PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Founder at Virtalent – Helping ambitious business owners achieve their dreams without working 60+ hours a week
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Sam Wilson from Virtalent. We first got talking over how virtual assistants could free up time for lead generation professionals.
He took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know him better and hear more about the things that have helped shape his business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
A little book called Time and How to Spend it by James Wallman.
Wallman gives you 7 rules to follow to feel like you are getting the very “most” out of your free time. It’s about how to “spend it well” and not look back on something you did with some kind of “empty” feeling inside, like whatever you did could have been more enjoyable/better.
I’m an avid reader, but this one has really stuck with me. I think because most of the stuff I read is about being more productive/effective, whereas this is actually about the opposite… what to do with the free time this then generates!
I think my favourite tip in this was that, as humans, we remember the start and the end of something but not so much the middle… so to have the very best memories of an event (a holiday, a day out with a friend), the key is to do something very memorable at the start and something memorable at the end.
This is a simple rule, but I find it has made a huge difference to holidays or weekends away.
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
A Kindle (paperwhite).
I’m an avid reader and so couldn’t live without it. I’ve found this model much easier on my eyes, without screen glare, vs the Fire (or the older models with no backlight).
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
Day-to-day, I have a printed copy of Vex King’s version of the Emotional Guidance Scale (originally by Abraham Hicks) on my desk.
I find it’s a really good way to identify whether I’m thinking on an “upward spiral” (and what it takes to get on to that track), or if I’m self-sabotaging. Lately, I’ve realised the importance of not trying to do so much (and taking time off).
I’m very ambitious, and this has got the better of me far too often – slowing down, prioritising and simply saying “no” to more things has helped me better protect my time, energy and focus.
I realised how destructive having too many things to do can be – I work well under pressure, but only to a point. Beyond that, I become very disorganised and unfocused, destroying any progress I made!
What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?
I hate the “hustle” mentality of just pushing harder in the face of a problem.
We’re all human, and we need to look after ourselves when it counts. Pushing too hard leads to burnout, not breakthroughs. I feel like it’s a dangerous trap as an “entrepreneur” to think like this (even if I fall into that trap myself). If you do plan to ride this crazy rollercoaster for the rest of your life, you need to enjoy the process and make sure your workload/habits make it a sustainable career.
Note, that’s NOT the same as being lazy or not working hard. Success requires sacrifice… but it’s about knowing yourself enough to understand where your boundaries lie and respecting them.
Sometimes that’s as simple as taking a day away from your desk when you’ve had a lot going on (even in your personal life), rather than forcing yourself to sit there just because “it’s Monday and so I have to be online”.
In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?
Doing all the stuff we know we should do: flossing daily, working out, eating well, getting enough sleep, taking breaks… etc. It’s so easy to chase shortcuts and silver bullets, ignoring the habits we KNOW we should be doing.
When actually, it’s these habits that are going to make all the difference (not some fad the latest guru is preaching about). When it comes to business, I now try to think of it as a “game”. Growing a business flips between self-imposed torture and complete elation, often flipping between those two feelings almost daily.
So lately, I try not to judge my self-worth on how I feel about the business that particular day. Thinking of this crazy journey as some kind of game to be played, rather than anything more serious than that, helps me separate the business from me as a person.
It’s the easiest way to switch off (and then also take the “wins” in a more measured way, without getting too wrapped up in it all…). I guess the “biggest” improvement has been that I also moved to Malaga a few years ago and run my business remotely from here.
I can’t begin to list the benefits – the lower cost of living, waking up to a beautiful sea view every day, being able to plan things at the weekend (or do outside activities, even as simple as going for a walk) without worrying about it raining or being freezing cold, the better quality food (from locally-grown avocados to fresh fish caught that morning) etc.
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS.
FORGET THE REST.
THERE IS A LOT OF NOISE OUT THERE.
- SAM WILSON
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
I have a huge garage, so I turned half of it into a home gym with a treadmill, rig, bench, weights, a projector on the ceiling to do video workouts, matting on the floor etc., then decorated it. I literally have NO excuse not to go any more as it is downstairs!
Financially it costs me less long-term than a gym membership, I don’t need to feel self-conscious, and the bonus is I’ve not been affected by Covid gym closures (so I’m feeling quite smug about that!).
If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?
“The reward for GOOD work is more work.” – Tom Sachs.
I have this on a post-it note to remind me that I’m only busy BECAUSE the business has worked out, I have staff to manage etc., and I shouldn’t expect (or even WANT) to one day wake up with nothing to do!
How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?
Where to start!
What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?
Focus on what matters. Forget the rest. There is a lot of noise out there.
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
I run a Virtual Assistant service in the UK, called Virtalent. We help busy people get more done.
Our support helps them apply the 80/20 rule – our team do the 80%, the work that is required to keep a business going but doesn’t have to be done by the client, whilst the client can focus on the 20% of tasks that really “move the needle” and grow their business.
My favourite client testimonial from Cosmic Kids: “The impact is greater than you could imagine. It’s like someone throwing a rope ladder down to you and letting you walk up.”
Where Do You See Your Industry In The Next 5 Years?
More competitive, but also more established – more and more business owners are understanding what a “Virtual Assistant” is exactly, and more companies are working remotely than ever before. This will create a lot of demand, however, and with this there will be new entrants into the market.
What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?
If you want to get somewhere in life, you need to work hard. So many “entrepreneurs” (or anyone really) are so busy chasing shortcuts and overcomplicating things to realise that often the answer is to simply put the hours in.
And, yes, a busy schedule requires sacrifice… you’ve got to be relentless in your pursuit of whatever “success” means to you.
Check Out Sam's Company Profiles:
Pearl Lemon is an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Sam) in this new series.