It’s been WAYYYYY too long since I’ve gotten to hug my teammates in person, but all of that changed just a few weeks ago when I flew myself and 12 of my employees and contractors out to Scottsdale, Arizona for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
If you didn’t know, our small-but-mighty team is entirely remote, and all of the powerhouse women on team JK own their role from all over the country (and even Canada!).
After a few (very long) years of not being able to do a team retreat thanks to the entire world shutting down, a few babies being born, and other life transitions, we were finally able to go on a team retreat and spend some much-needed time together as a team!
And since our team has gone through some changes (very good ones!) and added a few new faces, there were a handful of people on my team who I had never even met in person!
We get to have our every-other-week zoom calls, but literally nothing beats seeing each other face-to-glorious-face. I love getting to do life with hilarious, beautiful, driven, and accomplished women who share my vision. If I’m the visionary for my message, these women are my missionaries!
When I got back, I posted an Instagram Reel of us doing the “self-timer dance” I’ve mastered over the years, and asked YOU for your questions about cultivating an amazing team culture… And boy, did you deliver!
I’m so excited to dive into YOUR questions in this special Q+A episode. Whether you’re thinking about hiring your first VA or are building a small-but-mighty team of your own, I hope my questions to these answers will meet you wherever you are in your journey. Let’s get started!
Q: What positions do you hire out, and do you hire employees, subcontractors, or both?
A: Let me break down the structure of my team and then I’ll explain how we’re doing it in terms of employee vs. contractor. Right now we have 5 people on payroll and then about 7-8 people on retainer or contract.
If we were looking at an org chart, right now I’d be at the top as the visionary and CEO, right below me, we now have four project managers they own their specific area of the brand so we have a project manager for: this podcast, my online courses, our content, and then our affiliate partnerships. After that we have our three team members who do graphic design, copywriting, and support. Then we have our main contractors who handle things like paid ads, tech, and our chat funnels.
Q: How do you find someone who aligns with your team culture during the hiring process? Do you have red flags or green flags you look for?
A: One of the most important aspects of building a strong team culture is hiring the right people, and for that, I mostly rely on my gut! Of course, I first ‘weed out’ different candidates based on their resume and qualifications, and after that I hop on a call with the top 3-5 candidates to get a feel for their personality.
My goal is to find candidates who align with my values and mission, and also their work ethic and ability to balance their personal and professional lives. This, combined with my intuition, ensures that our new hire will be a good fit for our culture and will be able to contribute to our success over the long-term.
Q: How do you lead while being a friend to your employees? Have you found the balance between the two or have you had to separate work and friends and not let the two overlap?
A: As a leader, it can be challenging to balance friendship and effective leadership. It has always been so crucial for us to create a beautiful blend of how that looks so that it does not get convoluted or too complex. It IS possible to love and respect your team while also maintaining a professional relationship!
One way we achieve this balance is by being mindful of human first, work second. It is essential to add a personal outreach part before going into business to show that you care about your team members as individuals. However, it is also crucial to separate work and friendship. That’s why during the retreat, we avoided talking about work and purposely communicated just as friends. It’s all about balance!
Q: How do you stay super effective and world class in the work you all produce, while also valuing flexibility and work/life balance as a remote team?
A: Being a world-class remote team while valuing flexibility and work-life balance is achievable by always working ahead and anticipating future needs. We are at least a month ahead at all times in terms of content, which allows us to be more present, less urgent, and have more balance.
When you remind yourself that nothing is urgent, you can take an exhale, take a beat, and remember that you have time to complete tasks to a high standard.
Q: How does our team handle conflict?
A: When I tell people that I have a team of 12 women, I feel like people imagine like Selling Sunset or like Vanderpump Rules where like these women are catty, dating each other’s boyfriends, etc… but that is NOT the vibe of our team! I have had team members now for nearly seven years and I genuinely cannot remember a time where I was stressed out because of conflict within the team.
I do think that what is beautiful, especially about doing something like a team retreat is that our team gets to really be in the flesh with one another and understand one another. We have a really diverse team in terms of age, stages of life, with and without children, etc. We have a very interesting team that provides this deep level of empathy and understanding and openness. And we all recognize that we can learn from each other.
That’s all, folks! Thank you for your questions about creating a team culture! I’m so proud, humbled, and honored to be surrounded by this community (that includes you!).
If you’re dreaming of building a team one day but it seems so out of reach right now, just remember that for me, it alllll started with a camera.
Over twelve years ago, I purchased a camera and it became my escape: a reminder that I was still creative, a reason to become a student again, and eventually a ticket out of my windowless office.
We often forget that our knowledge and skill doesn’t ever leave us. Sure, we might get rusty, but it’s always inside of us.
I photographed over 100 weddings on cameras before I eventually shut down that piece of my business to pursue what was next.
When I started my free WordPress blog back in 2010, I could have never imagined that this would be my life. A booming business, a top-rated podcast, a New York Times best seller… and a team filled with passionate, brilliant women.
For so many years it was just me. I did it alone. I wore all the hats… I did whatever it took.
Now I have the privilege of working with the most amazing women, but it wasn’t lost on me in that full circle moment when I dusted off my camera and took my team’s headshots. The business and life I have now is far better than I could have ever dreamed, and I’m so thankful I’m no longer doing it alone.
If you’re still in that season of waiting, of hustling, of dreaming… keep on digging your biggest goals, goal digger. The life you have ahead is far better than you can ever imagine.