A surprise is any break from the ordinary, good or bad. A party, a cake, a kind word — those are pleasant “surprises.” An unexpected bill, a traffic mishap, a slip and fall — those, well, not so much.  


I’m considering surprises because our workdays can run together, creating a blur effect. As a business owner, I find it helpful to contemplate my clients’ and employees’ day-to-day experiences and consider ways to occasionally break the humdrum with a good surprise. 


Here are some tips on providing “good surprises”:  




Here are 47 tasks a virtual employee can handle for you 





Hiring is Hard; Here’s How We Help 




7 Steps to Hiring Quality Staff   



The power of pleasant surprises should not be underestimated. Those “lift-me-ups” can transform a mundane work environment into one that is engaging, motivating, and inspiring. Remember that surprises should always align with your organization’s values and culture.  


And have fun thinking of ways to break the blur of days whizzing by with out-of-the-ordinary positive acts. You’ll be surprised by the joy it brings.  


Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in talking about good surprises in the work environment or about enhancing your business with the top virtual employees available. I’d love to chat. Click here to set up a meeting that suits your schedule.  

I often think about the old mantra, "It's better to give than to receive," because it conflicts with something deep in us. We're naturally self-centered. To a certain extent, we have to be. We must survive, which requires securing enough resources for ourselves and our families. That's a lot of pressure, right? 


But the grind of self-sustenance can blind us to others' experiences. While I've found success in life, I was on the other side of the equation in my youth, struggling financially and locked in survival mode.  


This can be very isolating and lonely. It hurts me when kids face loneliness and hardship. It hurts my husband, too.  


That's why we're drawn to any effort in society to counter that heavy weight on kids, giving them a boost for a better future. Yes, there's a lot to get depressed about in the news. The world is scary. But I take heart when witnessing efforts to improve life for the next generation.  


Mark and I want to avoid being bystanders to such work. That's why we launched HireSmart Cares. We are passionate about " leaving the world better than we found it" by helping youth help themselves. 


A call to action: HireSmart Cares aims to help youth realize their potential    


But enough about me. I suspect you have a similar mindset if you've read this far. If you're not inclined to believe that old mantra about giving and receiving, you've probably ditched this article by now.  


So, what gets to you? What pulls at your heart? What do you see when you drive alone and look at your community through your windshield? Do you feel overwhelmed by some of your bleakest observations?  


We're so bombarded with negativity about the world that our giving can feel futile. What good will it do? This cynicism is understandable, given the scale of our problems. But hopelessness is a contagion. This mindset spreads, causing nothing to be done and further solidifying the cynicism, a circle of negativity.  


So let me clear up one thing: You matter!  


Your effect on this world matters. Every little act you do to help another person matters! You don't have to give money. Time is as valuable as anything. Volunteerism is gold.  


Yes, you're reading an article by a businesswoman who promotes a service. We're good at it, and I'd love to speak with you about how effective we are in helping businesses like yours thrive.  


But my sales pitch isn't about money. It's about spirit: Please don't give in to the pervasive "what's the point?" cynicism. Recognize that you matter in this world, and you can spread positivity through simple acts.  


The more you act with that mindset, the more good things happen. Just as cynicism has a circular effect, so does kindness and giving. Both spirits come back to us when we project them into the world. We have a choice in our actions: positive energy or negative. We just have to be smart in our giving and specific in our purpose.  


Targeted Philanthropy Is Good Business: Tips for Making a Positive Difference 


I'd love to hear what you're doing to help your community or your ideas for making a difference. We run a nonprofit alongside our for-profit business, so if you're interested in what we've learned, I'd love to share our insights. I'd be so pleased to hear your discoveries, too. Click here to set up a chat that suits your schedule.  


If you take only one thought from this article, I want it to be this: You matter! Now, go help someone else recognize that they do too.  




February is a month for celebrating love and friendship with flowers, cards, and candy. However, not every organization is harmonious at all times. People get emotional, and conflicts arise. We are humans, after all. 


How do you deal professionally with work tensions? Our reactions as business owners set the tone for our work environment, so we must think deeply about what to do when trouble comes.  


Here are a few frequent problems in the workplace, along with some suggested solutions:  



Solution: Conflict resolution is best if you can eliminate trouble before it happens. Implement a clear communication protocol and ensure that all messages are concise, clear, and confirmed for understanding. Regularly scheduled check-ins can also help prevent information from being lost or misinterpreted. 


5 Practical Tips to Improve Communication 



Solution: First, listen. Give each person a chance to talk individually with you. Explain to each that your organization is focused on the team, and when one succeeds, everyone does. If you encounter an individual who can’t buy into that mindset, it’s time for them to look elsewhere. If someone enjoys bringing down others instead of lifting them, you must address that quickly and firmly. These conversations are times to emphasize your company’s core values and expectations for team members. Put your foot down here. Don’t settle for bad behavior. It sets a terrible precedent. 


When Tom Quits, Consider a VE Team Instead 



Solution: Everyone needs to understand the expectations for their position, and responsibilities shouldn’t be out of line with pay. Once you’ve set clear deliverables for all, create incentives for exceeding expectations. Those who put in more effort need acknowledgment, both with praise and pay. Wide disparities in workloads need to be by choice, not by unfunded mandate.  



Solution: Capitalize on the strengths of each by allocating tasks within each person’s wheelhouse. For instance, Sally could be tasked with initial planning and detail-oriented tasks, while Jordan could handle areas requiring flexibility and innovation. Express value in both ways of working. You can also develop a hybrid approach, such as agreeing on a detailed plan for the project’s initial phase but leaving room for creative input and course adjustments in later stages. 


Looking To Increase Your Bottom Line? 



Solution: Offer cross-training opportunities where employees from each department learn about the other’s roles and challenges. Revise your company’s bonus structure to include shared metrics, ensuring that both departments benefit from each other’s success. This encourages teams to work together rather than against each other. Schedule regular interdepartmental brainstorming sessions for employees with different roles to consider the company’s overall objectives.  


Business owners need to understand that conflicts sometimes arise. But knowing how you’ll react before the problem occurs is one way to stay on your toes.  


Hiring is Hard; Here’s How We Help 


These five tips will hopefully get those thoughts flowing. It’s your team, and you can help bring it to a positive place where it’s efficient, profitable, and fun.  


If you want to discuss your business, I’d love it. My husband and I have run multiple successful businesses over the years, and we’re always eager to listen to others’ perspectives and offer whatever help we can to fellow entrepreneurs aiming to be their best. We are a “business success management” company, working to help our clients find their groove. I’d love to work with you, too.  


Click here to set up a chat with me at your convenience.  



A fellow Rotarian recently recounted how his early political mentor always insisted he stay in the room during sensitive talks, even when others suggested he should leave. "No, he needs to stay. How will we have good leaders in the future if we cut them out of every important conversation?"  


The Rotarian said this meant the world to him — how his older mentor invested in him as worthy enough to hear the "real talk." The learning experience was invaluable. This Rotarian has gone on to be an excellent local leader, too, and he focuses on treating highly responsible youth in the same way he was respected, as a potential future leader who needs to hear the "real talk."  


Right on! I'm hearing The Who and that tune, "My Generation." It's easy to think "My Generation" gets it and yours doesn't, but that's pointless talk. Think of the bigger picture: If we're simultaneously on Earth, then we're contemporaries. It's on each of us to listen to other generations' voices and share our knowledge with different age groups while absorbing wisdom, too.  


Over time, we each play different parts in the generational cycle. If you're a business owner, you've got such an opportunity to give back to younger generations.  


I find this thrilling, an energy source in life. I've spent years cramming my head with knowledge about business management, financial planning, real estate, real estate investing, managing staff, entrepreneurship, global hiring, scouting deals in everything, and personal growth.  


Beyond Words: Turning Your Company’s Core Values into Daily Actions    


My mind has raced nonstop for decades, looking for efficiencies and the best situations that match my core values. My husband is the same. We've been successful because we value planning and proper processes.   


When Planning Clicks, You Know It's Right   


I want the same for kids! I want them to be financially literate and energized to better the world. I want them to love each other. We try to have as many good heart-to-heart talks with young people as possible because we want them to have every tool they need to succeed.  


That's precisely why we started our nonprofit, HireSmart Cares. We want to provide youth with the tools, technology, teaching, and time to thrive. We have numerous initiatives aimed at empowering the next generation. 


A call to action: HireSmart Cares aims to help youth realize their potential    


Does this resonate with you? Do you wish to see youth empowered? How can you do this in your business? How can you do this in your community? What needs do you see? What solutions? I'd love to talk to you about this and hear your ideas on giving back to the next generation. I'm an avid learner in this regard, and I also have plenty of ideas because it's a focus for us. 


Here are some tips to help you empower youth on your staff:  









As you think about Valentine's Day and love this February, don't limit "love" to that romantic kind. Think about loving the next generation and what you can do to advance the world positively. What can you do to "give back" effectively?  


If you would like to discuss this, I'd be delighted. Click here to set up a time that suits your schedule.  



Managing a remote team can seem daunting at first. You're not in the same office as your staff, and the distance presents the question, "Will this work out?"  


We have plenty of clients who will answer with an emphatic "Yes!" It will work out. But planning and thoughtfulness are needed to get the most out of the arrangement.  


For instance, I'm not a fan of software that tracks remote employees' computer activity because such setups are adversarial and easily tricked. I want team members to feel valued, trusted, and motivated to help the company thrive. This requires healthy communication.  


Daily close-of-business reports from staff offer accountability and enhanced collaboration. I ask for this from all employees, not just my remote team. I want to know an employee's goals for the day, whether they accomplished them, what obstacles they faced, and what assistance they need from me. I also ask employees to rate their day on a scale of one to five. 



7 Steps to Hiring Quality Staff  



Here are some tips on implementing close-of-business (COB) reports with your staff:  





Tasks You That Can Delegate to Your Virtual Employee   







There is no "box" when hiring in today's world  




I hope these tips help. If you wish to talk shop about business management, I'd love that. My husband and I run six successful businesses and take great pleasure in sharing what we know. Want to know more? Click here to set up a meeting at your convenience.  




I love how comedians follow the “Yes, and…” rule. Players in a comedy bit accept what another improviser has said and then expand on that line of thinking. 


I’ll spare you any jokes, but the premise of running with an idea and seeing where it leads is a great brainstorming tool.  


Person A: “How can we jazz up our cake sales?”  


Person B: “What if we put cake on a stick?”   


Person A: “Yes, and we can sell it like a lollipop.”  


Turns out, putting cake on a stick was a clever business move. People get a piece of cake in a convenient form, with a little less caloric investment than a regular slice, and for less cost. The phrase “sold like hot cakes” can now be amended to “sold like cake pops.”  


Committing to “Yes, and...” takes any idea beyond immediate rejection and momentarily validates it, even if it’s absurd. It encourages the continuous flow of ideas, allowing unexpected solutions and innovations to emerge.  


Honestly, HireSmart is simply a “Yes, and…” proposition carried to a successful extreme. My husband and I considered something that felt absurd at first.  


“What if we hire globally?”  


“Yes, and what if we delegate duties to offshore employees?”  


“Yes, and what if we have more time to do other tasks?”  


“Yes, and what if we hire more virtual employees and grow our business?”  


After committing to global hiring, Mark and I continued a long string of “Yes, and…” moves. Now, nearly a decade later, our company serves clients across the U.S. with hundreds of highly vetted Filipino virtual employees carrying out a wide range of duties and helping businesses reach their goals.  



Anne Lackey’s Company Offers a Unique Virtual Solution for Staffing Issues 



Early in our global hiring efforts, we discovered that the Philippines is the top place to find thoughtful, intelligent, ambitious, dedicated, and articulate virtual employees in a market with a much lower cost of living than the U.S. That means you can pay virtual employees good wages in their market at a much more affordable rate than paying employees for the same work in your immediate surroundings. Your bill rate for your HireSmart virtual employees is a flat $9.50 an hour.  


“The people that you (HireSmart) have given us are smart and sharp,” said Lori, a U.S. real estate executive who employs six Filipino virtual employees through HireSmart. “They ask questions. They just have great work ethics, and they’re good-hearted people. I don’t have any issues with anything, and they support each other. It’s a strong team. And it wouldn’t be strong if I had one weak link. But they’re all strong.” 


We’ve helped so many business owners and managers scale their companies, reduce costs, handle more tasks, and relieve stress.  



Here Are 10 Ways You Can Get Your Life Back  



We are also passionately dedicated to doing this right. I developed a method of finding talent, my “Anne-alytics,” that puts potential candidates through a gamut of testing, interviews, and assessments.  


Only one percent of applicants ever serve a client for us, meaning we only hire those who prove themselves in terms of skills, communication, work ethic, and professionalism. Our placement success rate is over 96 percent. That’s because we match specific skill sets to your particular needs. We also require VEs to pass our certification process, where we work with your employee for 40 hours to train them for their role with you before onboarding.  


Check Out Our Hiring Process   



Our certification process is our key to success. It allows us to ensure employees have the necessary skills and talent to serve our clients. We have live trainers, including myself, so we can easily evaluate their skills. We track our success and adapt as needed. If I wouldn’t hire a candidate for my company, they won’t be processed through to our clients.    


Perhaps you’ll find yourself posing the same question that Mark and I did a decade ago: “What if we hire globally?”  


If you’re considering abandoning the “Nah, forget it” and thinking more about a “Yes, and…”, well, we’ve run the long marathon of “Yes, and…”  


I’m glad to answer any questions. No, there won’t be improvisational comedy, but I’m confident we can leave you smiling. 


If you feel like chatting, click here to schedule a time that suits you.  




Few things bother me as much as a lousy incentive structure. I can't stand seeing people rewarded for bad behavior or punished for doing what's right. 


Poor incentive structures ruin economies, governments, businesses, families, and personal welfare. Misguided incentives indicate a lack of core values or straying away from healthy principles.  


Pardon the soapbox moment, but this is fundamental to my worldview. Get your values right, then build healthy incentive structures around them. That's how humans thrive.  


And that's our overarching aim at HireSmart. All action within the company splinters off our core values. Part of my job as CEO is educating my team about the core values and then discussing how we implement them in our daily work. 



Beyond Words: Turning Your Company's Core Values into Daily Actions  



Are we genuinely acting in service to others, being respectful, working as a team, building relationships, upholding the highest ethics, being available for help, and being mindful of everyone we encounter?  


No one can join my team unless they agree to these principles, and no one can stay on the team if they violate them. 


Would You Like to Help Your Staff Improve and Succeed?  



But my team needs to shine and not feel constricted. I want good deeds rewarded and everyone striving to go far beyond the minimum requirements.  


When I think of "strategic staffing," incentive structures are near the top of the list. Every staff member should be clear on their expectations. Employees should also understand why some get rewards and some don't because they know the criteria for earning extra. They should recognize the clear incentive structure established for them. 


Here are some tips on establishing a healthy incentive structure for your organization: 







More Tips on Motivating Employees 






There is No "Box" When Hiring in Today's World  



Isn't it nice to hear encouragement? Be your team's greatest cheerleader. Let employees hear how excited you are when they show creativity, resilience, curiosity, and a drive to improve, not just individually but also as a team member. Be especially praiseworthy when you see an employee encouraging another employee. That's the spirit you want to foster — shared excitement for each other, not just the self. 


When those relationships are strong, a deeper incentive structure is at play. It's called, "Hey, this is us!" When we unite as a team, we want the best for each other, and there's so much we can accomplish with that mindset. 


I can't think of much that makes me happier than that. Can you?  


I'd love to share tips and strategies if you want to discuss getting your team to that place. Click here to set up a time that suits your schedule. 




People always talk about weight loss resolutions after New Year's, but I'm more interested in hearing about other goals and perspectives, particularly from my employees.  


How do they feel about the past year? What were their highlights and their most significant achievements? What didn't go as they wanted? What's a skill they wish they had?  


We all get consumed in our busy lives — our avalanche of duties — and we can lose focus on our employees' outlook. If they manage responsibilities over the long haul without drama, we value that, right? That feels like dependability. You know what you're getting.  


But managerial apathy sets in if we slip into autopilot. That's why it's necessary to schedule times for reflection and input from staff. December is perfect for this because employees are preparing for the new calendar year and assessing their current situation. 


Here are some tips on how to set goals with employees and ensure they buy into the company and its aims over the next 12 months:  




Beyond Words: Turning Your Company's Core Values into Daily Actions  





More Tips on Motivating Employees  





Tips on Communicating with Employees  





More Tips on Managing Employees   


I'd love to chat if you would like to talk about employee development and how we can help you find more shining lights. Click here to set up a time that's convenient for you.  


Employee onboarding is like inviting a new person you recently met to a dinner party at your house. 


And just like hosting a party, you want to make onboarding memorable and enjoyable and leave a lasting impression. 


Along those same lines, building an effective employee onboarding program is like preparing a delightful meal for your new team members.   


Every detail matters when creating a great dinner.  


And every detail that goes into a well-thought-out onboarding program sets the stage for a positive and productive employee experience.   


So, let's draw parallels between serving a delectable meal for new friends and crafting an exceptional onboarding experience for your new hires.  



10 Questions You Must Ask in Every VE Interview 


Choose the Right Ingredients 


When preparing a dinner, you select the finest ingredients that complement each other and contribute to the overall flavor.  


Similarly, a successful onboarding program begins with choosing the correct elements to help new employees adjust to their roles and the company culture.   


These ingredients include:  


Comprehensive Orientation: Provide an in-depth introduction to the company's values, mission, and goals to give employees a sense of purpose and alignment.  


Training and Development: Offer training sessions tailored to individual roles, ensuring new staff have the knowledge and skills necessary to excel.  



Generate More of You: Anne Talks About Hiring VEs on the Property Management Podcast  



Buddying or Mentoring: Pair new employees with experienced colleagues who can guide them through their early days, answering questions and providing support.  


Access to Resources: Equip new hires with the tools, documents, and information they need to hit the ground running.  


Prepare the Ingredients with Care 


Like a good chef paying attention to details while preparing each dish, crafting an onboarding program requires careful planning and execution.   


Your onboarding process should be structured, personalized, and adaptable.   


Consider the following:  


Personalized Approach: Tailor the onboarding experience to each employee's role and background.   


Address their specific needs and interests to make them feel valued.  


Checkpoints and Feedback: Regularly assess the progress of the onboarding process and gather feedback from new hires.   


This helps you make adjustments and improvements as needed.  


Flexibility: Recognize that every new hire is different.   


Allow room for flexibility in the onboarding program to cater to individual learning styles and preferences.  



Check Out Our Hiring Process  



Presentation and Atmosphere Matter 


As a host, you create a warm and inviting atmosphere for your dinner guests.   


Similarly, the onboarding experience should foster a welcoming and positive environment for new employees.  


This can be achieved through:  


Warm Welcome: Extend a heartfelt welcome to new hires when they accept the offer.   


A friendly onboarding team, a welcome package, and a personalized message from you or your manager can make all the difference.  


Introductions: Facilitate introductions to key team members and colleagues, promoting a sense of belonging and camaraderie.  


Company Culture Showcasing: Showcase the company culture through storytelling, team-building activities, and virtual social events.   


This helps new employees quickly integrate into the organizational culture.  


Savor the Experience 


A delightful dinner leaves your guests with a sense of satisfaction and pleasure.   


A well-designed onboarding program gives new employees a positive impression of their new workplace.   


A successful onboarding process leads to the following:  


Reduced Time-to-Productivity: A comprehensive onboarding program equips employees with the necessary knowledge and resources, accelerating their time-to-productivity.  


Increased Retention: Employees who experience a well-structured onboarding process are more likely to feel engaged and committed to the organization, reducing turnover.  


Improved Employee Experience: A positive onboarding experience enhances the overall employee experience, contributing to higher job satisfaction and a sense of loyalty.  



Here Are 10 Ways You can get Your Life Back 



Just as preparing a memorable dinner requires thought, effort, and attention to detail, building an effective employee onboarding program demands a well-designed and strategic approach.   


Selecting the right elements, planning carefully, fostering a welcoming atmosphere, and creating a positive experience set the stage for a successful and long-lasting relationship with your new hires.   


At HireSmart, we know from years of experience that a great onboarding program is the secret ingredient to nurturing a talented and engaged workforce.  


If you're interested in a staffing company that's invested in the success and growth of your organization, click here for a free consultation.   



I always enjoy experiencing an interaction with another business' customer service team. Whether it is a pleasant or unpleasant experience, I always take away some nuggets that help me improve our processes and hopefully improve our client interactions.  


As a fellow business owner or manager, I wanted to share my thought process when evaluating your team members and how you serve your customers. If you want to do a deep dive into your company, here are some things I would like you to consider. 





Beyond Words: Turning Your Company's Core Values Into Daily Actions 








The Costs of a High Turnover Rate 



My husband, Mark, and I have run multiple businesses over the years, and we love to strategize and talk about long-term and short-term goals.  


Our drive-time conversations have been the source of many mutual successes over the years. I feel great satisfaction in helping other business owners find their path for improved efficiencies, finances, hiring practices… and a better life. 



When Planning Clicks, You Know It's Right 



Simple as that. Life is better when we're less stressed, and we have a terrific way to reduce the headaches of U.S. business owners, giving them more control over their time by hiring highly qualified virtual employees from the Philippines at a low cost. https://hiresmartvirtualemployees.com/looking-for-a-better-way-to-spend-your-time/ 


We help businesses establish the best version of themselves — business owners and managers, too. We have a vision of life improved, and then we make it happen for actual people, not an avatar. Real people like you. 


If you'd like to hear more about how we can help you, I'd love to chat. Click here 

to schedule a free consultation at your convenience. 



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