Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Email Management with Yaro Starak

George Grombacher February 9, 2022

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Email Management with Yaro Starak

LifeBlood: We talked about email management, what it could be like to not have to deal with email ever again, what it takes to make that a reality, and the benefits you could expect with Yaro Starak, digital nomad and CoFounder of InboxDone. 

Listen to learn how one small change can have an exponential ripple effect across your entire business and life!

You can learn more about Yaro at InboxDone.com, Yaro.Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Yaro Starak

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on What do I put this is George G and the time is right welcome. Today’s guest is strong and powerful yellow Stark Yarrow. Are you ready to do this?

Yaro Starak 0:19
I’m ready to just do it.

george grombacher 0:20
Let’s let’s let’s go. YARO is an investor at digital nomad six time author and he’s the co founder of inbox. done.com. Helping overworked entrepreneurs reclaim time Yarrow. Tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do.

Yaro Starak 0:37
Well, do we have an hour? Okay, yes, oh, I mean, full time living on the internet kind of person since I was 18 years old. So, you know, fell in love with the Internet back then. And it’s been a long and glorious romance rarely, I’ve had all kinds of businesses from Magic, the Gathering card game to an online essay editing company to then getting into blogging and podcasting, which I spent and have continued to spend a good 15 plus years now, in that space. can’t verify this. But I think I had the first ever course on how to make money blogging around about 2007 became an educator online without planning on it, you know, you start writing a blog, you start helping people, and naturally you find yourself in that position. But you know, it wasn’t aiming to become a micro influence or anything like that. But love, love helping people in that kind of space. And then yeah, and the most recent, sort of four or five years been running in Buxton, with my co founder, Claire, where we help people break free from having to do their email. Amongst that just, you know, traveling, little bit of angel investing, silly things like building a solar farm in Ukraine was thrown in there, which I didn’t see coming either. But really, it’s just sitting in cafes, with my laptop, as well enjoy doing. And that’s what I try and do as much as I can. Nice.

george grombacher 2:01
I appreciate all that. I don’t have very good appreciation for the solar farm in Ukraine necessarily, but I’m sure that that’s awesome, too. So nice. All right. So how did inbox done come to be a thing?

Yaro Starak 2:16
Having lived the experience of outsourcing email myself, I was always the kind of entrepreneur who was freedom first, not necessarily, you know, I don’t want to be the next Elon Musk and have a huge company, but also be working 12 hour days to make maintain it. So even with my like second company, the editing one I mentioned earlier, I handed email to someone with that company. And that was the first time where I was like, wow, I can wake up in the morning. And there’s not much for me to do yet my company is still running and bringing an income. What do I do with the rest of my life is the big question that comes after that. But the experience of doing that was was really probably the most impactful outsourcing experience I’ve ever had like outsourcing web design, and copywriting and social media, product creation, all those things are wonderfully helpful to a business owner. But when you do email yourself everyday, which most of us do, and then you hand over that, which is not the most intuitive thing, people don’t expect to have someone else right replies to their emails. So I went through it. And then, you know, fast forward more than a decade later, I was like, Well, I’m ready to do something new. In the back of my mind, I was always like, I think this is something else other entrepreneurs would benefit from, I wonder if there’s a business idea here. So actually approached Claire, who was one of my email managers for my blog, teaching business at the time, and said, Listen, I want to test this idea as a business, would you be my co founder, you could be the first email assistant and we could test out and some clients and we did and four or five years later in our we’re still doing it. So it’s been a lot of fun.

george grombacher 3:55
Nice. I appreciate that. So you have the idea. And then your approach, Claire, you actually start the thing. It’s up and running for five years. How is how is the product that it is today changed from five years ago? Yeah, more

Yaro Starak 4:11
of a service. So we are 100% people powered. So like we’re not developing software, which, you know, big difference here is we we manage people we hire people, we have to find, you know, a certain type of person. So the biggest difference and I give full credit to Claire not really me is she’s built a system for finding and hiring and training and onboarding and matching people with clients and then dealing with all the wonderful situations when you match a human being with a human being who have to work together, you know, and get a happy outcome for both of them. So you know, she’s built a team of 25 people now. There’s a layer of management and hiring on top of that. I’ve been on the marketing side during that time. So the change for me has more been you implementing what I already knew about marketing, like getting traffic from Google and learning a bit more about pay per click advertising and jumping on podcasts and talking about what you do. But talking about a service, rather than for most of my life, I talked about, here’s how I made money blogging, and you can do it to to now, very granular, we help you with your email, it’s, you know, very specific type of executive assistant, basically. So I’ve been, you know, had to sort of change my mindset around what I’m selling. But what I do is, is not that much different. The best thing about it, though, in terms of like, the growth is actually seeing the different types of people you help. That that’s actually been a surprising because I should have seen this coming. But everyone has email, I thought we have a nice, but it’s we have restaurant owners, we have venture capitalists, we have organic farm owners, get accountants, lawyers, online business people, which is what I thought we predominately have to begin with. So you know, anything and everything, we all have email. So we’ve had a very diverse range of clients. So that’s been a surprise, but it’s been very gratifying as well.

george grombacher 6:10
Yeah, that certainly does make sense. Try as we may to break free of email. And I sort of said that tongue in cheek, but that’s probably not true. I imagine people want to as much as we dislike email, or we’d like to say that we do think we probably also like to feel like we’re being productive. And and there’s something to do with with with responding and checking email. So how, how what, what are some of the pushback that you get from handing that over?

Yaro Starak 6:44
You know, I went through it to the initial, I wouldn’t say pushback on my side, but it was my doubt was, can someone else represent me in my inbox as well as I can? Like, I’m, I was selling a service back when I first tried this. And I was like, what if they never sell what I sell, and are they cost me clients or, you know, they make a mistake. You know, all possible things human beings are they make errors. But what we do is we have a very comprehensive handover process, it’s we call it like, we’re going to clone you. And it can take months where we step in, and we learn about you and your role. We learn how you write, we learn how you’re currently replying to things, we learn about what people are in your team and who we might need to integrate with, what software you use to do what you do and how we might make use of that as well. And then what tasks you are going to delegate. So there’s a very comprehensive process for doing that. But that being said, it’s still a certain type of person, there’s a certain type of entrepreneur who’s ready for handing over their email. And you know, they’re excited, they’re like, get me out of the inbox, I don’t want to go in there anymore, then there’s the type who they might think they can do it. And this, thankfully, is has been more rare. But there have been a few who said, Yeah, I like this idea. But when they start doing it, they’re like I can’t, I need to see every email going into my inbox. I won’t feel comfortable in my life, even though I know I’m wasting maybe two, three to four hours of my day replying or sorting emails that are like software updates, or spam, or newsletters or questions from people that really could be answered by someone else, they don’t have to be the one doing it, they still feel they need to be the ones seeing all those things. And it’s unfortunate, because, you know, their own mindset is kind of locking them in to this habit, which on the surface feels like it’s progress, like there is a bit of a dopamine hit to clear an inbox yourself. I think that’s what most people get addicted to that feeling of, Oh, I did something today, my inbox is empty, or maybe not empty, but I went from, you know, 500 to 470 emails. And that’s, that’s progress. But for the right type of person, we have a client, actually, Justin Brooke, that was funny. The first time he signed up, he said, I never want to go in my inbox ever again. So whatever you do, I don’t care how you do it. I don’t want to go in there. So we we, you know, handle a lot of his email without him. But then there was I was a few where well, we still need your input, Justin. So we just had to build a system like using Slack or some sort of, you know, WhatsApp or something like that, or even a phone call. For those 1% situations where we don’t have an answer without Justin’s brain. We get it from him. And then we go in and write the email. And that’s an ideal client, because they’re so ready. They want those two hours or three hours a day back, they’re willing to put in the time to do the handover process to build the systems with us. And that’s the ideal kind of person.

george grombacher 9:30
People are surprised when you tell them 234 hours a day, that’s what you’re spending on your email.

Yaro Starak 9:36
I’m not really I think that’s the irony is everyone knows this. It’s it’s like you know, in your you’re trying to lose weight and you’re eating that pizza. It’s like I know I shouldn’t be doing that you do it anyway, right or any habit you’re trying to kick or habit you’re trying to adopt, like going to the gym or exercising or going to sleep early or whatever it is. We’re all consciously aware of a change we’d like to make and how much better it would be or how worse what we’re doing Is it just changed takes that actual step to do it. And the good thing about hiring a service like us is you feel pain, you pay us money. So it’s like I bet to get something out of this. So I’m going to go through the entire process. I’m going to give these guys $2,000 a month. That’s my commitment to what I’m trying to change in my business here. As opposed to attempting to like, oh, I might just outsource it to a freelancer one day. I know I show it. I’ll do it, but they don’t. So

george grombacher 10:27
yeah, yeah, that little financial, not little that financial motivation certainly does motivate us to actually, yeah, go through the full process. So tell me a little bit about that. Tell me about that process for how y’all pair somebody up with me to figure out my writing style, all the things you went through.

Yaro Starak 10:49
So we do an onboarding phone call with a new client. So we we do that. George, you speak to Carly? And then a little bit about personality? So are you the kind of person who wants an assistant and I should say, we actually assign two assistants to every client. So whenever we’re doing this matching process, we’re looking for two people. There’s a few simple things, we do timezone compatibility, you know, you want your inbox cleared two times a day at these times. So we try and match that if possible. writing style is straightforward. We don’t need you, we can go into your Sent folder and see how you write emails. And you know, use that as a starting point. The more subtle things I think are interesting, though, some people are very, say this, they need someone to step in and tell them how to get more efficient, I can take these tasks off your George, you know, this you’re doing is not the best use of your time. Or the other way around. There’s more proactive type clients who will be like, I’m giving you everything, take this, this, this and this, they don’t need to be poked and prodded. And even with just communication style, do you need a very curt, logical? I’ve done this, I need this from you. Or do you want a you know, more emotional empathy. And this depends on your your clients to like, I don’t know how you interact with Georgia email. But we have some clients who, for example, work in mental health subject matter. You need someone in the inbox who does have that really careful emotional empathy, super friendly customer service tone, with with communication, and also a very careful way of introducing your assistants into the inbox because they’re going to be dealing with people who have mental health challenges. So there’s another type of careful onboarding that has to happen there. So it’s very bespoke, it’s very tailored to the individual client. You know, it’s not like we’re some things are easy. timezones and writing style is usually pretty easy. Other parts are more dynamic. And everyone has to learn a what kind of personality like George are coming across as maybe smart and logical right now. But when you start working with your assistant, you could be like, this raging angry guy all the time. Who knows? And, you know, you have to figure out what’s the best way to work with you.

george grombacher 13:05
When do I use all caps? George? Yes. That’s awesome. So when somebody says to you, how is this different than other? Other? What’s the term? I’m

Yaro Starak 13:20
searching for virtual assistants? Yes, usually? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s some obvious things that we always say we do assign you to assistants from day one, that’s deliberate step we made with our company, because as most of you who have ever used virtual staffing solutions, know the turnover part of this, or even just the, you’ve hired someone, you’ve trained them, they’re doing this great job. And then they say, I need two weeks off, you have to do everything that I’m doing, again, especially with something like email, it’s good, like flying first class, you handle your email, you never want to go back into the inbox and be the person who’s doing it all again. So we have two people. So when one needs a holiday, which they will or they need time off for sick leave, then the other one knows everything, they already do everything so they can handle you know the role without having to make go back to the client. And same with the the turnover period. If you know, you know what it’s like when you hire someone and you work with them for three months, you train them on everything, and they just decide, You know what, I’m going over here instead of doing this different job, it’s really frustrating. So we obviously try and minimize that we pay our team a little better rates. We’re hiring usually American based English as a first language. You know, we’re we’re have to compare to jobs that you could get in the States, we have to be paying like an Amazon level salary at the bare minimum to make sure this works. We can’t go and hire $5 $10 An hour overseas contractors, and nor do we for the just the attention to detail and the level of emotional intelligence and just the English clarity. That’s really the thing that we need. You can find those people overseas but it’s a bit of a needle in a haystack, especially because most of the time they don’t have English as their first language. So we look for that pay them well. And then we assign you to, and they both learn how to do your inbox. And then if there ever is a need for one of them to leave, which is rare, the one that staying trains the replacement, so we’re not coming back to you and saying, We have to go through the whole onboarding process from scratch again, with a completely new person, which is something I went through many times with, with people outsource to virtual assistants. So that’s a big one. Just the hiring and training process. Everything I just mentioned, there is different, we’re not a $5 $10, Philippines India, outsourcing team, and they have their place like if you’re, if you want to 24/7 live chat service for basic customer support, you should look overseas for that, you wouldn’t want to pay us the kind of fees we charge. But if you want that attention to detail for email, and very high level communication from a virtual assistant, then that’s kind of the our specialty and where we sit. Other than that, you know, the fact that we do focus on email, there is no other as far as I’ve seen virtual assistants service that’s actually built a system specifically for onboarding, email management. Most VA agencies, you know, you’re presented with a generalist virtual assistant. So they’re going to be possibly a good VA, but they haven’t gone to training about the delicate aspects of dealing with email and taking over replying to people’s messages. They probably can learn it, but there’s no system in place that they’ve already been through. Like we even have an internal course, my co founder, Claire created because she was and the very first inbox manager and did it for many years for me. So she created this training process. So they understand, you know, I think it’s funny, because I was probably the basis for this, but I might seem friendly in person, but when I’m typing on Slack and giving instructions and feedback, you could interpret it as maybe short and you don’t know, is he angry or not. And you don’t really know that. So that’s the kind of delicacies you have to learn about interacting with the person through those kinds of communication tools. So it’s good for virtual assistants to sort of understand what what is, you know, how don’t go don’t get insulted if you get a short answer from every client, because they may not mean it as something like that, that they’re upset. So you know, just those little interpersonal moments and how to work with the client. And also, as a virtual assistant, yourself, you know, your boundaries, what you should feel okay, being treated as well, you know, we look, we look after that side of the fence, you know, we don’t want any abuse from our clients to our, our team. So all of that is kind of managed by the wonderful team that Claire has built. So that’s the main difference. It’s fair to say we’re not the cheapest service as well, deliberately. So for all the reasons I’ve said,

george grombacher 17:51
like it, that makes a lot of sense. Well, you’re on the people ready for that difference making tip? What do you have for them?

Yaro Starak 17:58
I don’t want to be self fulfilling by saying, you know, you should outsource your email is the thing you should do, which is the obvious answer to this question, right? Because I think, you know, to make a difference, it’s it’s and this does tie in is understanding what it is you are personally striving to achieve or complete or change in your life and other people’s lives. And then looking for the constraints. I’m a huge fan of the theory of constraints. I’ve wrote about it a number of times on my blog, I know you read my blog, so you might have seen it over the years. But I learned this concept from the Toyota company and read a few books around their manufacturing process. And they had this have this really great, almost like an ideology, really within their company where they have an assembly line for making cars, and they want to get that assembly line working as efficiently as possible. At any point in time, somewhere on the assembly line, there will be the constraint that is causing the most restriction on the flow or the speed that they can do things, you know, make a car basically. And they know if they can find that that constraint tightly and loosen it up, make it more efficient than there’s a runoff effect across the entire system. But of course, then there’s a constraint somewhere else. And that’s almost like, their entire job is to keep looking for the biggest constraint at this time. eliminate it or open it up so it flows better. And then you’re getting even though it’s like a 1% here and a 2%. There the whole system is improving. And that’s very applicable to life as a human being to there’s always a constraint, holding back your ability to you know, achieve or get whatever goal you’re trying to go after. Complete. So if it’s email, for example, like you just think, Wow, if I did have an extra two hours or four hours a day, I didn’t wake up and do my email. I didn’t go to bed and do my email. I could write that book. Or I could go see my family and have dinner with them and repair damaged relationships. Or I could go Are the gym and get healthy and expand my my lifetime or it could be simple things like I just could finally do more marketing and grow my company or hire new people and you know, do the things that I know are holding me back. So it all ties in to that one answer of hey, hire in Buxton and get yourself an email.

george grombacher 20:18
I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets come up. So true, right, you find the kinks in the hose, or however you want to look at it. And you’re gonna have just benefits at every level of your work. And then certainly your life as long as you’re, you’re being a good steward of that extra time. So I love it. Well, Yarrow, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they engage with inbox done?

Yaro Starak 20:42
Inbox done.com. And if you book a discovery call to tell us about what you do and how you need help you will presently speak to me so I’d love to speak to you guys on a discovery call if outsourcing or email and getting an executive assistant is something you’re looking for. Thank you, George. Sounds good.

george grombacher 20:59
For sure. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, show your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to inbox done.com and get on that discovery call and find out if this is something that’d be a good fit for you and your business and ultimately your life. Thanks again, y’all. Thank you. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight is we’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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