Time Management and Planning for Women with Megan Sumrell, The Pink Bee

Episode Transcription

Glenn Harper [00:00:04]:

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another edition of Empowering Entrepreneurs. I’m Glenn Harper.

Julie Smith [00:00:08]:

Julie Smith.

Glenn Harper [00:00:08]:

What’s going on, Jule?

Julie Smith [00:00:10]:

Hey, you know, I think we have a great guest. She seems very energetic, and I can’t wait to dive into it today.

Glenn Harper [00:00:15]:

Well, somebody hasn’t had their coffee yet, and that’s probably why you’re not so energetic.

Julie Smith [00:00:19]:

Well, I had to skip the weather comment because of past comments, so here we go.

Glenn Harper [00:00:23]:

That happens sometimes. Well, we’re pleased to have Megan Sumrell here, a fellow entrepreneur who is the driving force behind The Pink Bee that provides time management training for women. She has helped maintenance entrepreneur the art of being productive instead of just busy. Welcome, Megan. Thanks for being on the show.

Megan Sumrell [00:00:40]:

Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.

Julie Smith [00:00:42]:

And in just that introduction, all Glenn told me last night is, you are going to love our guest tomorrow. And so I’m guessing he’s telling me I’m busy and I need to manage my time better.

Glenn Harper [00:00:52]:

I’m not saying anything, but it’s all, you know. Megan, I detect a slight south of the Mason Dixon accent. Are you originally from Kansas City, or are you from Carrie, North Carolina?

Megan Sumrell [00:01:04]:

So I live in Carrie, North Carolina. Right now. I’m actually kind of from all over. I grew up my father was in the Marine Corps for 30 years, so I was born, of all places, in Beirut, Lebanon. So I don’t think I carry a Lebanese accent.

Glenn Harper [00:01:18]:

I detect a slight hint. Yeah. Slight hint of one. No, that’s great. Yeah, we stalked you a little bit. And again, now you’re in Carry, which is the 7th largest city in North Carolina. What’s that like? You like that town?

Megan Sumrell [00:01:31]:

I love Cary. I’m kind of about ten minutes right outside of downtown Raleigh. I moved here I can’t believe I can say it now, over 20 years ago when I was single and just looking to get out of the breakneck pace of the Washington, DC area. And I have absolutely fallen in love with it. No intentions of leaving.

Glenn Harper [00:01:51]:

That’s fantastic. Now, I understand that you attended college at William and Mary, which is kind of cool.

Megan Sumrell [00:01:59]:

Yes, and my husband and I actually ended up going back and getting married there. It’s one of the perks you can get if you graduate in one of the oldest chapels in the country. So it was beautiful.

Glenn Harper [00:02:11]:

How cool is that? I was looking up the university, heard about it, but never knew much about it. But that thing was chartered by King William II and Queen Mary II, hence the name back in 1693. Do you think that they would have chartered that school if they knew that we were going to secede from their grasp?

Megan Sumrell [00:02:29]:

Yeah, maybe not. And I was actually in school there when we had the 300th anniversary. It was an amazing year to be there.

Glenn Harper [00:02:38]:

Isn’t that crazy? In the rest of the world, they celebrate years and thousands of years of history, we’ve got like a few hundred, which is amazing in and of itself. But yeah, to go to the same place that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, john Tyler and James Monroe went, that’s pretty cool. I understand. It’s just a fantastic university. I suspect you met a lot of cool people there. Googling your did.

Megan Sumrell [00:02:59]:

It was the perfect right size of I always described it as big enough where you could hide when you need to get everything you needed, but small enough to run into everybody. You wanted to have a close personal relationship with all of your professors, and the campus is just absolutely beautiful.

Glenn Harper [00:03:18]:

How did you decide to go to that?

Megan Sumrell [00:03:22]:

You know, even though we had lived all over the country and world, we were Virginia State residents at the time. And wayman, mary is a Virginia state school. So looking there and my oldest sister actually had gone to Wayman Mary, so I had visited her there. And being the youngest of three girls, I was like, I’m not going to go to Wayman Mary, because I was so tired of everyone always saying, oh, just like your sisters, and just about anything I did. So it is a real testament to how much I loved the campus and the campus tour that I actually decided to go there, even when my initial reaction was, I’m not going to do anything that either one of my sisters did.

Glenn Harper [00:04:01]:

Well, I suspect your name was Blacklisted because your sister probably went through that place and had a great time and they even said, we can’t have Megan show.

Megan Sumrell [00:04:10]:

Maybe, maybe not.

Glenn Harper [00:04:12]:

Well, did you enjoy staying in college or you couldn’t wait to get out or how did that you know, a lot of entrepreneurs, the college just kind of gives them a rash. They get a little nervous about being there. They’d rather go do what they want to do and not be told what to do. Did you have that feeling while you were there or was it just like, hey, I just can’t wait to take all this in?

Megan Sumrell [00:04:31]:

Probably a little bit of both. I enjoyed my studies in college. I was a major in operations research, which is basically applied mathematics, so I really loved that part of college. But from a very young age, I just always had kind of an independent streak of just wanting to get out and do things, and I felt in some ways, college just didn’t move fast enough. So it wasn’t a like, I don’t look back and say I didn’t enjoy college and I couldn’t wait to get out. I just wanted it to go fast. I was ready to get out into the world.

Glenn Harper [00:05:07]:

I’m getting all emotional. You like math? That touches me in a weird spot. That’s just so cool.

Julie Smith [00:05:15]:

Right in his pocket projector.

Glenn Harper [00:05:16]:

I’m like, oh, where’s my ten key? Let’s talk some addition and subtraction. No, we get a kick out of that. Julie doesn’t like math at all. And it’s funny, most entrepreneurs are really not math people. And it’s just interesting that I’m really curious to get into this a little bit to see how your journey went through the numbers versus your passion.

Julie Smith [00:05:37]:

So you graduate with this degree and.

Megan Sumrell [00:05:40]:

Basically I did, yeah. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Operations Research and I had a double minor in music and religion.

Glenn Harper [00:05:51]:

Wow.

Megan Sumrell [00:05:52]:

Kind of interesting.

Julie Smith [00:05:53]:

You’re just well rounded. So then where do you go from there? You graduate and then what?

Megan Sumrell [00:05:57]:

So I graduated and ended up falling into well, I spent my first year out of school and just honestly a job from hell I really didn’t enjoy it was basically doing data entry, but you got to get a job. So I got a job and after a year, thankfully landed a job back in. I’m going to be dating myself here. Back when people had landlines and worked for Bell South, kind of a spin off of Mabel. And at that time they were just hiring young kids out of college that they could mold and train into what they wanted them to. You know, I said, great, put me in, and initially was hired to be a computer programmer and discovered pretty quickly I wasn’t really good at that because I was a classic overthinker in absolutely everything. So they kind of punished me, for lack of a better word, by throwing me into the testing organization there. And I felt like Briar Rabbit. So I was like, oh my gosh, you mean you guys are going to pay me to go tell everybody else what they’re doing wrong? Like, this is fantastic. And so that kind of launched me into a career that I didn’t even know existed, which was all around software quality assurance, and spent the next over 20 years working through a number of different both large software organizations. And then also was kind of at the forefront of the whole.com world as well. Really building out processes, infrastructure and everything related to quality improvement with software. So still a lot of taking my background in my love of math, really, in being a critical thinker, problem solving, being able to figure out untangling things that looked really complicated and really simplifying them. So it isn’t quite the direct numbers to numbers kind of relationship of math to becoming a statistician or something, but all of that critical problem solving skills was applied to the world of software engineering.

Glenn Harper [00:08:04]:

So let me get this straight. You didn’t actually program, you just helped make sure you could solve the problems for the programmers to program better.

Megan Sumrell [00:08:11]:

Yeah, and basically test every single thing that they programmed to make sure it did what it was supposed to do. And I will say later in my career, I actually did do some software programming, but it was building testing infrastructures. So I was writing software to actually test what the core products were supposed to be.

Glenn Harper [00:08:29]:

There’s something that just makes me grin to sit there and tell a software engineer that they’re doing it wrong. That was not received very well, I would imagine. So that had to be a lot of fun.

Megan Sumrell [00:08:42]:

Well, I will say early in my career, I didn’t always handle it very graciously, but the more I was in, the more learned ways of working side by side with the software engineers and really becoming a team to say, hey, we’re all looking for the same end goal, which is to build something that our customers are absolutely going to love and so found some ways to get some good relationships going there.

Glenn Harper [00:09:06]:

That’s tough. Engineers, they like doing it their way. That’s a tough one.

Megan Sumrell [00:09:10]:

Famous last words works on my machine. I had a nickel for every time.

Glenn Harper [00:09:14]:

I heard that classic. Well, what was the impetus to say, you know what? I like working for a living, but I’d rather do something a lot harder and start and hang up my own shingle. What made you decide to do that?

Megan Sumrell [00:09:27]:

Well, I’d always had the idea of wanting to work for myself, and I did a lot of crazy little things over the course of my life. I actually had a wedding cake business that I would do in the evenings. I fell in love with cake decorating, so I thought maybe I’d open a bakery one day, but discovered I didn’t love it enough to do that. I used to make some handmade, very elaborate cards that I would sell in local shops. I made dog treats for a while. So I’d kind of been looking for something that I could truly grow and build and make my own. And then as my career kind of progressed, I really got into more of a consulting role, and that really felt a little bit like being an entrepreneur, where I would get hired out and come in and work in organizations for a few weeks and really got to craft my own role there. So I kind of thought, well, maybe this is how I will fill that entrepreneurial spirit that I had. And then I got married later in life, and we started a family later and found myself at a really tough spot where I had a toddler trying to juggle motherhood and building my career along with having a life and all of that. And it got a little overwhelming. And I had been through every single kind of classical time management training out there, starting in the early days with the Franklin Covey world. I had been through a lot of process optimization training in my career. For those of you in the engineering space, I did all of the certified Scrum practitioner. I was a black belt lean six sigma. So I’d really leaned into all of that and found myself at a stage where I realized all of the tools I’d been using to kind of organize my life, plan my time, stay on top of my calendar weren’t working for me anymore, now that I was juggling motherhood and work. And so, thankfully, there was a very potent day for me when a woman at the park, I was there pushing my daughter on the swing. We were chatting, and she just randomly asked, so what do you do for fun? And I didn’t have an answer because I was like, I couldn’t remember the last time I did something just for me. Fun, right? I mean, being at the park was nice, all of that, but it was a real wake up call on the fact that I was heading down a path that wasn’t sustainable, nor was it enjoyable. And so I decided, hey, Megan, why don’t you take yourself on as a client? Like, you go into organizations and streamline their processes for them. Why don’t you take a look at your own life and figure out a better way to juggle all of this? So that really was the foundation. I didn’t know it was going to turn into a business of developing this proprietary time management system. And women that I knew started looking at me after a few months. They’re like, you look different. Did you join a new gym? I was like, no, I’m happier. I’m feeling more free. So they started asking if I could share what I was doing. And I really had to think about it for a while and determine, could I unpack this and turn this into a system that I felt confident I could help others with? So I worked with a small group of women at first to introduce this to them, and they all were like, this has changed my life. So at that moment, I was like, this is my calling. This is what all those years in the corporate space was leading to, was both the business knowledge from having worked with a lot of startups and then the practical knowledge along with the training. And so at that point, I just said, this is my passion. And so that’s what I’ve been doing now full time, and I love it.

Glenn Harper [00:13:12]:

The consulting thing you were doing, you were still working for a company at the time, but going as I did.

Megan Sumrell [00:13:17]:

Some independent and then some through a company, so I did both for a while.

Glenn Harper [00:13:22]:

So you were able to build up your business. How far did you go along building up your new business before you said, that’s it, I’m out of the other consulting gig? Was it right away?

Megan Sumrell [00:13:34]:

I did not build it up to the place where I was matching my income. And I don’t know many entrepreneurs that can, because the only way I think I could have done that was to be working 100 hours a week. Right?

Glenn Harper [00:13:44]:

You weren’t working 100 hours a week. It seems like you’re leaving something on the table there.

Megan Sumrell [00:13:49]:

Yeah, so it got to where there was a sustainable revenue consistently coming in month over month. But I was at that breaking point where I sat down with my husband and just said, at this point, I can’t put any more into it because the time is just not there. And thankfully, he has always been one of my biggest fans, so he’s like, I bet on you. So that was at that point. I’d spent about three years kind of doing both in parallel and realized in order to go all in, I was going to have to take that big risk and leave corporate behind.

Julie Smith [00:14:24]:

And you did all this with having a toddler?

Megan Sumrell [00:14:27]:

Yes.

Glenn Harper [00:14:27]:

Just one kid or multiple at this time?

Megan Sumrell [00:14:30]:

Well, it depends on who you ask. So my mom always says I have two because she counts my husband as one.

Glenn Harper [00:14:36]:

Well, obviously, yes, he’s a big child.

Megan Sumrell [00:14:38]:

At heart, but no, just the one daughter. And I’m a dog mom and I’m a very passionate dog mom, so I count her as well.

Glenn Harper [00:14:45]:

Wow. It’s funny what it takes or what you have to go through to. Everybody’s got a tolerance of how much they can take before they say, that’s it, I got to make a change. And if you could look back and say, wow, if I could have recognized where this could have been and where this is ending up now, would you think you would have made that decision sooner or do you think that it all happens for a reason?

Megan Sumrell [00:15:10]:

I think it all happens for a reason. I mean, I want to say, oh, I wish I’d started sooner, right, because the business, I could have impacted more people faster. But I think I had to go through what I went through, because one of the things I’m really passionate about helping, especially other entrepreneurs with is really rattling that belief that in order to be successful, you’ve got to go all in, you’ve got to get up at four in the morning, you’ve got to work till midnight and all of that. And I like that. My journey shows that I made the conscious decision not to do that and yet have still built a very successful business. I love Shark Tank. I think a lot of entrepreneurs always enjoy watching that, and I always cringe a little when the sharks kind of lay in to one of the entrepreneurs there. If they feel like they haven’t suffered enough in the form of sleeping on the floor and going and banging down doors and working on your business every minute of every day. I don’t want people to think that the only way to be successful or to show that you can be passionate about what you do, is to sacrifice yourself on the journey to get there. So I think that it happened for me in that very methodical reason to then be able to help others and show them, no, you don’t have to do that.

Glenn Harper [00:16:35]:

I think probably the reason why that is is, again, 510, 2030. 50 years ago, there were no resources for an entrepreneur. So you had to go through the school of hard knocks. You had to come up through the ranks that way. Now all the shortcuts are there. You can pretty much skip the line on a lot of things. You can bring other team members in, hire other people to help, and that really helps you do that without having to kill yourself, which is kind of cool.

Megan Sumrell [00:17:00]:

And I think there’s always a school of hard knocks in terms of I mean, I feel like I learn everything the hard way. A million things I did wrong that I wished I hadn’t done wrong the first time and all of that. But it doesn’t have to be at the sacrifice of your mental health, your sanity, you’re missing out on your family.

Glenn Harper [00:17:18]:

And loved ones, which goes against everything I think about because usually to be an entrepreneur, you got to have a screw loose, right. A normal person doesn’t quit a real job and go in the deep unknown and try to figure it out and never know what’s going to happen. But for some reason, entrepreneurs thrive in that area. And it sounds like you were able to kind of again, I think that goes back with some of your training and mindset, you were able to manage that pretty well where you didn’t have to feel that way, correct.

Megan Sumrell [00:17:49]:

That leap of faith of going, oh, my gosh, and I don’t want to fail. I don’t know any entrepreneur, myself included, that hasn’t had what others would call a failure.

Glenn Harper [00:18:02]:

We don’t call them failure ethically didn’t work.

Megan Sumrell [00:18:04]:

Right.

Julie Smith [00:18:05]:

We call those pivots.

Glenn Harper [00:18:07]:

Yeah. We don’t use the F word. It’s very bad.

Megan Sumrell [00:18:10]:

And I don’t mind it because I always like that phrase, failing forward. Right. It’s only a failure if you don’t take something from it. That you learn that, then you go and change up and do something with.

Glenn Harper [00:18:22]:

It’S a fail if you don’t try. You got to at least try.

Julie Smith [00:18:24]:

Well, failure is only if you do it once, right? And quit.

Megan Sumrell [00:18:27]:

Yes. Perfect. Yeah.

Glenn Harper [00:18:30]:

So if you could go out there and find your ultimate client, that you’re just watching TV, listen to a podcast, listen to the radio, talk to people, if you could say, man, if I could just talk to that person, I would rock their world and be so tactful that that person would probably because, again, I don’t think you do this for the money. It doesn’t sound like it. I think you do it to help people genuinely, which is the crazy thing. When you do it to help people, everything comes into play. It all works. But who would you think that you could man, if I could just get that person as an engagement, they would be able to impact so many more people. Have you thought about who that might be.

Megan Sumrell [00:19:06]:

Yeah. I mean, a specific person or just a description of that person?

Glenn Harper [00:19:10]:

A specific person. Go, man. That would just be somebody that’d be the dream client. That’s a really besides Julie Smith.

Megan Sumrell [00:19:22]:

There are some entrepreneurs, some female entrepreneurs I see out in the digital space since that’s where most of my business lies, where I see how they’re running their business and I know how exhausted they are. And I just want to say it doesn’t have to be that way. It just doesn’t have to be that way. And I don’t want to name names because I don’t want to call anyone out because they have very thriving, successful businesses. But I would say if you are waking up exhausted and falling into bed at night feeling like you’re never going to get caught, just it does not have to be that way.

Julie Smith [00:20:04]:

Wow, you just described myself. I don’t know.

Glenn Harper [00:20:06]:

You say so, Julie, let’s do an intervention right now. Now, do you only deal with women, or do you deal with men as well, or is it no?

Megan Sumrell [00:20:16]:

I do have some men that come into my program, and a lot of times I will have a woman that comes into my program, and then she’s like, okay, I’m going to have my husband start going through this. Course with me because they see the power of them both getting on the same page in terms of how they’re planning and managing their time. I find it interesting that most men that go through my course are single dads. So I think for the attraction for men with what I teach is if they are the ones that are kind of carrying the emotional load and more of this I call it the COO of the household, where it just means that there’s a little bit more on your plate than you’re typically used to juggling.

Julie Smith [00:20:56]:

So I want to go back. So you were a working mom, career oriented, and decided to take the leap of faith. And I think we’ve had a couple of podcasts on about the whole working mom and the balance and what does that mean and how it’s hard, right? It’s hard. And so walk me through just some like, hey, these are the wins I had, these are the AHA moments I had, because I think a lot of our listeners can relate to that and can maybe glean some information from you in regards to that.

Megan Sumrell [00:21:28]:

Yeah. First, I would say stop trying to achieve balance. That alone is a recipe for disaster. And so I don’t like the phrase work life balance because what it implies when you think about balance, think of the scales, right. The one with the two dishes on either side. It means that you have to be doing things equally in order for it to work. And if you go out and do a Google search on images for work life balance, what you subtly see is a ton of images of women who are multitasking. So they’re like sitting at their kitchen counter with their laptop holding the baby and everybody’s smiling. Like that never happens, right? But they’re showing you balancing that or they’re in a caregiving role while on the phone at the grocery store. So this is subtly the messages that the media is putting out there is that in order for you to have work life balance, it means that you need to be multitasking like all the time. And so I lean into the phrase work life harmony instead, where a life of harmony means you’re not doing everything equally, but what you are doing is you’re fully present in whatever role you’re in at that moment. You have purpose in your life again and you get to be really proactive in how your day flows instead of reactive, where you’re just like feeling like you’re in firefighting mode. And so one of the first places I start people is getting them to understand the difference between operating from a daily task list versus a weekly plan. And a lot of the kind of productivity experts out there all teach this method where you wake up in the morning, do your brain dump, right, create all the things that are on your mind, like get the list of everything that you’re going to do for the day, then circle your top three. Because somehow magically, we’re always only supposed to have three priorities for every day. And then your goal is to focus on just those three priorities first and then when you’re done, go do everything else. I don’t know anybody juggling a career in anything, whether it’s kids or not, where that is a realistic or sustainable way to go through life. Because you may have days where there’s more than three priorities. You may have a day where it’s one of those lots of little things that just needs to get done days. And then also when you operate from this daily task list, never are you marrying it to the realities of what you have going on that day to say, is this even feasible? So kind of think of it like if I were to hand you a $20 bill and then a list of groceries and said go to the grocery store and get those and you put everything in the basket. You get to the counter and they’re like, oh yeah, it’s $50. You’re like, well I only have 20. This is how people are running their lives today. They’re just creating these ridiculous lists without understanding their true available budget of time. And so they’re just in constant catch up mode. So I start everybody by shifting them to a style of planning that is this weekly planning style. So we’re going to throw out our daily task lists and I walk through first a basic five step weekly planning process and then we learn the more advanced one. But this layers in the realities of your life? What are your current commitments? When do you have pockets of time where you’re in service to others that you can’t be getting things done and then opens the opportunity to really maximize efficiencies in terms of grouping activities and tasks together at more of that weekly view instead of just this very daily reactive way of living?

Glenn Harper [00:25:16]:

You have an amazing delivery of how you communicate. You’re very good at this. Thank you. The way you deliver just is like, wow, that resonates very much. You know, I think one of the things you said is kind of thing, all the technology and all the cool stuff that’s going on, I just feel like myself speaking. Julie, you can speak for yourself on this, but it seems like I feel like I have to do more in the same amount of time because I, quote, have this technology, and maybe my brain thinks that way, where I just can be more productive, not because I should be, it’s just because I can. And I can do 50 things at once that might not be at one time. I can do 50 things consecutive. I can’t do more than one thing at a time because I’m a dude. Now, chicks, they can multitask, but dudes, we’re like, give me one thing at a time. But we’ll do a lot of them. But it’s just interesting how it seems like if I have five minutes free, I feel like I got to fill it with something, right? It’s hard to just stop and just relax for a moment. And I don’t know what that issue is. I’m sure it’s a deep rooted thing, but we don’t need to delve into this today. All the millions of listeners would judge me then.

Megan Sumrell [00:26:22]:

But Julie and I think it’s even to your point, technology plays into this, right? When we look at the traditional time management systems that have been around for a long time, those systems were developed before we were walking around with high powered computers in our pocket, right? And unfortunately, most of those systems today haven’t shifted to accommodate the realities of technology. I found this interesting article a couple of years ago that was sharing that in any given day through our mobile devices, we are being sent, like, over 32GB of data per day, and that’s information that we were not used to consuming. And so we have to have planning systems, information management systems in place to handle all of that or else our brain is going so fast to your point that we’re like, we have to make every minute count because there’s information coming at us at a pace we just can’t keep up with.

Glenn Harper [00:27:24]:

Do you think that the availability of that information and it hitting us, do you think that’s something that creates some sort of dopamine in your brain or just certain sort of addiction that says, just got to keep going, or how does. One shut that off.

Megan Sumrell [00:27:39]:

So one of the things I like to teach people is I tell them, our devices are capable for you to be able to program them. That’s where my old programmer Nerd comes out. But you can program your mobile devices so that they only talk to you in the scenarios that you have deemed important enough. So for example, my phone is always in silent mode, always. I don’t get any push notifications. I don’t get any sounds. I don’t get any flashes, nothing. My phone never makes a noise or a flash unless it’s a set of pre programmed names that I have said, if this person calls me, please make my phone ring. So for example, we actually took our daughter out of school. We did homeschooling last year, which was an adventure. But prior to that, if the school phone number was trying to call me, my phone would ring, because if they’re calling, I need to get it right. If my parents call, my phone rings. And same with my spouse. Now they also know I’ve told them, hey, if you need something, just shoot me a text or email me. Call me if it’s urgent. And so that way I can go around all day long not worrying about having to check in with my phone, of saying, did I miss anything important? It’s going to let me know if there’s something important. And then I have set times throughout the day where I sit down for ten minutes, open my phone, and now I’m saying, okay, now is the time I’ve set aside to go respond to any texts or messages, et cetera, on my phone. And when you do that, you’re kind of back in the driver’s seat of putting up that dam of information coming at you to say, I’m only going to consume it when I’m in the headspace to actually be able to do something with it.

Julie Smith [00:29:20]:

And I think to that point, that’s great, except we live in a society where if you don’t respond, you’re not relevant. You know what I mean? It’s kind of become this shameful thing, like, well, you didn’t respond. Did you not get my message? And did you not want to respond? It’s this whole big thing. And I try to practice a little bit of what you do and silence some things and only let certain things in and put my phone away and Do Not disturb and all those things. But then it’s like you’re stuck defending the fact that it’s 3 hours later and you’re just responding.

Megan Sumrell [00:29:56]:

The thing is though, the people in your life, they’ll get trained to it pretty quick. Everybody whose opinions I actually care about know what I do and know that I will respond to them. And when I do, I’m giving them my full attention. And I can’t say I’ve ever had any backlash on not being that kind of Amazon Prime right here, right now. Instant notification and if anything, I’ve had people reach out and say, thank you, you’ve given me permission. Like, seeing that you do this has now made me feel like I can.

Glenn Harper [00:30:32]:

Do the same, I think, for myself, I think the ability for my particular clients that I deal with, having that access to me for whatever they may have needed is important, and that’s part of what I do. And you want to be there for them, obviously, you can’t be there for everybody all the time. And I think that’s probably just a training thing to say, hey, if it’s something that needs my there’s emergencies, which there’s not many. And then there’s like, hey, there’s a quick question or something, and then there’s, hey, there’s this thing that maybe we should talk about at some point. And how do you again, train your clients, friends, family, whatever, to kind of put those in those buckets?

Megan Sumrell [00:31:18]:

Yeah, absolutely. And I kind of have nine core components inside of my whole time management framework, and one of them is boundaries. Right. And honestly, when you can establish the right boundaries for you when it comes to your time and then clearly communicate them with others, you are actually giving them a huge service as well, because now they understand how to interact with you and they have their expectations set correctly on information. So anybody who comes into my time management program knows right out of the gate, here are the three ways that you can get your questions to me, and I lay out three different options. Please know we will respond to you within these core hours, monday through Friday, period. So now, right out of the gate, instead of saying, call me anytime, and I’m checking email all the time now, I’ve told them, if you’ve got questions, great. I am here to support you, here’s how you get them to me, and here’s what your expectations can be on when you’re going to hear back and again. That kind of sets the stage and takes that anxiety, especially out of new customers of now they’ll know, okay, I can get help from Megan when I need it, and I know exactly what to expect and how that’s going to look instead of when we just leave it open. Greenfield people almost start to get anxious and feel like they need to be reaching out, and they don’t even know what they’re asking for help for. And it can actually really blurry any boundaries that you may want to have in personal time versus work time as well.

Julie Smith [00:32:54]:

And so I’m going to pivot. It’s a hard pivot here, but so as you went through your journey, at what point or do you have a team?

Megan Sumrell [00:33:03]:

Oh, yes, I could not do what I do without one. So I went true solopreneur for two years before bringing anybody onto my team. And I now have three team members who are all three also working moms with young kids, which I love because one of the things I really want is that we as a company practice what we preach in terms of how we plan and manage our time. So I only work four and a half hours, four days a week and in the summers that goes down to about two to 3 hours because I really lean into being full time mom. And the three women that all work with me, they’re all contractors and they all work part time as well. And the way we run the business is pretty much unless I’m doing a live event or something that’s kind of here and now. All the work that we are doing in a current week is all related to stuff that doesn’t have to be done for two or three weeks in the future so that we all have the flexibility. If someone wakes up one morning and they’ve got a sick kid, nobody needs to worry about it because any of the tasks that they were going to do that day weren’t have tos for the day. And the few that we do have, such as responding to customers, we have all the standard operating procedures clearly documented in our project management system that any one of us can step in and support the other one at a moment’s notice. So it is something I’m very proud of. It took us a while to get this smooth with our systems and processes in place, but I certainly could never have grown the business to the size that it is now staying a true solopreneur.

Glenn Harper [00:34:49]:

So you’re speaking Julie’s language with operations and systems and processes. So that’s cool. Now I love that stuff. There’s one thing you said that I have a problem with and when I say I have a problem with, I don’t think it’s fair to say it that way because I think today the premise has to be it’s got to be about the quality of time, not the quantity. And when you say working part time, that’s saying that, well, you’re not giving 100% effort because you’re only working part time. I think it should say that my work week is whatever it is and I do exactly what I want, when I want, how I want to do it. And I kick you know what every single day. And it doesn’t have to be like a part time thing where somebody who’s going out there and grinding 9 hours a week is going what’s Megan doing? She’s not working at all. Where in fact it’s the opposite. Right. So how do we change that terminology where it doesn’t look like really and.

Megan Sumrell [00:35:48]:

I’ve never thought about that, you’re going to make me I’m going to be very cautious on how I say that in the future because I think that’s an excellent point. When I am working, I am all in and I am highly productive. But I think again, my corporate background is always coming in with that 40 hours a week, full time. Right. And so that’s the old corporate brain coming to the table. But I think it would be interesting to I have created the harmony, the work life harmony in my life that serves me really well. And the three women on my team each came in with these are the boundaries in terms of here’s how much time I have available to work. Can we create a structure that supports this? And thankfully, the answer has been yes to all of us. So maybe a good way of phrasing it is I’m honestly living my dream life, but I work really hard at it.

Glenn Harper [00:36:45]:

Right. I think you’re going to put this in your program somehow. Probably. I think so, because, again, I’m not speaking for you, Julie, but I’m speaking for me. I just don’t feel like a lot of the times, if I don’t put in do the grind that I am failing somehow, I am not giving everything I can. And that’s probably not a right way to look at that. Right. If I’m not working my 90 hours a week, well, I’m not committed. Well, the reality is I shouldn’t have to do that. Nobody should have to do that’s. Not reasonable. Why do we have to kill ourselves like that? So then it comes down to how do you get that quality instead of quantity, where you, the entrepreneur, can be like, it’s okay, you don’t have to work that much. You can still be productive and make whatever you’re going to make and do whatever you’re going to do and be impactful. So I cannot wait till you rerun your little thing and come back with that. Tell me what that looks like, because I’m going to use it myself.

Megan Sumrell [00:37:37]:

Well, when I see people and this is again, I’m going to generalize a little bit, but when I meet people that are feeling like they have to work 12 hours a day or they’re not being productive or growing, their business fast enough or not showing that they’re a true entrepreneur. To me, oftentimes that’s a sign of they aren’t doing the right type of strategic planning for their business. And they’re really kind of flying by the seat of their pants or bill. Okay, well, let me try this. Well, let me try this. So and so just did that. So I’m going to do that, too. And so we’ve got tentacles out everywhere instead of when we do our annual planning in October for the following year for the business I know at a high level, what are all the big events for the business? What are the key dates that we need to hit? What are the KPIs that we’re tracking towards so that we have that right level plan in place so that then we can take a step back and say, hey, for instance, I intentionally planned for the month of July. I’m really not working very much and I’m totally fine with that because the huge event that we have in the fall is already pre planned out. Everything is in place. We know that we’re hitting all of our dates. And so when you get really good at mastering, there’s four levels of planning that I encourage people really master. Weekly planning. Monthly, quarterly, and annual. And when you master those in your business, that opens up that freedom to recognize, I don’t have to work 10 hours a day. I just need to be in alignment with my goals, have a clear plan of how to get there, and then making sure that I’m not being distracted by all the other things that I see going on, which is so easy to do as an entrepreneur.

Glenn Harper [00:39:31]:

This is all crazy talk.

Julie Smith [00:39:32]:

You’re talking my language. Because I think just to build on that is, in order to make those plans, those goals, to have a full understanding of that, you have to understand your purpose, your vision, your mission, and your core values. And there’s a couple of other things you could throw in there, too, but once you make those decisions based on those those things just, you know right. You know what your purpose is. Your purpose is to make sure that July is kind of a coveted time that gives you to be able to have that dream right. Or however you want to say it. And that’s become your purpose, is to create that harmony, to be able to do both those things. And so I think you have to have that foundation to be able to build those things out, too.

Megan Sumrell [00:40:15]:

Absolutely. And I love that you mentioned each one of those separately. The project management software we use to run the business in our kind of overarching anyone who joins the company, all of those things are clearly stated out that they go through and read. We have our mission, we have our core values, we have our purpose, and they’re clearly stated. And every team meeting we have, we review them just like, Guys, don’t forget, this is why we’re here. This is what we’re doing. And there was a great book that I encourage every entrepreneur to read that was introduced to me early on, which is the one thing that really can be super helpful to help you get laser focused on what those things are so that you don’t get distracted by all the other things that you see.

Julie Smith [00:41:00]:

Other entrepreneurs shiny objects out there.

Megan Sumrell [00:41:02]:

Right.

Glenn Harper [00:41:06]:

My head’s spinning on this one, which is awesome. And I hope all the people listening to this is changing how they think about it. Because, again, the premise is, when you’re an entrepreneur, you start off kind of like doing business. You’re doing all the work. You’re trying to get the billables out. You’re doing all the back office things, you’re doing everything. And then eventually you start bringing in team members, and you’re trying to transition to building a business that are doing a business, right? And as you build a business, it’s really hard because now you got to trust and empower other people. You’re responsible now or to or from whatever that word is for everybody. And it seems like that takes a lot more effort and a lot more responsibility. And then the question becomes like, well, how big is good? How big do I want to get? How much do I want to grow this company? And what is that end game? Right. And for you, it seems like bigger isn’t better, better is better, which is awesome. And how would you recommend to somebody who has that thing in their heads? It’s like, I just got to go big or go home. Right. And how do they find that balance? Would that something that they would be using your plan to do that, or is that just something they just have to just keep grinding it out?

Megan Sumrell [00:42:16]:

No, I mean, I can definitely support on that with the time management side of things. And this is one of the things I do in our annual planning as well. I will say, as an entrepreneur, I participate in some pretty high level masterminds with entrepreneurs out there with ten $15 million run rates per year, I’m not there. And it’s so easy to get caught up in that and to go, well, then I need to want that. I need to want that. So one of the things that I really like to help other business owners with is to say, okay, five years from now or three years, pick whatever that is. How many hours a day or a week do you want to be working, and how much money do you want to pay yourself over the course of that year? Like, really? Let’s just net it down to those couple of things. What do you want your lifestyle to look like in terms of time freedom and financial freedom and to really think about that. Once you have that in place, now, you can back into, all right, well, realistically, what are my profit margins looking like? Right? So what would that mean from a revenue generating standpoint? So one of the things that I challenge my whole team with every single year is to say, how can we nudge up our revenue while also increasing our profit margin this year? But nobody works any more time than they already are. So this is a fun game and challenge that I put out to the business every single year. And so far we’ve done it. We continue to increase profit margins and revenue, and nobody’s working any more hours than they already are. And so for me, I know what my end picture looks like in terms of time freedom and financial freedom. And with the profit margins that we’re running, I don’t feel the need to build a $10 million business. Maybe I will, but only if it doesn’t break the time freedom that I continue to want to have. And so I think that number of what is enough is going to look very different for different people and their different desires. And so I just have to learn when I get into those rooms and I hear all these aggressive numbers and I mean, I’m competitive, so of course I’m like, well, I can do that. I always have to take a step back and say, is kind of back to your point, Julie. Is this in alignment with our core values, with my personal mission and with what I want my life to look like in five years? And if it’s not, I can be okay with saying I’m not the biggest revenue generator in the room, but I certainly have maybe I’ve got the best time freedom or something like that. That feels good for me.

Glenn Harper [00:45:09]:

It’s funny entrepreneurs, it’s a very diverse crowd out there, right? They’re all crazy and they all have different motivations and they all got different challenges and whatever those things are. And I think this particular podcast is going to speak to a specific segment very well, and it may tickle on each side of the spectrum and get somebody else to go. Wait a minute. We ought to change this over here. One of the big questions we ask our guests is like, what is your superpower? What do you think that you’re like? Can you fly the speed of light? Can you have X ray vision? What is it, that thing that you’re like, this is what I got, and I’m the best at this. What do you think that is?

Megan Sumrell [00:45:50]:

I am the best at creating turning chaos into harmony.

Julie Smith [00:45:55]:

That’s a good one.

Megan Sumrell [00:45:58]:

It doesn’t just have to be calendars or time management. I can walk into what looks like the biggest disastrous situation, and I can create harmony out of that.

Julie Smith [00:46:11]:

Did you have a mentor or is there someone that’s really been impactful as you’ve gone through this journey or someone maybe in corporate America that just really believed in you, that gave you that confidence to kind of jump off the cliff?

Megan Sumrell [00:46:26]:

Well, so I’ve been in a few Masterminds and there have been some other entrepreneurs that I have looked up to that I have learned a great deal from. I would say Stacey Tushel is a big one with her well oiled operations. I have gotten gleaned a lot of inspiration in terms of presenting and doing very powerful presentations through Colin Boyd. I would say from giving me that leap of faith and confidence to go out on my own, that didn’t come from corporate America. It really came from my mom and dad from a very young age. And my sisters and I could not be more different. They have always just encouraged and created the space for us to define whatever it is that we wanted to do. And especially as a dad in the Marine Corps, with three young girls. I really value that. And I always loved the story when we had flying back from overseas and my oldest sister at the time was just enamored with the flight attendants. We’re talking back in the late 60s, early seventy s. And they were getting off the plane and she looked to my dad and said, when I grow up, I want to be a stewardess. And he looked at her and he just said, well, why don’t you just be the pilot? She’s like, all right. And so I think I grew up in that atmosphere and so I just always felt like why not?

Julie Smith [00:47:57]:

So one more last question. What is your end game?

Megan Sumrell [00:48:03]:

It’s going to sound very ambitious, but I really want to be a and not my name, but the business and what I teach to become a mainstream household name for any woman that is feeling completely overwhelmed. I’ve had some few people say, like the Marie Kondo of time management, but that really is my end game, is that people know, oh, my gosh, there’s a resource, and I know where to go to go learn what I need so that I can get back in the driver’s seat of my life and feel back in control again.

Glenn Harper [00:48:45]:

Man, that was a very impactful. I think I got more out of it than you, Julie. But that’s just my so but I.

Julie Smith [00:48:51]:

Want to go back to her endgame.

Glenn Harper [00:48:53]:

Why?

Julie Smith [00:48:53]:

Because I think I love your answer and it’s very defined.

Glenn Harper [00:48:56]:

Good one.

Julie Smith [00:48:57]:

But there’s still no end game because you still want it to continue to keep going. And I love that.

Megan Sumrell [00:49:06]:

I don’t have a date in mind. I don’t have a number in mind. And what it will transform into, I don’t know. It’s definitely excited to find out.

Glenn Harper [00:49:16]:

It’s definitely a trick question because once you have something so cool and you can manage it and operate and help so many people, why would you ever stop if you enjoy it, right? Because it’s not like you’re working, killing, sacrificing everything for it. You have found your what’s that?

Julie Smith [00:49:34]:

Harmony.

Glenn Harper [00:49:34]:

Harmony. And if you still have harmony, why would you stop? You’re impacting so many people.

Megan Sumrell [00:49:39]:

And I mean very, you know, on the more pragmatic, like, real answer there. I mean, I do have visions currently of one day maybe selling the physical asset side of the business, the actual physical planners and courses and maybe selling that one day and where my time is spent is just going out in true speaking and training and having that flexibility. So I kind of dream about that. Maybe in five or six years.

Julie Smith [00:50:06]:

But we’ll find out there’s no end game.

Glenn Harper [00:50:09]:

There is no. It’s awesome. Well, is there a place know, Megan, you can tell our listeners that they could go look you up in case they want to tap into what you have to offer.

Megan Sumrell [00:50:18]:

Absolutely. So my website is full of tons of resources, you can just find it at www.megansumrell.com. I’ve got a great free training available to you right there. When you hit the website, you’ll be asked if you want to go check that out. Also, podcast, if you’re here listening, you’re probably a podcast listener. So I’ve got a great podcast called The Work Life Harmony and it’s just very short pragmatic time management tips that you can digest in about ten minutes each week as well.

Glenn Harper [00:50:50]:

That is fantastic. Well, you’ve been a joy talking to. Thanks for taking time out of your day to chat with us, and I know our listeners are going to enjoy this, so thank you very much.

Julie Smith [00:50:58]:

Thank you. I’ve enjoyed it.

Glenn Harper [00:51:00]:

Well, Julie, another one down. Good seeing you. We’ll see you. Take care, everybody.

Episode Show Notes

Megan Sumrell, founder of The Pink Bee, joins hosts Glenn Harper and Julie Smith to discuss her time management framework and how it empowers entrepreneurs.

Megan shares her nine core components of time management, with a particular focus on setting boundaries. By clearly communicating and establishing boundaries, entrepreneurs can manage their time more effectively and set expectations for others.

Megan provides three options for people to ask questions and sets specific core hours for response, reducing anxiety and providing clarity for new customers. The importance of maintaining a separation between personal and work time is also emphasized.

Megan’s expertise in time management and annual planning comes from her participation in high-level masterminds with successful entrepreneurs. She emphasizes the need for entrepreneurs to determine how many hours they want to work and how much money they want to earn. By challenging their team to increase revenue and profit margins without working more hours, entrepreneurs can prioritize time freedom and financial freedom over simply building a multi-million dollar business. Megan emphasizes the importance of aligning revenue goals with personal values and long-term life plans.

Learn how to effectively manage your time, set boundaries, and achieve both personal and professional success.

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