Business owners need to be aware of their productivity as they lead their business towards full-on growth. Establishing good habits for productivity is an important part of the business owner’s journey towards taking full control of what they’re building going forward. Amber De La Garza is “The Productivity Specialist,” helping small business owners find ways to boost productivity. She joins Paul Higgins for a discussion about the importance of establishing habits for productivity in any business. Let Amber and Paul’s discussion get you started down a path of even better productivity than before!
Our guest is someone who started in real estate at a young age and did higher education to be at the top of her game. She had her son and decided corporate life was not going to support her lifestyle and started as a consultant of business systems. She has evolved the business name and also model, and is now one of the most successful experts and podcaster on the topic of productivity for small businesses. What to learn? How to reduce stress, increase revenue, spend time on what you love, the importance of profitability and how to align priorities to it and the traits to look for when building a team to allow you to let go. I’ve also given the link to a course to help you take back time. Now to Amber De La Garza from TheProductivitySpecialist.com.
Welcome, Amber De La Garza from TheProductivitySpecialist.com to the show. It is great to have you on.
Thanks for having me.
I’m a regular listener of your podcast. I know you give some brilliant value on productivity and we can’t wait to get a slightly different spin on it with the show. Why don’t we kick off with something that your family or friends may know about you that we don’t?
The most random fact I’m thinking is that I was my high school mascot. I was a Wildcat. I don’t know what was in me that I did that.
Was this at a football game doing flips?
It is totally not cool. I wasn’t the cheerleader. I wasn’t the dancer. I was the mascot.
I’m sure, knowing and listening to you on your podcast, you gave it 100% of that. Where was that? What was it called?
We were Wildcats and it was in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I know you still reside there but is that where you grew up?
It is, born and raised.
Unfortunately, I was due to be there at the end of March 2020, but with COVID, we had to put a stop to that. I was looking forward to my first visit there. I’ve got some family and some friends there.
We’ll welcome you as soon as things normalize. I’ll have you come down.
Gambling is probably not my thing, but I love fast cars. I am looking forward to driving some cars on the circuit there. Have you ever done that?
I have not. Yes, we have our Speedway and they have the most amazing cars, like dream cars that you can pay to drive down there. I’ve lived here my entire life and I do not gamble either. There’s plenty to do here outside of gambling.
It was going to be cars and golf for me. I will leave the gambling for others, but plenty of people do. It’s just not for us by the sounds of it. I know you started as a realtor. Is that correct?
I did. I started in real estate back in my junior and senior years of high school interning. When I graduated, I went to college and got a degree in Real Estate and Business Management. During that time, I also got licensed. I renewed twenty years, although I have not been practicing for a long time.
What drew you to that industry?Remember that anytime you talk to people, you’re creating relationships. Click To Tweet
To be completely honest, I was drawn for all the wrong reasons. I thought they showed pretty houses, drove nice cars, took their clients to lunch. I know that it is quite the business because I serve those in that industry. When I was younger, I was like, “That seems such a cool career.” I followed that.
In Australia, we have a mix of auctions and private sales. How does it work in the US? Is it different by state or how does it genuinely work for selling your house?
It is different a little bit. Usually, you can use a realtor, but determining on location, you either use an escrow or attorneys. That is different from state to state.
Why the shift? What made you leave the industry and start your own business?
The major life shift was that I had my son. Once I had him and I took all my maternity leave and vacation, at that time, I was working for corporate in management of the largest real estate company here in Las Vegas. I took all my time and I thought, “There’s no way I’m going back.” I resigned, but in the same breath, I thought, “I want to start a business.” That was the seed of what could be next in my life after having my son.
What was the first thing you did? I know for a lot of people, certainly for me, it took me years, but that’s probably conservative to finally work out what I wanted to do to leave. What about for you? Was there something instantaneous that you knew you wanted to do or was it a slow build?
I looked back at the evolution of my business. When I first started, I worked on location at my client’s offices, helping them with business systems and organization. I was called an Organizational Consultant. It got some legs, but for whatever reason, it’s a blur. At some point early on, I changed to an Efficiency Consultant. As soon as they changed my title, although not my services, my business exploded. It was what I believe to be the difference of organization being seen as a luxury and efficiency, being seen as a necessity in businesses. I did that for a while and then I transitioned into Productivity Specialist. That was a natural evolution of realizing that our personal habits, behaviors or personal productivity as business owners, that was long-term change needed, not just someone comes in and helps you with systems or processes.
Who supports you through this journey for all of that evolution in your own business?
My husband is my number one fan. He’s been my number one supporter, like cheerleader supporter. He always believed in me, but also a joint sacrifice of what it would take to leave my income, my career. He saw the dream for me and always supported my dream of what I could make possible through my business and helping others.
Have you had any mentors? Have you been in the masterminds? Has there been other support from a business perspective?
I’m a huge believer that small business owners should never go out alone. I’m always evolving and changing up who I lean on, depending on what my needs are at that level of my business and what challenges I’m facing. At any given time, I have a circle of peers that are business owner, friends that I lean on. I generally always have a coach and those are people that I always surround myself in to help me grow, push, and let me see things differently as they navigate this journey.
As you said, it’s dependent upon the need of the business. How do you go about picking a coach? For your current coach, what was your thought process? I know for a lot of people, they are doing it solo and it is critical to have support. How did you go about picking that right person?
I am probably more stringent. I am ruthless with finding my coaches. I want to see that they’re doing the thing that they’re coaching on. That it’s not just the thing that they coach on, but they’re living it out in their business. For me, I ask a lot of questions and I want to see that they have case studies from other clients in alignment with the area and the business that I’m specifically working on during that phase of my business. Years ago, I had a sales coach and she was exclusively supporting me in building my skillset on relational selling. My coach specializes in online courses and programs and things like that. That’s her niche. I’m always looking for someone that is good at their niche and also lives that out in their business.
On online courses, I must admit I haven’t had a look, but have you launched some? Are you looking to launch some? What phase are you in with online courses?
I’ve done some group coaching and group training programs. I am in the middle of evergreening a program that I launched pre-COVID. I taught that live and I’m prerecording it and setting up the sales funnel to sell that evergreen on demand. I also have a masterclass that I am utilizing to serve people in a way that’s like a tiny offer, getting them in the door, a piece of what they can get from me that will then lead them into this bigger program offering that will be ready soon.
If you had to give a couple of tips on online courses, what have been the biggest learnings from your coach so far?
It’s to have a clear strategy. I didn’t understand prior to working with my coach the buying cycle. With my sales coach, I learned the buying psychology of when you talk to people and you build relationships. With my coach now, it’s understanding that whole buyer life cycle and how can you create offerings that meet them where they’re at and they learn something and it’s like, “What’s the next logical offer to stair-step them up and then the next logical?” I’ve been in business for years and with a few times I’ve done group offerings, my entire business has been one-on-one coaching. Honestly, I drag my feet on it because I can charge such a good price for my one-on-one coaching. I’m like, “Why in the world would I ever create a $27 offer, $200 offer or name the price? That’s doesn’t make sense.” My coach has been able to teach me on how to leverage each person by serving them incrementally up the ladder.
Some of those conversion rates, let’s say you have someone in that ballpark, $200 offer. What’s the percentage that you’re looking to convert to the next step out of the people that buy that $200 offer?
My first level starts at $27 as a tripwire tiny offer. That conversion that we’re looking at for cold traffic is 10%. From there, we’re looking at the next offer being $200, between 5% to 8% of those people that come in. This is all leverageable from building my audience and who I serve through cold audiences of advertisements. We’re still playing with these numbers and still working out all the kinks, but I’m looking at replicating the conversion rates that I can get when I already have a warm audience or someone that already knows me. I will say from podcaster to podcaster that what I have found that works are warming them up and sending them to the podcast before selling them into the next offering. We tried it straight through, but what has always worked for me is people getting to know me on how I can help them and what I stand for. When we weren’t seeing those conversion numbers, the next strategy was, “Let’s send them to the podcast and build up that listenership and that relationship and then resell to them up.”
It’s crazy, isn’t it? Sometimes our greatest asset is we don’t do enough to support them.
I’ve been podcasting for years, but it’s all an experiment. If I could take that back, the one thing that I have learned that has been the most impactful is to look at all of this as an experiment and not being attached to and not working when conversion rates don’t come in. That all of it is an experiment of, “Do these emails work? Does that next logical offer make sense?” If it doesn’t, look at it objectively to then say, “What can change to improve those numbers?”
We’re going to move into the build section and you can find out more about Amber at TheProductivitySpecialist.com. When someone comes up to you and says, “Amber, how do you help me? What would you do for me?” how do you answer that?
I specifically help small business owners decrease their stress and increase revenue and also while still having time for what matters most. Essentially, I’m coaching them for that. They’re perfect under balanced life. I don’t think there’s perfect 50/50 or, “Where does our time go?” but everyone has an idea of, “I wish I was home for dinner X amount of times a week. I wish they had a hobby and also aggressively growing my business.” I teach them strategies on how to manage their time, leverage their team, and leverage business systems so that they can maximize where their time and energy is going.
What do you know about productivity that many others might miss?
I can best answer that with my personal definition of productivity. Productivity is a buzzword and if we ask each reader, everyone would have a different answer of what that means. For me, in all the work that I’ve done over the years, I come down to a framework. You are your most productive self when you’re investing your best time into your best activities. Your best time is when you show up your best, when you’re focused, when you’re doing your best work. Those best activities are the ones that will propel you towards your goals. Not all activities and tasks are created equal. When I work with a business owner, it’s about setting priorities and getting clear about where is the best use of their time in their business.
I know many of us are probably leaving corporate, the priorities were set. You had your own, but they’ll set by the company. It was a lot easier to follow that. There was a lot more structure, whereas being your own business owner, there are lots of opportunities, lots of shiny objects, etc. Tell us a little bit about how you help people set priorities. I know for many people, that’s something that they would like to improve on.
You are right. We can be great executors if someone else is creating the goals, the milestones and that clear path. That can be a big shift when we’re responsible for that. The best answer I can give for a business owner that would be reading is that ultimately when you’re setting priorities, your business has one main goal and that’s profitability. You may have milestones that are like, “Finish this project. Update this website. Work with X number of clients,” but all of it is in service of being profitable in the best ways. You will be out of business if you are not profitable. You won’t be able to serve as many clients and make as big of an impact. You won’t be able to give to your communities or charities that you believe in if your business isn’t profitable. When things can get so overwhelming and everything seems important, one question you can ask yourself is like, “What’s the path? What’s the closest path to revenue while also supporting your clients the best way you can?” That will help you determine what the tiny object is. What are things that you may be doing for ego versus will it serve the business?
You talked about small business owners. You mentioned real estate before, but tell us a little bit more about how you’ve been able to define your ideal client and who that is.
I was talking to someone and every coach and mentor that I have ever had has been adamant that I needed to niche down into a specific industry. Real estate is obvious because of all my background, history, and relationships. While my business grew and got its legs in the real estate industry, I’ve led with my heart and my passion, which is small business owners, specifically those that are the business, which means they are service-based business owners. Think interior designers, attorneys that own law firms. I even had worked with organic farmers in South Florida. Their unique skillset is farming and that has been where I have decided to take my business is small business owners where they are service-based.
I suppose for me, it’s a similar thing with coaches and consultants. I’ve narrowed down and niche down a little further. It’s service-based people where they’ve got so much potential. They are the biggest barrier to their own success. They can’t get out of their own way. What are some of the practical things you’ve done to help people get out of their own way?
My podcast is Productivity Straight Talk. It’s definitely straight talk with a dose of love and compassion. Many small business owners start believing their own stories in their own head so much. Oftentimes, working with a coach that says, “Is that serving you? Are you going to let that belief, that thought or that fear hold you back from taking action?” A lot of it is doing and getting them out of their own way through mindset work and talking them through what’s possible. One of the things that I specialize in is I’m good at holding space and holding my clients’ vision of success and their goals for them. From day-to-day, if they have a horrible day, they may lose sight of the bigger plan and the bigger goal. I come alongside them to remind them like, “Why are they doing this? Why are they getting up when it’s hard? Why are they pushing through when they’re challenged and gently remind them of what it is that they’re out to create in the world?”
A little bit of a change in tech in your own business. What are some of the challenges in growing your own business?
My business is like every other small business that has the same challenges. Some of the ones that I have experienced is audience growth. What I mean by that is the podcast does well, but getting social media traction. Social media is not my jam particularly. The frustration is with wanting to grow it and what’s the newest strategy and all of that. That’s like my kiwi feel. Also, it’s good and bad. I wanted to be careful about this. It is hiring staff and employees. I have the most amazing team, but to get there, I’ve had to go through a lot of challenges of people that interview wonderfully or start out great, and who knows what happens. It’s like a flip that gets switched. Every business owner that is looking to grow and leverage through others, it’s navigating those experiences to find those people that truly are best to support your business.
What are some of the key traits that you look for when hiring people?
I often prioritize character traits over skillset. I’m quite patient and I will teach and train any day to have the right person with the right character trait. What I look for is their attitude of like, “I can figure it out or I can learn it.” I often ask questions about, “What was the last thing you didn’t know and how did you learn it? Can they Google search it? Are they resourceful? Do they have the mindset of like, ‘I don’t know it, so I’m not going to do it?’ Are they looking at being proactive versus reactive?” That means this is a big one because as a business owner looking to find leverage, your team can only grow as much as you can give them if you have a reactive team. If your team is proactive and looking at how can they help you and coming to the table in that way, it’s not solely on your mental bandwidth to figure out how to keep everyone moving forward.
I know you’ve spoken about your coach for your business growth. You’ve outlined how you’re going from one-to-one to group and online. For you in COVID life, is your business being impacted because of what’s happened with people working from home?Small business owners need to decrease stress and increase revenue. Click To Tweet
This is the reality. We went into lockdown and let’s call it March 12th. That was a Friday. That Monday, I was supposed to go into three back-to-back launches. Products were created, websites were done and funnels were done. I was flipping the switch to turn on for all my automation. I had made the decision not to do that. My team, my coach, and I, we all put so much work into it. I was like, “There’s no way. I’m not going to green light this in the middle of what was it going on?” For me, I was lucky that I was able to lean on the one-on-one work that I had not switched out of. I did not decrease. They had not done anything. I stayed the course, serving my one-on-one clients, and then eager to flip that switch. Since then, while we didn’t flip the switch on the promotions, we brought forward some other big projects in the business, which is a whole website overhaul, SEO. More content, different content that will serve us, the business once the switch gets flipped back to these programs and courses.
That’s smart to continue to invest. Unfortunately, a lot of people cutting their marketing in their long-term investments. You talked about profitability before, and profitability funds three things. It funds your marketing, your investment in your business, and your lifestyle. I think it’s time to double down. Well done for doing that.
I agree. For clarity, we didn’t promote to sell. We did switch gears, went into ads, and doubled down on our marketing budget. I knew that that would pay for where it is building relationships so that when it was a place where I want it to take them to that next level, I hadn’t dried up all of that. I hadn’t stopped. I didn’t stop marketing or showing up. In fact, I was talking to my husband and I was like, “I’ve done 22 interviews in the last few months.” I didn’t stop showing up so that they beat that and become assets in the business moving forward when things normalize.
You’ve been podcasting for years. I’m a regular listener. Give us a bit of an insight into some of the key things you’ve learned as a podcaster and some tips for people that are either looking to start a podcast but don’t have the experience that you’ve got.
My favorite tip to give is to start before you think you’re ready. I am a preparer. I like to learn. I consumed podcasts and I had planned out what it was going to be and all of that, but nothing can prepare you more than doing it and getting better at it. I wish somebody would have told me that interviewing was a skillset. If you all listen to some early interviews, you would think I was a robot or a train wreck. I would ask the question and not even listen to the answer and I would be onto the next question. Over the years, I’ve focused on improving the skillset of having conversations, interviewing and showing up authentically. All of that couldn’t have happened without reading a book, taking a course or practicing other than doing it for real.
I am exactly the same. I am too scared to get back and review my interview. I think this episode is going to be 212, but it was like anything, isn’t it? The first time you do, you have all those fears in front of you. You think everyone’s judging you and all of that little voice in your head, but you just got to do it and keep doing it. It’s a bit like a video as well. I’m going through a similar journey with video at the moment and you get better as you do it. That’s great advice. The last question on this section of build is social media. You said growing your audience is important for you. It’s a key challenge, which social media platforms are you doubling down on at the moment, and what are some of the things that you’re looking to solve?
I am on Facebook and on LinkedIn. I closed my Facebook group and decided that it was not a place that I wanted to show up in that way. It took a lot of energy and time and I was not getting a return on that, business growth-wise. When I cut back on that, I doubled down on Instagram and showing up in Instagram stories and playing with experimenting with the content to see what lands.
What are some key learnings that you’ve through your experience can share?
Everyone likes the unedited stuff. Hands down, the data keeps showing. We publish our episodes and we have quotes and things like that, that are valuable. It’s important to me that at least brings value, but every time I post anything personal, tell a story or pull back the curtain, that’s what people want.
Before we go into the live section, I would like to help you find and convert your ideal clients on LinkedIn. I’ve doubled down on LinkedIn, whereas I know Amber is doubling down on Instagram. If you go to BLGClick.com, you can watch a prerecorded free masterclass and you’ll learn three key steps. One is the formula to ten times you’ve used. I know that sounds like, “Everyone’s prophesizing that at the moment, we have a way of doing that.” Step two is the seven killer elements to get 50 likes and 20 comments on every post. I know from personal experience when I first started, how annoying it is when you put out brilliant content and there are crickets. The third one is the secrets they get 80% response rates to your LinkedIn messages.
As Amber said before, she got a coach to help with relationships in sales. We will show you some brilliant ways to do that on LinkedIn because it answers to what you would normally do through email and phone calls. Also, a lot of the activities that are there, you don’t have to be done by you. I suppose that’s very much like what Amber teaches is around using your time and productivity. We’ve also got some options there for you to have a virtual assistant to support you. Go to BuildLiveGive.com/VA. The next section is the live section. What are some of the daily habits that help you be successful?
My first daily habit is a no-go if I don’t do it as my own morning routine. I am a runner, not runner specifically running. I am very full. I fill my day with all the things I love in my business. I’ve got a son. I’m a wife, and a mom and all of those responsibilities. The thing that keeps me most grounded and prepared for the day is my morning routine.
What are some of those things? What do you do?
Coffee first. I love coffee. Maybe that’s something nobody knew about me. I started drinking coffee years ago. I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole and then now, I love it. Coffee is part of my morning. The weather is nice where I am at, so I’ll sit out on the patio. This is my quiet time. It’s my reading time. I work out or a stretch. Honestly, I have a framework of things that I do, but I trust my gut. I’m like, “What is it that I need to do? What feels good? Am I going to journal? Am I going to read?” It is less structured and that’s because that balances out my life. You’ll find structure in about every other place in my life. For me, I need that what feels the best morning time. My morning routine is for three hours. It’s a long morning routine of getting up and doing a slow morning. As soon as the switch flips, I am in go mode for the rest of the day, being all the different hats of wife, mom, business owner, coach, you name it.
What time does the morning routine start for you?
It starts at 4:45 in the morning.
Here I was complaining about getting up at 5:30. Is that something that was like a flick of a switch? That’s what I’m going to get up or once again, did you build to 4:45?
I build to it. If anyone would ask, I would tell you I’m not a morning person naturally. That’s why I need such a long morning routine, but what serves me is starting before the world wakes up at a slow pace. To do that, I need to wake up earlier. The other thing is because I am active and living life, I’m exhausted by the end of the day. Instead of trying to stay up and drag out the night into things that may not be most productive or fueling to me, I wrap it up and I go to sleep. I get a good night’s sleep. I start again the next morning.
We mentioned your partner, Joe, around the fact that he has been your biggest supporter. What would you like to say to him about the support he’s given you?
I don’t have enough thank you. When I had this idea of what I wanted to do, I swear, he saw it for me before I saw it for myself. I certainly see it now. I see it for myself and where I’m going, but when I first started, I needed that type of support that was unconditional and solve so much bigger than I can see. He is the person that is cheering me on for small wins or big wins. He’s the one that picks me up on hard days or defeats or things that are hard. He’s always there to hear. Quite honestly, he tells everybody about me or the podcast, but I’m not quite sure he knows what I do for my clients. He’s so supportive, but in the nitty-gritty of what I do, I don’t think he knows, but he doesn’t care. He’s here to support me.
He might have to shadow you one day to learn a little bit about and picked up. The next section is the give section. What’s a community or charity that you support and passionate about and why?
The charity that I love to support is called The Cupcake Girls. They are national that they started here in Las Vegas. They support women and those family members of women that have been sex trafficked. I say, family members because many of them have children. It helps support them with holistic care with everything from financial support to a roof over their head to emotional support. Running the gamut of anything that someone has been sex trafficked needs.
The volume made me feel sick, to be honest. The volume of sex trafficking around the world is terrible. Well done for supporting The Cupcake Girls. For me, I support a charity called The Purple House. It provides essential dialysis support for indigenous Australians. You can find out more at ThePurpleHouse.org.au. The last section is the rapid-fire questions. I can’t wait for the answer to this first question if you can give those rapid-fire responses. I’m going to change it because I normally say effectiveness tips, but for you, I’m going to change the productivity tip. What are your top three personal productivity tips?
Number one, plan your day. Number two, don’t negotiate with yourself after you’ve planned the day. Number three is to identify, communicate, and hold boundaries with everyone around you, family and your employees.
Simple but incredibly powerful. The next one is, what technology is essential to running your business?
Zoom. That was long before everyone was on Zoom for COVID-19. When the world went to Zoom, I’m like, “Don’t break Zoom.” I literally grabbed all my clients on Zoom.
I think I started within three months of Zoom coming up Skype. I am coming from corporate. I’m not in love with Microsoft so any reason to get off of Microsoft, I did. I found Skype incredibly spammy. As you said, Zoom had a couple of little glitches, but it is an awesome tool. I know you’ve got your own podcast, but what are some of the best sources for you for new ideas?
I am listening to podcasts when I’m in idea creation. I will listen to podcasts on different topics. One thing that I never do is consume other people’s content within my industry. It’s been many years since I’ve read a book or listen to anything on productivity. That’s to keep my voice pure in what I believe, and then using my clients and the people that interact with me on social media as a source of inspiration versus other people’s content. When I’m on the podcast, I like to listen to things that have nothing to do with business or especially nothing to do with productivity and seeing how I can use that as inspiration.
The last question is the big one. I always leave it to the end for that reason. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
My passion is small business owners. I have seen many business owners struggle and pay a price too heavy, like divorce or their health or so much in balance in their lives. The impact I want to make is to show possible of living out your dreams, running after your goals, and also having that balance personally in your life.
I thoroughly enjoy your podcast but I have thoroughly enjoyed having you on the show. I consider this the start of customizing for our audience, which has been brilliant. You can find out more about Amber at TheProductivitySpecialist.com. She’s also got a podcast, TheProductivityStraightTalk.com. Also, she’s giving us a fantastic online course. You can go to AmberDeLaGarza.com/takebackyourtime and you’ll get a huge amount of benefit from that. Amber, thanks for joining us from that lovely, warm Las Vegas. It was brilliant having you on the show.
Thank you for having me, Paul
I got a lot of great value out of that interview with Amber and I hope you did too. What is your biggest takeaway from Amber? Please share it on your socials, mentioning her and also check out her great content on her Instagram account. If you believe someone you know would benefit from this show, please share it with them. You can learn the three secrets to building your authority, finding, and converting your ideal clients in our free prerecorded masterclass at BLGClick.com. Please take action to build your business and lifestyle and most importantly, stay well.
Amber De La Garza is The Productivity Specialist! Amber is a sought-after speaker, coach, trainer, writer, host of the Productivity Straight Talk podcast, and creator of the S.T.O.P.! Leverage Formula. She helps business owners improve their time management and elevate their productivity to maximize profits, reduce stress, and make time for what matters most!
Amber is known for giving the straight talk on productivity. No BS, fluff, or over-used jargon. Just actionable strategies to get results! Amber presents her Straight Talks on productivity to corporations, associations, and sales teams all across the country to help them maximize profits, outsell the competition, dominate the market, reduce stress, and reclaim time for what matters most.
Amber is passionate about helping you improve your productivity so you can reach your maximum potential and accomplish your most important goals without constantly feeling overworked and out of time. She is committed to helping you master your mindset, expand your skillset, and execute on your strategic plan while holding you accountable for results.
If you want to break through all the noise on LinkedIn and reach your ideal client without creating loads of content or breaking the bank on ads – go to blgclick.com to learn our three secrets.