Podcast

Business Systems Simplified with Diane Lam

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Episode 55 – The Sixth Degree with Emily Merrell – Business Systems

How do you scale a business? Is it hiring an employee or team? Implementing a CRM system or investing in fancy business tools? While it’s overwhelming to think about scaling a business, building systems is an important part of it. Diane Lam is the Queen of scaling empires through helping individuals build the systems they need for their business to flourish. While it’s not a one-stop shop for everyone, Diane breaks down the steps you need to take to simplify your business systems. 

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What a systems & operations expert entails and what Diane can do for your business.
  • Diane’s journey: an entrepreneur that didn’t want to be an entrepreneur, and went to work in corporate.
  • How to find the systems that work for your business. Diane talks about making a shift in the way businesses owners see the systems: it’s all about processes.
  • And then what? Diane shares her technique to start organizing your process.
  • Diane talks about the common mistakes she made at the beginning and shares some helpful tips for anyone starting their business. 
  • Let it go: you won’t be able to do everything in your business. But there are some ways to help you delegate. 

Visit Diane’s website and don’t forget to try her free quiz to know which system will help you to uplevel your business.

Instagram: @dianelam.co

Facebook: @dianetlam.co

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SPEAKERS

Emily Merrell, Diane Lam

Emily Merrell

Welcome to The Sixth Degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrell. Hello, and welcome back to The Sixth Degree with Emily Merrell, the podcast where we grow our guests about the things that make them tick, and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily. And today I’m so excited to have my friend Diane Lam, founder of Diane Lam Co on the show, Diane, welcome to the show.

Diane Lam

Hi, Emily. I’m so happy to be here with you.

Emily Merrell

I’m so happy to have you as well. And I truly feel like I did a disservice by not calling out that you are the system’s queen. I think you are literally known in our community at Six Degrees Society as like all things systems focused.

Diane Lam

Yeah, I think that that’s something that is definitely in my wheelhouse. systems, operations. automations, all of those things are just my jam.

Emily Merrell

So you haven’t changed it to your middle name officially yet.

Diane Lam

You know, the paperwork is in process.

Emily Merrell

Okay. Okay, perfect. Well, it’s, it’s, it’s incredible. That too, I we had an event with Diane, a few weeks ago, I want to say a few months ago at this point, and it was sold out, people were just so excited to learn about systems. And, you know, you think systems is like not a sexy thing. But Diane, I have to say you do a great job of making…of bringing sexy back to systems.

Diane Lam

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I think that’s so sweet of you to say, and I think systems are sexy, and I get it right. Like no one thinks a system is sexy. But you know, there’s things that like, I think, well, operating businesses are sexy, you know, being time off whenever I feel like it because I can, that’s sexy. And that’s the power of your systems.

Emily Merrell

Oh, I love it. Well, so you know, you are someone who you classify, I always like to say like, how would you tell… How would you introduce yourself to an Uber driver? I mean, for me, it’s always confusing when they’re like, what do you do? I’m like, I planned events, no but what do you really do, what kind of events? So, you know, you had said earlier that you are a systems and operation expert. So what is a systems and operation expert? What do they do? And how did you get into this role?

Diane Lam

That’s such a good question, right? Like I say, I’m a systems and operation expert, just because it’s easy, and it’s digestible. And it can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different businesses. But my focus is really there to help the businesses, make sure that they can run on an ongoing basis and make sure that they’re running smoothly. And it’s not just like, you know, fire after fire, like I have a, I had a client who described as like, my business is, was like a dumpster fire before you came in and was able to put in processes and make sure that we had the right tools and that we were all using them in the same way. So that things were just easy and streamlined for them to continue operating in a way that felt like flowy and easy. I feel like that’s a lot of words to say that like it’s about making your business easier run on an ongoing basis.

Emily Merrell

You kind of like Fung Shui the business in a way, like put things in the right places and make the room work and…or the business work and flow with each other.

Diane Lam

Exactly right. It’s like making sure all the components are talking to each other. The team knows how to talk to each other, making sure all the tools talk to each other so that it just works, right? Isn’t that what every business owner kind of was like, I just want to blink my eyes and have it work

Emily Merrell

And so you know, before you had your own business, you were crushing the corporate world. So what’s your journey that got you I want I don’t want to say a peon because you’re more than a peon, but starting off young Diane, you know, killing it every single day in the corporate world to recognize, you know, it’s time for you to start your own thing.

Diane Lam

So, like I never actually wanted to start my own business. I worked with a lot of sales guys on Wall Street, I work with a lot of investment bankers, I saw what that pressure was like, and when you own a book, when you have to bring in business for yourself. And I always told myself, I am never going to be that person. I’m never gonna have my own business. It’s so much easier to just be the person at the company who’s doing the work and getting my paycheck. It wasn’t until I would say I’ve been in corporate for a long time, I’d made a big a bunch of big pivots. And I’d always learned by trial by fire, right? I have roles created for me, because they’re like, Oh, you know how to do that. Like, let’s just build this rule for you. And then after a while, it got a little bit boring. I lost the challenge, right? Because I like working in corporate eventually things become the same. Things are supposed to be the same. That’s how corporations run really well is that your operations are smooth. They are easy, they are ongoing, they’re continuous. And that’s when I started to look kind of like, well, I want to do something else. I am tired of playing the politics game. I’m tired of it. Not being able to just build however I want to build things, I’m tired of not being able to do whatever I want to do or like executing my own vision. And that’s when I decided I’m going to step out on my own and just, I built empires for a lot of other people, why can’t I build it for myself? That was the big lightbulb, aha moment that made me want to step out on my own.

Emily Merrell

And when you stepped out on your own, did you have a type of client that you were interested in serving? Or did you…the clients kind of come naturally one by one?

Diane Lam

So the funny thing is, is like, I felt okay with the idea of being an entrepreneur, before I actually even really have the solid idea of what I wanted to do. The original concept for my business was a, like a staffing slash virtual assistant agency. And that is like, miles from where I am now. Because I knew I knew how to train people I knew I knew how to, like, get them working. And I’m able to work in a way that was really seamless for the business owner. So that was the first idea. And it was like, literally iteration after iteration, and tweaks after tweaks before I landed on just doing the operations consulting and the systems going to closing because that’s the piece that I actually really enjoy doing.

Emily Merrell

It’s funny how we deviate sometimes from like, what comes natural to us. And we’ve tried to make it a little more complicated or harder. And yet, you were such a rockstar at doing the operations and the systems and the building. But you didn’t want…you didn’t, when you thought of starting a business you didn’t think of that right out of the gate.

Diane Lam

No, it never felt natural. It’s like honestly, like, for me, when I started my own business. Yes, it felt okay with it. And kind of naturally, I guess maybe an extension of my finance background, or my corporate background is like, I need to chase the money, right? Let’s make something that is going to sell versus, you know, starting with, well, what am I really, really great at and what do I actually really like to do? I’d heard that concept. And I was like, okay, whatever that sounds like some nonsense. That’s literally what I thought. And that’s where I was, like, I built the business around something i thought was gonna sell. And I was like, I don’t want to do this. I don’t like managing this many contractors, like there’s, I don’t like being a manager, I don’t like kind of this administrative kind of work that we’re doing when I know that I can add value in other places of the business. And all it just never felt like a good fit. Like I resented the work that I had to do, even though I was being paid for it. And I mean, any entrepreneur will tell you that that’s not a great place to be.

Emily Merrell

And I so feel that. And I think I like what you said also about being in the corporate world like I liked it is because she didn’t have to think about it money comes in. And I think most entrepreneurs that I’ve talked to her interviewed on this podcast, even everyone was struck with something I like to call the entrepreneurial seizure, which you if you did read the E Myth Revisited. He talks about that entrepreneurial seizure, and it’s so real it like I was so with you, Diane, I loved a 401k and health benefits and being able to go to the doctor and get checkups whenever I wanted to. I took it for granted. But I also was really appreciative at at the same time when thinking about entrepreneurship. And then when that moment comes when you’re like, I don’t care about that doctor’s visit, or going to the dentist twice a year, I really need to do this something needs to be born within me and screw it all. Did you have a moment like that?

Diane Lam

Yeah, I was going through like, I thought I had like a really bad case of…where I’m just like, I’m bored with life, nothing is exciting. Like, I can’t be like, there’s just like, nothing to look forward to. And I really started to realize it’s like, you can’t pay me enough to be here I’m making, like, I mean, say this. And, you know, hopefully the people I used to work with don’t hear this, or like, take it in a certain kind of way. But I was getting paid stupid amounts of money. And I was like, You can’t pay me enough to want to be here at all. Like, I’m just not engaged. I’m not interested. I’m not interested in like this vision, I have my own vision for what I want for myself and my life. And that’s becoming way more important to me that making sure that I have a really cushy 401k making sure that I have like consistent amounts of money because honestly, I was like spending all my time shopping on the internet and like planning vacations trying to find that thing that would like excite me again. And it wasn’t until I really left corporate and I was in this place where like I had had… I’m starting on the ground I’m not anywhere near the top of the ladder and and i gotta figure it out like yes there’s a certain amount of fear but also like, Oh, this is kind of exciting. Like I can do whatever I want. Yeah

Emily Merrell

yeah. And you feel alive I felt you know in that moment like so alive in my brain was firing on all cylinders. I my body was firing, like everything was just working together. And I so feel you with that. Like your brain was atrophying being in that place where you’re just complacent and you’re spending money because you can and do…

Diane Lam

None of it is bringing any joy, right? Like, I’m not excited about it. I’m like I do it because I can but not really, because like I want to, or like a brings me any kind of satisfaction.

Emily Merrell

Well, I’m so glad you’re here on the other side. And so the theme of today’s podcast, I really want to dive into systems because, you know, I have 1000 questions. So I’m selfishly going to ask you a lot of the questions that I have about systems. But I also know that our listeners, this was your event was one of the most well attended events that we’ve hosted all year. And again, as I mentioned, people were more just like chomping at the bit to learn from you and to learn more. So one of the things with systems, at least for me, I get so overwhelmed thinking about systems because I feel like I need to I think of Zapier and I think of like all the technology and tools and how do I make them talk to one another? And If This Then That. So, you know, before I start spiraling? Where do you recommend people start when thinking and considering delving into systems in their business?

Diane Lam

Like, I totally hear you because this is something that I hear all the time, right? When I do a systems presentation, or people know that I work with systems, they immediately ask like, Oh, well, what’s the best CRM tool? Or what’s the best project management tool? Or what’s the best email service provider? Or like, how do you do this integration, I invite everyone who is kind of thinking about their systems or you know, want to build systems within their business, to kind of shift your perspective around the way that you think about systems because systems are not tech systems are just the process to get what you actually want, right? So if you have a result in your business, like you want to market in a certain kind of way, or you want onboarding to happen in a certain kind of way, your system is the steps to get that outcome that you want. Right. So that’s the biggest shift that I think that business owners really need to make before they even dive into creating their systems. Because if you think it’s all about the tech, then you’re kind of starting, you’re putting the cart before the horse, right? Because before you can even pick the right tech tools, you have to understand well, what is the process that I want to create? Like, what are the steps that need to happen? I can’t pick the tools until I know what the steps are,

Emily Merrell

what do you do? Or how do you recommend people? Let’s start thinking about the steps they need to do? Because Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I’m thinking like, should I be using Trello? And is Salesforce, the right fit for me? And really, I’m not thinking, why do I need any of these tools? And what’s this? What’s the problem I’m trying to solve?

Diane Lam

So the problem is really like, okay, so when you think about the tools that you want, say, you know, like a CRM system or a project management tool… Well, this problem is usually like, I’m disorganized. I don’t know where all my stuff is, I don’t know where my leads are. I don’t know how I’m going to I forget to do follow up. Those are usually the things that are happening within your business, right? So when you think about, I don’t know where my files are, I don’t know where my work is, I don’t know what step my team is on in their work, you should think about, well, what would you like the result to be? Would you like to see updates every week? Do you want to see updates every day? Do you want to see it laid out in a particular kind of way? Those are things I would start to ask myself. And those are questions that I asked my clients, like when you were building out a lot of their systems like, Well, how do you want to see this data? Where is it all? Now? How are you working through it on a day to day basis? Right? Like, are you writing it all in your notebook and crossing it off the list? And then what happens next, if you actually talk yourself through it like? And then what is usually my favorite question when I’m thinking about systems, so I write it in my notebook, okay. And then what, you know, I send an email to the client, okay, and then what, what else goes into all of that, and that’s actually your process, 99% of the time, you already have a process. And it’s just a matter of refining it and tweaking it so that it becomes more efficient, and that you can plug in the right tech tools to actually automate the process.

Emily Merrell

I think a big frustration I’ve had even you know, working with a marketing team, or working with a virtual assistant is like assuming that their mind readers that they know everything that is going on in my mind, and when it’s not given to me or presented in the way that I would do it, I just get frustrated. And I’m like, Well, why didn’t they know that? And really, it’s on me, because I didn’t communicate it clearly, or whatnot. So I think what you just explained is a perfect example of like creating these systems or these processes, where it’s like, a glimpse into my mind that I so you can understand why I’m thinking this way and or have that person replaced this super repetitive thing that I’m doing and probably shouldn’t be doing.

Diane Lam

Yeah, exactly. And honestly, like, the whole point of getting support within your business or creating the system is so that you can take yourself out of it. So the system is really just like, well, what is it that you’re doing to get that result that you want at the end, right? Like if you want if you’re doing all the marketing, what are you doing in marketing, that’s the only way that you are going to be able to replace yourself and honestly, like, what A lot of teams situations that my clients come to me with, like nine times out of 10. It is not the contractors problem, there’s just been a breakdown in communication. I think you can’t like, it’s totally possible to get like read your mind level of support. And a lot of that comes down to like, Well, how do you train and onboard these people? Well, you need systems to be able to do that, like when you’re verbally spraying them with all of these things, like, Oh, I need you to do this, and this and this. And this Oh, and by the way, this, oh, and then next Tuesday, I want that thing. There’s no way for them to really keep track. And I mean, most times, I find people want to do a good job, right? They want to support people that they’re working for. But if you don’t give them tools to be successful, then I mean, it’s really a breakdown in leadership at that point,

Emily Merrell

that’s so resonates, if they don’t, if you don’t give them the tools to be successful to break down in leadership. So, so, so smart, and so true. I’ve been out of the corporate world for over five years now, which is kind of mind boggling to think about, I’ve had my, I’ve had my business for about as long as I was in corporate, which is really weird to think I’m like, a bit like this forever in corporate and now like, this time went by so fast, how did that happen? And my husband is still in the corporate world more in the startup capacity. And there’s been so many times that I’m like, I, I’m gonna fire them, or this is gonna happen. He’s like, did you give feedback? Like, no, I’m just mad. He’s like, well, you have to give feedback. So then they can change it. And I’m like, but I’ll do it better. If I do it myself. You know, he’s like, the only way that people can improve is if you tell them why, and give them the solutions, how to or something like that, you know,

Diane Lam

you’re gonna give them a chance, right? Like, people can’t read your mind, and you have to give them a chance to actually be successful and to support you.

Emily Merrell

100%. So, actually, I have two questions. One, if we’re starting a company, and let’s pretend that someone has the opportunity to build solar systems from the ground up, where do you recommend that they start? And then my second question to you is, if you are five years into your business, and you have some systems, like, how do you get reorganized?

Diane Lam

So, yes, I think systems really start with the phase of your business, right? So if you are literally just getting started, there’s probably a lot of stuff on your plate, like, chances are, you’re probably a solopreneur, chances are, you’re probably doing a lot of things that you weren’t doing in your corporate job that you maybe don’t know how to do, you’re not the best at things. Like I know, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out HTML code, because I was going to build up my own WordPress website and all those things, right.

Emily Merrell

That’s amazing.

Diane Lam

So I mean, I was gonna learn Python, I feel are all these things like I bought all the courses, I think that when you are just getting started, the system that you’re really going to focus on are ways for you to really start getting comfortable with having support, because there’s a lot of things that you can save time and accelerate your growth by not wasting time on things that you’re not great at, right? Like when I think back on myself, and I’m like, Oh, yeah, I spent weeks and weeks and weeks, trying to figure out how to use how to connect blue hose how to like code things on my website, like it was a waste of time when all I really needed to do was I need to be marketing, right? So I didn’t feel comfortable letting go of something, or I didn’t know how I would work with someone if I were to delegate it. And I also didn’t know like, okay, is this is this going to be the what I want it to be like, I didn’t know how he’s going to explain it to someone else. So I think when you’re first getting started, a lot of your focus really goes to marketing. And you do have to do that as the business owner, because you’re still setting the tone of your business. So your system should really be focused around, how am I going to work with someone else if I want to, like delegate a few things off my plate, right? Because you’re never going to do it if you don’t feel secure and comfortable, or like you can actually let it go. So I suggest really starting on like, how are we going to work together? How am I going to get you information? How are you going to get feedback back to me? How are we going to know if we’re on track and this project is going to be successful or this work is going to be successful? Those are the places that I would focus my system, right? It seems counterintuitive, because it doesn’t feel good to say oh, I’m gonna hire or I’m going to get a freelancer to do this when I’m just getting started. But honestly, like, if I could go back, that’s probably one of the things I would change. It’s like the website was one thing, but there were like 100 other things that I was wasting time on that I didn’t know how to do. I wasn’t great at but I thought I was just going to do because that’s what business owners do. Right?

Emily Merrell

Someone gave me a piece of advice early, not early enough in my business, but pretty early on in my business. And she asked me, is this a CEO task? Every time you do something think is this CEO task would you…would the CEO of Amazon or Uber be doing this task? And it was usually the time that I’d be asking myself that is typically like when I am entering in names or I’m just doing something so menial, like even when I used to create the bios, I created every single bio, and I thought that was my job and that’s I needed to do that because I didn’t create the bios and how would I met Memorize everyone that was in the room. And I still have memorized everyone that’s in the room. And it’s now done for me. Perfect. But you know, it’s interesting, just asking yourself those tasks like, is this something that is either money making or CEO?

Diane Lam

Definitely, definitely. And I get it that people are going to say, Oh, well, it is everything’s a CEO class when you get started, because I don’t have any money. But actually, like I know we’re working on like, this is probably might feel like a little bit out of the realm of things. But like, I also don’t want people to be afraid of hiring because honestly, there are people and resources available every price point. And that’s a big mistake that I also see where people like, I’m gonna hold on to this until I hit like 200k in revenue, because then I’ll be able, then I’ll have money, I’m like, Well, actually, you’re not going to get to 200k. If you’re still manually entering all of those business cards into your database, there’s not enough hours in the day, for you to get to the important stuff you can delegate you can outsource earlier on. And honestly, that’s probably one of the big places where I see people accelerating faster is when they have that support, because then they can really hone in on the CEO tasks like,

Emily Merrell

Yeah, I think that’s such a good reminder. Also, in terms of hiring, it’s not like you have to hire a director of design or co founder or director of marketing. Hiring can be those little people and not little people were so appreciative of what they do. But like that virtual assistant or a bookkeeper, like I made the mistake of doing my books the first year, I ended up paying more money to hire someone to fix my books at the end of the first year. And I probably spent about 18 hours crying on trying just to figure out what I was doing.

Diane Lam

Yeah, I did the same thing where I sat in the dark, like, I’m like, I’m not leaving until I figure out how to do this quick book thing. And I was like, I was sitting at like, my, on my couch in front of the coffee table. And it was like 10:30 I’m like, why am I still working on this? Like, why? I’ve had moments with QuickBooks, and so many other things where I’m like, this is not a good use of my time. This is not a good use of my time,

Emily Merrell

I could be making so much more money if I was doing something else. Which also reminds me of taking an assessment of like those tasks that you do. And do you have any advice for people who are struggling with letting go? Like, where should they start to they start with a virtual assistant, you initially wanted to have a virtual assistant company?

Diane Lam

Well, it depends, right, like, um, I think that the rule that you hire depends on where you are in your business, and depends on what you really need, what’s gonna really get your lift, right. And I think that doing an activity inventory of some sort, like, you know, dump it all out and kind of see where your tasks are falling. So you’ll know what’s gonna actually give you ROI, what’s gonna give you lift, what’s gonna give you back time, is a really important piece of it’s like, it could be a virtual assistant, it could be another role, maybe you need to automate something, maybe you need a tool, maybe you need a salesperson, maybe you need a coach to help you with like marketing or just wanting to be visible. So those are the things that you’re going to see if you can kind of dump out your tasks and where you’re really spending a lot of your time. So that’s where I really encourage a lot of people to start. But I also kind of want to like I believe in hiring, I believe in hiring early on, I believe in getting support. But I also believe in like, it’s not always just a virtual assistant, right? Like, sometimes you need something else. But sometimes, like you need a project manager, like I know, my first hire wasn’t necessarily like her, she called herself a VA. But most of our tasks were marketing tasks, because I’m not good at being on social media, like I don’t know how to use those tools. And I needed a lot of help on that side. Right. So that’s where I got a lot of lift, being able to, hey, now I’m marketing, now I got leads coming in. And I can still deliver because I’m not wasting all my time trying to figure out how to use Canva. And make these graphics and things like that. So like review what you’re doing and see what error you’re actually going to get lift on your plate on your time. And so you can focus on the things that are actually going to make you money.

Emily Merrell

I love that. I think that’s so so, so helpful. You mentioned a few things earlier about when you had started your business like you wish you had done, you know, not done Python and not not been coding in HTML, your website, Are there any other things that you wish you knew that you want to pass on to new entrepreneurs?

Diane Lam

Like Looking back, I was like, there’s just so many things, like… I like I heard of them. All right, like you hear them as like people. Oh, we I mean all the cliche mistakes that every single person like every single new entrepreneur makes right. And looking back, it’s like, yeah, I can check the box on all of those things that I did a lot of marketing mistakes. I think I really thought that I’m just going to send one email. I’m going to put up one post and I’m going to agonize about this post. And I’m going to feel my heart racing right before I click the Post button. But this is going to be one thing that goes viral and it’s going to like fill my business and I’m like, Oh, no, marketing is the long game. Right? Like it’s about being consistent over time. I need help doing this. It’s not going to be one post, one message, one outreach that’s going to fill my business like that’s a big mistake that I made and also the mindset side of things were the reasons why I didn’t want to do marketing or Why I would feel my heart racing before I hit post was because I didn’t feel good being visible. And at the end of the day, I’m the face of my business, it actually took me a long time to get to the point where it’s like, I’m okay with my business being named after me. Like, I was always looking for a really cool glitzy, like company name to hide behind. And it was when I actually was like, This is what I do. This is who I am. This is my name. And I’m gonna put it out there. And that’s when I saw massive traction in the business.

Emily Merrell

I think those are all great, great things. And yes, the the feeling of like the one email and you get no responses back, like I should cancel the program, I shouldn’t do it like no one’s bought. Yeah, you take like seven emails to get one, one person to pay attention. But Diane, can you share with us? How you work with your clients? So you know, you’re the systems and operations expert? But what what why would someone hire you, you’re not doing the work for them? What’s it like to work with Diane,

Diane Lam

a lot of times I am doing a lot of the work for them, right? I might at the highest level, like I will build everything for you. Because I want to guarantee your ability to scale. So I will build all the systems, I will pick all the software’s I will set them all up, and then I will hire and train the support team. Right. So that is a possibility.

Emily Merrell

Wow, that’s amazing.

Diane Lam

It’s the full service, right? I think business owners should be successful, like anyone who wants an empire should have it. And it’s actually really easy if you have the right foundation in place. So I’ll guarantee that foundation for you, because I’m going to build it for you. But a lot of what it comes down to is like, okay, business owners who are operating and growing. They’re looking for certainty, right? They want to feel secure in their business. So it’s all about like, let’s, what systems and tools, do we need to get you feeling secure, right? Like, where are you freaking out in the business where you feel like, Oh, my God, I have to check in again, or I don’t know where this stands. I don’t know what’s happening with this client? Or where do you feel like I just I don’t know, and it freaks me out. And then let’s build systems around that. Because that’s how you can gain security because the system is about making it repetitive and easy to follow. So anyone can do it. And that’s where we focus a lot of time on what needs to happen in marketing, for you to feel really confident and secure and know that it’s happening and just like be able to set it and forget it put out of your mind, what do you need to do to just feel confident and be prepared to just show up and do sales, right? Or when you’re onboarding clients, what needs to happen when what is the experience you want them to have? So that you know that, hey, if this all happened, this client had every single one of the experiences that I wanted to have them to have, and we can move them safely into discovery. And I feel really good and secure about the overall process. Right? So those are all the things that we’re I’m asking them is more focused on like, Well, what do you need to feel okay about this? And what does that process really look like for you? And I can build a system around anything?

Emily Merrell

Wow, I feel like you’re like a chief of staff too, like you’re you’re getting everyone organized for battle or for war and able to go in confidently with all the tools and tackle whatever needs to be tackled. How long do you typically work with your clients for? Is it something where they hire you for just the building? Or do you stay long term?

Diane Lam

So I usually just do short term engagement, because the building is what I get really excited about. Like, I just want to, like, give me the strategy. And I will tell you exactly how to do it. Like that’s my favorite thing. Like I can build anything. So it depends, right? So my clients who are working with me at the highest level, we work together for about four months. And then I also do intensives, right for like, Hey, we just need to really build out and formulate that dream team and know how they’re going to work together. We can do that in like two days, I just need to know what my whole tech suite is going to look like and how it’s going to work together. We can do that in two days. I guess it’s really like short term or long ish term. But I don’t really do ongoing contracts anymore, just because once I built everything, it’s actually less expensive to have someone that I hire and train maintain the system. At my mean, once the system is built, that’s the whole point is that we can have someone else in there doing it on an ongoing basis.

Emily Merrell

That’s amazing. Again, I think you are like the biggest gift that someone could give their business to have that help and support an organization and I keep going back to like Fung Shui and Marie Kondo. It’s, it’s like sometimes you don’t know what you need to clean up until you have an outside perspective help you get clear about what’s working and what’s not working.

Diane Lam

Exactly. It’s hard to kind of see what the full scope of your businesses are what’s working, you’ll know what’s not working, but it’ll be hard to see like what’s working really well from that lens because like all you’re feeling is the pain at that point where it’s like, oh my god I can zero in on is all the things that feel not good or don’t really work for me.

Emily Merrell

I completely agree. Well, you know, switching gears a little bit, Diane, how can we find out more about your extraordinary services and learn more about the Diane empire that is out there.

Diane Lam

You can follow me on social I’m on Instagram @dianelam.co you can check out all my fun reels I’m like getting into like my creative side. So I also give good really good business tips while I do it. So I think that’s a really great resource for you guys to just kind of follow me and just learn a little bit more about what I’m about.

Emily Merrell

That’s amazing. Well, I love ending my conversations with our incredible entrepreneurs, talking some six fast questions, getting to know you a little bit more intimately. So the first question I have for you, Diane is tell us an unknown fun fact about you.

Diane Lam

Unknown Fun fact is that, oh gosh, well, I don’t know if this is a fun fact. But it’s definitely a fact about me, is that I have a phobia of cheese. It’s like irrational and consistent. I was traumatized as a child, like I had to eat…

Emily Merrell

So don’t bring you a cheese platter when I go and visit

Diane Lam

No. Like, no, I had to eat Kraft singles when I was like a kid and like, it just I’ve never wanted to be near cheese or like, touch it. I feel like something weird happens when I’m in vicinity. When I my hands touch it, a chemical reaction happens and like all is lost.

Emily Merrell

You just need to lean into being like lactose intolerant or something like that

Diane Lam

Exactly, exactly.

Emily Merrell

I love Oh, that’s a weird one. Okay, good note to self. Don’t buy you cheese as a thank you gift or welcome gift to Piper come visit so perfect. Who would be the Dream, Dream person you’d want to be connected with? And why

Diane Lam

I want to be Beyonce as best friend. But I just I mean, I feel like she just puts it all out there. And I think that level of confidence and visibility and authenticity is like, Oh, yeah. As someone who struggled with visibility issues in the past. Like, that’s something I totally aspire to.

Emily Merrell

I love that. Yeah, Beyonce would be amazing. What show Are you currently watching?

Diane Lam

I have so many shows. I feel like I watch a lot of Bravo shows. Oh, it’s just like my guilty pleasure. I love Below Deck. I love like The Real Housewives. I love all of those, like kind of not so great reality TV shows. Um, they kind of give me life because it’s like a peek into somebody else’s life. And I’m like, Oh my god, I got it so together.

Emily Merrell

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like, Oh, I thought I was disorganized. And then you see these people? And then are you currently reading a book you can share with us?

Diane Lam

I am supposed to be reading a book because I’m book club, I’ve been looking at a book that I’ve had for a while… Guns, Germs, and Steel is a book that we chose for book club. And I was like, I need an extension. Another one. I’m just like looking at it. I’m not actually reading it. I’m looking at it and thinking about reading it.

Emily Merrell

I think there’s a documentary on it. So you can always cheat and do it that

Diane Lam

Oh, Okay, perfect. Perfect. I will look that up.

Emily Merrell

What is your favorite emoji, or at least the emoji that you tend to be using the most?

Diane Lam

I actually use the little emoji like the smiling emoji with the hearts around it. Because like, I guess that makes me feel really nice. And like I’m in this season in my life where like care, and like affection and compassion are like really important to me. So I use that a lot.

Emily Merrell

I love that so much could be translated through these emojis. And then my last question for you is Who gave you permission to do the thing you wanted to do in your life?

Diane Lam

I don’t think anyone ever really gave me permission, it felt like a lightbulb or like a switch that went off inside of me. Like, I think I got to a certain point like in my 30s where before that like, even traveling alone felt impossible or like not even in the realm of possibility. And then like, it just happened one day where I was like, Oh, yeah, this is fine. And I did it all the time. And the same thing with my business where like, I’d been thinking about it and thinking about like, well, what is the change I need to make, and then one day it was like, Oh, I’m gonna start a business. I’m gonna that’s all I’m, that’s what I’m gonna do. And it literally was just like a flip a switch was flipped inside of me. And ironically enough, like my parents told me my entire life, don’t go into business, the worst thing that you can do, because they were business owners, they owned a restaurant and they saw they know that struggle, right? Like it’s hard work. And so I kind of flew in the face of that lesson learned in childhood. But it’s all worked out for the best.

Emily Merrell

But I also think like a restaurant is very different than being, you know, able to do your business all over the world if you want it.

Diane Lam

Exactly. And that’s what originally what I was chasing, I was like, Well, I’m gonna find what I want somewhere else in the world, that thing that’s missing from me is going to be somewhere in the world. And I didn’t realize it’s like, oh, it’s like, I got my own mental baggage and my mindset issues that are like keeping me from finding the thing that I want, because I already have it.

Emily Merrell

I love that. That’s beautiful. Well, Diane, thank you so much for joining us today for diving into systems. I think you’ve provided such a wealth of information for our listeners, take a good look at what systems you have in your business. Definitely reassess what you were doing what can be delegated and check out Diane, she has this amazing quiz on her website so you can figure out what type of systems do you need in your business. Right is that how am I saying it right?

Diane Lam

Yeah, so I have a quiz. It’s because like I love a good BuzzFeed quiz, where it’s like the what is the one system that you really need in your business and How do you actually start to put it in place?

Emily Merrell

Oh, yeah, that’s better than any like, what is your astrology sign mean You’re dating.

Diane Lam

But I still love those quizzes

Emily Merrell

Yeah, they’re harder to create anything. Well, thank you for tuning in. Thank you for joining listeners. If you like today’s episode, please make sure to give us a review, share with a friend. Check out Diane, and we’ll see you the next time on The Sixth Degree. Thanks again, Diane.

 

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