Right? It’s raising something that can thrive independently of
Like raising a capable, thriving adult. And so a lot of us, I think we go through that baby
phase. Like, lots of folks say business is the baby, business is the baby. But when does
business become the thriving adult, right? Is that the measure of what a good business
So that was kind of the idea behind the book, essentially, right? That was like the spark.
Wow, I love that I’ve never thought about it that way, but I love that way of thinking
about a business. Like, is it a thriving adult without you, without needing you to be
guiding it all the time or to even be checking in every single day or whatever? I love that.
Wow. And what a story. Oh, my gosh. I was also the same way. I was just going to say,
I mean, my son was born early, so it was like a little bit different.
I had plans to make plans and then God had other plans, as I said. Not like religious,
but that’s a saying. Yeah, he came early, but I was absolutely right there with you
emailing, like, well, I just had a baby and no, I remember being like, do I tell my clients
this? I think I didn’t tell them, but. I was like, oh my gosh, I hear that from so many
service provider moms.
They’re always telling me that. I remember I interviewed one mom who said that she
had her baby on a Thursday and was back to work on a Monday, like, in the office. And
I was like, how is that even possible? Wow. Yeah, I mean, I was working for myself
already, and he was born so early that he would stayed in the hospital.
So it was like a very weird situation where I went home and didn’t have a baby for a
couple of weeks. It was a very strange period of time, but that’s a conversation for a
different day. But yeah, I was like so, I mean, there’s no reason technically why I can’t
be working, but it seems like I shouldn’t be. I mean, I was in the hospital every day still,
but not, like, overnight. So it was very weird.
But yeah, no, I mean, I can absolutely resonate with all of that. And I wish that I had
known you back then to be like, let’s make some systems. Back then, I didn’t even have
anyone working. For me, but that was also the impetus for me to build my team, was
like, I want to be able to have time with my family. I don’t want to feel like I have to be
working all the time.
I want to be able to work less and still have things run without me. So that’s why I need
more people to be in the business. So that was kind of similarly there, too. Things need
to change, which I think that comes with changes in your life. It’s like realizing that you
need to change your business or everything else.
Absolutely. So the process of writing the book, is that something do you feel like you
could only do that because you had a team, I imagine? Did you have to take time away
from other work to do that, or did you just kind of like I know you said you kind of
compiled a lot of writing that you had, and was that just kind of like, something that
easily came together, or was. That like, actually, no, it’s funny. You’re like, I just had two
And wrote a book all in the same year is essentially what I’m hearing. So that’s why I’m
like what it’s funny. I think, too, looking at it from the outside, and perhaps you felt this
way, too, when you were a new mom. I just feel like there’s so much demand for time
that I have to be ruthless with it. And I found that over the last two, three years since
having kids, I’ve been able to really accomplish more by just simply being more
So what I do and I’ve had this practice for a long time, not immediately when my first
son was born, but after my second son is I was very convinced that I did not want my
kids to ever be a reason why I didn’t do something, why I didn’t launch a book or I didn’t
train for a marathon or whatever. I’m not doing that. But you know what I mean? And so
it’s interesting because I started thinking, okay, well, I’m just going to compile this book
over a long period of time. I’m going to block out writing here and there and put it on my
And then it always fell to the bottom. Always. I was like, Everything else is on fire. This
is the last thing. It’s a passion project.
And then when I really decided to make it non negotiable was when it happened and
happened really quickly. So I decided to be intentional about writing out this particular
book in this method because I’d been compiling writing for a long time, but I actually
used almost none of the original writing that I had compiled. And the way that I got the
book done so quickly because I was able to write the first draft in about 30 days was I
scheduled only 90 minutes every single morning of writing time, that was it. And it
wasn’t a let’s just do this Monday through Friday. It was every single day, sundays,
Saturday mornings, all the things.
And all I did was write. And obviously I did the book outline first. I was like, okay, here
are the buckets of information. And so that I could just go in and free write things every
single day. I had an incredible team behind me on the writing and editing side of things.
So I was the writer and then I had an editor and line editor who was able to help me
kind of crystallize the actual voice and all the things in the book itself. And then a
publishing team as well, who helped guide me on exterior and the way I was going to
position things and getting people to promote and help me with that side of things. So I
think that the book team for sure was helpful. However, I do think that it was just about
making it a non negotiable. So if I really was continuing to approach it the way I had in
years past, if I didn’t make time and make it a priority, then it probably would still not be
And so I actually talk about this in the Sabbatical Method, but I’ve been doing this
principle now for almost two years, which seems crazy that it’s been that long, but it’s
called the 90 90 principle. And what I do is I do 90 minutes of focus time for 90 days on
one specific project. And I think it’s really great because I use it as a filter for my specific
involvement in the business and where I want to grow the business. So, like, for me, last
quarter was big for marketing, right? Q Two, I launched the book.
I was doing the finishing touches on the book and all those types of things. So my 90 90
was 90 minutes of writing for 90 days. That was how I was doing that. And then as the
writing piece fell off, I was doing 90 minutes of editing for the next phase of the project
and then 90 minutes of marketing material reaching out to podcasts, like doing all of
those types of things. And so you can do that kind of project focus.
So it helps us, I think, and at least for me, there’s so many things you could do inside of
your business, right? There’s so many ways you could market yourself. There’s so
many ways that you could package and productize and do all the things with your
services, right? But if you create the 90 90 focus, you can almost filter all of your
business decision making through that. Like, does it serve the 90 90 principle?
Does it serve my North Star for this quarter? If the answer is no, then you shelf it. And
then what we do internally at operations agency is we take a look at things and we
decide what every person’s 90 90 principle is right? And then we can hold each other
accountable to that. And we know what our focal points are.
There’s no questions of priority. There’s no questions of kind of what the hierarchy is.
It’s just that’s what your focus is. And we try not to overcomplicate things too much. We
felt like breaking things off that way.
It doesn’t exhaust our team, and it helps us just stay into alignment with what our skill
set is. I love that. Okay, so is that the kind of thing you talk about in the book? Tell me.
Just to remind people. The book is literally called The Sabbatical Method how to
Leverage, Rest and Grow Your Business. So it’s like literally what we’re talking about.
But tell us a little more about what is the book really about? And I don’t know.
I kind of want to dive into maybe a couple of the main points. I don’t know. I mean, I
obviously want to read the book because now I’m like, I would need to do this. I need to
implement everything. But if we were going to talk about one or two things of how you
recommend people, I don’t know the wording you use, like pull back from the business a
little and get it running without them.
Yeah, I need that. So talk to me about that. Yeah, totally. So the whole concept really,
right, is that if you want to create a high performing business, you want to look at other
things that work well and are high performing. Right?
So if you consider Summiting Everest, I talk about this at length in the book, there are
strategic training plans that include times of strength, times of endurance, times of
flexibility, and alas, times of rest. Right? Rest is really strategic in a high performing
plan, and what it helps us do is rebuild our muscles and our cardiovascular system and
all of the things to prepare for the next phase of the ascent. And so my opinion is that in
this kind of incubator of a high performing business, rest is the function of operations,
right? So, operationally speaking, after you have these really big pushes and these new
projects, and you launch new things and you go through these really overwhelming
growth spurts inside of the business layering in Rest, strategically to build up your
operations to support that.
Next time you do a launch, next time you do a workshop, next time you do this really
challenging thing in your business, it actually seems a little bit easier because we’ve
actually spent the time to create some of the systems around it. Just like when you take
an off day training for a marathon or training to summer Everest. Right? And the cool
thing is that not only does it help us repair the business and be able to get stronger over
time, but it also allows the owner, founder, the leadership team, because this is kind of
applicable to everybody inside of the business, not just the founder. It can help us
reconnect with why we’re doing this right, whether that’s our family and friends, our
personal relationships, our children, our hobbies, our personal health.
One of the actual inspirations for writing this book when I did was a client of mine came
to me and she had such a severe health crisis that she had to take a forced sabbatical
from her business. She had advanced lipidemia. She could barely walk or stand. She
had to be in a chair pretty much the entire day. And it really limited her from doing a lot
of the things that she loved doing, which was speaking on stage and coaching.
And it was really challenging for her. And she really had to reconcile with the fact that
she had, in service of growing this incredibly impactful business, completely let her help
fall off the back of the wagon. And I think a lot of people, I think, think of Sabbatical in
kind of like two very different spaces. They think of these Parisian six month sabbaticals
that are only accessible by Fortune 50 CEOs and people who have a lot of time and
resources. And then they think about the proverbial burnout, right?
They think of, oh, I was volunteered to take off for my business because I went too hard
for too long and I hit a brick wall. And so my hope is that the Sabattical Method can help
us access that space in between, where we can leverage the benefits of taking time off
from the business to help crystallize our vision, really connect us with our why build
those systems behind the scenes and avoid a lot of the pitfalls of the burnout and going
too long, too fast and kind of avoiding those breaks? So how do we do that, though? I
feel like, does everybody come to you and say, but there’s no way that I can, there’s no
way I can? There’s so much.
I think it’s funny. I did a book signing in June, and most people that came up to the table
were like either one of two camps. They were like, oh, Sabbatical isn’t that nice? And
completely just discounted it. They were like, I could never do that.
And then the other half was like, oh, I could really use a break. And so there was like
the two camps of people. So the way that I get super tactical about this, first and
foremost, is just like anything that’s worth achieving, it takes repetition, right? And it
takes building the muscle. So I think first and foremost, establishing your boundaries
and kind of a timeline is what I call the Sabbatical Method.
Checklist in the very first chapter of the book is we talk about defining what specifically
your intention is going to be. So setting those boundaries. And that might just be, at this
point, closing your computer at 05:00 p.m. Or not opening up your email over the
weekend. A lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of owners find themselves in that camp more
times than not, right, where they just feel like it bleeds into their evenings and their
weekends and the business is just taking over the entirety of their life.
So starting there is going to be really helpful. Then we can begin to take again these
micro hits of rest where we feel like we can remove ourselves from the business and
really identify the sabbatical as a forcing function to consider what falls apart when the
owner is away, right, to identify. Because I think a lot of us, when we go down this
operational project, right, first of all, it seems like a beast, right? We’re like, oh my
goodness, if I had to create systems for every single thing in my business, I’d be doing
this for the rest of my life. And it seems really daunting.
And a lot of my clients, they tell me that when they first come to me, they’re like, I can’t
even imagine doing this on my own. It just seems so cumbersome and overwhelming
and there’s so many details and all the things and so what I always try to encourage
folks with is if we were to be in a position to close our computer at 06:00 P.m., what
would fall off, right? And just make a list, right? Don’t think anything about it. Just
consider like, what would fall off and then start to consider, well, what would it be like if I
had standard operating procedures and systems in place for every single one of those
And then next time you go to tackle that to do list, something super simple I encourage
everybody to do at that base level before they can take some time off, is to start
recording their screen. We live in a beautiful digital age where we can really easily
compile training. SOPs of all of the things that we do all day long, and even if you’re pre
hire, you absolutely need to be compiling these and creating documentation around how
you’re doing, what you’re doing, and what the high level steps are for, how you’re
managing projects and delivering on your services and all of those things. Because then
when you actually come in and hire a person, they’re going to be way more impactful to
your organization earlier on in the training process rather than you needing to take time
out of your already busy schedule to train them. And so I think as we start to kind of
compile this, I like to say that we want to just get our business out of our brain and
centralize down onto paper.
So the very first thing is to channel what I call the very first Sabbatical personality, which
is the assistor. So if you have a person in your organization or if you’re working with a
contractor or something like that, who’s supporting you part time? The assistor, just like
in basketball, tease somebody else up to make the score, right? And so what you would
do is leverage screencasts, for example, and say, here’s exactly what I’m expecting.
You go and do that, right.
So it’s kind of like delegating. You’re doing probably like the 80% or 50 50 sometimes,
right, to kind of get things off your plate. The second personality is the trainer or the
coach. You’re giving somebody a high level framework, so not necessarily the nitty
gritty. And you’re saying, hey, listen, this is what I expect.
Here’s the strategy that we’re going after. You go figure out all of the nuts and bolts that
need to happen in there, right? That’s kind of the next level of leadership. You can kind
of pull back from the reins of the business, probably take more longer stretches of time,
like a week or so. And then you then go into the third level of the Sabbatical
personalities, which is what I call the board member.
You can consider Warren Buffett in this kind of direction. We’re really just like guiding
and steering the ship, right? We’re setting the quarterly initiatives. We’re helping people
focus on their 90 90 principles. What specifically are we going after?
And then we really don’t have a lot of pushing buttons and pulling levers. Like, we don’t
have to physically be in the business in order to keep it running. We can just build the
machine that builds the machine, as they say. I love that. I love that.
It makes me nervous, but that means I need it. No, that’s a really great way of looking at
it, though, I think. And so does the book. Kind of walks you through the framework for
how to think about these things and how to start implementing them within your
So we talk about the Sabbatical Method checklist. We talk about the personalities, so
how to get started and what your team might look like and where you might be able to
kind of focus your time. And then the second half of the book is really about Operations
Simplified. So my core framework for if, for example, you start to take some time off and
you see inefficiencies in your processes, or you feel like quarterly projects take a lull or
team members aren’t being identified, you feel like you have a lack of leads or sales in
your organization. Right.
You can start to build. And I actually crystallized my Operations Simplified framework on
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs because I personally believe that there are basically five
levels to how a business creates bulletproof operations to be able to function
independently of any one person, including the founder. I love it. Okay, well, I guess I
feel like the one thing that comes up for me as a question is, do you feel like you have
to have a certain amount of people? I feel like the other pushback.
What I want to say is I don’t know if I have enough people on my team to make sure
everything gets done without me, though. And so is part of it kind of just almost like
restructuring your team or making sure everybody isn’t doing the exact right things? Or
do you kind of talk about that at all? You might need to be hiring more people or making
sure you have the right help in place before you do this. Because for me, I feel like that
seems like the main roadblock that I would want to argue totally.
And it’s so challenging to specifically determine when the right time to hire is because I
think if you have a team right now that’s being utilized, you could do so many different
things to change the way you guys interact and become more efficient. Or, for example,
with my team, I remember at the time when we were moving from fractional services
over to one off projects, and then now when we’re doing like on demand, SOPs and
we’re doing more trainings and workshops and things, it was an evolution, right? We
needed to strip away some things sometimes in order to get to that next level of
efficiency and productivity and all of that. So I think being ruthless in what you don’t
want to do and then kind of positioning that inside of your team and saying, here are the
things we know that we want to move forward with, and let’s redistribute those among
the current team that we have, I think is really helpful. And additionally, I think
something else that I think we personally do as owner founders is we’ll start something
and we’ll say, oh, well, because we’ve done it this way all the time, we’ll just kind of build
on this really shaky foundation without questioning, like, okay, well, should I just go back
Fundamentally, is this thing the best thing for us? Right? Is this offer totally
bulletproofed and ready? Am I super excited to sell it? Is my team really confident in
And do we get incredible results for people? So even being ruthless in how you’re really
taking a look at some of those things, but if you’re really just looking for somebody to
help support you through taking some more time off of the business or focusing on other
projects, because honestly, I’ve helped people through the Sabbatical Method who don’t
want time off. They want time to focus on another project, which is funny because that’s
what I did with the book and that’s what I’ve done with so many other big projects that
we’ve been working on. We have a client load that could totally dominate my time if I
wasn’t ruthless in the way that I structured things so that I could not only fulfill on client
accounts, but also have time to grow right, and launch these new projects and launch
these new things. And so I think as we start to create our ideal team, we need to
consider what can we be ruthless and eliminating?
And then the second thing that we need to understand too, is do we have enough
resources internally for people to be able to operate at their most efficient capacity. And
that’s one of the big things I talk about in the chapter around efficiency and capacity with
your team is because it’s just such a you could have, for example, two team members
and run a multiple eight figure course business where people are just buying courses
from you. That model is statistically low team, high marketing costs and partnership
costs and ads and all the things. But then behind the scenes you could have a service
team of eight people and they’re spending nothing on advertising, right. And the
workload is large, but they’re in a position where they’re getting referrals, right.
So it really does depend on your model and it depends on how you want to serve your
clients. So I think that one of the most beneficial things besides building operations and
building systems behind the scenes is that Rest allows us to access a new perspective
on our business as well at different phases of its lifecycle. So imagine you’re just going
going with these blinders on and you’re like, well, this is how it’s always been and so I’m
just going to keep going this way. Instead, if you take a moment to just decompress I
was told by a coach that the reason why we get lots of ideas in the shower is because
we’re relaxed and our cortisol levels are low. So our brain actually is more creative in
And so I think Rest specifically, right, as we start to remove ourselves from things and
take some time off the business, it can actually allow us to access more breakthroughs
in the next phase of where it’s going. Totally. I always get new ideas on vacation.
Totally. Same always when you’re just not in the work kind of environment or
I also get more excited by things too. And it’s kind of like, yeah, that’s the rejuvenation, I
guess, too. But yeah, I totally, totally see that. But it’s still so easy to be like, oh, but I
don’t have time to take the time to do those things, right, to take the time to just think
about things or to not think about things. I think that’s like a great kind of intention to set
for the rest of the summer.
I really want to look into this more. I want to really think about it and try to implement
some of these things because I think I need it. I think it’s really important and it’s so
easy to just kind of keep going through life and running the business without kind of
doing it because it’s like, well, it’s easier if I just do it myself. Right. But it’s not obviously
in the long run.
Yeah. And I think it’s a badge of honor sometimes. I remember there was a slight
moment when I was in the hospital with my first son, and I was like, oh, look how
committed I am to my business. I’m like, I’m here in the hospital answering emails. And I
think we all fool ourselves with that sometimes where we’re like, look at how many
hours I’m working, and I’m really passionate about my dream.
I don’t think it means you’re less passionate because you’re not willing to work into the
wee hours of the morning. What you want to do is you want to give your best and you
also want to create those boundaries around what your business needs from you, right.
If you just let it take everything, it’s going to take everything, right? It’s going to take your
personal life, it’s going to take your health, it’s going to take your sleep, it’s going to take
everything. And so I’m not saying that to demonize being a business owner, because I
think business ownership is such a beautiful thing, but without being intentional about all
of the things that need to be true, right, rest, high performance, flexibility, all of the
things, it’s not going to be the happiest of, I guess, paths to be on.
Yeah. Tell me, is there anything that you wish you knew more about when you first
started your business? I always ask people that at the end. More about hmm. Or
anything you wish you knew back then?
Anything I wish I knew? If I had to give some advice to my younger self, for sure, I
would have started creating those boundaries a little bit earlier because like I said, I was
just working all the time. But I think perhaps something that I know now that I didn’t
know then was on management style and leadership style. I think I learned a lot of
empathy and I think I learned a lot of patience from being a mother. And so in the very
beginning, I was a very results driven leader, and I think a lot of credit can be given in
I was very objective. There wasn’t big feelings parties for lots of different things, either in
the good or the bad. And I think I have found that there’s probably a little bit more room
for intentional, careful leadership and being able to get to know not only your team, but
also your clients and your clients teams and understanding how they work and how they
process information and what’s going to help them and what’s going to stick with them.
From a coaching perspective, I think the people part of things I always felt like when I
was early on in Operations, I was like, no, we just need to look at the numbers and the
data. But I think that that’s something that I have honed, especially after becoming a
Like, my two boys are just totally different people, and I need to act just differently
around them when I am leading them as a mom. Such a great answer. Yeah. Any last
word of advice to other entrepreneurs, business owners? Yeah, totally.
I think in anybody who’s listening in your gut, you probably know I’m overdue to either
take some time off or create some systems or any of the things that we talked about
today. And I think a lot of folks find it really overwhelming. And I also think a lot of folks
think that they’re going to wait until there’s a less busy time or a less busy season in
their life, and I encourage you not to do that. I think that if we yeah, it doesn’t come. First
of all, we’re all high performers, we’re all high achievers.
We want to create incredible impact in our markets and in our communities, and it’s not
going to come. We’re always going to be super busy. And I think if we train ourselves to
consider that we come last and that we only get this time off whenever we’re not busy,
it’s going to be the first thing that goes away once you get busy again. And so really
training yourself to find that time, even in busy seasons, and being able to safeguard
that, I think it will help you show up as a better leader, a better coach to your clients, a
better service provider, whatever your situation is, love it. Thank you so much.
Oh my gosh. Tell people how they can find where they can get book, how they can find
you if they want to connect with you later on or find your business. Yeah, totally, totally.
So the book’s on Amazon, it’s called The Sabbatical Method. If you search that, it
should be the first thing that pops up and you can grab the book there.
There’s a free toolkit that comes along with it as well, which you can grab
operationsagency.com. And I also have a super nifty quiz if you’re considering, like, I
might want to take some time off or something’s coming down the pike that I’d really like
to consider whether or not I can step away from the business. It’s called can your
business function without you? It’s a free quiz. It’ll give you a couple of tips and options
to figure out how to prep for that.
Love it. I already know the answer is no, but I’m still going to take the quiz. Thank you
so much. Oh my gosh. Wait, so that was all the places that they should find you?
Okay. Thank you so much for coming on today. This was really awesome, and I literally
cannot wait to read and implement your book. Thank you so much. I had a blast.
I appreciate you having me. Thank you.