February 7, 2023

Unlock Opportunities in Operations - No Degree Needed! with Diana Spencer (DF#83)

Unlock Opportunities in Operations - No Degree Needed!

Here's How You Get into Operations From Scratch

Today our guest is Diana Spencer, and we go over everything that you need to know in order to transition your career into operations.

We talk about what operation is and how to make your transition into that field if you're not already in it.

We talk about how she initially got into operations as a bookkeeper and how she initially got the job by lying on her resume and learning quickly how to do the job and becoming really proficient at it.


Diana has had over a decade of experience working in Operations. Starting as a bookkeeper at age 18, Diana quickly and quite successfully rose within each company she's been employed with. She contributes her success to nothing more than strategy and the willingness to learn.

"If you play the game of business and play it right, you can move into any position that interests you. Decide what you want, then define vividly what you need to do to get it. Then EXECUTE! Just get in and get started."

Diana believes that all opportunities are in front of us (those without a degree) and we just need to take them.

"Pick up a book, join networking events on - there are no excuses, it can be done virtually on LinkedIn. Surround yourself with everyone you can learn from and ask questions. Moving to a position of running companies with 50-100 employees - I drool over employees that want to learn. They are few and far between. Be the few and your competition WILL shrink."

Enjoy the episode!

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Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Diana: You just need to decide what's important to you. I want my family time when I get, you know, when I get there, right? That's one thing. I don't wanna be a millionaire. I wanna live comfortably. I wanna say, you know what, oh my God, I'm not feeling that great. I'm gonna go, I wanna go to, gonna get my two weeks notice.

Diana: I'm gonna be, you know, appropriate work and I'm gonna go to Florida for the weekend and I don't wanna feel bad charging that to my credit card. I wanna just be comfortable enough to do those kind of things. You know what I mean? So it's just a matter of like, what do you really want out of life?

Diana: And once you get to there, that's when you've achieved success and everything that you've done on the way there, is an accomplishment. You were successful in doing this, you needed to get a certification to get that job. You know, paid hike, whatever. That was an accomplishment. You succeeded. And that's the thing, you gotta like keep telling yourself you are succeeding.

Diana: And your value isn't determined by a job, and that's something I've struggled with. I bought my first house when I was 22. 

Ryan: Aloha folks, and welcome back to Degree Free, where we teach you how to get the work you want without a college degree. I'm your host, Ryan Maruyama. Before we get into today's episode, one of the things we hear all the time is that I don't have a network. I don't know where to start, so start with me, connect with me on LinkedIn.

Ryan: Just go to linkedin.com/in/ryan Maruyama, or you can go to LinkedIn and just find me Ryan Maruyama. I'll put it in the show notes for everybody. Second, if you'd like a short email every week about degree free news and how to get a job without a college degree, go to degreefree.co/newsletter and sign up for a weekly newsletter.

Ryan: Today our guest is Diana Spencer, and we go over everything that you need to know in order to transition your career into operations. This one is a really good episode. If you're thinking about making that transition into the operation space, if you didn't even know that operations exist this episode is for you.

Ryan: We talk about what it is and how to make your transition into that field if you're not already in it. We talk about how she initially got into operations as a bookkeeper and how she initially got the job by lying on her resume and learning quickly how to do the job and becoming really proficient at it.

Ryan: If you wanna say hi to Diana, you can find her on LinkedIn. As usual, links to everything that we talked about will be at our show notes, degreefree.co/podcast and without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Diana Spencer. 

Ryan: Aloha, folks, and welcome back to Degree Free. I am super excited to have on our guest today, Diana Spencer.

Ryan: Diana, thank you so much for making the time. 

Diana: Yeah, thanks for having me. Super excited to be here. I love this podcast. 

Ryan: I was excited for a multitude of reasons, but first thing that got me excited when you initially reached out, it was basically, and I should have pulled it up so I could read it on the air, what that, contact form said, but it was basically like, You telling your life story about how you busted your ass to get where you are.

Ryan: And people don't need that overpriced piece of paper to, find success in their careers and as soon as I read that, I knew that like we had found a kindred spirit. The second reason why I'm excited is because you are in operations and we haven't had too many people in the operations portion, like squarely in that.

Ryan: And I'd love to kind of talk just right now about what you're currently doing for work and what operations looks like. 

Diana: Okay. So operations, if you think of like in most companies, I think the first thing to say is that I work with like small to mid-size to like semi large businesses in my career when I have a conversation with someone else who's in operation.

Diana: The question is, what revenue are you doing? That's how we determine the size of the company and what we, you know, so they have an idea of what I'm dealing with underneath. So I don't work with the super large businesses. I don't have a lot of experience. I'm not even gonna talk about that. I don't know.

Diana: But as far as the small two 50 million revenue businesses, what I do is I start doing everything and I do everything until I can hire around me. So the mentality I've developed, and you know, and I think it's something a lot of people can actually say for themselves if they really think about it, is I know a little about a lot of things, right?

Diana: So I jump in, I start doing bookkeeping, then I start doing a little more accounting, then I start doing finance. I handle HR, I handle all the HR compliance. Those are like side pieces of my job that the business needs to function. But the main purpose of my job, If you were to put it in two lines, is to make sure everything's running as efficiently as humanly possible.

Diana: And for me to raise revenue, that's the one thing that I need on my resume, is that I have year over year revenue growth and those two things kind of like work with each other, right? The way I've always done it, first thing I wanna look at is the money and the data. Any project management software, data, any data that can tell me what's going on with employees, projects, whatever the case, and then I work backwards from there.

Diana: That points to every problem and most of the time, every solution, right? So I see on the P and L I see something suffering and I'm like, well, what contributes to that number? And then I start going backwards. Then I start looking at that, analyze that. I'm like, all right, so we're burning time on this project.

Diana: Whatever the case, how can I avoid burning time on this? And we start going that way. So the good thing about my job is my job's the same everywhere. I don't have to be a specialist in a freaking thing other than what I do. Right? The last company, one of the last companies I worked for, I worked in real estate development and I love real estate, but I've always worked kind of on a smaller level with property management and investors, people who were investing in developing a stuff.

Diana: So now I'm on the other end where I'm working for the people developing it. Right. And the way that company worked is we had, we were kind of a one stop shop. So we had an architect, department, the architect, architecture then we had pre-construction marketing. So we had these animators that would take the drawings from the architect and build a virtual building so that they could pre-sell that building.

Diana: And then I had construction who built the building, right? So I don't need to know how to do any of that. I can barely hang a shelf, let alone run a construction department, right? But I need to be able to communicate with somebody. So I see something, I see a project in architecture that's like killing time, like we're eating profits.

Diana: What is going on with this? I then sit with that director or manager, or even the person running the project, whoever's in it. And I'm like, what happened in this project? You know, no one's in trouble. Like, that's always the first thing I have to say. No one's in trouble. I'm just trying to figure out what happened so we can avoid it.

Diana: So that's what we do. We sit down, we spend a little bit of time going over it. There's a lot of independent research on my end. Sometimes, depending on how cooperative, people don't love. It depends on the person and egos, it's a very people job. I have to people a lot, right? So sometimes people don't want me touching their stuff.

Diana: They're like, leave me alone. I'm doing fine. Or like afraid. I'm gonna find a lot of people are afraid to get in trouble, which again, no one's ever in trouble. I'm just trying to fix the solution. You know, fix the problem, find the solution. So we go through, I talk to them and they'll explain like, well, this is, I'm like, all right, well, what does that mean?

Diana: I'm not an architect. What the hell does that mean? I don't know what it means. Explain it like I'm five. I don't know what you're talking about. They explain it to me. Then my next piece is put some sort of checks and balance in place to stop that from happening. If it starts getting there, we're in front of it and we're gonna stop it right in its tracks before it happens again.

Diana: So those are the little things that I do. Next piece, once those kind of things are, and that comes up regularly, that's an everyday thing. There's a new thing that we learned that we gotta get in front of. Next piece is making it efficient. All right, you're spending 10 hours doing this, is that common?

Diana: Is this something that really takes 10 hours to do or can we do it in eight? You know what I mean? Like whatever this time contribution is to this project, we gotta try to optimize it. Is there anything, I am huge on automation. Anything we can automate here, and it's the first step. What can I do that just takes a person out of it, right?

Diana: And saves that time. So then we do that and it's just this, it's doing that over and over and over again. While maintaining the other stuff, while looking at the finances regularly. Categorizing everything in the books. HR, I have to make, you know, a lot of people don't know this, and these are the things that you will never learn in college, is HR compliance. If you don't have an i-9 filled out for an employee, if you ever, if the government ever comes in and does an audit, that's 10 grand ahead in fines for one, an I-9 that you don't have. You know what, I know that. So I'm in front of that, making sure everyone's paperwork's up to date, you know what I mean?

Diana: Someone gets married, they need to change at W-2, W-4, whatever it is, I have to make sure everyone's like keeping up, you know, explaining benefits to people on onboarding. Onboarding's usually on me and I am huge about onboarding. That is like, everybody should be very clear on this company and this business and how, what your expectation is week one with onboarding.

Diana: But a lot of times I get a lot of green employees right outta college and stuff like that, which is another huge part of my job and I gotta sit down and explain benefits to them. I usually create like a comparison chart. I'm like, you know, your ER visit's gonna be a little high if you go with a lower pi-

Diana: you know what I mean? Like, God forbid these things happen. This is what this looks like. Let's scenario this out so you can make a good decision. So stuff like that. And it's really, I wear a lot of hats and it grows the business. Again, my number one job is running revenue. So as that happens, then I need to start interviewing.

Diana: That's when I gotta start pulling people in something I'm personally passionate about that I don't think a lot of people are. I wish it was a lot, you know, more of a thing is people's professional development, right? If I'm hiring a green employee, I have someone right outta college, what does he gotta do to get to the next place?

Diana: I wanna make sure we have that for him so I can, I want him, I want to get him better. I want him to , grow in my company. So what do I gotta do to make sure that happens and they get a raise? You know, I love incentives. I'm always trying to find incentive plans so that everyone wins. I think you had said you have an economics degree, right?

Diana: Is that whatever? 

Ryan: Unfortunately. 

Diana: You're familiar with. are you familiar with the, I love economics. are you familiar with the Nash equilibrium? I haven't 

Diana: heard of the Nash equilibrium since I was in college. So you could, if you could, educate me again, reeducate me and listeners, that'd be great. 

Diana: I was taking an economics class.

Diana: I'm going to college several times. It never worked for me. I'm just gonna throw that out there. Now. It's a story for today, maybe or another time, but I was in an economics class that got presented to me. So it's an economic theory and they call it the prisoner's dilemma and the way they explain it to you is two, you and your friend rob a bank and no one has any evidence.

Diana: You're caught by police, but there's no evidence there's a briefcase or something. Like they have nothing. So they put you in two separate rooms and they're questioning you. Best case scenario is you both keep your mouth shut. You know what I mean? If one person talks and they give you a deal, you know, we'll only put you in for a year.

Diana: If you talk, the other person gets 10 years, you get a year, you both lose somehow. And there's like four different scenarios. And every single time, if you both keep your mouth shut and cooperate. You're fine. You know, so I kind of turned that, and I've preached it in a million retreats and organizational meetings.

Diana: I have said it so many times. We all win when we cooperate with each other. You know what I mean? The company wants money. I need to raise revenue. I can give you a piece of that. Why not? You know what I mean? Let's incentivize it. So that everyone's winning. So those are the kind of, there's a lot of brain power, you know what I mean?

Diana: On the daily, trying to figure everything out. 

Ryan: What it seems like is, so what I'm sitting here, I'm listening to this and I'm thinking if I'm the listener, is this me? Like, is this the type of field that I would want to go into and one of the things that I love about, it seems like the operations role, especially for a small to medium sized business, is that knowing a little about a lot of things part right?

Ryan: And like kind of just being a jack of all trades. And that's something that for those listening, if you don't know what you want to do, one of the best ways that you could Go about getting some experiences working for startups because exactly as you said, you wear a lot of hats and you can kind of figure out where you fit , in those roles or in that department, or even within that industry, right?

Ryan: Like you, like operations may be the same, you know, whether or not you're doing real estate or you're doing a tech startup or something else but the marketing department might be totally different because you're doing a B2B thing, a B2C thing, and startups really are a gateway drug into like your greater career path and your overall strategy of like where you're gonna go, as you were saying.

Diana: Well the other thing, piece of that is with startups, they're gonna ask you to do all of it. They're not expecting you to be able to accomplish everything and do it perfectly, but they're gonna expect you to do all of it. And at some point in there, you're gonna figure out what you like and then what you're good at, and then you can kind of start leaning towards that.

Diana: You're still gonna have to maintain this other piece. The one tactic that I use is, I'm a documenter and I suggest everybody documents everything, right? I, once I get to a point where I can go to my boss and say, Hey, here's some data, right? This is taking up 20 hours of my week. Now, I need, I think I need help.

Diana: You know what I mean? I'm pushing something I don't want to do off on somebody else. Write that and there , you need to hire them to do it and I like doing this and I'm good at this part. So let's give them that part. There's little, again, that strategy, this is a game. We are all playing a game business.

Diana: It's, you know, we get stuck with this, determining your value through work, right? Which I hate, which is where the degree thing sometimes gets to me whenever I go put a resume together, oh my god, you know, I immediately bring my value down because I'm missing it, right? But that's not true. My value is here, here.

Diana: I know where my value is and I know where it's not. You know? So I think that's definitely key but yeah, just try different things. Just try. That's all your, that's your best way to find out. 

Ryan: And as far as like the documenting everything, not only is it useful for like, you know, pawning quote unquote work off to somebody else or just saying like, Hey, I'm overloaded with work, and then possibly hiring somebody else, or an underling or a coworker to do it.

Ryan: But when they, when the boss or managers start to ask you why your performance is such, you know, and having documentation and just being like, look, these are, this is how my day is filled. This is how we're doing on the things that I'm working on and assuming that the things that you're working on or have positive results, you should at least have some sort of justification because you've documented it. 

Diana: Should document everything.

Diana: That's a, it's cya cover your ass, right? So you, everything should be documented and metrics are your friend. When the other piece of this, it's, I don't know if pawning it off, the work is the best way to describe it. It's what you're doing, but in the background. But we're just trying to optimize the business and get new people in.

Diana: Right. But the other piece is and I, if I could give any advice, especially with startups, get a very clear job description, details. What is the expectation of me? And if you don't have that right at yourself and say, Hey, you know, am I on the right track? Are we on the same page? And then email it.

Diana: Put everything in email, keep it written down. Right? But when it comes time to ask for more money, like that's how you grow. That's how I've grown everywhere. This was my list responsibilities when you handed it to me. Here I am three months later with six things added to it. Is there any way I can get more money?

Diana: I think it's time to discuss my money. You know what I mean? Like, there's that, or I need a new person. You're adding six things to my, I I can't do this. You know? It's time to think about bringing someone else. Documentation and any kind of metrics is key. Key for everything.

Ryan: You know, I had never thought about that because so many times in smaller companies, I'll just say smaller companies in startups are encompassing that like you're exactly right.

Ryan: That'll happen where before you know it, you got hired on as like an office manager, and before you know it, now you're like the HR department, you're like doing the payroll. You know what I mean? You're also the bookkeeper. 

Diana: That's exactly what happens in my job. That's how that work. The title of operations after a while, but you're still doing it all, 

Ryan: but documenting it, like you said, and kind of putting it in an email form, at least, I don't think you should say no to all those things.

Ryan: You know what I mean? Especially if you can like, you know, learn what you can do your best at it, but then exactly what you said. But now you can say like, here are all the lists of things that I am doing, and here's what we said my job was six months ago. And you can see there's a massive discrepancy here.

Ryan: And so I'm providing a lot more value for what we decided on six months ago and that's one of the questions that we get asked a lot is like, when you're trying to get a raise, when is the time to bring it up? Right? Like that's a difficult thing to ask or even answer. Especially for those that are in W-2 roles.

Diana: The one thing everyone should understand, there's that we gotta separate emotion from logic, right? The social standard for things, I freaking hate it, and I have to pull myself. I have to reel myself in constantly. Should you like your job? Yeah. Are you gonna love your job all the time? No. You know what I mean?

Diana: The reality is this is a business transaction. You're paying me to do something and I'm doing it. You know what I mean? Anything passed that contract is an add-on. In construction it's a change order, right? You gotta charge, ah, I can't just do that. I gotta charge you for it. That's exact.

Diana: Don't look at your life the same exact way. That's in one scenario. Now, as far as how I've grown, Throughout my life is, I came in as an admin or a bookkeeper or whatever the case, I took those responsibilities on and I made the sacrifice and the decision to say, I'll keep doing it. I would like to discuss a promotion.

Diana: You know what I mean? And that opens a lot of doors for me. That is how I built my career. It sucked. You know, it was easier when I was younger. It's a little bit harder now. I'm a little tired, you know? But that's how I made moves, and that's how the more a good example is, I moved up, I was bookkeeping or whatever, but then I started having a little more questions, but I had access to the accountant now, now I can pick up the phone and asked somebody some questions.

Diana: He never asked the same question twice. Write everything down. It makes you look great, right? So I asked him a question. I have my little reference book to always go back to. I'm not asking the same question twice. Everyone loves that. You know? Every manager loves that but those are the strategic ways where it's like you're trying to make a move in any position that'll make you, that you'll move up, take some work off your manager's plate, anything I can do for you.

Diana: You know what I mean? Let it just, let it roll. If you're willing to do that, there's, you gotta make the decision of what you wanna do, right? Do you wanna do just your job, do your 40 hours and go home? Which is fine. Or do you wanna push, you know, so, but yeah, documenting everything for a million reasons is really important.

Ryan: I wanted to kind of dive deeper into something that you were talking about there, which was, you know, not necessarily having to love your job and having a job, it being a business transaction. I bring that up because that is something that Hannah and I preach to the cows come home. I think that we were greatly speaking, or broadly speaking, we were kind of sold a lie as far as like, you should love your job and you know, like if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life.

Ryan: At the end of the day, you're not, most people are not at their jobs because they love it. They're at their jobs because it pays them money so that they can, and that money enables them to go and do other things and live a more fulfilling. Right. And you can have hobbies and you can spend time with your friends and kids and the money helps all of that.

Ryan: And so I kind of wanted to talk about from very beginning of how to start like thinking about the things that you need and want in your career. So like, we've talked about this before on the podcast, but I know that we've had a lot of listeners since then. Something as basic as figuring out your monthly expenses.

Ryan: And then, you know what? So let's say I've spent $2,000 a month, right? That's a rent and all of my groceries and everything like that. Okay? So $24,000 a year. I need to make something that makes at least that plus whatever I wanna save and I think that having a practical approach to your career can take you far.

Diana: Absolutely. And I, you know, f Society standards, that's like the first place I wanna start. Cuz I've had, I'm 32, I've gone a long time fighting myself on society standards, thinking that I'm not good enough. I need to do more, I need to figure out a way to go to school while I work full-time and do this and that.

Diana: You know, like I've always been like, I'm not enough. I've always had that I'm not enough thing and now my mentality is I sure shit him enough. I have value, I have done a lot of really good things. I've made a lot of people a lot of money. I'm good at my job. Like I, it's not, it, that piece of paper does not define you and neither does your job.

Diana: And that's something I'm a workaholic. Right. And that might have been because of my strategy to getting by but I think there's a couple things to think about seriously before you really dive into what you wanna do, right? You do not have to love your job. If I did something that I absolutely loved, I'm gonna end up hating it at 40 hours a week.

Diana: You know what I mean? It's gonna ruin it for me. I don't wanna do it that way. I want my hobbies to be my hobbies, like that. It should be separate, you know. And there's the one thing that I continuously, and actually in the past, like year, have really thought about is what are my values? What are my values, and how do I determine success?

Diana: I don't give a shit about how society does it. How do I determine it? What do I want for myself? When you think about the definition of success, it's just an accomplishment. What things do I wanna accomplish? Right? I look at my life and I'm like, you know what? When I was younger, my parents were both middle class working hard as shit, though.

Diana: Like I never, we didn't see them much, right? I played on five softball teams and they couldn't make it to my games all the time, you know? And I'd always sucked when you're a kid. It's one of my priorities in my life. I wanna be able to go to my kids' baseball games and not get stuck at work, and that'd be okay.

Diana: You know what I mean? I don't wanna be a millionaire. I don't wanna be a business owner. I work with them closely. They're all losing their minds 24/7, their hair's falling outta their head, they're losing sleep. It is a stressful position to be in. You know what I mean? And it's risky. It doesn't always work.

Diana: I've had to turn to CEOs several times, like, Hey, you gotta sell something for employees or for payroll. You know, it's time to kick the boat. I need payroll. So it's like you just need to decide what's important to you. I want my family time when I get there, right? That's one thing.

Diana: I don't wanna be a millionaire. I wanna live comfortably. I wanna say, you know what, oh my God, I'm not feeling that great. I'm gonna go, I wanna go to, gonna get my two weeks notice. I'm gonna be, appropriate work and I'm gonna go to Florida for the weekend and I don't wanna feel bad charging that to my credit card.

Diana: I I wanna just be comfortable enough to do those kind of things. You know what I mean? So it's just a matter of like, what do you really want out of life? And once you get to there, that's when you've achieved. And everything that you've done on the way there is an accomplishment. You were successful in doing this.

Diana: You needed to get a certification to get that job. You know, paid, hike, whatever. That was an accomplishment. You succeeded and that's the thing. You gotta like keep telling yourself, you are succeeding, you know? And your value isn't determined by a job. And that's something I've struggled with. I bought my first house when I was 22, right?

Diana: All my friends are graduating from college, they're coming home on Thanksgiving and all this. Until then, I felt like shit. Everyone's like, yeah, I'm about to graduate nursing school, blah, blah, blah. Once I had that house, I was like, fuck you guys. I don't have any debt. And I bought a house, you know, and I'm doing great.

Diana: That was, I valued that. You know what I mean? So it's like, it's just about what you want. It's like get out of this society. Standards of trash standards, they're not good standards. So many CEOs I know, their families are suffering. They never see their kids. They don't have relationships with their kids.

Diana: You know what I mean? Their marriages are suffering. Like this takes a lot. It does not need to eat your life. You have one life. You know? Like why? Why live it in that way? For what? So someone else can say, oh, he is pretty successful. No, doesn't mean anything to me. I wanna feel successful. I don't care what other people think.

Diana: So that's huge to me. That's my big thing. Before starting a strategy, start there. What do you want? And then have them work on the plan to get there.

Ryan: You know, starting with goal in mind, whenever I think about this type of stuff, I always do that as well. I have a goal, and then I, I always find it easier to work from that goal backwards.

Ryan: You know, like, what did, what else do I need? What do I need to get to that place? Define what you need and then make a game plan then you go and execute that thing. 

Diana: If I write it, you think of a corporate meeting and one thing I'm really big on is agendas. Cuz people love to talk and it's a brainstorm session, an idea session.

Diana: Like, no, I need to talk. I need to talk. We have an hour and I need to talk about these four things, you know? But it is exactly that I haven't discuss. It's setting that goal and then the action items underneath it, right? And sometimes that makes you, you'll feel great after you do that. If you feel overwhelmed by anything.

Diana: I get overwhelmed a lot cuz I have a lot going on, right? I sticky notes are my favorite thing to do. I just thought, dump each idea on a sticky note. My table might be covered with sticky notes, right? But then I find three that are kind of the same thing. So three turn into one. It just immediately made myself feel better right then and there, you know?

Diana: Then I categorized them by priority. Which ones? I can't do anything in priority two column until something in priority one columns done. So I'm not gonna worry about this. So just like organize your thoughts. That's like the first place to start. Cuz all of this is overwhelming, right? You just have to start somewhere and any progress compounds, it turns into a lot of progress if you just keep up with it.

Diana: And this isn't, I'm going to the gym twice a day for, the year 2023. Don't do that to yourself. You just need to do one step at a time and it really makes a huge difference mentally on you, you know, cause this sucks. Having to navigate this. We talked about that before having to navigate how to do this by ourselves.

Diana: We don't have a lot of guidance, you know, sucks. So it's just like we are born with problem solving and critical thinking skills, which I always advise to just, that's huge skills to have at work, period. Keep working on them, you know what I mean? Develop those skills as much as you can, but it just helps, it helps you, use them.

Diana: We have that skill. Use them, start with the big plan and then go forward, create those action items coming after it. Sometimes you realize there's things you're thinking of you don't even need, you know? You could bypass it. Taking the time to sit. It's hard to do, but taking the time to sit, just take an hour and like think and plan it out.

Diana: You're set. 

Ryan: So for those listening, this can sound intimidating. And I'm speaking from experience like for to sit down, especially if you've never done something like this before, for you to sit down at your laptop or at a table and a blank sheet of paper, open up a Word doc and you're like, okay, so what are my goals?

Ryan: Like, okay, so Ryan said that you need to figure out your ultimate goal. And then we break it down into sub goals and then action items under those things. How do you even begin? And I think for those listening, really you don't even have to have that much structure to it, at least in the beginning, if just get goals and words down on paper.

Ryan: I think back to an interview that I did with this, guy, his name is Drake Porter. He works at Meta, he's a product manager at Meta, and he has this, dream and goal of owning like a brain computer interface company one day. So he wants to, it's something like Neurolink and I was just like, how are you gonna do that?

Ryan: You know what I mean? And he just said, he's like, well, I'm gonna, right now I'm working at Meta and I wanna meet the people, like really, really smart individuals that I could hopefully team up with. I'm gonna team up with them to create a startup. I don't know what that startup is yet, something. I'm gonna sell that startup because I need a lot of money for this brink computer interfacing company.

Ryan: And then that seed money that I make from the startup sale is gonna be for that company, for the next company. I was like, That's crazy, but it's okay. That's a very lofty goal but as you can see, I just outlined that plan in 30 seconds, and that's all the plan has to be. It could be that simple and you'll figure out the rest of the action items as you go along.

Diana: I personally do, so what you had just said to me is generalized right in my brain that, all right, so he went from this is, it's actually something called a BHAG, right? The big, hairy audacious goal. You'll hear that a lot and company, a lot of CEOs love. We talk about that a lot, right? So you have that big hairy goal and that time limit.

Diana: We're saying three years time limit doesn't mean anything. It's just to put a deadline to make you feel better about it, right? So then you have, all right, I'm gonna get the startup, I'm gonna network and meet these people. So there's those four. All you gotta do is work on the first line. That's just the first place.

Diana: The other one sits to the side until the first line's done. Me personally, just in my house, the work that I need to do to my house, I have a whiteboard on my fridge and here's the one thing that I need to do to this week. Just one. I just need to do, I need to paint the staircase on the stairs. Like, I need to paint the wall at the staircase.

Diana: That's the goal for this week, to get me to the next place. So it always breaks down the whole idea. I don't want that to sound intimidating. The thought dump is a relief. I promise you, to sit down and write all that down, just get it out. Doesn't need to make sense. Just get it out.

Diana: And then just pick one and start, like that's really all it is. 

Ryan: For those listening that haven't started yet. One of the things that they're going to, you're gonna face quickly is that you're gonna fail and you're like, there's gonna be something that you're not good at or something that you didn't succeed at.

Ryan: So, for example, one of the things that I like we talk about a lot on this podcast is networking and I think one of the simplest ways to network this, in this day and age is to just use LinkedIn and we could just do something as simple as, A lot of people are trying to make massive career transitions.

Ryan: Let's say they're a teacher or a nurse, or they're working in the restaurant and they want to become, they want to go work in operations, they wanna start off as being a bookkeeper or something like that and one of the things that I say is to just go on LinkedIn, find people that have the job that you want, like literally the entry level job that you want.

Ryan: Connect with them and then send a message and say, Hey, I just saw your, I saw your profile and I love that your background is so unique. I kind of been doing the same thing. I saw that you went from a restaurant to bookkeeper. How did you do it? A lot of times you're not gonna get any, nobody's gonna answer you back like, and that silence is deafening.

Ryan: A lot of times it's terrible. You just gotta get over that and just send and just hit the send button. 

Diana: Now it's funny you say that. So I hate LinkedIn. I hate social media altogether. I have this mentality, it's trash, dopamine, just get the fuck off of it. Don't waste your time on it. You know what I mean?

Diana: However, did I spend, hours on LinkedIn or on TikTok, and that's how I found you guys? Yes. You know what I mean? Like definitely give yourself some of the fun, just so the mindless scrolling every once in a while when you're working hard but try not to invest ti too much time.

Diana: But as far as LinkedIn goes, so I've been doing that. I'm trying to figure out, I've hit a point in my career. Like I said, I hit that 50 million revenue mark, which that might sound weird to people who are, who don't have my job. They're not huge businesses. Revenue is a lot different than profit. Revenue is just how much money's you gotta think we were building houses, right? Cost a million dollars to build a house. Someone gives me a million dollars to build a house, I'm giving away 98% of that to build it, to pay the guys to build it. So it doesn't really mean anything. It just shows I need more people to work for my company in order to make that happen.

Diana: That's really all that tells anybody. So, I've been trying to network cuz I want to get into some of the bigger businesses. I feel like I've hit a point in my career where my mentors and the people, you gotta understand, I started doing this in 2008, right? So I did it right outta high school. Slammed with a recession where I couldn't get a job for the life of me.

Diana: Right. And I started doing it bookkeeping, which I didn't know how to do. I lied on my resume about doing it right, and I got in there, they gave me the accountant's phone number, and I picked his brain and figured it out. Google wasn't what it is now. Back then, it wasn't that easy for me to Google how to use QuickBooks and how to become a bookkeeper.

Diana: So I was figuring it out but now I'm at a position, so I've grown a lot since then, right? But now I'm in a position where all the people that I've usually talked to, and Covid was like a big slap in the face with the reality of this is, I'm losing people to get an advice from, you know what I mean?

Diana: These connections that I had made, and they were all in person back then. These connections I had made, I'm a little bit above them now. I need new people. I need the next level of this, right? So LinkedIn, that was my thought. Same thing. I'm gonna message all these people. That wasn't working for me. So in any scenario, if it's not working, re-strategize, right?

Diana: Social media. You're looking at your followers, you're looking at all these things, something's not working. I gotta try something else, or I gotta try to optimize this and see if that works. So I'll trial and error. Literally every part of business is trial and error, right? So my new strategy is the networking events.

Diana: I'm sitting in on AMAs. I'm sitting in on, I'm, right now, my new thing to look into is, PNA, a financial planning and analysis. I'm gonna learn a little bit about that, right? As soon as I enter these events, other people see that I'm subscribed to 'em and are connecting with me. I'm not reaching out with them.

Diana: So they're immediately going down that list and hitting Connect, connect, connect, connect. Cuz the reality is it's social media. People want the connection number and the followers number, all the numbers, right? There's that part of it. But in turn, I just had a seriously, a high up come to me after an ama I did two days ago, and I just made a friend.

Diana: I was like, oh my God, I've been trying to find, you know, get ahold of somebody to help me. You know what I mean? Thank God a lot more professionally, obviously. But I was like, thank freaking God. Finally I got someone I could talk to, gave me a cell phone number in his email. Let's chat anytime. You know what I mean?

Diana: So that's my new strategy is I'm sitting through all these events. Some of them are not that useful to me. I'm always learning something out of them though, which is great. I'm upping my skillset, but I'm connecting with a ton of people doing it that way. Sit through the events, whatever you're interested in.

Diana: If there's someone you're following from another company or a company you're following, sit in their events and then just open up the list of everyone attending that event and connect with all of 'em. And most of them, some of them will come to you and say, Hey, thanks for connecting. And that starts the conversation.

Diana: They've already, they've initiated it, right? So that's my new tactic. That's my new strategy in networking. 

Ryan: You've already whittled down the market, right? Instead of just cold outreaching to them, you have a warm introduction, right? Like, you guys are both doing this thing and you both know that like you're spending your valuable time.

Ryan: You both are spending your valuable time, doing this webinar or doing this ama or doing this, uh, event, whatever it is. And so you already have a kicking off point to start the conversation.

Diana: And you have a conversation piece. I immediately say, oh my God, that was such a great AMA, I wish it was longer.

Diana: I have an immediate way to be a person and not hold that weird, I don't like these freaking professionalism standards. I get to be me for a minute and say, ah, I loved when you talked about that. I wish, I wish you talked more. Do you know anything more about that? You know, I'd love to pick your brain if you'd let me.

Diana: you have things to talk about now. You know what I mean? It isn't that cold. Hey, I'm looking for some new friends. Hey, we just saw the same thing. What did you think about this? Because I have questions, you know? And they might answer you after that. They probably won't have a problem talking to you once that happens, you know?

Diana: So it's a lot easier. I've noticed it's a lot easier to make the connections on there and build your network, an actual network, not where we're just connecting with everyone and their mom. 

Ryan: Going back to something you said earlier, you brought up, you came out of high school in the great recession, you wanted to become a bookkeeper and you lied on your resume.

Ryan: I kind of wanted to talk a little bit more about that first job a and how you got it. And specifically for us at Degree Free for Hannah and myself, you know, we never tell people to lie on their resume, like ever. You know, like we just say like it's not good, it's not professional. And it's kind of also just being completely honest, also CYA on our part, right?

Ryan: Like, we're not telling people to do illegal prep and I can confidently sit here and tell you like, I've literally never told anybody to lie on the resume. I have told people when it says college degree required to just apply anyway, but I don't ever say like, put that you went to university of whatever don't do that.

Ryan: That being said, since I have you here and you did lie on your resume, like one, I guess, what was that lie like, did you say that you did the work before? Did you completely make up a 

Diana: job? Yeah, so when I was, I graduated, I was 17, 18 years old. I was 17 when I graduated.

Diana: I went to college for a semester and then I had to work. So I think like the one thing. Another thing I would like to just say to anyone listening, not all of us have had the opportunities other people have had, right? It was not that I was on my own, you know what I mean? I've been on my own for a long time.

Diana: I had to put a roof over my head. I needed to work. So at that point, and I will say back then, the degree issue was not the issue that it is now and trust me, this has led up a lot from what it used to be. Now it's just a, I see degree preferred a lot when I'm applying. Right? Before, I couldn't get a freaking admin job without a degree, and I'm like, I can't answer phones without having a college degree.

Diana: Like, what the hell is this? You know? So I was in a position I was trying, and another thing was I didn't know what I wanted to do, right? So I was trying all these different things. At that time, I was working at a hospital and I hated working at a hospital. That was not for me. You know what I mean? I was working in a ER.

Diana: I'm like, sick people are mean. This is grossing me out. These shifts suck. I hate this. I don't wanna, hospital politics are the worst. I don't ever wanna work in a hospital again. I was desperate to get outta that job, but now I have hospital experience, you know what I mean? What am I gonna do? So I was looking for things more in a medical office, right?

Diana: Because I was like, maybe I can at least just push my way into an office and not deal with this an er, you know? So I came across this position where they were looking for a bookkeeper, and I was looking at it, and I was thinking like, you know, again, I'm young. I was very young. You know what I mean? In my opinion, Then end somewhat now, right?

Diana: I'm not desperate right now, but if I was desperate, I we're put in a society where we need to survive, right? If you're gonna put me in a position where I need to survive, I'm gonna do what I need to do to survive. That's how I see that. It's not, I don't, I'm not looking at it like, I'm a fucking liar. I need a job , and if you're gonna, I have to compete for that job, so I'm doing it right.

Diana: So at that point, I was like, all right, he has all these office administration duties, which I know I can do that. And then he had bookkeeping on there, and that was the one where I was like, all right. I'm gonna put it on there that I just have experience doing it, you know what I mean? But mild experience, I did not say I was an expert.

Diana: I said familiar with, you know what I mean? Familiar with QuickBooks. So just cuz it was in his job description. So, but I had everything else. So then I went in there for an interview. In the interview, I just kept trying to pull it away from that conversation, you know what I mean? Like, the whole time we're talking and he is like, you know, so you're pretty good with QuickBooks.

Diana: I'm like, yeah, I'm familiar with it but when I go, you know, when we do the phones and this, that, like, I just kept bringing it away, you know? And, but I'm not a person who's gonna lie on my resume and then get caught in my line, you know what I mean? So when I got in there, I was like, I need to figure this shit out right now.

Diana: Right now. So there's a level of training. Every company does different, still certain things different. QuickBooks is a little rough. That's pretty uniform no matter what company you're working in, but. I just asked him and I played on that. I was like, can you just show me how you work your system?

Diana: So then I had the owner show me how they do it right? Then from there, I was like, okay, I can take that and run with that. I have a base. Now I have a foundation of what I am supposed to do, and if I make a mistake, at least these 10 things are being done and I made a mistake in one place, and then I'll never make that mistake again.

Diana: I'm gonna get corrected. I'm gonna get the information I need, and I'm not gonna make that mistake again. And that's how I played that. That's how I made that work for me. But I didn't say I could do a job and then not do the job. I'm not sitting here saying that I'm an astrophysicist. I was saying I know how to book keep, it wasn't anything super crazy.

Diana: So you're, I, and I'm not gonna sit here and tell anyone to lie on their resume. You better be able to fucking back it up though. You know what I mean? Like, even now, , in this day and age, they do technical interviews for stuff now, which I don't blame them cuz I've been in that position where I've hired somebody and it's like, I thought you told me you could do this.

Diana: You know what I mean? I have, as someone who posts job postings, I have time. When I have time, I'm posting for someone that I can teach. Right? When I don't have time, I need someone experienced, you know what I mean? If I don't have time to train you, I do need someone to just jump in and run. So it's dependent on what I'm doing at work sometimes, you know what I mean?

Diana: But yeah, that's how that went. I totally lied on my resume and made it work. , 

Ryan: I think one of the things that I wanted to, the reason why I brought that up is because bookkeeping and learning how to use QuickBooks and kind of learning how accounting in general and how businesses operate and language of business is not an easy thing to do.

Ryan: And you kind of touched on it already when you were saying that you would call the accountant and you would just have a list of questions. You would never ask the same question twice but I'm wondering how do you learn so quickly? Like how do you pick up skills effectively and quickly in your job, descriptions or in your career?

Diana: So it's not so much that I pick it up quickly, it's not, I was never a good student, right. I definitely learned differently. So you put a textbook in front of me on something that I'm not interested in. I'm not gonna read that freaking book and retain any information. You know what I mean? So it was one, my money was on the line, right?

Diana: Everything I do translate to money. My money was on the line. I need to be able to do this. But then there's the other half of it where I took notes. I had every job I've ever left before, things were as digital as they are. I always had a Bible, so it was exactly how to do my job and what everything meant, what this click of a button does.

Diana: But then there was a lot of independent research behind it and you know, we've touched on this. You, there's nothing stopping you, and this is the way I've learned a lot of things. There is nothing stopping from stopping you from walking into a college bookstore and picking up the same books all these other students are using.

Diana: I used to do that all the time. I'd walk in there and be like, I'm trying to learn this. It's just snag the book. This is whatever, 1 0 1, and I'm learning it. You know? Now there are thrift stores, like you were saying, you did. , you can rent them on Amazon. Like there's always a way to gather information.

Diana: But again, my money was on the line. I had a lot more motivation to do that and even in my past position, like I said, sometimes I have people who don't want to talk to me. I need cooperation in my job. Sometimes they don't wanna give that to me or they'll lie to me cuz they're trying to cover something up.

Diana: Like there's always something. Architecture was my biggest problem, right? So what did I do? I bought the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice . So if you bullshitted me, I got it outta here. I have lean architecture. I made the process super efficient. After that, I got my own information. If you're not gonna give it to me, I'm gonna go get it so that I can keep my paycheck.

Diana: You know what I mean? Like that's the way you gotta look at it. This is my money. I need it. I need my money. I need it to survive. I have bills to pay. I have a mortgage, I have things that, and I wanna advance. I wanna make more money. Usually the higher up you get, there's a lot more high level brain work that needs to happen.

Diana: But in my job, I'll start moving from my 50, 60 hour weeks to 40, you know what I mean?

Diana: Those are the goals for me. All right? I'm doing this hard work now so that I can get in a position where I don't have to really grind like that so hard in order to accomplish things. So it's just a bit, just do it.

Diana: You have to have a little bit of like grind in you, you know what I mean? And sometimes people have that, sometimes people don't. But you have to, if you're gonna do something from scratch, start for a new career, do a career switch, whatever the case, you have to do some research. You have to figure out a plan.

Diana: And again, trial and error. You're like, all right, this is what I got. This is what I think I need to do. I love looking at companies org charts, right? You can, any field that you're trying to get into, Google that org chart and you'll see exactly how that. Tech, there's the cto, there's this.

Diana: It goes all the way down to the bottom. So if you're coming in here and you're okay with that salary, now you know what that next job is? Start, look, start, go on Indeed and look at those job descriptions. You know what I mean? Like just be strategic. How do you move? How do you make more money? Those are the goals.

Diana: Ultimate goal. We all wanna make more money, right? Think that way. What do you gotta do to make more money? 

Ryan: That org chart, little advice is really, really valuable, especially for people that are listening to this podcast trying to make a career transition. Like when I was tending bar, I had no idea what a product manager was like.

Ryan: I literally like, I have no idea. I don't even know what a project manager was. You know what I mean? I knew what my general manager of a restaurant was, but that was it, right? Like as far as managers went. But looking at these org charts of whatever industry that you want to get into is super helpful, as you said, to just kind of, not only see your career progression, but when you're just starting out, just as seeing at the very bottom, these are the types of jobs that I could be looking at these and like, okay, so you take that and you say, See, it's a junior developer, right?

Ryan: You want to be, you want a code, you want to be a developer and then you go and you take that and you go to Glassdoor, you go to Indeed, you go to your favorite, job site, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and you just put in a junior developer and you see the different requirements that you have to learn in order to get the job and then go and get those things.

Ryan: Like they're literally telling you right there what to get. 

Diana: Yeah. And even better, some of them have salaries attached to them, right? So there's, you know, you might find some, you're looking at one, it's got a lower salary on it, but then you also see one with the higher salary. What are the difference between those two things?

Diana: You know what I mean? Do you wanna go for the, can you develop the skills on your own time to just go for the higher one? Or do you go under the lower one, know that you need these two more skills in order to make that money and then let do it and leverage that when you get in there. Hey, I would do this and I can go somewhere else and make this kind of money, in a very different, you don't, I say it like that, but in a very different conversation.

Diana: You basically say, I can make this anywhere else, and we either need to work out a raise or I gotta think about this. So there's like a lot of diff there. It really helps to look at org charts. I do that all the time. I love doing, it helps me understand as a high level, my job's all oversight, right?

Diana: I have oversight of sales, I have oversight of marketing, I have oversight of architecture, all these things. I don't know the strategies of how they do their job. I talked to their manager, but there's times where I felt like, eh, I feel like we're giving away job titles to people. They, we might have them in the wrong position here.

Diana: So then I go to the org chart and I start looking at different things. I just worked with a CEO for software as a service sales, right? So I had to look at that. What the hell's the difference between an SDR and a BDR? Right? And I felt, I was like, I feel like we're confusing this and that we're posting the wrong job, description and being misleading.

Diana: You know, I had to figure that out. That's how I figured that out. I started looking at other people's job descriptions and it's clarity. You immediately get clarity around that. 

Ryan: And just for those listening, SDR, sales development rep and then BDR, business development rep, I'm assuming that's what you're saying, right?

Diana: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Diana: They're both sales one's inbound, one's outbound. That's what I needed to know. You know what I mean? 

Ryan: I kind of wanted to talk about when we were talking before, we had a call before this and we were talking about kind of going to your different strengths and you sent me this document.

Ryan: I had never heard of it before. The Clifton strengths, I don't even know if it's a battery or inventory or just a test, but I kind of wanted to talk about going to where your strengths are and how do you find what you're good at. 

Diana: Yeah. So that's the other huge piece of this, right? I know what I'm bad at.

Diana: I don't want to be put in a position where I have to do the things that I'm bad at. Right? And that test that came to me a couple years ago, I was reading, I was listening to a podcast. I suggested the book, and then the book gave me the free test. So it's basically a personality test, which everyone loves doing.

Diana: I highly suggest everyone does this. Everyone loves doing personality tests as it is, like 20 minutes long but it's very interesting. So you have. 20 seconds to answer each question and the questions are very bizarre. It's not like some, they're tough decisions that you gotta make in 20 seconds.

Diana: Do I consider myself reasonable or do I consider myself responsible? And I'm looking at that, I'm like, well, I'm both, but I gotta pick one. Like, how the hell might you need a 22nd? You're watching the clock go. You have to pick one. So the whole idea behind the Clifton strengths is these are what you're instinctually good at.

Diana: There's 30, they have a list of 32 of them and they give you your top five focus here cuz you're good at this. Just in, you just are as a person. This is what you're good at in all aspects of your life, not just work. Right? And then it also shows you, the things at the bottom of the list that are soft skills that you gotta work on.

Diana: Maybe. So in taking that test, I saw mine was very, and you can probably see how I ended up in a senior level position. It's like command futuristic, analytical, individualistic, and I forget, restorative was my other one. So I fixed problems, which everyone's handed me a fire every 10 minutes, 

Diana: Individualistic has worked for me on so many levels cuz people are different. I can't blanketly say the same thing to all of my staff. I have to talk to them in the way that they take things. The question I always ask people is how do they learn? Are you a visual learner? Like, what's the best way for me to train you command and I'm like, I need you to do this.

Diana: I need you to do this. I like, once I took that test, first of all, huge confidence booster. Take the test. You're gonna feel so great once you read it right. And then secondly, it let me know like, okay, I'm good at these things. I need to make sure that I stay in the realm of the things that I'm good at.

Diana: I'm good at. to succeed in work, to succeed in work to accomplish the things that I'm good at accomplishing, and to make sure that the things I'm not, aren't the positions that I'm put in to do until I finish working on that skillset. You know? So that to me is huge. Don't put me somewhere where I gotta sit in a lecture or a meeting.

Diana: I'm gonna zone out. My brain will go in a million different places. I'm an overthinker. You'll say one thing, and I'll just think about that for 15 minutes rather than listening to everything else you're saying. You know? So I know what I can, where I cannot be. I can't do, I know I can't do repetitive things every day.

Diana: That's what I love about my job, is I'm wearing a lot of hats. I have a different challenge every hour, let alone every day. Right? I don't have to sit and heavily focus super hard. Sometimes I do. I can change it up throughout my week and reprioritize as I what for what I feel like doing. If I wanna do data entry, I might leave that for a Friday where I can zone out and listen to a podcast and do it, you know?

Diana: So that is huge and I actually reached out to Gallup is the name of the company that owns it. They gave us a dashboard and I had my team take it. So first of all, I had six people in leadership who had no relationship building skills except for me and one other guy. And I'm like, and this is why, we had a problem where staff was skipping their managers to come talk to me, and the managers getting pissed off to me.

Diana: And I'm like, you're not personable. They can't hold a, they don't feel like they can hold a relationship, which I had preached. Now we got a test say, and I was like, see, you gotta work on this. And then, but I did it to my teams and I was able to rearrange my teams and get like the best teams ever.

Diana: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses like any relationship, right? It's that balance. So I have someone who has like severe anxiety over deadlines and stuff like that, and I have another person who's pretty chill and good relations, relation skills, right? Communication skills. I put them together, she calmed down cuz he calmed her down and everything got done on time, if not earlier, you know what I mean?

Diana: I was able to restructure my team around. So that was huge. There's another one called the Colby Assessment. I haven't done that one yet, and I've heard that's another big one, but it's like 50 bucks. I think it also tells you where your strengths could hurt you, right? Like my command one, it tells me like, you need to watch the way you'd say things to people.

Diana: It might come out like, I need you to do this, this, and this. Make sure you dial that back. Like it tells me how my strengths could also give me a problem. So I love that test. That's why I sent it to you. I think it's great. I think everybody should do it, but that's a good first step too.

Diana: What's your strengths?

Diana: What jobs could you do with those strengths? You know what I mean? Might be something you didn't think of yet. 

Ryan: When first thinking about entering , the industry or the department of operations. What is a good entry point for a lot of people? Like a lot of people listening to this have very varied backgrounds.

Ryan: And for you the entry point was bookkeeping. I see possibly another entry point being what you were talking about, which is like data entry there, or instead of bookkeeping maybe, I don't know, accounts receivable, accounts payable, or something like that. Something downstream from that.

Ryan: Are there specific job roles that you would suggest is a good starting point for people to kind of look at and see the job requirements be like, okay, that's kind of me. I think I can learn those skills. 

Diana: If we're talking entry. So the one thing about my job, which is rough, it makes it extremely competitive, is that it is very small.

Diana: There's is very, there's a COO, a director of operations and now, don't get me wrong, it's all oversight over the rest of the company, right? There's only three or four or five of us in my department though, if I'm lucky. You know what I mean? So COO maybe a VP, Director of Operations, Operations Managers, right?

Diana: And then an office manager would be another good place. That's a place that's pretty good to start. So any admin role, any data entry role, and any office management role are good places to start. However, don't just do that job, right? It's not that hard. So when you're in there, start looking for things that can be improved, right?

Diana: If you're in data entry, look at your data and bring that to somebody and say, Hey, I'm noticing something weird here. I don't know if you've looked into it yet. You know what I mean? Like, so that's called discretionary effort. And I try to beat that into any, I have a real thing with my green employees, my kids are right outta college where I'm trying to teach them how to be good employees, how this is how the workforce works, and this is what makes you fucking great.

Diana: You know what I mean? There's discretionary effort where you don't do anything without talking to somebody, but do not point out a problem without a possible solution, right? Don't come knocking on my door and saying, Hey, I found this issue, and then leave. You're giving me a problem like now. You just gave me more work.

Diana: It's not giving me a great taste in my mouth about you. You know what I mean? On the next time you knock on my door, I'm gonna dread it. So when you find things, present it, put it little and I could probably make a template, like just, it's gotta be just a small document. Again, write it down so you can bring it to your performance review, right?

Diana: A small document, PowerPoint, whatever the case of, here's what I found, here's what I think could fix it. What do you think about this? If you approve it, I can go roll this out. So you're like saying, I found a problem, I found a solution, and I'll handle it from here. You know what I mean? Those are the kind of thing if you're doing office management, it sucks, but you gotta like, order prop paper products.

Diana: You gotta order our coffee. You gotta, you're just keeping the office running, right? That's one part of it. Go start looking for cheaper prices, you know what I mean? Start comparing Staples to Office Max to WB Mason. Compare these things, put that in a spreadsheet. Bring that to your performance, or write everything down.

Diana: Right? All of it down, you know, but bring it to them. Say, Hey, we're ordering this from here. I could get it cheaper here. I already called him, I developed communication with this guy. I think I could get a discount even just for us being new, whatever the case. Is it okay if I make this switch, would you sign off on it?

Diana: Those little things are how they're like, oh, that's a manager, that's a leader. That's, you know what I mean? That person's thinking about how to save this company money and, which is I don't care what anyone says behind closed doors, everything's about money. All of it. It's not, you know what I mean? You hear things about culture and all that shit.

Diana: It doesn't matter to the people up top. You want it too and the movement right now is great. The old school mentality, which has been screamed in my face, was do the job or I'll find someone who will, and it, I'm being real with you. That conversation still happens behind closed doors. You just gotta do the work and provide value to the company, and that's how you become valuable in the company and that's how you leverage raises and promotions and stuff like that.

Ryan: I completely agree with you. Like at the end of the day, like what all companies care about is they care about making more money. Right? And they can't not worry about those things because if, they didn't, if they weren't making more money, then you wouldn't have a job and they couldn't grow and all of those things.

Ryan: So I think if you're working at a company where it's kind of humming along and things are kind of working as they should, the leadership may care about all of the ancillary things like culture and fit and all of that stuff but that's given, the foundation is secure, which is money as you talked about.

Ryan: And I think what you were talking about is really important as far as like the insights of the things that you're doing or taking your job to the next level or one layer deeper and I think that, Eventually that is what we're all gonna get paid for, which is like all of the data entry that's out there.

Ryan: And even all of, like we were talking about being an office manager and as far as like ordering supplies, all of that stuff is gonna get automated away eventually. Right? And all the things that we are gonna get paid for is our insights of how to look at that data or how to look at whatever it is that process, that system, that company, that product, and then make insights and, guesses and tests solutions. That is what's gonna be valuable in the days, years, months to come. The sooner that you can get out of just being that data entry clerk or another thing is like for a bookkeeper, I used to be a bookkeeper as well. Some people, there are bookkeepers that are literally just bookkeepers.

Ryan: They're kind of, they're more like data entry. They only see their jobs to get the receipts. Input it into QuickBooks and Bob's your uncle, you know what I mean? We're done, you know? But if you can take it a step further and you can say, Hey, look and provide some analysis behind the P&L and look like this is where we are losing money or you look at your cash flow statement and be like, Hey, we need, like, we need cash. It says we're profitable, but we have no cash. Like, how is that happening? You know what I mean? Oh, we're net 90, everybody's past due. What's going on? 

Diana: And to touch on that, I really leveraged myself in doing that.

Diana: I looked at AR So there's a big, no matter really what job you're doing, if it's on a back office side, learn how to read financial statements, quick tutorials on it, everywhere there's that P&L, it's your profit and loss or your cash flow, the balance sheet. Learn how to read them and you'll be able to do these kind of things, right.

Diana: But AR accounts receivable, I became invaluable. That is hard to do, right? I have a strong personality. I am, I'm from Philly. I grew up in like a hotbed of violence and right , but I just worked in a field of construction men. You know what I mean? I'm making those phone calls. Yo, you owe us 30 grand.

Diana: I need her, I'm pulling the plug on your job. You know what I mean? I used to drive to people. I would call and be like, Hey, are you in the aids, Diana, are you in the office today? Yeah, click I'd be at their office. Gimme the check. You know what I mean?

Ryan: You gonna bust their kneecaps or something? 

Diana: Well, I that, no, I would never do that, but there might have been the fear of it, I don't know.

Diana: But it's uncomfortable conversations, right? People don't like it is hard to find people who are okay having those uncomfortable conversations and mine was, I need you to pay me. You have till Friday, or I'm killing your project. It's on hold until you pay. We're not playing this game. I have payroll to run.

Diana: That was huge. To be the one that had no problem collecting money and I didn't always have to do it that way. You know what I mean? Some people, there's time, honey and vinegar, right? There's times for these things. But that alone, Was, that did a lot for me and that was me working on my communication skills as well.

Diana: And that's also what made me a good manager. I did conflict resolution trainings. There's a lot of trainings on how to communicate the proper way with people. And that's huge. That one alone is humongous. And even how you said they're automating, someone's got a check to make sure someone didn't screw up.

Diana: You know what I mean? When I did inventories and stuff like that, I, before I even opened the box receipts sitting on top, pull it out, get a pet. Did I get five of these or did I get four? Call 'em up. Yo, I only got four of these. Where's the other one? Take it off my bill. You know what I mean? Keep that document.

Diana: How many times you did that in a month? Something for you to bring. Like metrics are huge. You had said jack of all trades, the rest of it is master of none. Right? I don't have to be a master of this. I just have to know the little things that save money and keep the business growing. And then the other piece of that is metrics.

Diana: The big what? What is it? It's what measures, what's measured is managed and what's measured is managed well. Right? Having metrics, whether they're put on you or not. Make a metric right? Numbers down, I answered 675 phone calls last month. That might not mean too much, but it shows what you did. You know what I mean?

Diana: I saved this much by going through inventory and making sure we didn't get shorted on product. You know what I mean? I saved this much by switching vendors. Write your numbers down, write these things down. They have some for you, your KPIs. You can have some for them too. You know, those are the things you bring to the table when you ask for a promotion and you ask for a raise.

Ryan: Not only that, they're very valuable when you start to look for other jobs and you're looking at improving your resume right there. It's been proven time and time again that resumes that have statistics and numbers in them in every single line. I answered exactly what you said, I under 600 calls or I had a 88% close rate or whatever it is, right?

Ryan: And like, or had an 80% close rate is very fear in sales. That's awesome, but you have a statistic there. They don't need to know that you only ever took 10 phone calls and that two of 'em said no. Right? Like, that's fine, but having those numbers and statistics on your resume to quantifiable things is gonna make you stand out a lot.

Ryan: Like much, much more. 

Diana: To add to that though, so this is where I struggle with my job. I have a lot of access to numbers. I signed a lot of confidentiality agreements cuz I have a lot of confidential information in front of me. So if you sign one, read it before you do that. You know what I mean? I can only use percentages on my resume.

Diana: Unfortunately. I wish I could say I what I did, you know? But I raised revenue. This percentage on average year over year, or this percentage over five years. You can switch it to percentages if you need to. That's the safe way to do it. If you haven't signed, if you didn't sign, give them the numbers, you know what I mean?

Diana: But if you sign a confident, just be mindful of that cuz you can get in trouble for that. That's a scary one. So just switch to percentages if you're in that case. 

Ryan: I definitely don't want to take up all of your day. Diana, I did have a couple of things. One, for people that want to kind of follow your career and learn more about you or connect or have questions or anything like that, where can I send them?

Diana: I would say right now go to LinkedIn and what I'm gonna do is it's a picture of me in a green shirt. My name's Diana Spencer. It's not like a super, I'm named after the princess. Like, it's not like the most common name, you know what I mean? But, I'm gonna put a DF in front of my little description so they know I was on the Degree Free Podcast.

Diana: So let's say DF Business Operation. Mine's not. That's my, one of my goals for the years working on my LinkedIn personal brand or whatever. There's not much on it, but I'm on it. So message me through there. We'll connect and go from there. 

Ryan: And I will put links to everything that we've talked about in the show notes for everybody too.

Ryan: So you can go to degreefree.co/podcast and you can find links to Diana and everything that we talked about in this episode there. And then finally, do you have any final, like, words of advice or anything else that you'd like to close up and say to the degree free community? 

Diana: Yeah. Again, like you have value.

Diana: Like that's something I, it's so hard to go applying for jobs and say in that R word or there are a degree word everywhere, right? It just, it's so unnerving sometimes when you're, it makes you question your self worth and don't. I am perfectly capable of doing a whole lot of things and if not, I'll figure out how to do it.

Diana: And the degree isn't the thing that defines me in that. And just, so just know that you are not defined by not having a degree. You're not, you can achieve anything you want to do. Pick up a book, you'll be fine. You know? So just keep that in mind. Especially now, all the layoffs, it's scary.

Diana: Everything's, you know, a little nuts. It's very competitive, but be competitive back. Wake up and think, I don't feel like doing this today. Well, your competitors are doing it. Your competition's doing it. Do it. Just be competitive and you'll be fine. 

Ryan: I think that is a perfect place to end. Diana, once again, thank you so much for making the time to, come on and share your knowledge.

Diana: Yeah, thank you. This is fun, . 

Ryan: All right, have a going. Bye-bye. Hope you guys like that episode. As I said before, you can find links to everything that we talked about at Degreefree.co/podcast connect with Diana on LinkedIn. Connect with me on LinkedIn when you connect with me. Let me know what you like about the podcast.

Ryan: Let me know what you don't like. And if you'd like to get our newsletter on how to get a job without a college degree, go to degreefree.co/newsletter. Alright, until next time guys. Aloha.

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