"A mind that can stay focused despite diverse stimulation, and that can produce enough ideas so that some of them might be truly great, must be an organized one." —WSJ Book Review of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
If you're pressed for time, skip the backstory and dive straight into the Google Doc
I’ve been building an online presence for almost 10 years now:
- I set-up my first website Life After College in 2005
- Turned it into a blog in 2007
- Launched my book in 2011
- Pivoted to launch JennyBlake.me as my larger “umbrella” site in the summer of 2013
Then I hit a ceiling. I simply couldn’t manage it all by myself any more.
Just maintaining (free) activities like blogging, newsletters, email response and interviews were eating up most of my time, and that was to say nothing about direct income generating activities like coaching, speaking, and bigger creative projects.
I felt constantly behind, and a bit like I was spinning in a hamster wheel. Spinning, spinning, but not sure what activities were actually building the business behind it all.
Eventually, I brought on an amazing crew of contributors to Life After College (enormous gratitude to the LAC family: Melissa, Paul, Rebecca, Marisol and Davis!) so that I could pour a bit more energy into my new JB.me site, consulting, and even opening up some unscheduled blocks of time and mental energy for book number two.
Trial By Systems Fire
I had things relatively squared away with JB and LAC until May. That’s when I hit ceiling #2, albeit a fun and engaging one.
I launched Lucent (a meditation app I co-founded) at the same time that I took on an exciting hands-on consulting role with an urban-farming company, SpringUps, to help build the company from the ground-up.
I like to think of Lucent and SpringUps as fraternal twins (or brothers from the same mother, hah): both started from scratch in terms of internal systems, communications, and social media, with me at the helm of Operations and Community.
Managing one business can become overwhelming, but four?! The systems ninja in me started salivating . . . this was the perfect opportunity to elevate my game even further. I had to!Otherwise it simply would not be possible to move forward with any semblance of competency (or sanity).
My Most Important Hire: Marisol Dahl
In addition to working with my Zirtual Virtual Assistant for administrative-type tasks (here’s the detailed breakdown), juggling all of this would absolutely not be possible without the invaluable help of Marisol Dahl, my Communications Director for all things JBE, LAC, SpringUps and Lucent. She has quickly become the other half of my brain, and if you can believe it—she is just starting her senior year at Yale!
I met Marisol when she and her friend Davis hosted me for a Master’s Tea on campus back in November. They’re both brilliant, motivated, long-time LAC readers. I first brought them on as interns in Q1 of this year; by the end of Q2 Davis was off to work with Susan Cain at Quiet, and I offered Marisol a paid position as my Director of Communications (working hourly and remotely) in May.
Here’s the job description I created for her role in case you’re looking to fill a similar one.
May was right around the time that SpringUps and Lucent really started heating up (in addition to the big Speak Like a Pro virtual conference that airs next week, and we’ve been perfecting our systems in the four months since, with Marisol putting in about 15 hours per week.
My two personal mottos when it comes to Systems and Operations:
- Each time you repeat a task, take one step toward automating it (borrowed from an agile development article I read a while back), and
- Business bottlenecks, stress and overwhelm are sign-posts to elevate your systems game (or to say no more often)
In today’s detailed 7-page resource, Marisol and I are sharing exactly how we work together, what systems we use, how we divide and conquer, and how we make sure nothing falls through the cracks while building four websites (and three businesses) at the same time.
How I work with My Communications Director
In this document, we cover:
- Workflow: What tools we use to communicate with each other
- Meetings: How we structure calls and updates in-between
- Social Media Management: What tools and systems help us automate and batch tasks
- Email Workflow: How we partner up on tackling communications with others
- How I Work with My Virtual Assistant: Systems & Strategy — Learn how to determine who to hire, what to delegate, and how to best set up your systems for efficient communication and administrative tasks.
- Email Exhale: Inbox Zero Toolkit ($10) — 50+ Tools, Templates and Systems to streamline your inbox and save your sanity.
- Business Ninja Tech Toolkit (Free) — Comprehensive list of all the tools I use for every aspect of my business.
Interested in a Private Consult?
1-Hour Deep Dive with Marisol
If you’re interested in learning more about how Marisol and I work together, we’re opening up a handful of spots for a one-on-one consulting call with Marisol.
Marisol (whose brain is every bit as systems-loving, detail-oriented and organized as mine) will share exactly how we work together, and you can ask her about any sticking points in your systems and communications. For those of you who have a social media or “right-hand” person on your team, you could also purchase the session for them and have them report back to you.
Half-Day Systems & Strategy Immersion with Jenny
I will also be offering a handful of half-day Systems & Operations immersion sessions in the Fall: 4-hours with pre- and post-work to help you set a strategy, systems and routine for your most important work. Once we set a high-level strategy for your business, I'll dig-in and actually help you get sh*t done, and am happy to answer any questions about my own systems as well. Think of these as part coaching, part consulting, part collaboration, and part "in the weeds" to check things off like maniacs. At least that's the speed at which I like to work! :)