Featured Guest
Bryan Miles

Bryan Miles is the CEO and co-founder of Belay Solutions, an exclusively virtual company that provides virtual assistants, bookkeepers,...

Your Host
Christopher T. Anderson

Christopher T. Anderson has authored numerous articles and speaks on a wide range of topics, including law firm management,...

Episode Notes

What is killing productivity in your law firm? Could a shift to a virtual practice make both work and life better? In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, Christopher Anderson talks to Bryan Miles, CEO of Belay Solutions, about his book “Virtual Culture, The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, a Manifesto.” They discuss the challenges of the traditional workplace and outline how Belay Solutions has grown up as an exclusively virtual company. They give advice on how to develop virtual culture in a firm and discuss how virtual assistants can help lawyers focus on what really matters.

Bryan Miles is CEO of Belay Solutions and author of “Virtual Culture, The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, a Manifesto.”

Special thanks to our sponsors, Answer1Solo Practice UniversityScorpion, and Lawclerk.

Transcript

The Un-Billable Hour

The Virtual Law Firm

12/27/2018

[Music]

Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable. Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. This is where you will get the information you need from expert guests and host Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.

[Music]

Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast helping attorneys achieve more success. We are glad you can listen today on the Legal Talk Network.

And today’s episode is, it’s about people, it’s a little bit about physical plant, and it’s a little bit bigger than both. It’s about people working with your business, but not necessarily in the same place as you. And the title today is very simple, The Virtual Law Firm, because my guest is Bryan Miles.

Bryan is the CEO of BELAY Solutions and author of a book which I have recently read and recommend to anybody who is listening, as a great book to change the way you think about people in the workplace. It’s called ‘Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, a Manifesto’. And we will be talking to Bryan about that and about the virtual workplace.

I am of course your host Christopher Anderson, an attorney with a singular passion for helping other lawyers achieve success with their law firm businesses as they define it.

In The Un-Billable Hour each month we explore an area important to help you grow your revenues, get back more of your time and/or get more professional satisfaction from your business.

The Un-Billable Hour is dedicated to helping lawyers achieve freedom through their businesses and our guests help you learn more about how to make your law firm business work for you, instead of the other way around.

But before we get started, I do want to say thank you to our sponsors; Answer1, Solo Practice University, Scorpion and LAWCLERK.

Answer 1 is a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800-Answer-1, or online at www.answer1.com. That’s again, www.answer1.com

Solo Practice University is a great resource for solos, no matter how long you have been practicing. Make sure you check out solopracticeuniversity.com and learn how to run your practice better.

Scorpion crushes the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast.

LAWCLERK, where attorneys hire freelance lawyers. There are no sign up or monthly fees. Only pay the flat fee price you set. Increase your profits, not your overhead. Learn more at www.lawclerk.legal.

And again, today’s episode of The Un-Billable Hour is The Virtual Law Firm and my guest today is Bryan Miles. As I had mentioned, he is the CEO of BELAY Solutions and author of ‘Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore’. And I have got to tell you, as I was mentioning, it’s a great book and really, really opened my eyes and changed my thinking on the virtual workspace and we are going to be talking to Bryan about that here today.

So first of all, Bryan, welcome to The Un-Billable Hour.

Bryan Miles: Thank you Christopher, it’s great to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.

Christopher T. Anderson: Not at all. It’s really exciting to speak to you, enjoyed your book. But first of all, my introduction of you was really brief, would you mind just following up on it? Just how did you come to be so passionate about virtual work?

Bryan Miles: Yeah, you bet. So over the course of the last few years obviously our business has grown at BELAY and we have won awards. We have been on the Inc. 5000 List now for the fourth year in a row, but back in 2016, late 2016, we actually won a culture award with Entrepreneur Magazine for the Top Company Culture.

What made that a big deal for us internally was that we did this without an office. It was a really big deal, and we had a lot of people call us and say, how in the world have you got to 600 plus team members on your team without an office? And so for me, it felt like we needed to kind of create a playbook on how to build a virtual company, a virtual organization that was of size and mattered and just provide that as a playbook, not we playbook, but a playbook on how we did it.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and I mean it’s kind of remarkable to have like — because most people I think, I certainly do or did associate culture, like if you — when you think about culture, the first thing that comes to mind is people working together and to win an award for culture when you don’t have anybody working together is fairly remarkable. So was that sort of the inspiration for writing the book ‘Virtual Culture’?

(00:05:12)

Bryan Miles: Yeah, it was. We work so hard as an organization, literally all of us, all 600 plus of us work from home, where we wanted to create an organization of meaning and we have worked really hard to create some policies and some other things that we do that are event focused to really create a meaningful culture. And oftentimes I would hear people go yeah, you are of size, but you are really not a company. I am like, what are you talking about, we are a company. We are producing profit. We are hitting awards that are third-party verified. We are doing all the right things, but yet people would discount us because we didn’t have an office and I just thought that’s ridiculous.

And so for me, I started to kind of ask myself, well, what is culture, and I landed on this conclusion that culture is not an office, culture is basically shared vision. And that’s what our team has rallied around. We push really hard on our folks to kind of fight the status quo when they — in the early days we heard people go, can we have a place to meet? Yeah, it’s called Starbucks or a restaurant or whatever, or we can go get you a shared co-workspace to go sit in for a day if you need to, but for the most part we just don’t need an office, and we have been able to scale significantly, because every time we add a team member, they have got 100 square feet in their house that would take me months to kind of prepare for if I had to add people on an ad hoc basis like that.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. And so you talk about virtual culture, I think you use this quote in the book and I have actually done some research on the quote and it’s often attributed to Peter Drucker, but apparently that attribution is weak. But “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” or some people say for lunch. Like you have just said, I mean I think that’s a great definition of culture it’s a shared vision. What does it mean that it eats strategy for lunch?

Bryan Miles: Well, I think the execution of an organization, whether you are a law firm or a business or a nonprofit even, at the execution of it, it is important to have strategy, but it’s the people that get it done. And so if the glue of the culture is not there, then people are working without meaning. They are wondering why they are doing this on a day-to-day basis. There is no passion behind their work and I just think that culture trumps it. It does. People want to work in a place of meaning, where they feel like they are contributing, where they are winning personally and professionally and all of that has nothing to do with an actual office.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. So I mean that really is a great segue into what I wanted to ask you about, because before we get into talking about how great virtual is and that you were able to win an award for culture even though you guys were virtual and that you are indeed at least a business. People said you are not a company, that it’s ridiculous, but you are a successful business.

But that might just be you. What I want to talk about a little bit is like what’s not working? I mean your book title isn’t just virtual culture; you took pains to call it ‘Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore’. So what’s not working about the workplace, the traditional workplace where people come into an office?

Bryan Miles: Well, there are a few things. I think the first is I think companies — we worked really hard to create what we call conflict norms in our business, so we have got to find ways to have healthy debate and conflict in our business and that is regardless of whether you have a physical presence or not. We realized early on in our business that it would be really easy for our employees to gossip if they wanted to and we don’t tolerate gossip and so we kind of created a policy around that. We teach and we train on what gossip is and what you are supposed to do with things when you have problems or issues.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. In fact, in your book you call the water cooler something like horrible, I forget what it was?

Bryan Miles: Oh, it’s terrible. It’s a virtual water cooler. For me, it’s just a poisonous, horrible place to go inside of any business and I just can’t stand gossip in general, I mean whether it’s inside or outside of business, I hate it. So we just decided early on it would be so easy for you to gossip inside a virtual company where everybody can’t see each other, but we just said hey, if we get wind of it, you are fired, and we put it in our employee handbook and we trained around it.

Christopher T. Anderson: Okay, so conflict norms and no gossip, but let’s talk about what works for you. So I think what you are saying though is in the traditional workplace, like these are killers?

Bryan Miles: Yeah. My wife and I, we founded the business together, we have been part of organizations where gossip ran rampant and we hated it, and people inside it hated it and it was just a terrible place to work. And we said when we created this company like we want to create a company we want to work for and be part of and be proud of.

(00:10:00)

And one of the things we knew that created a nasty environment was gossip. And it’s not just the people you would assume, like maybe your front line employees, it’s leaders and executives and owners, they gossip too, and we just decided we are not going to be part of that. We are not going to participate in that activity, it’s unnecessary. And real quick, we train people on what gossip is, so they know how to look for it.

For example, we just tell them in employee handbook and then on an ongoing basis in our online training, gossip is taking your problem to somebody that can do nothing about it. And what you are supposed to do is take gossip up, because when you take it to your peers or worse to somebody that even reports to you, you are basically taking a problem to somebody that can absolutely do nothing about it, but on top of that they now are kind of yielded as useless and they are poisoned in that process.

So we just work really hard to help them understand how gossip impacts our company and how we don’t tolerate it. And unfortunately, over eight years of being in business I have had to let go three really great people so far because they gossiped, and they knew the outcome. When I got them on the phone, we validated what they said, they admitted it, and we said we are sorry, today is your last day.

Christopher T. Anderson: Well, let’s talk about them; no, just kidding. So that’s definitely a productivity killer, I think you made that clear. But I think you — there are also some — in a traditional workplace what are some other things, like people think that they need to be working together to be more productive, but I think you have outlined how the opposite of that is true.

Bryan Miles: This is crazy, but when — one of our services is as a virtual assistant and when we replace people working on-site, 30-35 hours a week, we replace them with about a 15 hour week virtual assistant. Now, that seems ridiculous, but it’s true. A lot of people pay for culture or what they perceive as culture and really a lack of productivity and we just see that happen.

And so what we find is when we get great people that come out of Corporate America and they join our corporate team and they start getting the work, they find that they have got hours back in their day for various reasons, but mostly because they are result-oriented and they just get stuff done and they are not distracted by an office.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. So I mean what you are saying is you are actually getting — not only are you killing these productivity killers like gossip and I think you talked earlier — I mean in the book you talked about just killing the commute, if nothing else.

Bryan Miles: Yeah. The soul sucking commute is over when you have folks that — I mean we have people that have worked in Corporate America and we live in Atlanta and the traffic here sucks and they will — like the first couple of weeks you can just see the look on their face like they are just generally more happy because they haven’t spent an hour in the car each way, like it’s just hilarious.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. But then you are saying even during not the commute time, not the gossip time, they are just more productive — virtual people are more productive overall anyway?

Bryan Miles: They are. I mean for us, when we get — say when we have team meetings or let’s say you are in a marketing team or a sales team or relationship management team or whatever, there is more intentionality behind it because we are on a web call and we generally are saying okay, what’s the outcome, what are we hoping to accomplish through this and it’s just very focused, and we have had to be that way because we have kind of been all virtual.

We can’t just sit there and look funny at each other on a Brady Bunch screen, we have got to get the stuff done and we have created kind of some cool things to help us in meetings too. We expect our team, when they are on web calls, we use Zoom for our internal web calls; we have got an Enterprise account with them. But what we do is we say you cannot be on mute and you have to have your video on.

Christopher T. Anderson: Nice, yeah.

Bryan Miles: And we have productive meetings. We get a lot done rather quick and we are intentional to hire result-oriented people, it’s amazing what gets done around here because of that.

Christopher T. Anderson: Cool. All right, so we are talking with Bryan Miles of BELAY Solutions, and right now we have been talking mostly about some of the challenges of the traditional workplace and a little bit about how virtual solves that.

We are going to go to a break right now, but when we come back I want to bring that home and talk about how that might impact the law, lawyers, law firms and also some of the benefits to the remote team and we will go from there.

But for right now, we need to hear a little bit of a word from our sponsors.

[Music]

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[Music]

(00:14:54)

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Christopher T. Anderson: And we are back with Bryan Miles here on The Un-Billable Hour. Bryan is the CEO of BELAY Solutions. We are talking about virtual work, we are talking about virtual culture and why the way we work doesn’t work anymore and we just got finished talking about some of the challenges of the traditional workplace.

So now what I want to do Bryan, if you don’t mind, is I want to talk about how does this — some of the benefits that we have talked about, about the virtual workplace, how does that affect or work in a law firm, because people really think about law firm, so when you think about law firm, it’s a firm, it’s a place, it’s a building. How does this virtual concept work in that environment?

Bryan Miles: Yeah. I have seen this happen in clients of ours that are actually law firms where they have kind of been challenged with this notion that to feel like a big boy practice, I have got to have a place. We are getting more and more phone calls from our prospects that are saying hey, you know what, I really value having more flexibility or autonomy in how I work as an attorney.

And I have noticed that my friend who is an attorney is working off their back deck a whole lot more than I am. So I want to start to craft a staff, if you will, that mimics what I am trying to accomplish, which is more freedom and autonomy, and it works. I mean we have seen this happen. It’s not just with attorneys too, we see this with physicians and CEOs and it’s across multiple industries, but attorneys are definitely stepping up.

We have got several here in Atlanta that they are all the more in their flip-flops meeting at Starbucks than ever before.

Christopher T. Anderson: That’s amazing. And they are finding — are they finding the same productivity gains and flexibility that you were finding in your business and other clients you worked with?

Bryan Miles: Well, I think that productivity is important, but I think there is just a general desire or a byproduct of happiness, that there is a sense of like I can get my job done and be very professional and show up in a manner that’s required of me for my role or for my profession, but on the days where I am just in the office, do I really need to go to the office, can I just not work in my basement, in my office at home or off my back deck.

And I think this is true. I mean we are seeing this so much. I have conversations with hiring managers of very large corporations these days and one of their greatest struggles that you are finding is — that they are finding is that there is a leadership deficit in the 40 somethings right now because these people refuse to come work in an office and they can’t pay them enough money to bring them into an office and work.

They will come in the office when it’s necessary, when there is a team meeting or something like that, but otherwise, good luck having them come into an office. And I think that attorneys are waking up to that as well is that they can produce a great result for their clients, but it doesn’t have to be done in their actual physical law office.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, this is actually striking a couple of chords with me, because I work with hundreds of law firms across the country and it seems like the different challenges come in phases and right now one of the big phases is they are having trouble hiring in that senior leadership role and it might be some of what you are talking about going on there. I am going to look into that. I think that’s very, very interesting.

Bryan Miles: The real challenge is, and it’s just a really practical but obvious one when you think about it, is if you have a friend who is an attorney and you see them working off their back deck, you are screwed, because you now know this is possible and your paradigm just shifts, and this is exactly what’s happening across organizations. And it’s something that really is scratching the heads of senior executives that are older. They are like no, this is how we always do it, we always come into an office. That mindset is quickly shifting. The sand underneath their feet is shifting very quickly on this.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. I am going to like point out for some of the listeners, because it was important to me in having you as a guest that you are out there preaching the gospel of virtual culture, talking about change the way we work, but you required of yourself that you drink this Kool-Aid, you eat your own dog food and let me think of a couple of other metaphors.

But in building BELAY, you faced a decision at one point whether to bring some people in-house or to keep it virtual.

(00:20:00)

Bryan Miles: Yeah, we did, because we thought that when you got to like, I don’t know, I think it was about year three we were doing well and I thought, well, I guess the natural progression here is to just go ahead and get into an office. This is what big boy companies do. They start doing things like this and so we started down the path, hired a consultant, we started looking for space, and my wife, who is co-founder with me, she said, you know, why don’t we just survey our team and let’s ask if they’re interested in this office.

And in at the time, I mean, the amount of money we’re going to spend was in the hundreds of thousands for the leaves, to the up-fit, to equipment and everything else and we sent out a survey and resoundingly I came back like, are you kidding? We don’t want an office and we just said, oh, well, let’s not do this for sure. And then, over the years I’ve kind of joked about it but it’s true like from a sales’ standpoint there have been numerous times where people said, well, can you just come by and we can kind of close the deal, and we just say, well, if we have to come see you to close the deal, we’ve just defeated the purpose of our business.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah.

Bryan Miles: And most people get it. So as we matured, as we’ve grown, I mean, this is my first time in building a business; that was mine. We’ve got to a place where we’ve been able to create something a meaning that doesn’t require an office and we just really want it as best we can practice what we preach.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, and I think to me that was really astounding because I know I’ve worked for some big companies and some little companies and one of the great ironies of a lot of virtual assistants out there because I started really getting jazzed about virtual assistants when I read the 4-Hour Workweek.

Bryan Miles: Yeah.

Christopher Anderson: But all the companies that he talks about in that book, they all work out of offices. It’s pretty amazing.

Bryan Miles: Yeah, that was awesome for our business. So, I mean, that book came out about a year before we started our business and it really does a great job to kind of say, this is the possibility of it, but the other thing — the great thing about that book for me personally was, it pointed to a lot of overseas solutions and we provide all domestic solutions; our folks here are all US-based.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, I know, that’s a big point like that’s not an accident, that’s something that you do very, very intentionally.

Bryan Miles: Yeah, but that book has been awesome for people just to kind of go, oh, maybe it’s not a 4-hour workweek for me, maybe it’s a 10, maybe it’s a 15, whatever. It completely shifted the paradigm. It was one of the first books that really kind of created this new possibility to how to work different in my opinion.

Christopher Anderson: So, you eat your own dog food and it’s all great and you made these decisions, but surely it’s not all been honey and milk. You certainly face some challenges growing this remote team. What are some of the biggest challenges you faced and had to overcome?

Bryan Miles: Well, I think that we’ve had to hire appropriately. For example, there are some people that they just need to be around people and they can get lonely and I’m not even talking about necessarily like an extrovert. There are introverts that just need to be around people periodically. So, when we interview now, we really kind of know the things to ask to say, hey, do you really value working from home, and what does that look like for you?

We do a lot of personality tests to make sure that they’ll kind of fit in with their particular team or the role that we’re looking for, but isolation can really impact people, and we’ve seen them kind of down spiral. Gosh, I’m just not connected or I was — I’m looking more out of it, I’m looking more for this, besides my profession I’m looking to gain some friendships or some things like that and we have those inside of our business because our corporate team, which is the folks that are kind of non-client-facing for our business, that’s about 65 full-time people here in metro Atlanta. So, what we do is we made a decision that if you’re going to work on a corporate team, you have to be in metro Atlanta. We can circle the wagons really quick when we need to have meetings and so forth.

But if you want to just work specifically with our clients and our services’ capacity, you can be anywhere in the United States.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah.

Bryan Miles: So, if you want to be on our corporate team what we do, we provide a way for them to kind of have connections, and they do, they are going to lunch together and they got team meetings going on all the time. We still have to meet face-to-face, from time-to-time just to get stuff done that where you require is a great deal collaboration or team-building, but a lot of times we just use 24:28 and that works just fine.

Christopher Anderson: Yeah, well, thanks for that. So, what we’re going to do here, we are going to take a break. We’re talking with Bryan Miles, the CEO of BELAY Solutions about Virtual Culture.

We are going to take a break and come back. I’m going to ask you to give some advice to people who — I think we’ve made the case now for why a virtual company culture might be beneficial or probably would be beneficial to them, but so give some advice and then I’m going to talk to you a little bit about why virtual assistants specifically as a role are really important after a message or two.

(00:24:57)

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[Music]

Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome back to The Un-Billable Hour. We’re talking with Bryan Miles, CEO of BELAY Solutions. We’ve been talking about Virtual Culture and why really working with a virtual culture inside the workplace can improve productivity and really improve people’s lives.

And it kind of struck me during the break, Bryan, that this seems to be like you were describing — and I was visualizing, you’re describing like the lawyer, the mid-career lawyer maybe who sees another lawyer friend working on his back deck and says, oh, that’s possible. This is a one-way street, man, nobody is going to be like going, oh, and now my other friend he’s going into the office, that looks great too.

Bryan Miles: Yeah, it’s definitely. It’s like that first time that you were able to have the opportunity to fly in a private jet.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.

Bryan Miles: Like you are ruined even if you’ve ever sat in first class.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.

Bryan Miles: And, it is just there’s no going back once you enjoyed or tasted the autonomy of being able to work from home and have a great job.

Christopher T. Anderson: Absolutely. So what I wanted to do in this third segment is talk to our listeners a little bit, because they’re listening to this, they’re thinking, that sounds good, but excuse, excuse, excuse, what advice would — it’s just like talk to one of the leaders that’s looking to create a healthy and sustainable virtual and let’s think about law firm culture, like what would you say to them to help them initiate this thinking and kind of get over the knee-jerk reactions that most of us have?

Bryan Miles: Well, I think that if you are on a fence looking at, okay, well, maybe even one day a week I can let my team work from home or whatever, or some variation of that. I think you can create a powerful firm, a powerful culture by saying, hey, I trust you, because what you’re saying when you allow someone to go work from home even one day a week, you’re saying, look, I trust you to produce a result. And the currency of trust is powerful. It’s a deep connector to people and employees, and so the more that you can say, look, I trust you to execute, I don’t have to see you to know that things are getting done.

It says all sorts of great things in the hearts of your employees and it creates a more productive result. You create a healthier community of employees as well. I’ve just seen it happen. I mean, I’ve had thank you notes from what you would consider to be very antiquated, old industries, saying, hey, we gave this a shot and we’re never going back. This is amazing. Your book really helped us open our eyes to this.

So, it is something that I think when you look at it as a whole, it’s communicating trust in your employees and that’s a powerful thing, and it creates benefits that I probably can even articulate based on and what a law firm needs or wants to experience in terms of result.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and that’s a part of your book, honestly that really struck a chord with me as well, because when you start to think about it that way so much of the traditional workspace, if you will, from the time of offices and doors even down to cubicles in the way it’s organized today and now we’re getting into like more free-flowing, but it really all is designed around a lack of trust and everything about it speaks of a lack of trust, sort of the expectation that you get there at a certain time and leave at a certain time. The expectation that you are visible, that people can see what you are doing or not doing, yeah, it’s all about basically saying I can’t trust that you get stuff done unless I crack a whip.

Bryan Miles: Right, or I can’t trust you because I can’t see you.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.

Bryan Miles: And it intuitively changes people’s minds when you go, hey, two days a week you are going to work from home, I want you to have this freedom. I trust you that you’re going to produce the result. It just does great things for employees and for leaders too, if they’re not the owners but they watch a leader that’s really kind of being empowered, watch how much they grow, and frankly, watch how much your firm grows in doing this, and trust is such a powerful currency when it’s yielded upright.

(00:30:12)

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. So, I think one of the other knee-jerk reactions that — and again, I think it’s so funny like this, all really does come from trust. But I think it’s colorably different and people might have this reaction, I know I would, is that okay, that’s all great. I love the fact that I’ll trust people and it sounds like if they are not subject to gossip and they don’t have to commute they’ll be more productive, but you know what, serendipity is a real thing. I think a lot of great ideas and a lot of creativity come from people bumping into each other, how do we replicate that if we go virtual?

Bryan Miles: Well, I love that one because there you can have that, it can be done all online. We do that all the time, we have serendipity moments with our zoom phone calls or our web calls. We have that in different ways and online formats. It’s completely possible.

Oftentimes I find that the reason why a company or a firm still has an office is because the owner just wants one.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.

Bryan Miles: That’s just it, well, they grew up that way, they go into the office, this is just what they want. They are maybe a little bit more extroverted in nature and doggone it. I’m going to have me an office and people are going to come and sit in it because I’m paying for it. I’ve seen that more-and-more that the reason why people have an office is because they won’t want, and they will justify that with whatever excuses to produce that office.

Christopher T. Anderson: Cool. So the last thing I want to talk about before we close the show, because we’ve like zoomed through this show, there’s so much to cover here. This is really an exciting topic for me. But this one spoke very personally to me and I think it will — we’ve been so far talking about virtual culture, about the office, about productivity of the team, about trust and all that stuff, all really important. But I want to make it personal now, because in your book you talk about and you make a case for why every leader, not just most leaders, not just senior leaders, by the way every leader needs a virtual executive assistant. Why do you think that’s so important really, like what is the case to have everybody have a virtual assistant?

Bryan Miles: Well, I think regardless of profession, I think that you’re probably really only good at one to two to three things and then after that you begin the suck at stuff, and if anybody understands what their time is worth it’s an attorney or they should, and for me understanding what a high payoff activity is versus a low payoff activity, and then delegating the low payoff activities that you know were going to cost you more money for you to be involved in them, you can break the lid of your personal capacity quickly by offloading those things to a really competent virtual assistant. And my virtual assistant, she’s amazing, I’ve had one for 15 years, my current one has been with me for six years and she serves as an extension of who I am.

Oftentimes I think the word “assistant” really does a disservice to what they actually do, but I’m easily four to five times more productive over the course of a week because she serves as air traffic control over my Inbox, she’s overseeing all my calendar, both professionally and personally. She’s bird dogging projects and research for me. I mean, I’m just incredibly productive because I see her as an extension of who I am. I don’t see her as just some secretary.

Christopher T. Anderson: Right, yes, so she’s keeping you in your lane and making sure that the stuff that are not the highest and best use of your time gets done either by her I imagine or by others?

Bryan Miles: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean and we’ve scaled our organization a lot of it, because I’ve had to replace myself and get out of things and then have someone appropriately delegate that. And my wife and I — we had created a mantra seven years ago, and thank God we did, we call it “Own Not Run”. So, we want to own this business, not run this business.

Christopher T. Anderson: “Own Not Run”, okay, yeah.

Bryan Miles: And to do that, to own the business and not run the business we need to find great people, resource and equip them and get out of their way. And when you have a virtual assistant that you can trust, that serves as an extension of who you are, just look out, watch your productivity, watch your results increase, watch all your firm benefits, because you’ve got someone looking after things that you probably suck at.

Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, I think that’s a great place to end this. I have a great phrase to leave our listeners with at The Un-Billable Hour, who really need to be working towards owning and not running their law firms.

Bryan, thank you so much for being a guest.

Bryan Miles: Thank you for the opportunity. It’s been fun.

Christopher T. Anderson: That is my pleasure. And this wraps up this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Business Advisory Podcast.

My guest today, again, has been Bryan Miles. He’s the CEO of BELAY Solutions and author of ‘Virtual Culture, The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, a Manifesto’.

(00:34:58)

Bryan, in case people are just totally intrigued, or in case, for the people that are totally intrigued by this message, how could they learn more about you and get in touch with you to learn more about your passion for virtual culture?

Bryan Miles: Well, there’s two great places you can go. First is to our website belaysolutions.com, and then if you want more information our book, the book I wrote ‘Virtual Culture’, it’s just virtualculturebook.com.

Christopher T. Anderson: Fantastic. Bryan, again thank you so much. Again, and this is Christopher Anderson. I look forward to seeing you next month with another great guest as we learn more about topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you.

Remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us. We will see you again soon.

[Music]

Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

Thanks for listening to The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. Join us again for the next edition, right here with Legal Talk Network.

[Music]

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Episode Details
Published: December 27, 2018
Podcast: Un-Billable Hour
Category: Business Law
Podcast
Un-Billable Hour
Un-Billable Hour

Best practices regarding your marketing, time management, and all the things outside of your client responsibilities.

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