EP 007: Unlock New Strengths Through VA Work

panic proof radio blog louisa

Louisa Mfum-Mensah is a busy woman. One day at her job as Special Aide to the Mayor of Philadelphia, she mentioned to a colleague her interest in finding more things that bring joy. Louisa was looking for something outside of her nine to five that would tap into different parts of her brain and help her expand her productivity and expertise in other areas of her life. That colleague happened to work with Don’t Panic Management and encouraged Louisa to apply.

Upon joining the Don’t Panic team, Louisa was paired up with clients who are incredible women entrepreneurs. Since then, Louisa has continued to love the work because she believes wholeheartedly in what her clients are doing. She revels in finding ways to empower phenomenal women.

For one client, that meant a serious inbox overhaul. When Louisa first met her, this client was constantly lost in the email weeds. The client knew things had to change, but she didn’t want to lose the personal touch in her communications with clients. 

Over the first six months of working together, she and Louisa sorted what needed hands-on attention from what a VA could handle. There was a period of trial and error, but now, Louisa and her client have it down to a science.

Louisa now uses templated responses written by the client that allow her client’s voice to shine through while removing the pressure to craft a personalized email each time. Louisa flags emails that need more personal responses and builds a block of time into her client’s calendar for focused time spent in her inbox.

While this system has made a huge positive impact for her client, Louisa is quick to point out that it didn’t happen overnight. It took months of open communication between client and VA to find the right balance. The client had to come to trust Louisa fully to make the calls on which emails needed to be escalated and those Louisa could manage without oversight.

Louisa says that great VAs are natural problem-solvers and enjoy picking at a problem until they find the perfect solution. They’re also comfortable taking the reins and sharing ideas and strategies with clients.

The great thing about working with Don’t Panic, Louisa says, is that she can tap into a network of other VAs. Whenever she comes to the team with what feels like a wacky, out-there question or request, she’s often amazed to find someone on the team who’s come across the same ask and has a great tool or process to tackle it.

Louisa’s clients get a lot from working with her, and she gets something equally valuable in return. In addition to supporting women entrepreneurs she admires, Louisa says that her VA work has exposed her to new interests.

Being a VA has helped her realize how much she enjoys strategy, operations, and implementation work. It’s even opened up a new career path for her: She recently accepted the role of Director of Executive Operations with the Urban Affairs Coalition, the largest nonprofit organization in Philadelphia.

While there’s always some anxiety and fear that come with trying something new, Louisa is grateful that her VA work helped her develop this new set of skills she can apply in other areas of her life.

Key Takeaways

  • When a VA is invested in their client’s work, the client’s wins are a VA’s wins, too. An invested VA will go the extra mile to find the best possible solution to any problem.
  • The best VAs are people who can anticipate what’s coming and help their clients plan accordingly.
  • When starting with a VA, invest in the relationship-building. It is a personal relationship, and you need to take the time to build that trust, so everything else can fall into place seamlessly.

Top Quotes

“Having a client who’s open to that kind of constructive work helps make it comfortable for people to do that with their clients.” – @ltmfum on how clients can facilitate a great #working relationship with their #VA Click To Tweet “A VA is…someone who is deep into the nuance of your life. You need to cultivate the necessary trust to feel at ease handing that level of your life over to somebody.” – @ltmfum on the importance of building #trust with your #VA Click To Tweet “You can’t just work all day and not stop. It’s not good for your brain, your spirit, your anything…Listen to your body and your brain and take the breaks as you need them.” – @ltmfum on finding #balance in the #workday Click To Tweet

Resources From This Episode

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