So little time, so much to do. At some point in our personal and professional lives, we feel time-starved—that we didn’t have enough time. And we spend hours thinking of what we need and should be doing rather than taking that time actually doing it. If you feel that you’re working all the time but still have a lot more to get done, this is the podcast for you. Yvonne Dam, Founder and CEO of Amaze Yourself, talks about working habits that hold us back and shares insights on how mindset can help you work less and accomplish more not just at work but also in life. So tune in and learn how to optimize your performance and take your business to the next level.
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Time-Starved: Accomplishing More For Half The Time With Yvonne Dam
[00:01:27] In this episode, I’m bringing in the European contingent and heavy guns. We’re ever going to have a phenomenal conversation because we’re going to talk about time. We all want the 28-hour day and 8-day week because we’re time-starved. We don’t have time to do what we want to do. I’m bringing in Yvonne Dam from Amaze Yourself. We’re going to talk about time and how to use it effectively.
[00:01:50] Yvonne, welcome to the show.
[00:01:53] Thank you so much, Ben. It’s my pleasure to be here.
[00:01:55] We’ve had a series of great conversations out there. I love the thought process that you have because you are a recovering workaholic. Probably, like the rest of us. We were talking about how everybody is like, “Go. We got to work the 80-hour week. We’ve got to do this.” When I was 18 years old, I thought I had until 30. I say, “At 30, I figured I was an old man. I had to do everything by the age of 30. If I didn’t reach whatever pinnacle of success I thought was important at that time, I was a failure. If that meant working 80 or 100 hours a week, I did it.” As I’ve gotten older, a little bit wiser, and with more gray hair, I’ve realized, “Maybe that wasn’t time is well invested as I thought it was.” I want to talk to you about this. Why don’t you give us a quick history about you, where you came from, where you are now, and then let’s talk about time.
[00:02:54] I started my career as an international tax lawyer in one of the top two audit firms worldwide. As we all know, lawyers charge you by the minute. To be able to invoice your clients’ true amounts, you need to be very effective and efficient with your time. On top of that, within the firm I worked, there was a rule that you had to be 75% of your total time, including holidays and sickness, and had to be productive. That is very high.
It means you need to make very long hours to be able to breathe. I learned from the best. That’s where I started my career. As you said, you’re young and eager. It went very well for me, so I climbed the corporate ladder. I held leadership positions in finance and HR. I went into change management, where I helped larger companies to improve and optimize their performance to help them to get their processes better.
Always more sales, less time, and better output. That was what we were focused on. It worked extremely well, but I had a dream. I have been coaching executives since 2004. The dread throughout my whole career was always having people perform better. That’s what I love to do. My dream was to become a coach. I founded my coaching company, and I loved it. One morning I woke up and I dreaded going to work. It was a Monday. I was like, “How I’m living my dream. I’ve got my own company. This is what I’ve been dreaming about. How come I don’t want to work?” I discovered that I was a workaholic.
We were talking about an eighteen-year-old, but it took me a long time to discover that even when I wasn’t working, I was working. I was constantly thinking about work. Especially as business owners, we believe that we have to do everything at the same time and all by ourselves. I started to transform my business and apply all the lessons I’ve learned about productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. I started to set better goals and priorities, which didn’t just work but also included my life because that’s important as well. Things started to change drastically.
On Wednesdays, I’m off. On the weekends, I don’t work. I do work evenings because I work in different time zones, but then I take the afternoon off. I help driven executive business owners generate more time, and that’s what we’re going to talk about. Is there something like time, or is there something else?You don't have to do everything yourself. If you do everything yourself, you're stopping your growth because you're doing nitty-gritty work when you could make better use of your time. Click To Tweet
[00:05:56] It’s fascinating when I listen to you go through this because I look at it as my own entrepreneurial journey. I’ve been an entrepreneur for years now. Even when I’m not working, I’m working and thinking about work. I could be walking down a beach somewhere and looking at something, and it will trigger something about work. I may not be talking to a client or working on a project, but I’m thinking about something. You sit there and say, “Is this a good or a bad thing?” I look at it and say, “That’s ideation time.” What I find, and you’re going to have to prove me if I’m wrong, is where I had the switch and the a-ha moment when I realized, “I can’t do everything myself. There is no way that I can keep up if I could do everything myself.”
I realized that trading time for money was going to kill me sooner or later, so I have a virtual assistant and people that edit my show for this thing. I don’t edit my own show. I did the raw interview, handed it over to a team, and they took care of everything. They do the show notes and the graphics. They put everything together and made me look wonderful. I pay for that, but it’s worth it because it takes ten hours out of my week that I don’t have to do that.
There are lots of different things that I do that way where I’m sitting there going, “I am far better and more useful by having somebody else do the work instead of me doing it and having to work 60, 80 or 90 hours a week. I can now work 35 or 40 and be as efficient because what I’m doing is I’m duplicating time.” Is that what you’re talking about in terms of doing that or is it mentally being able to turn off the spigot?
[00:07:39] It’s both. It is very important what you say. I love that you already gave that example that you have to come to this realization that you don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s something that a lot of entrepreneurs fall for, “I have to do it myself. It’s my idea. Now I have to do it.” It’s two-fold. First of all, if you do everything yourself, you’re stopping your growth because you can’t grow. It’s because you’re doing nitty-gritty work that, if I’m being very blunt, you could make better use of your time. You’re worth more if you’re not in the nitty-gritty business.
Let me talk about the mental switching on and off because this is what I see happening with a lot of entrepreneurs. It is true that often when we go for a walk, you’re working out, or at the grocery store, it’s a moment where you are not working that the most brilliant ideas, posts, or whatever pop up in your mind. I have it all the time. If I go out for a run, I need to stop because I get this inspiration. I take out my phone, type it on, and I’m like, “Great.” There goes my personal record again. I’m not running for a personal record, but you get my drift.
I believe that’s a good thing because you allow yourself some inspiration time. You get the freedom to get creative. It’s also the reason that a lot of creators struggle with innovative ideas because they don’t take those breaks long enough. They don’t allow themselves to get creative because they’re constantly staring at their computers thinking, “Now I have to be innovative. I have to be creative.” It’s not going to happen.
If you want to be creative, go somewhere else. Walk your dog. That’s when the ideas come to you. When does that become a problem? When, for example, you have family time, but you are not 100% there because you are still 95% thinking about your clients. I’m not saying you will never have that, but I would like more entrepreneurs and executives to mentally say, “I am here. I’m 100% focused on my family. I’m giving them my full attention and focus because that’s important to me too.”
What I see happening a lot and that’s what, for me, is where the addiction kicks in, is where you don’t allow yourself ever to switch off. It’s like when you have your phone in your hand while you’re chatting to your son, but you’re also checking your email because you’re in force of habits. It’s not so much the inspiration because I love that, but it’s more, “Do you allow yourself to sometimes be somewhere else and be fully present, which isn’t work?”It's when you’re not working that the most brilliant ideas pop up in your mind. Click To Tweet
If you are always doing the work yourself, you’re stopping your growth, but it’s a mistake I see many people make these days. You are most likely an innovator. You’ve got a million ideas that make you an entrepreneur. Don’t make the mistake that you need to implement them all yourself. If you truly want to do something with them, make the decision, “Is it me or is it someone else? Who’s going to follow through?” This is where I see many entrepreneurs not tapping into their strengths, being, “I’m a great creative, innovative thought leader. I’m not so much good at finishing up the project.” That’s the one thing you need to ask yourself. There was a whole lot of information.
[00:11:42] I’ve got a couple of thoughts. You triggered a story. Years ago, I had a mentor. We were sitting there talking one day, and I said, “You got a lot of holidays.” He says, “Yeah. I purposely take three three-week holidays every single year. I take my cell phone with me, but here’s the deal. The only person who has the number is my executive assistant. The world has to be coming to an end. I have to get on a plane and come home before she’s allowed to call me. The phone’s there. If it’s an emergency, if I have to get on a plane, I will. Other than that, I’m on vacation. I’m going to spend the time with my wife and kids.”
He is present with his family for those three 3-week periods through 1 year, but the rest of the time, the deal is he asked to work long and hard that he’s got with his wife and kids in order to be able to justify that. They go on foot. One of the holidays they went to was the Galápagos. That’s the style of vacation that he goes to. I’m thinking about this. When we’re dealing with entrepreneurs, innovation, and control, a lot of time comes down to the word control because, as entrepreneurs, we tend to hit this glass ceiling because we feel we need to do everything ourselves. Nobody can do it as well as we can, nobody understands the project as well as we know, we can take care of our customers as well as I can, go through that. It’s garbage.
They’re going to do it differently than you will. If people understand the goal, mission, vision, values, and where you’re trying to go, give it to them and let them run with it. Let them amaze you and show you some phenomenal things that they can do without you having the micromanage because micro-managing as an entrepreneur, in my opinion, stumps the growth of any company. It cuts it off at the knees. I wanted to know how you help entrepreneurs get beyond that control. I see that a lot of time management comes down to word control.
[00:14:03] One of the things that are quite basic, but it helps to show the money involved. If you’re able to sell a product for, let’s make it easy, $2,000 an hour, and because you want to be in control, you are doing something that you could hire someone for $50 an hour. You’re not doing the right thing. It’s simple, but a lot of entrepreneurs and CEOs don’t realize that. That’s the one thing I always start with. Let’s make money speak to you. The thing is that control has to do with responsibility and trust. Trust needs to be earned, but responsibility needs to be given. What I always say is you need to work towards letting go of responsibility.
The one thing where it often goes wrong is we hire people or get people on the team to do something for us. Two things happen. First of all, we expect them to do precisely as we do. That’s nonsense because maybe they have a better way or their own way. Also, we often don’t take enough time to onboard them and teach them what it is you want them to do. I also am a firm believer that it can go wrong if you take the time to tell, show, help, and set them up properly so that you are okay with letting go of the control because you’ve trained them well enough that there’s nothing to worry about.
That’s the other reason why you should start letting go of that control early in the process because when you’re too busy to train your stuff properly, you’re too late. Start early, so you have the time that everybody can grow into it. When the work is at its peak, you have someone trained to do it for you. You can start focusing on what truly makes money in your company.
[00:16:48] Let’s talk about money because we’re dealing with two things. One that I thought was interesting is that you’re right. If there’s a $2,000 an hour solution that you provide your customer and it costs you because of whatever you pay yourself, say $1,500 for you to do the job, but you could pay somebody $150 or $200 an hour to do that same job. It ends up costing them $300 or $400. That’s money in your pocket. The problem is, and this is what I was getting at, that entrepreneurs don’t look at what they paid themselves as a cost. They look at, “This is how much money I saved because I do it myself.”You can have three million ideas that make you an entrepreneur. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you need to implement them all yourself. Click To Tweet
That’s the challenge with a lot of small business owners, and I’m one of them, is that you look at every dollar spent as a dollar out of your own back pocket. If I can do my marketing myself, be my own salesperson, and do my own accounting, I’m going to save all this money. Therefore, at the end of the year, I have more money to go on a vacation, get my spouse a nice present, or do something for my kids. How do we get people to understand that it’s costing them way more money by having them do it themselves than paying somebody to do it for them? That’s a mentality shift.
[00:18:07] I’m nodding a lot. I’m like one of those little doggies in the car where the head keeps bouncing up and down. I’m totally in agreement with you. It’s definitely a mentality shift. It’s where you go from scarcity to abundance mindset. What do I mean by that? If you have the scarcity mindset, you’re always looking, “How can I diminish my expenses? How can I make sure I pay less costs?” There’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should spend overly, but the thing is, if that’s the only thing you’re focusing on, everything becomes smaller because of scarcity. The only focus you have, “I do not have the money.”
If you keep telling yourself that the one thing is going to happen, you don’t have the money. Whereas if you have the abundance mindset where you look at increasing your income or broadening your income stream, all of a sudden, there is truly an expansion because you see more opportunities and possibilities. For me, it’s the difference between a true entrepreneur that is into challenges and likes to risk them. Entrepreneurs will not be going to grow that fast or not be going to grow at all. There is a true difference in being scarcity, “Let me cut back on costs,” and abundance, “I can make more money. There’s an opportunity for me. It doesn’t matter that there are other people doing the same because I’m doing it my way.” That’s the abundance mindset that truly is going to help you with your growth.
[00:19:51] I look at them as lifestyle businesses. People who sit there and say, “I can make $500,000 a year. It’s going to cost me $250,000 to run my business. I’m going to write myself a check for $180,000 a year. That leaves me enough money to pay taxes. As long as the business continues the way it is, I can live like this for the next 10, 15, or 20 years until I retire.” The problem with that is the business will never grow because you’ve gotten comfortable with the way things are. You’re sitting there going, “If not broke, don’t fix it. Don’t mess with it. Don’t change it. Don’t do anything that might upset the apple cart.”
Those small lifestyle businesses, the entrepreneur in my definition, and people can call me wrong and people probably will, are the people sitting there going, “How do I build an entity that is going to thrive and continually has the opportunity to grow?” Whether that’s growth in domestic product, headcount, or brand recognition, you pick your own definition of success, but it’s that growth mindset versus, “It ain’t broke. Don’t mess with it.” The people that I believe are time-starved are the people who probably have that “if it is not broke, don’t mess with it” mindset. The challenge is, how do you get these people to recognize that within themselves?
[00:21:21] It depends on when I speak to them. I see some people that are time-starved that are definitely in the category of lifestyle businesses that are okay with it, and you can see they’re never going to grow or they’ve reached the status quo that they’re happy with. Those are also the people that tell me very happily, “I worked so many hours a day. I love my work, so it doesn’t matter.” That’s fine. If that’s your choice, it’s your choice. That’s you. I love what’s your definition of success. For me, that’s not a successful business and life because there’s more to life than working in my perspective.
The people that come to me that I helped to create time or streamline their processes and to help their business run more effectively is people that are very aware, “This isn’t what I envisioned. This isn’t what I want. I want to grow, but help me how.” Sometimes you are stuck or used to doing things your way, especially when you’re good at what you do. You’ve got so many clients that need your attention.
If you want to serve your clients well, and most of my clients do, you don’t allow yourself to take that step back and wonder, “What can I do right now to grow my business?” Yes, it is people, systems, processes, time management, and your mindset. Which of these is the one thing you need to twist on first so that everything else starts to fall into place as well? That’s where I look at operations, leadership, vision, and mission and how well that’s translated throughout your whole company.Control has to do with responsibility and trust. Trust needs to be earned, but responsibility needs to be given. Click To Tweet
[00:23:15] When you get to people at that point, are they usually people sitting there going, “There are things I want to be doing outside my company. I built a successful business. I have a great business. It’s doing what I want to do, but it’s monopolizing the vast majority of my time. I want to spend more time working on charity work, with my kids, and on boards.” They want to spend more time on their golf game. Are those the type of people that are coming to you, or is it people sitting there going, “My business could be way more than what it is, but I find that there are not enough hours in my day for me to work on my business? I’m spending too much time working in my business help.” Is it a little bit of both? Do you approach those clients differently?
[00:23:59] Most of the time, the clients that come to me are in the last category. They like, “My business could be better. I could do more if only I had time.” Often they have more than one business. I also see that quite regularly. When we start working, they take the first challenges and see the effects coming in like, “I can truly free up some time,” then all of a sudden, the other interests kick in as well being spending time with my kids and going on a holiday now once without my phone off.
When I started working with them, most of the time, they didn’t have the head space to allow themselves to think, “I want to play more golf.” They want in a couple of years, but now they are driven. They want to get that business to the next phase of running more smoothly. Once the results kick in, then they go like, “I could go work out again. That would be nice.” I love that it happens, but I must be honest. It very rarely is the first motivation.
[00:25:15] When you’re talking to people about why they’re time-starved, do you sit there and ask them, “If you work time-starved, what would you do? What could you achieve if you work time-starved?” If you could get 10, 20, or 30 hours a week back, what would this allow you to do, and how would that make your life better? Are you having those conversations with people? If you are, what are the most valuable insights you’ve ever gotten from clients?
[00:25:41] I do ask that. Don’t underestimate when you’re truly overwhelmed and overworked. You’re not going to tell me, “I’m going to take a vacation,” or, “I’m going to work on that other client that has been waiting for five weeks. Now that’s the client that gets my attention. Give me the time so that I can reach out to the next clients.” I know, from my experience, that we first need to fix things and get you some time back before I can say, “Now you can breathe again. Tell me, what would you like to do with those ten hours?” I had one client who hadn’t worked out or done anything for fun for years. He worked every day, night, and weekend too.
I couldn’t ask him, “Are you ready to go with your buddies?” He’s like, “I’m not. I’ve got ten more clients waiting for me. What are you talking about?” When we got things emotions and we changed his mindset so he can works on improving his business and getting time back constantly, then all of a sudden, he told me, “I’m going to do that hike. I’m going to go back to mountain biking.” It’s not the right time in the beginning. I made a mistake starting there, and you get this blank stare, “What are you talking about?”
[00:27:01] Most of the people that you’re dealing with right away are still in the siege mentality. They still see the hoards coming over the wall. Where everybody else has got spears and arrows, they’ve got a rock. They’re trying to defend themselves the best they can. How long does it take, on average, for people to get out of that siege mentality to become a level of semblance so they can start talking about the aspirational goals? Is this 1 year, 2 years, or 6 months? How long does it take people before they start sitting there going, “I can breathe again. I’ve built the processes that we need to do to handle this. Let’s start talking about what can be done instead of what needs to be done?”
[00:27:43] Most of my clients, if not all, already get a different perspective in the first month of working with me because they have been so focused on one thing, like work, that they did not have any bandwidth to see anything else. If we walk through the assessment and if I show them optimization immediate effective, and they see the results coming in, they already become more open to see different things.You can do so much more than you think you're capable of. Click To Tweet
I have a client that started with me. We have had 3 sessions in 3 weeks, and he has already seen the results. It can go fast. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that in 3 weeks or in 1 month, your whole business model will be rearranged, and everything will be optimized. I wish, but I’m not a miracle worker. That indeed can take 6 months at least 1 year before everything is set up. Your team is established to think about, “How can we optimize it continuously?” For yourself as a CEO, changing your mindset can go wrong too quickly.
[00:28:53] I got a couple of questions I want to ask you. The first one is, what’s the one thing that you’re seeing out there that is the biggest impediment for people changing who they are and being willing to change? What’s the one thing you see over and over again that is the red flag that people should be looking at themselves like, “I need to step back and look at things a little differently.”
[00:29:17] The one thing honestly is if you can switch off. I mean, literally can switch off, not what we spoke about, “You go for a run and get the inspiration.” There is something else in my mind. We all have experienced now again that feeling of overwhelm, where you wake up, the first thing on your mind and in your hand is your phone because that happens often. You’re already answering emails before you get out of bed. The first thing that’s on your mind is what do you need to do now. It’s too much, so you go, “It’s way too much. I’m getting up early. I’ll finish early today. I can do it.”
End of the day, you skip lunch. You are calling all night or still haven’t done it. Instead of seeing clearly what you have to do, it goes from, “Client and debt.” You are worrying about things that are a month out, but because it’s too much, you can’t even prioritize anymore. It feels as completely too much the entire time. That’s a true red flag for me when you can switch off that feeling and constantly feel rushed because there’s too much to do, not just on a project basis or a once-off because we all have that. We’re all building businesses, but it’s constantly worrying about, “How am I going to be able to pull this off? Where do I get the time?” The constant worry is a red flag.
[00:30:49] I can see that being a huge red flag. We’ve all been there at times. I’m sure it’s when it’s constant. It doesn’t seem to end. That’s what I can see the real challenge comes. People can work with you. You work with clients all over the place and people across various time zones. The best way for people to get in touch with you is Amaze-Yourself.com. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?
[00:31:20] I love LinkedIn. You can also reach out on LinkedIn, but the website is the best way where you can reach me and set up a 30-minute call with me to get some time instantly back.
[00:31:39] Here’s the last question I ask everybody. When you leave a customer, you get in your car and drive away, what’s the one thing you want people to think about you when you’re not in the room?
[00:31:48] The one thing that I want them to think about me is, “She helped me truly to amaze myself.” I want them to be happy that they amazed themselves with my help. That’s why my company is called Amaze Yourself. It’s what I get back all the time, “You helped me to amaze myself.” It’s a hive that makes me smile broadly. People can do so much more than they think they’re capable of. I love to be an accelerator in that process.
[00:32:21] Here’s to helping people become the best versions of themselves and allow them to lead the lives that they want to lead. Yvonne, thank you for being such a wonderful guest. Thank you for your wisdom, passion, and for everything you do for your clients.
[00:32:36] Thank you, Ben. It’s my pleasure to be here.
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About Yvonne Dam
Yvonne Dam is an executive coach for driven CEOs who have too little time and crave to take their business or career to the next level.
Through her programs, and VIP coaching, she’s here to help you grow your business further — while making it all feel like a breeze. Getting you to drastically reduce your working hours.
And when she’s not coaching, you can find her indulging in beach walks, and a sparkly glass of champagne.
Stop working 24/7, bring back the fun & ease in your business and get ready for that next level with Amaze Yourself coaching.
Have a 30-minute Call with me and find out where you can save time: https://AmazeYourself.as.me/Intro
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