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Virtual Assistants or VAs: What You Should Know About Offshore Talent

Lauren Hoover is the Co-founder and Chief of Staff at Doxa Talent, a firm that helps business leaders find full-time, dedicated, highly skilled workers from around the world. Before joining Doxa, Lauren served as the Chief of Staff at Guidant Financial, a company that helps entrepreneurs raise capital to start or buy a business. Previously, she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to a Member of Congress in the US House of Representatives. Lauren received a bachelor’s in business, management, marketing, and related support services from Kansas State University.

Welcome to The Future is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen, we feature top entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world, those who bring a global mindset and a unique perspective to their life and business. Now, let’s get started with the show.

David Nilssen  0:20 

Hi, I’m David Nilssen. And thanks for listening to The Future is Borderless. I am the host of the show. And here we connect with amazing entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world who have what I call a borderless mindset. I invite them on so that way they can sort of help bring visibility to new ideas, innovations, and even best practices, things that can be applied to both your personal and professional life, and all of which should help us grow in a rapidly changing world. Now, this episode is brought to you by DOXA Talent. DOXA Talent helps business leaders to find full-time dedicated, highly skilled workers from around the world. And this includes everything from accountants, executive assistants, sales, development reps, software engineers, and many other roles. And as a result of building an offshore capability, companies can scale faster increase margin and improve culture. To learn more about DOXA visit All right. Well, I generally interview people who I’m far less familiar with, and outside of our businesses, however, today I’ve invited Lauren Hoover onto the show. Now, Lauren is a co-founder and chief of staff at DOXA. Before DOXA, she was the chief of staff at Guidant Financial which has helped about 30,000 entrepreneurs find capital to start or buy a business. Early in her career, Lauren was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the head of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives. So she is a powerhouse and world-class in bringing out the best in leaders. I should also note that she studied Business Management Marketing and related support services at Kansas State University. Go Wildcats. So Lauren, welcome to the show.

Lauren Hoover  2:01 

Hi, it’s great to be here.

David Nilssen  2:02 

All right. So this should be a lot of fun. I mean, obviously, we work together. So, I’m hoping we’ll just have sort of a good conversation. When I did the introduction, I read the sponsorship message DOXA Talent is obviously our sponsor, and in DOXA that we help leaders find offshore talent. And as a result, we help them scale faster and increase margin. And I talked about all the different roles. There’s lots of those that we help people fill from social media managers, to attorneys, and even marketing automation specialists. But you helped to build a very specific competency inside of DOXA, around virtual assistants or VAs. And I remember the day that you said that you wanted to build that program. For me, it was a no-brainer. But VAs might be the most overused term I can think of and outsourcing. So I wonder if you could just start by sharing a little bit about like, in our nomenclature of what is a virtual assistant or VA, and why did you want to build this capability with us?

Lauren Hoover  3:05 

Yeah, that’s a great question. So we really think about VA, I think a lot of people think it’s some sort of unicorn role. And I think that can set you up for disappointment if you don’t have the right expectations. And so we really think about a VA as a couple different things. This is someone who can help you manage inbox and calendar management, they need to be able to do some light sales, development, maybe some marketing assistant, this is someone who can support an executive in travel booking and expense reimbursements, things like that, a little bit of social media, we like to think about it as some like content creation, a little bit of customer service in their background, as well as somebody who can probably manage data, documents, processes, research, things like that. So we think about it a little bit more defined in those types of terms. But really, it’s somebody who you can take things and delegate to them. That’s the number one thing that we’re looking for.

David Nilssen  4:11 

Yeah, I was just wondering, anything, anybody that, I was wanting to say owns a business, I think it’s just leaders in general, there’s so many things that they’re responsible for, it’s easy to get mired in the details, and not really focus on the things that are most important, those random tasks that come up in the VAs, at least in our experiences together really great at sort of taking those things off their plate and allowing them to focus on the things that they need to be doing that are going to advance the ball faster down the field, for lack of a better term.

Lauren Hoover  4:41 

Right. And it’s different for everybody. It’s not prescriptive, you might need somebody who can manage 90% of x and 10% of y. So we’d like to think about it more, as holistically looking at what somebody needs, not just plugging somebody with a certain set of capabilities into that role.

David Nilssen  4:58 

Yeah, can you maybe speak to, in your bio, I talked a little bit about how early in your career, you started as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the head of the Ways and Means Committee in Washington, DC, that had to have been an intense role. And then, of course, moved into corporate America get guidance. Can you talk a little bit about that experience and sort of how that’s prepared you to sort of build this program and really identify best-in-class talent?

Lauren Hoover  5:23 

Definitely. So I did, I started in Congress right out of college. And I like to think of that as sort of baptism by fire entering the workforce, because it was so intense on all fronts. And really, I started out as our staff assistant, so I joined a congressional office, my congressional office, and I was the staff assistant. And after a couple months of doing that, I think maybe four or five months, I decided I was ready to move on from talking to constituents and answering phone calls and things like that. And at the time, there’s a couple of different tracks you can take in a congressional office, it’s either sort of the legislative path, or a leadership path. And I sort of looked around at our office and said, well, there’s probably not going to be a legislative opportunity here, I don’t see any of my co-workers moving out of these roles. And so what does that look like for me, and so really sort of opportunistically just because I was bored in my role at the time, I looked to the role of a scheduler. And so we had a scheduler in the office, she basically handled ran the office, she managed the congresswoman’s time, things like that, and she happened to be departing. And so I just looked at that role and thought, well, this is my opportunity, I have to take what I can get. And this is what’s in front of me. And so I sort of somehow managed to talk myself into that role with five months of experience in the workforce. And it was a really natural fit. For me, it’s sort of managing the office and managing really important things in a strategic way, felt like a natural fit for me. And so that was sort of a big aha moment for me, when I realized that this is a different path that I could take, that was really aligned with my skills and my natural abilities and things like that. And so, I grew in that role from sort of her scheduler or as we would call it, an executive assistant in corporate America, to our Director of Finance and Operations or deputy chief of staff. And I have built, I’ve sort of taken those learnings and translated them to what we’ve built with DOXA, and that is this ability to grow from that staff, assistant, administrative assistant, whatever you want to call it, grow from that role, to more of a senior leadership position with an organization or an executive, or the government, whatever you want to call it. And that’s sort of how I’ve built the foundations of our program. And it’s different because they’re a concert concepts in there, like, this ability to manage up and really, what are those things that you need to be doing to advance yourself and that type of role to continue to really add value to an organization and learn new skills and things like that?

David Nilssen  8:18 

Yeah, I think that’s actually a really important distinction. I remember the first time I started working with vas, and this was before DOXA, what I found is that I had to spend a lot of time thinking about what to help them work on and just created more management for me which I need to just the opposite, I needed less of that. And so I think it’s just an important distinction to bring up your background there because when you say scheduler, some people won’t actually know what that means. But this is not a receptionist who is taking orders from people that are inbound, that are calling inbound, but rather managing this person’s calendar, making sure they know where they need to be what they need to be working on who they need to talk to. Very, very different. And also important to note that you also were the director of finance and operations in that office as well. So you were doing what a lot of the entrepreneurs and business leaders that we serve, really needs support from.

Lauren Hoover  9:16 

100%. And even my role thinking back on it, it’s tough to describe, I was involved in literally everything from, like you said, managing our budget, operating our office, having input on legislation, writing press releases occasionally. I was meeting with key people, fortune 500, CEOs and things like that, in addition to, like you said, literally managing the congresswoman’s life. And so, that’s a lot of responsibility. I can’t tell you how many times I heard her tell people, oh, I don’t know about that. You have to talk to Lauren. That’s above my pay grade. And obviously, it wasn’t above her pay grade, but you understand the sentiment. And so that was an enormous opportunity for me to take on such a role and at such a young age and learn so much for that from that and translate it to what we’re seeing today.

David Nilssen  10:09 

Yeah, well, good. I wanted to start though, because I think it’s really important to know your background, because you’re the one that sort of hand selecting and training these VAs Is this worth sort of bringing them on board. And I think it’s really relevant. So I want to talk about the way that people use VAs today, you talked at the very beginning about some of the types of tasks that can be given to a VA. But I’d love to understand, because a VA can’t actually do everything in an office. I mean, it’s not uncommon, somebody comes to us and says, I want an accountant, who’s also a social media manager who can do a little HTML. Oh, and they really need to be great as a scheduler for lack of a better term. That, obviously, is the unicorn that we hear people sort of promote in the industry, but what are what are some of the most common use cases that you see for Vas today?

Lauren Hoover  11:02 

Like I said, I think it’s different for everybody. And I think that it’s important to know what you want. And so you can have that tailored experience. And what I really mean by that is, maybe an organization needs some leverage on their marketing team, maybe they’re looking for that boost, and they need somebody who can do digital marketing and things like that. But I think some of the most successful pairings for lack of a better word that I see today are with CEOs and senior executive assistants. And I’ll give you an example. So we had a client who came to us and was looking for really great EA talent who could really support him in all of those key areas. And that’s really heavy sort of life support work and personal calendar management sort of arranging things. But he was on the precipice at the time of franchising his business. And so he was looking for someone who could do that. And so what we did is we found someone who matched his profile, somebody who was truly capable of doing some of these things of being really strategic partner of taking huge things off of his plate, so he could focus in other areas. And she happened to have a background in franchising. And so I think those situations are where we see the most leverage. And that’s a lot of what we’re seeing right now.

David Nilssen  12:36 

Yeah. Tell me a little bit about how you think that that pairing that you talked about, I mean, when we are looking for a virtual assistant, there’s a lot of people out there that say there are virtual assistants, so we get a tremendous number of applicants. But how do you know who to prioritize in that process? I mean, what are some of the non-negotiable things or skills that you’re looking for?

Lauren Hoover  12:59 

So you’re right, virtual assistant means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so one thing we did at DOXA, was to get really clear on what we considered a virtual assistant, what does that background look like? What does your experience and your education look like? Those types of things, all those fundamentals are really important. But something that we use is a behavioral assessment. And I found that that’s a really good way to sort of, separate the top performers and people who might not necessarily be set up to be successful in this type of role. And so we use that in a couple different ways. First, we use it as a filtering tool. So before we even spend time, interviewing a candidate, we have them take that assessment, and we’ve built parameters around what characteristics we know someone needs, and we use that as a filtering tool. So we’re pulling out people who don’t necessarily fit in with that. And so that’s the way that we use it on the front end. And we also use it, just really to pinpoint if an individual is naturally set up to be proactive, if they have an attention to detail, they have a strong follow through, do they have an ability to think logically and rationally, things like that. And so that helps us identify who we know can really perform well in this type of role. And the last way that we use it is really more of a matchmaking tool. And that is, when we have a client come to us, we also have them take this assessment, so we can understand how they naturally work, who they naturally are, and we can make a really intelligent pairing for them. And I think that that third area sort of cascades in terms of importance, but that third one when we’re really using it as a matchmaking tool, is where we see a lot of success.

David Nilssen  14:49 

Yeah, let me go back actually just reiterate a couple things. So you were saying that if you get 100 resumes, let’s say today, you ask them to take the assessment. The assessment takes like 10 minutes. They can take it in their native language, which most of them it’s English, but you know, a lot of them are native Tagalog speakers or so on. If they’re not willing to invest 10 minutes, they may not be that serious about the role. But if they do, and we find the skill set that we need, then that’s sort of the mode that moves in the next stage. But the third one is actually really critical. And I’ll just use myself as an example. So in this behavioral assessment, what you’ll find is, I’m a pretty extreme personality. But attention to detail is not necessarily a great strength. It’s something I can do. But it takes a lot of energy for me to be able to do that. So if Lauren, you’re working with me, and you were looking to find someone to support me, you’d be looking for somebody who has that really extreme attention to detail, but also enough drive, they can keep up. Is that right? So that’s just an example for those of you that are listening, and I’ll just make an offer for those of you that are listening to podcasts right now, if you’re interested in understanding a little bit more about your own personal profile, we’d be happy to run that. So you sort of get a sense for what the sort of perfect VA might look like in compliment to you. Okay, so Lauren, let’s pretend we’ve gone through the process. So you’ve found a good applicant, and that person matches really well with a particular client. Is there something that you think is critical, maybe something that you do with your clients to ensure that the VA is successful, long term that that match actually works from the get-go?

Lauren Hoover  16:29 

Yeah, that’s a great question. I think we have to look at holistically in terms of who this candidate is, what their background is, their experience, and also where they want to grow, or where they want to go in their future. And a big part of that is making sure that we’re hiring people who want to learn and grow with an organization, we’re very, very upfront about the fact that, we think of this as a long-term career for you to learn and grow in your role, and continue to add value in different ways. And so I think, when we present it, that way, it sort of attracts the right talent to us in the first place. But like, you alluded to matching people in the right way and in that behavioral assessment, I think that is a really good foundation to start with. But things that we prioritize in our training process are things beyond tools and software. We focus on a lot of character building how to build trust with someone in a virtual world how to really set yourself up to build that type of relationship. And also things like, how to be a leader Assistant, how to master the art of managing up. And I think that when you train somebody in that area, if they’re naturally capable of it, they’re going to continue to find ways to add to that relationship, and they’re going to improve on the skills that they need to get there. And so I think that’s a little bit of a differentiator, that helps set our pairings up for better success long term.

David Nilssen  18:04 

Yeah, I love this. I see, there’s a lot of VA companies out there. And what they actually sell to get people excited about as they don’t actually talk really about the VA, but they talked about all these tools and widgets that people can use to get them excited. It’s like selling all the sizzle without the steak. So I love that you’ve sort of developed this character building managing up skills that will help them be successful long term, because there’s always going to be the next tool. Speaking of which, when you think about the tools and sort of things that people are learning as they’re working with other CEOs, can you talk a little bit about how you help people sort of share what they’re learning along the journey within DOXA’s EA program?

Lauren Hoover  18:45 

You mean with our VIP assistance?

David Nilssen  18:48 

Yeah, exactly. So like if I was a VIP assistant, and I learned something interesting, can you talk a little bit about how I might share that with the other community and benefit the other customers per se?

Lauren Hoover  18:59 

That great, and also highlights a really good point in that, we aren’t just a company where somebody comes to you, and they hire a VA for a certain number of hours and you get your tasks done. We really have sort of a fully dedicated full community of support. And so this program that we’ve built within DOXA, we call it VIP assist, we landed on VIP, because we felt like, that really reflected the fact that people are the heart of the business. That’s why we call our team VIPs. And so our team, they’ve all gone through a training program, they’re all part of batches. And we built this online community within just simply Microsoft Teams, where we can interact, share training, share learnings, ask questions, get answers, get feedback, I mean, the opportunities are endless. And so I think there’s sort of a built-in group of people there to support our team and to give them some leverage and to make them feel more confident as well.

David Nilssen  20:02 

Yeah. And it’s a benefit for all customers. So if I learned something, I can share it with this community. And then it has the ability to impact others, both the VIPs, but the people that they serve. One thing that I’ve heard a lot as I’ve been talking to people who are interested in offshoring, you can tell that they really have this neat there, they don’t have the time, they’re concerned about like, their lighters imploding due to being too busy, but they’re not really sure what they can let go of. So how would you address this with someone who’s saying, like, hey, I’m really busy, I need help. I just don’t know what to delegate?

Lauren Hoover  20:39 

So there’s this little exercise that I know you’ve used before, that I use with people all the time. And it’s this simple exercise of creating a couple lists for yourself. In the first column, what are the things that you love doing that really add value to your organization? What are the things that only you are good at? Then what’s the list of things that you or your team should be doing that you don’t have time for, competitive research, data scraping, things like that. And then, what are the things that you’re doing or your team is doing that you really shouldn’t be, it’s not adding value, it’s administrative, it’s just not critical for you to be doing that. And so I think when we start with that list, people can sort of visually see, oh, I actually only like doing four or five things. And that’s where I add value. All of these other things are either missed opportunity, or it’s just spending time probably very expensive time on things that you don’t need to be doing. And so we start there. And then if we can look at that, and sort of help a client understand, what are you really looking for, then we have all these tools on the back end to say, okay, great. Well, we have a playbook for X, we can help you train this person how to do that, and things like that. So it sort of takes the, looking at it in terms of, okay, where do we really need to start, and then bringing in the tactical pieces, like the tools and some of those things that really make a difference?

David Nilssen  22:06 

Yeah, it’s funny, I always tell people when I did mine originally, I remember I love to be involved in the strategic planning, I want to be coaching executives, there’s the corporate development and business development aspects. And even the sort of what I call the external evangelism, the public relations, the public speaking, things like that. Things that we always talked about, that we couldn’t really get to were like, graphic design, little personal items, like for social badges, and so on, and so forth. Data scraping, you mentioned that a minute ago. And then there’s all this other stuff that needs to be done, like email and scheduling, travel booking, note taking from meetings, follow-up, anniversaries, birthdays, all that kind of stuff, and it just takes so much time to manage that stuff that can be easily delegated to somebody else. So yeah, I think that exercise is one that I think most people should spend some time really just doing an inventory of where am I really spending my time and what’s really adding value that I am only uniquely qualified to do? Tell me a little bit about mistakes that you’re seeing, like when somebody says like, hey, I need a VA, and they jump in with two feet. What are you seeing that? And this may be not even specific, just VAs, but where can people do better to make sure the relationship is set up for success?

Lauren Hoover  23:29 

So I think thinking like, oh, there’s one top mistake is probably your first mistake. So, there are many ways that can sort of go wrong from hiring the wrong person, not investing in onboarding, and not defining your role. I think all of those things are really important. But what I see as the biggest mistake in terms of hiring a VA, or an EA in particular, is not investing in a full-time dedicated resource. And I’ll tell you why. So, first of all, when we look at the talent out there, most people, certainly the people we target, it’s top talent, and they want to be in a position where they can really sink their teeth in, they have an opportunity to be a partner to someone, and to really grow in that type of role. And so, on one hand, it really helps us recruit better talent, when we can say, hey, we have a great career opportunity for you, not a position where you have to juggle seven clients and work seven days a week. And so it really helps us attract the best talent. And on the freelancing side, not even just freelancing, say you’re looking for a VA and you know, you can either go the freelancing route, try to find someone yourself, or if you work with a company, a lot of them do, most of their team members work on fractional basis. So whether that’s a client who’s buying a certain number of hours of work per month or a part-time resource, the bottom line is that when someone is juggling multiple clients, you’re never going to be the priority. And so if you want to just offload a few tasks, sure that can work out. But if you’re in a position where you really want this person to grow with you, and to continue to, like I said earlier, add value to an organization and things like that, it needs to be somebody who has the time to do that, who can spot those opportunities, who can proactively take things off your plate, and that person is not going to be someone who’s juggling multiple people.

David Nilssen  25:41 

Yeah. For some clients, I guess it’s fair to say for some people that may actually be what they want, which is what we’ve always talked about as task dispatching. I just need you to do these few things. But the reality is that when someone is, I mean, this is how VA companies improve their margin, right, as they steal batches of hours that you’re likely to underutilize, because it’s not a full-time resource. And where we’ve seen great success, I mean, I’ve seen this, certainly I have a full-time VA. But I’ve seen companies who have essentially effectively taken on one VA and shared that person amongst one or two or three executives, that can actually be done fairly effectively as well, right?

Lauren Hoover  26:23 

Totally. You bet. I think, yeah, the distinction comes when you’re sort of having to fight for yourself among these other clients, and really puts you in a position where you’re not a priority. And in fact, when you think about, I know some people have this question of, well, how am I going to fill this person’s time? First of all, we can help you work through that. But second of all, that’s the first thing that I asked our candidates in an interview is, what are you going to do if you find yourself having free time? And so when you start at that point, and people can articulate that, then you know, okay, this is a person who’s going to start with a company. And maybe they have a little free time, they realize, oh, Joan, and accounting is drowning, I have experienced that. And maybe I can throw my hat in, help her with a project, things like that. So that’s really what we’re looking for.

David Nilssen  27:12 

Yeah. I just realized a few minutes ago that you’ve used the term EA and VA. And we haven’t really talked about that. I mean, I think in the world of outsourcing or offshoring, people say virtual assistant, as if it’s the catch-all for everything. But you actually have designed some tears inside the program, will you speak to that for just a second,

Lauren Hoover  27:32 

I have actually under sort of the VIP assist banner, we like to think about it in a couple different ways, actually. And that is, sort of tiers of an administrative assistant is sort of more of a not entry-level, but they might have a couple of years’ experience in an administrative type role. And then we sort of jump up to a virtual assistant. And that’s typically where we see the most variety in terms of experience, background, things like that. And that gives us a little bit more wiggle room to construct a job that’s not super rigid. And then we think of it in terms of our EAs. And so these are more senior professionals who have had demonstrated experience working for an executive. And so, there’s a little bit of distinction in between there. And that’s, say you’re an entrepreneur, a virtual assistant might be right for you, because you need help with a little bit of email management and calendar management and a little bit of Social Media Design, and maybe they can help you with some invoicing, and sort of picking and choosing from a little bit of those different areas. But three years down the line, you’re going to want more of a senior executive assistant, who can really be an extension of you, and be a part of those projects and making those decisions and things like that. So we sort of have built a path within our program to help people grow into those roles.

David Nilssen  28:59 

Yeah, that’s great. So let me actually say that back because we’ve never really talked about in this regard. But the administrative assistant fair to say this is really a focused Administrative Professional, really back office, think about that. The virtual assistants sort of like the Swiss Army knife and I think that’s why you said, hey, look for our entrepreneur clients, their chief cook and bottle washer, they need support across a lot of different disciplines. Someone who’s got, sort of broad experiences and then the EA is really for that like focused, executive support, someone who’s got real skills managing up and help, sort of driving on that executive are entrepreneurs that right

Lauren Hoover  29:36 


David Nilssen  29:38 

Love it. Okay, cool. Well, let’s talk about timezone for a second because one of the more common questions that come up DOXA serves clients across the US, UK, Canada, Australia. Do you want to share a little bit about how the timezone affects, how we work with the different time zones?

Lauren Hoover  29:55 

Sure. So, we actually hire all of our team members proactively. So our team members that are going through this VIP assist program, as we call it, they’re going through sort of a DOXA bootcamp. And so they’re hired under a US schedule. So they sort of get used to it. And it’s, like I said, something we hire too, but we cater to pretty much any time zone. And so that’s part of our hiring process, our team members who are applying, they know right off the bat that they’re signing up for potentially an overnight position. And it’s something that’s really common in the Philippines, just because so much of their GDP is this BPO or this offshoring industry. And so it’s really common for people to work at night shift. And so, we do, we have team members who they go through our training on a traditional us schedule, and then they might transition to whatever schedule their client prefers their times in that they’re working in.

David Nilssen  31:01 

Yeah. I mean, we always tell our clients that, as you alluded too, Philippines outsourcing world sort of runs 24/7. It’s so important to their economy, it has to, and the government has made massive investments and infrastructure and technology and education to ensure that that continues to be really important to them. But something that’s really important to our organization, we were saying, we’re the offshoring solution for the conscious capitalist, because we pay very well in the market, we want to lift up those communities, we provide benefits. And they’re working with state-of-the-art technology, but we also where it’s appropriate, like to see people work, what we call a split shift. So someone can actually work direct overlap with somebody in just about any time zone, where it’s appropriate, sometimes we can modify the schedule, so there’s maybe three to four hours of overlap, that allows somebody to have the time that they need to collaborate, but also focus time and still not have to work throughout the entire evening. And I see that happen probably half the time, is that right?

Lauren Hoover  32:03 

Definitely. And in fact, as you know, I’m doing all of our final interviews, so I’ve interviewed literally hundreds of candidates, and something that surprised me a little bit that I continue to see is that it’s actually a big opportunity for women on simply because typically, they might not be able to work a traditional day shift. And I’ve talked to many women who are able to work, that night shift, they can spend time with their kids in the evening and put them to bed, they also get to wake up with their kids. And so it puts them in a position where, number one, they can still take care of their family, which is really important in Filipino culture, but also so they can earn and develop a career for themselves, while also doing it in a sustainable way for their family. And so that was something that sort of surprised me, that’s another benefit of that actually.

David Nilssen  33:01 

Love it. Let’s talk about security for a second. Whether someone’s an administrative professional, a VA, or an executive assistant, as you talked about a few minutes ago, a lot of them access to client information, sometimes what we call PII or personally identifiable information or even email? What are some of the steps that we’ve taken to make sure that we can be that flexible employer working with remote clients, but do it in a way that doesn’t compromise data security?

Lauren Hoover  33:32 

Right, so one thing we do is, we sort of own the whole setup. And by that, I mean, every new VIP at DOXA receives a DOXA, laptop, a setup, with their monitors, their headphones, everything like that. And so that enables us to own and manage the equipment. So we have mobile device management, we have complete oversight over what that machine is doing at all times. And so that gives us sort of a foundation of security that you don’t see everywhere. And so, we have that built-in. But we also, if you talk about someone who’s dealing with personal information and things like that, we use certain tools and software’s to help people manage that. And so that would be things like LastPass that enable you to save your passwords and share them with somebody in a way that can’t be compromised. And so I think when you sort of have that overarching security blanket that we have, and then you add in some of those tools and things like that, it really makes people feel comfortable and there’s sort of that built-in layer of trust and security.

David Nilssen  34:48 

Yeah, I remember watching an online webinar around virtual assistants one time and somebody asked the question, what do you do about security? And the person was providing said, well, you and send them an encrypted laptop. I’m not even sure what they meant by that. But it showed that there was just a little bit less thought behind how that’s all put together, always important for us to make sure we’ve got the, it’s our hardware, we’ve got the remote management tools, it up was turned on and off computers, we can determine what can be downloaded versus not to a computer, we could spend them up in virtual workspaces. I mean, all that stuff is so important. And then to your point, there’s lots of great tools out there that also allow the sharing of information without divulging too much that might compromise the client. Let’s talk about cost for a second, it’s not uncommon for me to see things on the internet, say, like, you can get a VA for $5 An hour or sometimes even cheaper. How do you address this? And what are you seeing in the market today?

Lauren Hoover  35:48 

Well, I think just like anything, you get what you pay for. And if you’re paying someone $5 an hour to be your VA, you’re giving up a lot. So if that’s a freelancer, it might be, you don’t have insight into their background or their experience, you don’t have control over what they’re doing with your information. You’re not a priority. I mean, like I said before, if you’re not in a position where this person is prioritizing you, if that’s the situation, if it’s on a dedicated resource, if it’s someone who’s just making a couple of bucks. And so I think there’s a lot of disadvantages to going with a low-cost option. But ultimately, I think that it’s just being that having that fully dedicated resource can be such a huge benefits. And when you think about it, in terms of, what you might pay in the US or in the UK for the same type of resource, it’s still quite the difference.

David Nilssen  37:00 

Yeah, it’s pretty common, I think, for people in this industry, to try and find a young talent that comes at a very, very low cost. And because they’re typically managing behind the scenes, they’re not as worried about the turnover either. And so, you see a lot of those offers out of the gates. One thing I’ll just note, I agree with you this. If somebody is getting assistance for $5 an hour, they’re either contracting that person, or they’re not providing benefits, helping them pay their taxes, making sure that their basic human needs are met. And that’s something that’s philosophically very important to us is to make sure that we are not providing labor at the expense of labor, but that everyone wins in the equation.

Lauren Hoover  37:49 

Totally. And I think there’s a certain peace of mind as an entrepreneur, as a small business owner that comes with knowing that your staff is being taken care of.

David Nilssen  37:58 

You can do it cheap, but it’s also worth doing right. All right, let’s talk about, I guess, really the last question that I have for you for today, at least, who shouldn’t have a VA? We spent a lot of time talking about what is a VA, how it works, what you can delegate what it might cost. But who do you think should not have a VA?

Lauren Hoover  38:18 

I think if you truly are struggling with defining what you need, I think that’s something that we can help with. I think, in most cases I see, if you don’t have the time to onboard someone, well, that’s sort of the determining factor. If you’re just willing to take someone and dump a bunch of responsibilities on them, it’s unlikely to be a successful relationship long-term. So I think to me, you have to be in a position where you’re willing to spend a little bit of time and to get this person set up right. Because when you onboard someone in the right way, it really sets them up to be in a position long term where they can be proactive or make decisions because they had that information, they know who to go to, they can rely on that, as opposed to just sort of trying to fill in the blanks frantically behind you.

David Nilssen  39:15 

Yeah, I’d also note like, I think there’s a offering a sort of created this new what I would call openness to offsite work, but it’s forcing managers to also shift the way that they manage right from management by site where I can actually physically see you to management by objective and I think that is something that somebody really needs to search around as well. I’ve met a lot of people who want and say that they’re someone who can do that, but have not yet fully embraced and I think you’re going to work with an offshore resource that’s just going to have to be the reality is that you become more management by objective. So let’s talk about just the current state of what I would call the environment today as more and more companies have shifted towards offsite work and this talent shortage that is now literally infecting every business owner I talk to, people are sort of more open to these offshoring alternatives. And it’s giving the industry a nice boost. But what would you tell anyone who is thinking about offshoring or getting a virtual assistant but has just not taking the leap yet?

Lauren Hoover  40:22 

I think that it’s important to do your research. And that’s what I always tell people to understand what’s out there, how that might match up to what you’re actually looking for, before you go down that path. And I think having a defined idea of what you’re looking for is one of the most critical things. So even if I have someone who comes to me and says, oh, I’m looking for an executive assistant, I say, great, what do you need them to do? And so when you sort of have somebody defined what they’re really looking for, that can really help drive the rest of the process. And so if somebody doesn’t know what they’re looking for, I think helping them to define what that looks like. And then what it could look like, in terms of talents. I think that’s what I would tell somebody who is starting to go down this path.

David Nilssen  41:15 

I love it. Yeah, I think so many people that hear about the VA, and they think, oh, that sounds great. So they’ve now identified a solution and go in search of a problem. But really, the idea is to get clear on what’s the real root need, and then we can help them solve for that.

Lauren Hoover  41:29 

Exactly. And let us do the work for you. You don’t need to get to that end solution. You need to get to the point where, what you need, let me know what leverage can we bring to you? What do you need help with? And we’ll fill in the blanks will tell you, what kind of talent we have, what their backgrounds are, like, why we target certain types of people and what all of that looks like on the back end.

David Nilssen  41:52 

Awesome. Well, we’ll leave it there. We’ve been talking to Lauren Hoover, co-founder and chief of staff at DOXA Talent. Lauren, if people want to learn more about you and the VA program that you’ve helped to develop, where can they go?

Lauren Hoover  42:04 

You can absolutely go to Or feel free to shoot me an email directly at [email protected].

David Nilssen  42:12 

Awesome. All right. Thanks again for being on the show.

Lauren Hoover  42:14

Thank you.

Outro  42:17 

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