Bryan Miles is an entrepreneur, husband, father, backpacker, mountain climber, mentor, and writer. In addition, he’s the CEO and Co-Founder of BELAY, a premium staffing company serving businesses all over the U.S.

bryan miles belay solutions episode 32

I’ve come to know Bryan over the last few years and have watched BELAY (Formerly EAHelp) continue to grow. A couple of my good friends have a BELAY Virtual Assistant and they can’t stop singing their praises, so I wanted to bring Bryan on to the podcast to learn more about what they’re up to.

We talk about artificial intelligence and the future of assistants, delegating results–not tasks, why executives need an assistant, how to work with a VA, tips for interviewing an assistant, showing up for a video interview, tips on building your resume, what to look for in an assistant, and how to grow a connected and thriving culture – with a team that is 100% remote.

We also talk about how the role of an assistant is NOT a dead end job, but instead, one of the best roles for getting experience in how to run a business and lead others.

Bryan and his wife Shannon (Co-Founder and Co-CEO of BELAY) took out their life savings to start their business. Bryan shares a bit about how they survived and even thrived coming out of the recession.

I trust you’ll enjoy my conversation with Bryan, as well as take home some practical tips for your workplace.


You stand for something, or you fall for everything.

– Dale Miles (Bryan’s Dad)

Leadership is stewardship. It is temporary and you are accountable.

– Andy Stanley


bryan miles belay solutions

About Bryan Miles

Bryan Miles is an entrepreneur, husband, father, backpacker, mountain climber, mentor, and writer. In addition, he’s the CEO and Co-Founder of BELAY, a premium staffing company serving businesses all over the U.S. He and his wife, Shannon, are proud co-owners and co-CEOs. They have enjoyed starting and running BELAY together as a team since the beginning in 2010.

The company has now exploded to over seven hundred team members – all of whom work from home. Without an office, BELAY has graced the Inc. 5000 list four times and was awarded the number one spot in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Best Company Culture.

Before BELAY, Bryan was a sales consultant in the tech and construction industries. In 2010, he and Shannon saw the need for an innovative staffing model where people could work remotely from their homes. They gave their notices and resigned from their employers on the same day, October 1st, 2010. They cashed in all of their 401(k)s and just like that, BELAY was born.

Creating and fostering a healthy culture has always been close to Bryan’s heart. He has written about it for years and has put all of his thoughts in his second book, Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, which is available now.

Bryan loves to mentor other entrepreneurs and small business owners to reach their full potential. During these seasons of mentoring, he meets with a small group of men once a month. He digs into their lives to encourage them to be the best father, husband, and businessman they can be. Bryan sits on the board of Radical Mentoring and two other organizations.

The whole Miles family has their permanent residence in north Atlanta, but they truly live out the joys of working virtually. Bryan is often interviewing for podcasts, at speaking engagements discussing Virtual Culture, or supporting his amazing BELAY team. If they are not working from their porch, you’ll find them splitting time between the beaches on the panhandle of Florida and the mountains of Jackson Hole. He is keenly aware that he can’t do any of this without the support of his wife, the hard work of his team, or the kindness of God.


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Bryan Miles 0:00
Hello, my name is Bryan Miles and I am very excited to share with you my favorite leadership quote is from my father, his name was Dale Miles. And it was that you stand for something, or you fall for everything. And I’ve carried that quote in my heart pretty much since the day he shared that with me when I was a kid. And the second leadership quote that I love is from my pastor Andy Stanley, for North Point church here in Atlanta, and he said that leadership is a stewardship and that it’s temporary and that we’re accountable. And I’m always carried that with me in terms of leadership, recognizing that I’m here for a season as a CEO of this company and to be the best steward of this business I possibly can.

Podcast Intro 0:45
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become irreplaceable, Game Changing leader assistants.

Jeremy Burrows 0:56
This is episode 32 Hey everyone, welcome to episode 32. As my son Weston said, you can check out the show notes at In case you haven’t checked out our Facebook group, you can join at And lastly, sign up for our email list so that you can get the latest podcast episodes, blog posts, online course resources, and live event notifications are straight to your inbox. You can sign up at Up. Today I’m speaking with Bryan Miles who’s the CO CEO and co founder of Belay Solutions. Belay Solutions is the largest virtual assistant firm in the US with all US based vas. And Bryan has a great story of how they started the company and how to build a virtual culture. Enjoy the show. Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast. Today’s guest is Bryan Miles from belay solutions. Bryan is the CO CEO and co founder with his wife Shannon. Bryan, thanks for joining us.

Bryan Miles 2:12
Jeremy, thank you for the opportunity. I’m thrilled to be here.

Jeremy Burrows 2:15
So let’s kind of take a step back and tell us about your very first job.

Bryan Miles 2:22
My very first job was working at a Michaels. It’s an arts and crafts store. And I was hired to be a stock boy. So I unloaded trucks. I priced merchandise I put that merchandise on shelves, I swept floors, I clean restrooms, I went and got carts, I help people out to their cars, and that was in Southern California and San Diego, small town called Poway. That that was my first official job.

Jeremy Burrows 2:51
So what did you learn in that job that you still use today,

Bryan Miles 2:55
I learned that I never want to clean restrooms, ever again. That’s what I learned, I learned that there’s got to be a better way to make a living than what I was doing. And there’s no no offense to anybody that’s a janitor or anything like that. I just realized that wasn’t my calling. But I would tell you that. You know, actually, I learned the value of hard work there. You know, because I, at the time, it was in high school I had to I played soccer, I played competitively. So I also had to have a job to pay for my car and my insurance and stuff like that. And, you know, I realized that nothing was going to be handed to me that if there was something I wanted out of this life, I was going to have to go get it myself that there was no hero coming to say to me that I was going to have to make that happen on my own. So that I think that’s what it taught me was the value of you know, the value of hard work incrementally over time brings you success.

Jeremy Burrows 3:53
So, fast forward a little bit when and why did you decide to start Belay Solutions which formerly known as EA help, which is a virtual assistant company,

Bryan Miles 4:06
as a giant leap in time. Yeah, so leading up to starting our business in 2010. In the fall of 2010, my wife and I were in really nice jobs and we had good careers. The problem for me was, I was traveling too much and our children were two and five, and they were littles and I just never got to see them. I was working for a really great company that I loved. I used to build and renovate churches for a really well established four decade old company. But I was taking anywhere from six to eight flights a week, and I just was never home. And at the same time my wife was working for a fortune 10 company called McKesson, and she had been in for 10 years and a senior project management capacity at her Our next career move was going to be more of a lateral move. And we just kind of hit a point where we just said, you know, are we? Are we good doing this for someone else? Or should we consider something else and kind of together over the course of the summer of 2010, we did a lot of due diligence, we asked people that were wildly successful in business, what they thought, because we weren’t going to ask people who were in jobs, because they all thought we were nuts, to consider leading during the height of the Great Recession, to do something like this. But the ones that we wanted to really kind of lean into were the ones that were successful in business. And they all for the most part said, yeah, you need to do this, this is the right time to enter the market. So with some courage, we walked in October 1 of 2010. And we both within an hour of each other resigned from our companies. And we took that $160,000, which was all of our 401k money, and we use that as our personal startup capital. And then December 1, after we finished our jobs, well, December 1 2010, we started what would become belay and offer virtual assistant services and some other virtual services.

Jeremy Burrows 6:09
So how did you decide to do the virtual assistant route?

Bryan Miles 6:15
Yeah, so when I worked at my old company, I had an assistant Her name is Tricia. And Trisha was the virtual assistant. But that was before you call them a virtual assistant. She lived in Charlotte, and I lived in Atlanta. And I saw her maybe 1012 times a year, but for the most part, it was very much promote. And she managed my sales team, which I had about 10 guys that I was responsible for and construction all over the US and she from Charlotte kind of helped me oversee a lot of what happened. And I’d never rarely saw her. So I’m like, Oh, that’s a that’s a virtual assistant. And then, during kind of that season, where I was feeling disrupted to start something I read for our work week, and at that time in the book, and basically pointed to all oversea solutions, there was no domestic solution available. And I thought, you know, there’s got to be something here in the States. There’s a lot of people that need jobs right now, I have friends that need jobs right now here in the US. So what if we created a virtual assistant company that just purely focused on domestic staffing or folks here in the US, and that’s, that’s basically what we did?

Jeremy Burrows 7:25
So how long did it take for you to really get to the point where you were confident that it was gonna work out?

Bryan Miles 7:33
About seven months into our business. So we kind of launched, you know, late 2010. And around the summer of 2011, I had one of our clients text me and say, Hey, a little known guy named Michael Hyatt is tweeting. I don’t Does anybody use Twitter anymore, except the President was tweeting that he needed a virtual assistant. So I jumped on and I just messaged him and said, Hey, I own a virtual assistant company. And then he followed me and we DM back and forth. And I set up a phone call for and then we talked for about 20 minutes, he signed the following morning, and tweeted about us and my inbox, literally filled up with sales leads from every possible industry you would ever imagine. And that was a turning point in our business. It was I call Mike Mike Gailey become good friends of ours. And it was like our Oprah moment, you know, when you get on the Oprah show, and she talks about your book, you know, it was it was that moment for us that really kind of took us in a whole different direction we were, we were marching along. But what that enabled us to do was take our company, and literally make it to break even in 14 months. So we didn’t get paid back our investment. But we got the breakeven where the bleeding stopped at 14 months in our business, in large part because my was kind enough to want love our service, but to say nice things about us in the market. And then unfortunately, today, we’ve got a lot of great mics that are out there that say nice things about us, including our awesome clients, but there was 14 months and ever just remember that relief that it gave me when I you know, when I when I felt that, you know, I looked at that spreadsheet and I said, Oh my gosh, I think we’re gonna make it there’s there was some wind in my sails that day.

Jeremy Burrows 9:25
So at that point, you probably were you’re very excited. And there’s wind in your sails. But you’re also you know, when Michael Hyatt tweets and you get all these emails, you’re probably also freaking out a little bit say, Well, I’ve got to find assistants.

Bryan Miles 9:39
For these clients. The first thing was I had to sell these books, right. Oh, and there was this, you know, virtual assistants back then and you know, I say it like it was you know, in the 1940s But back then, it was still a lot of education. People are like, Okay, how does this work? And you know, it was just the head scratching today. It’s so much the industry has changed. So much so that people just kind of already know to some extent what it is. But back then a lot of education, I sold every deal in our, in our company for 18 months until I couldn’t keep up. And that was one of the first things I decided to outsource, or excuse me delegate inside my business, I handed that off around 18 months into our company. But I would say that on top of selling Yeah, the next thing was creating a really robust conveyor belt of great people that could represent our clients.

Jeremy Burrows 10:29
So how did you find the quality assistants for your clients?

Bryan Miles 10:34
Well, you know, we looked in places where we already had success with finding great virtual assistants, you know, we target college educated stay at home moms and dads with past business from professional experience. And that’s a really great target for us, we, first off I love stay at home moms and dads because for I personally feel like corporate America has marginalize them. And it’s unnecessary, because they’re really great talented people. They just don’t want to come work in an office every day. And then another great segment that we found are the kids of aging parents, they are highly qualified folks. But they have to be near their mom and dad to take care of them. And so that’s just a groupings of people. We just started kind of aggressively going after and asking questions of our assistants like, Hey, do you know other people? You know, so we tried to do our best to kind of create a referral system as well. And today, it’s very lively inside our organization, but we, you know, we’re always on the hunt and advertising areas where we feel like we can target those types of folks.

Jeremy Burrows 11:35
So when you kind of get applicants, do you use tests, or personality tests, or some sort of assessments to match? You know, with the right assistance? Or? Or maybe I’m sure there’s a there’s a vetting process for one, but then you’ve got to match them to the clients. So what what tools do you use or systems to use for that?

Bryan Miles 11:58
Well, a lot of that’s our secret sauce. So what I will say is this is that we are robust in terms of how we vet our candidates that want to represent our company. Today, we get over 2000 resumes a month, that come in our doors for people that would like to work for us. And we really, truly pick the best of the best represent our clients. Because, you know, Belay is more than just virtual assistants, we have virtual bookkeepers, and also website support specialists as well. So that 2000 kind of represents all of those resumes. But we have specific tests that we do per that type of service line, and the person that wants to represent us. We do video interviews. So it’s important that you show up well, in terms of you know, how you’re going to interview coming to an interview, not in your bathrobe, just as a personal example, I would encourage you not to do that. And, and then we do a series of kind of tests, and we pay attention to things that they may not realize that we’re paying attention to. So we just were looking for certain things that in person and how a person shows up, and how they would represent our clients. And to get through our vetting process takes anywhere from three to five weeks to thoroughly get through it and make sure that my talent acquisition team has what they need in order to make a confident decision that they would represent our company well.

Jeremy Burrows 13:21
So what do you look for on the resumes? Or maybe what’s one tip that you would give somebody just general resume, you know, improvement tip,

Speaker 1 13:31
I would say this is true, regardless of where you’re applying, not even even like my company and or other companies that you would want to work for? I think, you know, frankly, I don’t put a lot of weight in resumes. I’m looking more for passion, you know, do you really want to do this. And I know our team looks for that as well as like, you know, your cover letter actually mean something, how you articulate yourself, and your passion. If that shines through, it’s a much easier kind of that one goes to the top of the pile in terms of okay, this is the person I must talk to, because it’s clear to me that they’re going to want to represent our company, versus I just need a job. Or, you know, and we see this mistake happen a lot with you know, stay at home moms and dads, they see the value and what in their benefit for that. But they failed. And they articulate that really well that they want to work from home for their kids. But that can’t be the reason for why we’re in business as well. We need them to be hey look, my time is the opportunity to really help grow your company as well. So it can’t be so lopsided that the whole thing is just to benefit them and their family. They’ve got to communicate thoroughly that this is a win for us as a business as well. And I see that mistake a lot we get it we understand we’re all parents, I left my job to to have more time with my kids. I get it, but that doesn’t pay bills. You know, really serving a company well and you know having that flexibility to be able to be a stay at home mom or dad. That’s massively important as well. But it can’t be the sole reason for why you want to work for our company. Does that make sense?

Jeremy Burrows 15:10
Yeah, totally. So, what’s it let’s talk about you personally, then when you’re interviewing for your executive assistant, what’s the number one red flag that you’ve kind of? You’re like, Oh, this isn’t right, when you’re interviewing an assistant.

Speaker 1 15:31
Well, you know, after six and a half years, my awesome assistant, Paige decided she wanted to take on a new role inside of Belay, which is super cool. I love the fact that our company creates other opportunities for our assistants that I had really worked with Paige, you know, for a good amount of the the life of our company. So I went out on the hunt for kind of art are my next VA. And it turned out that actually my my wife’s assistant, her name is Mary Ellen, Mary Ellen decided to start her own company. And we found ourselves within about a month of each other and needing an assistant together. So we decided, let’s, you know, hey, we’re married, our schedules are very similar. Let’s see if we can’t share one, which oftentimes, I discourage people from doing. But knowing kind of our stage of life and the demands from us personally, and our calendars, and travel, and so forth, we’ve actually made it work. But I don’t recommend it for, you know, for leaders in general. But for us as a married couple, it seems to work. And so to answer your question, I’m looking mostly for somebody that’s highly detailed, that can anticipate my needs, and is not intimidated by you know, who I am, or the role that that I sit in currently. And I know that sounds simple, but there’s plenty of people that are they they make a monster out of a molehill when the reality is, I’m just a normal guy trying to grow a company. And I need help on a day to day basis, and you’re going to see the good, the bad and the ugly with me. And, you know, it’s just somebody that won’t be intimidated by that at all. And my wife, I mean, she’s a very successful businesswoman. And we just want somebody that can look past all that say, Hey, I’m here to help you. I’m here to help your leadership, your family, I’m here to help grow belay. And that’s a very, I think, very important thing. And it just really anticipating needs. And that takes time. That’s not an overnight thing. So you’re looking for somebody that really wants to do that, before they really get the opportunity to demonstrate it.

Jeremy Burrows 17:45
So what’s your favorite question to ask an assistant that you’re interviewing?

Bryan Miles 17:51
I haven’t interviewed assistants in a long time. On it on an ongoing basis, I would say, the bigger question for me, and it was a question I asked, Oh, who is now our assistant. And what’s really cool about hope, just if I could brag on her second, she’s got she actually was a relationship manager in our company, before she became our assistant. So she coached assistants. As part of what she did for belay before she became our assistant. And before that, she was the executive assistant to the CEO, J. Crew, and also the executive assistant to the CEO of Spanx. So highly qualified individual in terms of what she could do. So the, so the credibility was there. I wanted to ask her, why do you want to do this? Like, why is this even attractive to you? Like, it’s almost like, you’re, you’re in a role where you’re coaching and mentoring virtual assistants, and you want to become one, and just do that. And I think for her, that was just her sweet spot. And she is she’s so gifted at it. And I think that she’s, she’s really stepped into that role really well. But from me, I want to know, the walk like walk ins, because Jeremy has, you know, I mean, oftentimes, as an assistant, it’s just a lot of serving, it’s a lot of giving of yourself, it’s a lot of doing things that you know, you know, it’s just like, you know, sometimes you feel like you’re doing things into a black hole. And you know, that you’ve got to have some meaning behind why you do these things. And so that’s what I want to get after when I when I do ask people why you want to do these types of things.

Jeremy Burrows 19:28
So, you know, you mentioned she came from being a relationship manager moved over to be you and Shannon’s EA. And right, some of your leadership team, if I remember right, are from your company in the sense that they started as virtual assistants and then kind of work your way up. So how would you encourage assistants who want to kind of progress in their career and eventually maybe even start or run their own company someday?

Bryan Miles 19:58
So here’s the cool thing about it. Being an assistant, I hear this often and I disagree with it. I hear assistants when we’ve done it. And we hear this a lot from like, like hiring managers and larger corporations will say, you know, really what we’re finding, or what they’re seeing is that these assistants are saying being an assistant is a dead end job. I couldn’t disagree more. If there’s ever a place where you could demonstrate leadership, it’s in serving other people. So that is true in our company. Do you remember that earlier in this conversation, I talked about Tricia, who was my assistant at my old company. Today, she’s the CFO of our company. She’s She won, she had a proven track record of serving and proving that she could get through things and execute so well, then it just made sense. As our business grew, she saw more and more responsibility come her way. And today, I’m I mean, I literally, you know, Shannon and I are actually in the next 11 days are going to take a 90 day sabbatical. And the person that we’ve appointed to run the company, while we’re out on sabbatical is trician. She’s completely capable, she’s a great leader, she knows how to execute, she knows how to oversee things to mitigate risk, I mean, all the things that we need that have happened, and represent us publicly to, she’s able to do those things. So I don’t look at a person in terms of their pedigree or where they went to school or all the iPads are important, but they don’t tell the whole picture. And I think, frankly, assistance, they need to realize that they actually have more influence than they realize that they can lead up, they can lead sideways and organization they can, they can lead in such a way that they’re serving of other people and anticipating needs, could be played out at a bigger greater capacity for business or for their own business, if they want to create one.

Jeremy Burrows 21:50
So what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made? When managing one of your assistants? And what did you learn from the experience?

Bryan Miles 21:58
You know, there is a fine line when you’re working with somebody and it’s professional, and then it’s private as well, you know, there’s, there’s a mix of things that our assistants do for us in terms of like, you know, helping us schedule a dentist appointment, or maybe a personal vacation, I mean, all these things still have to get done. And, but there are times when you would like you realize, like, you know, I really probably need to take care of that thing. Whatever that thing is on my own and not have my assistant do that. Although logically, you could argue like, well, that, you know, it’s a higher payoff activity, I need to be the one that stay focused on my time. But I’ve made the mistake over time, and sometimes giving a little too much personally for someone to do, you know, page, or hope, or Tricia, even in the past and realizing like, you know, man, I probably should have taken that one on. And there’s another book on how to be a great leader working with an assistant, I mean, that I know of, I mean, in terms of things like this. So you kind of have to figure things out when, you know, like you probably, you know, you know, there might be like, if you really want to get something meaningful for your wife, you probably shouldn’t buy that yourself. You know, like, it’s got it, you know, you can’t just say, hey, you know, I want you to just figure this whole thing out and give my wife a great gift. That’s not going to work. If you’re really in it for your for your wife, you’re going to want to buy her that gift yourself. So made some domestics like that before?

Jeremy Burrows 23:23
Do you have a hobby? And how important Have you found this hobby to be in your sanity?

Bryan Miles 23:30
Right now, if I could categorize travel with my family as a hobby, we are blessed to be in a situation where we can do that now. And I think that that’s kind of the current season where we are and that that gives us opportunities for new experiences. We, my wife and I have always said we’d rather give our kids experience over things. And right now they’re 10 and 13. And it’s an obviously, you know, many ages as a kid are very pivotal. But we’re just finding that those experiences equal great dialogue, great conversation, they get to see the world in a way that I didn’t get to see as a kid. So right now, I’d say that, that that is one thing that we’re doing, you know, around the house, we play a lot of Foursquare, and, you know, shoot BB guns and play Xbox. And my, my daughter is quite the artist. So we’re always encouraging her with, you know, paint drawing and stuff like that. And she’s also getting into more drama. So we were enjoying her activities at school and so forth. And my son, he’s just now in the fourth grade. So, you know, any stick he picks up is pretty much a gun, which is which is awesome. I love having a boy too.

Jeremy Burrows 24:46
So let’s talk a little bit to leaders who don’t have an assistant or maybe who do have one but are trying to get more out of them or trying to improve that relationship. So first let’s let’s I want to ask you, what would you say to someone who doesn’t have an assistant, but it’s considering hiring one, but they’re not sure if they should?

Bryan Miles 25:05
Well, and there’s a couple of things around this. The first is a lot of leaders that don’t have assistants. The reason why they don’t is because they feel like to have an assistant would be a luxury. And it’s not, it’s just not a luxury. In fact, it’s a necessity. If you plan on growing, I don’t know anything great that happened with just one person, it takes an army of people moving in a specific direction for something great to occur. And for leaders, oftentimes, they’ve just not calculated their per hour rate, they’re not figured out their daily rate or their hourly rate. And then, you know, it said like, Okay, well, you know, let’s say I make, you know, 500 bucks an hour doing whatever I do, or whatever that number is for you. You need to divide that by a lower number to really figure out what lower path activities aren’t higher payoff activities are because a good leader knows what their time is worth. And then they delegate and give responsibility to other people to do those things that only they are that they can do that. And then they get to focus on only the things that they can do. And I just see a lot of leaders, they miss that they see it as a luxury. And then the other thing that I see, oftentimes it’s more ego driven, it’s like, well, I’m the only one that can do this thing. That’s horse crap. That is not true. The truth is, many, many, many, many people can do things just as well as you, you’ve just chosen to hang on to it, because you feel like you that gives you worth, and there’s things that you’re doing. And we see that, you know, we see leaders that say, You know what I’m, I’m going to finally be more open handed and realize that there’s plenty of great people out there that can do these things. And what it does, when the leader gets to that point, they actually elevate their leadership, and they take their business to a new level that is really cool to watch.

Jeremy Burrows 26:51
So on that theme, what’s one practical tip that you would give executives to help them get more out of their assistants or give more to their assistants,

Bryan Miles 27:01
what I would tell them is that they want to grow their team to the next level and themselves as leaders, they need to start delegating results, not tasks. You know, we all work hopefully, we all work with people that are adults. And those adults want to be trusted with results. And frankly, they can get to the result quicker than even I can or you can as a leader because they they they instinctively intuitively know how to kind of go after a result. So it’s not the 55 things that equal the result that you need to delegate to them. It’s here’s the result. And so they might those 55 things that you’ve identified, they might be able to do them in 15, or 20, or 30, but not 55. And I just see a lot of leaders they miss that they want they want to kind of methodically, step by step take people to what will one day be a result, when they what they really need to do is just say, hey, here’s the result I need from you. And I’m delegating this to you. I’m here to help him. But I want you to get after this result. And that’s empowering people in such a powerful way and allow leaders miss that.

Jeremy Burrows 28:07
So which tasks? Have you seen assistants to do that you would have never imagined that an assistant could handle and maybe even specifically, things that you never thought a virtual assistant would be able to handle? Because they’re not there in the office?

Bryan Miles 28:22
Yeah, one of the more authentic ones that I’ve seen is where a leader will take a sheet of paper out and hand draw or handwrite the alphabet, and then take a picture of that and send it to their assistant. And then that assistant mimics their handwriting and does thank you notes forum. Which I think is really cool personally, because I mean, the words are coming to them in an email and all they’re doing is they’re basically just taking, right. You know that that is one way to do it, especially when you’ve got a lot of thank yous to write, because you’re demonstrating gratitude. That’s, that’s more on the on the unique side, I think, you know, frankly, I’ve been blown away by like the the ways, or the methods in which you can oversee email, you know, I thought maybe there’s one or two ways there’s actually like six or seven that we’ve identified how you can kind of manage a leaders email. And that’s been really cool to see that evolve when we like, Oh, hey, this is a new way to do it. It’s pretty cool. Let’s make sure we remember this. Because, you know, frankly, the things that we get hired a lot to do circle around the things that are you know, you know, fairly boring, you know, like managing email, overseeing email, overseeing calendars, you know, it takes a special person to really want to be about those types of things. And I love it when we see innovation come out of those things.

Jeremy Burrows 29:48
What’s something your assistant does that an AI will never be able to do?

Bryan Miles 29:57
Oh, man, what a great question. Uh, you know, I think AI plays a very important part in the future of our industry. And this is, this is why I think that AI can especially. And I will tell you this, I am no expert in AI. But what I would say is AI is already helping our business because our assistants in certain cases are already leveraging it for things that they don’t need to do that they can kind of say, Hey, let’s go ahead and automate this, or let’s do this thing. And Assistants are already doing that. So for me, I think assistants, especially they’re wanting to kind of up their game in terms of productivity, need to pay close attention to what AI means for them personally, in terms of their productivity. We are certainly as a business looking at it and saying, Okay, there’s nothing to be afraid of, you know, what are we going to do to leverage this? You know, I don’t think people will ever be replaced. I just don’t, I think that I think that there’s things where a certain level of critical thinking comes into play, that AI won’t be able to calculate, I think that it’ll take years and years and years of research and effort to get them to a place of higher level of sophistication with AI. But I do think that in general, AI can be wonderfully leveraged with assistance, especially in certain activities that they do on an ongoing or consistent basis.

Jeremy Burrows 31:26
So coming back to the whole virtual world, you wrote a book called virtual culture, the way we work doesn’t work anymore. What what do you have you seen is like the most valuable part, maybe other than, you know, spending time with your kids and flexibility. But why, why is allowing your employees to work from home valuable.

Bryan Miles 31:48
You know, that that book, for me was kind of like a cathartic experience. Because we, we won an award for top company culture by entrepreneur, entrepreneur magazine. And we took the number one spot on the list. And of the 50 companies that were listed, we were the only one that we knew that was all fully distributed, or 100%, remote. And because of that, got a lot of company got a lot of notoriety. And I just felt like I needed to create a playbook for virtual companies, or if you wanted to move in that direction. Now hear me it’s not the playbook. It’s a playbook. It’s ours. And I wanted to share that because we just got to ask a lot like, hey, how in the world are you doing this? And so that was my attempt to kind of share the behind the curtain of how belay operates. What’s been most rewarding for me, frankly, is hearing companies that have wrestled through this book and their leadership teams have read this book, and then digested it and said, Okay, well, if this is true, and if this is how workforces moving what does that mean for our business? And I’m getting a lot of cool letters and emails and messages on LinkedIn and you know, people calling saying, hey, you know, this is this book changed our industry or excuse me, changed our, our industry, our company, it means a great deal to me personally, it’s not, it doesn’t bring us necessarily any money. It’s not a service. I don’t consult on this. But it’s brought awareness to belay, which has been really great. And as we’ve continued to grow the scale of our company.

Jeremy Burrows 33:22
So what are the cons to having remote workers?

Bryan Miles 33:25
You know, I found one about two months ago. And there’s there’s a couple but I’d say this one was a new one that I discovered that I’ll share hard conversations that you know, you need to have, you get to the finality or the conclusion of it, I think quicker when you’re face to face in person. While Zoom is an amazing technology, and we leverage it every single day, in our business at belay. There’s just something to be said about being in the same room, when you need to have a really hard conversation. And, you know, because we’re fully distributed, that’s not just as easy, you know, sometimes that requires an airplane and a hotel stay, you know, but that is one thing that I’ve realized when you when when the conversations Beyond Productivity, when the conversation is beyond just doing things that you know, are business related, when you when you need to go deeper, and really get at the heart of something that maybe that conversation has been a trend in a very hard direction. I think it’s important that you’re there face to face. And I Do I Do you see that as a drawback in I’m pro in a remote company, big time, but there are times when you just need to be face to face with someone.

Jeremy Burrows 34:38
That’s a good point. So what would you tell an EA? Who wants to become a VA who wants to or maybe a traditional in office EA wants to become a remote work from home VA.

Bryan Miles 34:52
I would say that they’re moving in the right direction in terms of what I what I’m personally seeing as the workforce of the next generation. One or the or at least the next decade, we’re seeing just a lot of people that want to work from home because they’ve got a friend that works out their back deck already. And they’re working in a company that’s got great benefits. That’s all remote or mostly remote. And then frankly, I’m seeing a lot of organizations where of size that are saying, okay, a certain percentage of our company by such and such goal or deadline will be fully distributed or remote. And it’s just the way it’s heading. If I were in commercial real estate today, I’d be scared, silly. I think we’re going to have a lot of old office carcasses as a result of the shift in terms of space, because people and businesses are realizing people don’t need to actually come and work in an office anymore, that they can actually produce great results for a company, and they can all be done from home. So I would say, as an assistant, if you’re doing things like on site right now and more of a kind of a traditional capacity, maybe you sit outside the door of your your leader, there’s a day coming where for you, I think it’s going to be completely unnecessary for you to be there, you can be doing this and working from home. So I if you want that I would be proposing that to your leader already. And helping them realize that like this is this saves them money, that saves them, you know, net profit, which is important, obviously to owners, you know, by them being able to work from home.

Jeremy Burrows 36:26
So, should virtual assistants specialize? Or should they be more of a jack of all trades?

Bryan Miles 36:34
That’s a tricky question. I think some of that’s really industry specific. But I think if you’re, you know, if you’re wanting to get in a particular lane or industry that I would definitely encourage them to specialize and really know that space super well. But, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of great people out there that, you know, they’re general practitioners, if you will, and they’re in a particular city, in the United States or anywhere, and they’ve just got four clients, and they’re super happy. You know, that’s, that’s a great way to have a great, you know, personal career outside of working for a company, including ours, you know, we we see that a lot where, you know, some really great assistant in Albuquerque has got four clients that she does assistant work for in Albuquerque, you know, and just works, and she’s paid well, and it makes it nice for her family. And you know that that is a way to do it for sure.

Jeremy Burrows 37:29
So let’s close with this final question. What can assistants do to become better leaders?

Bryan Miles 37:37
I think that they can become a better leader by recognizing that serving people is leadership. And the more that they can understand the topic around servant leadership, and then apply that as a principle in terms of how they work, they’ll quickly find themselves being given more leadership opportunities. And, you know, if one thing I would say for any assistant is become an expert in the topic of servant leadership, Robert Greenleaf wrote a great essay, kind of the granddaddy, if you will, of servant leadership, that I would encourage people to read, it’s called the servant as leader, Ken Blanchard has tons of stuff on servant leadership. But I’m gonna become a student of servant leadership. Because if you do that, well, what’s going to happen is you’re going to be presented with other opportunity to do things or lead in ways that maybe you’re less administrative and more leadership oriented. And I can’t think of a better way to lead than be a servant leader. And a servant leader, by the way, isn’t a person that just lays down and lets people walk on a servant leader, it was modeled like I saw in Jesus, and a lot of certain leadership topics, they talk about that, you know, there’s, there’s a strong will that’s imposed when you serve, because you’re making a decision to serve people. And that might mean, hey, I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not going to hide behind things, or, Hey, I’m going to model this because this is important for the direction we’re going and you need to follow me and by following me, I’m serving you. So there’s, there’s some really great things. I think that that assistants would benefit by becoming experts in servant leadership. They’ll if they do that, they’ll they’ll find that plenty of opportunities gonna come their way.

Jeremy Burrows 39:20
Great. Totally agree. Awesome, man. Well, thanks so much for joining us. Is there is there something that my listeners can do to support what you’re doing? Or maybe where can they find you online?

Speaker 1 39:32
Well, we always love an attaboy or we’re cheering you on type of stuff on social media. As of late, we’re pretty big on on Instagram. That seems to be a really great platform for us for these days. We’re pretty active still, with regard to Facebook. So we’d love hearing dialogue back and forth, both belay and if you want to look us up with our our handles as belay solutions for Instagram and also for Facebook. And then for me Personally, my wife, we’re on Facebook, we’ve got a profile page where we interact quite a bit with folks. And then we’re on Instagram as well. Those are really great places just to kind of see what we’re up to as a business and as personally as as owners of this company. And we love engaging with folks, you know, in different capacities. So that’d be way of course, our websites available if you’re just curious about our company and what we do at And then my virtual culture book, while it can be found, like on Amazon, if you want to read more about the book itself, it’s just

Jeremy Burrows 40:37
Awesome. Well, thanks, man. I’ll put all those links in the show notes so everybody can get to them easily. And yeah, thanks again for joining us been great conversation. Hope you have a great week and we’ll talk soon.

Unknown Speaker 40:49
Thank you, Jeremy. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Jeremy Burrows 40:51
Thanks again for listening. Check out the show notes at Until next time, have a good one.

Podcast Intro 41:09
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