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Uncovering the Bottleneck in Your Business with Amber de la Garza
Episode 14010th January 2023 • The Driven Woman Entrepreneur • Diann Wingert
00:00:00 00:54:53

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The story of how Amber de la Garza came to be a guest on this podcast is not the typical one.  It started over 3 years ago at Podcast Movement 2019.  I was a listener to her popular productivity podcast, Productivity Straight Talk, and recognized her at the conference.  Even though I did not have a podcast at the time, I approached her, introduced myself, and pitched her on the spot.   

Amber has branded herself 'The Productivity Specialist", so you know she is intentional with her time.  She graciously accepted my pitch, on this condition: "Launch your podcast, get to 100 episodes, and then, I will be your guest."   Well, I've never been one to shy away from a challenge from someone I respect, so this interview, in episode #140, is the fulfillment of Amber's promise.  It's also a great lesson for those who need challenge and accountability to kick their motivation into gear. 

Amber De La Garza is a sought-after speaker, trainer, writer, coach, and creator of The Leverage Lab, who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners learn to manage their time and build effective business systems.  She is the host of the Productivity Straight Talk podcast, wife, mom, dog mom, and calls Las Vegas home. 

"The skill set of learning to invest your most precious resource, which is time, was incredibly valuable. The idea and identity of The Productivity Specialist was born."


In this episode, Amber shares how her past career and life-changing events led her to focus on helping small business owners with their productivity, which leads to the concept of being the bottleneck in one's business, why it can be difficult to recognize, and why it tends to be a recurring pattern. 


You will learn the following:

1. What is the skill set of learning to invest your most precious resource, time?

2. What would happen if a business owner becomes the bottleneck in their business?

3. What life lessons can be gleaned from making difficult decisions about how to manage time and invest in team members?


How to connect with Amber:



Linked In:

Free time management mini-training:


Other episodes on productivity & getting out of your own way in your business: 

Episode #137 The Hidden Reasons You Aren't Reaching Your Goals - 

Episode # 99 How to Create a Distraction-Free Business -

Episode # 85 Setting Boundaries Like a Boss -


Is this the year you commit to eliminating the obstacles in your business that are holding you back?  

I have a few spots open NOW to work with me 1:1 through the 12-week Boss Up Breakthrough framework.  The first step is scheduling a free, 30-minute goodness-of-fit call by clicking here:


Connect with me: 




Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here:


Chapter Summaries:


Today's guest is Amber de la Garza, the productivity specialist. The two accidentally bumped into each other in 2019 at Podcast Movement. She's been a guest on her podcast, and now she is now a guest on mine. I have so many questions for you.


In her past life, she did business coaching for real estate agents. After having her son, she started consulting. What she specialized in was productivity, efficiency, and teaching team members how to communicate effectively. There was born the productivity specialist.


This is such a great answer because I realized that moment of fascination for you. True productivity is not about getting more done, it's about getting the right things done. I also think that calling yourself the productivity specialist, I hope makes people curious.


Our topic today is about being the bottleneck in your business. Most people who are the bottleneck have no idea they are. A lot of the personality traits that most entrepreneurs have tend to make them more likely to be a bottleneck. If you can acknowledge that you're the bottleneck, you can make difficult decisions.


Lake: What happens when the business owner is the bottleneck? Why don't they recognize it? And why does it tend to become a recurring pattern? Lake: Are you letting those thoughts dictate the decisions you're making in your business?


The feeling of needing someone and depending on someone and what we make that mean, I see that as a huge bottleneck. For a lot of people, they are the face of the business. How do you handle your role and how do you still serve your clients?


Amber: If you stop listening to what it is you want, you won't build a business that supports that. For me, the last four years I have taken anywhere between eight and twelve weeks off a year. I have different goals now, and so I've tweaked my business to support that.


Sometimes the bottlenecking is happening because we actually mistrust ourselves. Is it true that you can learn to delegate? Absolutely. You don't need to have all your systems in place to hire. That little gut is telling you what might be the next priority to solve.


There's a sense of loss of identity when we let go of things. What would my new role look like? Write that job description. Two places you should be letting go of something, things that you are not good at. We are our most productive selves when we show up our best selves.


Most people spend most of their lives in their zone of excellence. Where I find people have the hardest time letting go is usually a lot of sunk cost. First, see for yourself what role you want and what you want to be doing. Ask for help on who has done that transition before.


Amber: Give yourself permission to evolve. You acknowledge that loss may be uncomfortable, but you allow it in service to your continued growth. Entrepreneurship is the biggest personal development journey we can go through. Tell people how you would like to be found by them.


cidentally bumped into her in:

G: Those are some great questions and before I answer those, I just wanna say thank you for this full circle moment and thank you for reaching back out. I recognized your name immediately when your email came through, and now we get to both serve each other's audiences years later so thank you. All right, so your question was why the productivity specialist right well, you know, I get this question often because it's not a traditional role, right? Even if you're having time management challenges or challenges in your business, you're not gonna wake up one day and say, oh my gosh, I need a productivity coach like productivity is my, you know my challenge. Well, I got into productivity, like most stories, it's a long journey but in my past life I did business coaching for real estate agents.

I was a business coach that was paid by the brokerage, so I was a staff member and I specialized in teaching real estate agents how to grow their business, how to scale through building their teams and business system. And what I realized was that I was around what most people would consider absolutely successful. Financially they're well known in the industry, they're top of the game, and they had this desire to leverage and grow their business, and yet they would come to the coaching sessions and have one version of another of I'm so overwhelmed and I'm out of time. I'm so busy working in my business, I have no time to work on my business. I'm so frustrated the thing I love I'm starting not to love anymore. Just really a lot of that and I found that to be incredibly interesting. And so, I did some other things in between so I'm gonna give you the Cliff Notes version but I have a huge life-changing event, which was having my son and so I had left this company that I had worked for for 12 years.

And I started doing consulting and I realized that when I was doing consulting, what I specialized in was productivity, efficiency, teaching team members how to communicate effectively and I made more money working a few hours being a stay-at-home mom in consulting than I ever had in corporate. And I was like, I might be able to be a business owner like if I was a business owner, what would I do? And I remembered thinking that if they meaning these clients that I had had when I was teaching them business how to grow their business. If they learn the skillset of managing themselves, managing time, and managing their team, that skillset has a rippling effect on any goals we have. Yes, we can lay it over business, we can lay it over health schools, personal goals, you name it. The skillset of learning to invest your most precious resource, which is time, I thought was incredibly so there was born the productivity specialist. There's a lot of business coaches out there and many specialize in industry specific, or summer, you know, just women or men. Everyone has their flavor and for me, I really wanted to sink into serving small business owners and specifically around productivity.

H: So this is such a great answer because I realized that moment of fascination for you here you are dealing with people who are by anyone's standards successful, they're making money. They've made a name for themselves. They love what they do, they're known for it and let's face it, when it comes to real estate professionals, there's almost no barrier to entry. I don't even think you have to complete high school so there are people who, based on their investment into their career, they have gotten a return that is like a zillion x right? And yet, they're frustrated, they're resentful, they're fatigued, and they're even talking about hanging it up. I'm a super curious human, so that would've captivated me as much as it did you, I also think that, you know, calling yourself the productivity specialist, I hope makes people curious because when I first started helping entrepreneurs with ADHD traits, one of the first areas, and we talked about this on your podcast.

One of the first things they wanted help with was time management, but at in the beginning I realized people are looking to be more efficient so they can get more done. But true productivity is not about getting more done, it's about getting the right things done cuz most of the time that's correct. People who get more done are getting more things done that they actually shouldn't be doing to begin with. Our topic today is going to be about being the bottleneck in your business and I'm sure there's gonna be a few heads exploding as a result of this conversation because I don't think anyone sets out to be the bottleneck. And I think most people who are the bottleneck have no idea that they are so let's start with the definition.

G: Absolutely, and I agree with that definition and description 100%. You know, as business owners, our businesses become so important to us like our babies we're so invested and we would never purposely do anything to hurt our businesses. And yet oftentimes we can become the bottleneck and it's kind of like a fish that doesn't know it's in water. It's just, you just say like it this is just the way it is. It has to be this way meaning I'm doing the thing and we're gonna uncover, you know, some of the things we tell ourselves, where are some common bottlenecks, but ultimately, if you can acknowledge that you are the bottleneck that might be the easier part of it afterwards is usually making some difficult decisions about how you need to change your business or invest your time, ask for help. And that's where I find people get stumbled on is some mindset issues, some strategic issues that continually these opportunities to be stuck in be in the bottleneck to their business.

H: And you know, as we talked about in the pre-chat, and I know we're gonna get into a lot more detail, it's also not true that once you realize, oh my God, it's me, I'm the problem. It's not that I have a shitty team. It's not that my tech doesn't work, it's not that I've bought into the wrong systems. All roads lead through me, I am the bottleneck, but it's not like you're gonna address it and it's gonna be one and done. Because I think personally, I'd be curious to know what you think a lot of the personality traits that most entrepreneurs have tend to make them more likely to be a bottleneck on a regular basis. They address it, they move it out of the way, and then the business grows some more and they're doing it all over again. And I'm speaking specifically to the need to have their hands in everything and the need to be in control.

G: So you're touching on one of the underlying beliefs is that, well, it might not be the belief I need to have control, but it will show up in different ways, right? When you're talking about being the bottleneck and it's not a one and done, it's not because our businesses evolve. It's not because our team evolves the way we serve our clients, and really every single time that happens, our role in the changes. And so once the business starts needing something that you can't be the only one that provides, right? At some point we are not our business our business is not us, but our business has needs that we are either not the best person to provide or we don't have the skillset to provide. Or that it's not the best use of our time because actually the business needs something. There's a higher calling for our special skillset that gets squeezed out because we're stuck somewhere in our business we don't need to be.

H: You know, you're reminding me of something when I went from being the mother of one to being the mother of two and eventually the mother of three that was so incredibly challenging because with one kid, I thought, okay, I know what I'm doing, and then I have another kid, same gender, completely different temperament, and I realized this kid needs something from me that I thought I knew how to provide because I have another son. But what worked for Brett is not working for Andre and I'm imagining it's probably similar in our business and not necessarily because of growth. So let's sort of create a scenario together, I think that will really help a listeners understand what a bottleneck is what happens when the business owner is the bottleneck? Why don't they recognize it? What can we do about it and why does it tend to become recurring pattern? I'm thinking initially most people, whether you start off as a coach, a consultant, a service provider, an independent professional, an agency owner, most people have to start off bootstrap it. They do a lot of DIY, they have a lot of free resources, and usually the first hire for this type of business owner is a virtual assistant and that person may be very part-time, may be just on an ad hoc basis, but eventually you're going to need to hire someone who, maybe not an employee, but they are a regular part of your business and how would someone show up as the bottleneck in the business when it's at that stage?

G: Yeah, absolutely well, I'm gonna first just address that even if you do have a part-time virtual VA, I have seen first handedly being the bottleneck because you are not taking the time to communicate what it is you need or to train or to have systems, and so you we may say, great, so I have this help, they can do this, but not that and you start holding stuff back, right? And it's these little decisions that are compounded over time that even for a virtual assistant that's doing administrative, and it may even be things you don't love doing. But because of loops stories we tell ourselves of, will it be easier if I just do it, it's going to be faster if I just do it well, I don't trust anyone else to do this. Whether we're talking about a virtual assistant handling admin, or you're talking about hiring your bookkeeping out, or someone in management to manage your company. It's the same challenges and thought patterns that come up with regards to not wanting to let go.

And I had the opportunity to work with Cartier and I worked with their learning and development team, and the director, her name is at the time was Heather Nunez and she had this just amazing motto. And I repeat it often because it's so well said and she says, if I wanna move it from my to-do list to their to learn list. And that's incredibly valuable because we really have to invest in others, but our brains say, invest like long term like no, like I need this done now. I need this solved now I have, there's something in the business that has to be done now, and so it really takes a saying, no, this is a long-term investment because once I invest in others, what happens is then they get to invest in you and your business. But sometimes that feel scary and a little risky and so business owners have a lot of stories. You know, they can be true, but they can also not be true but what I would invite our business owners to consider is, are you letting those thoughts dictate the decisions you're making in your business, as in holding onto something saying you are the only one that can do it. So I think that's a good place to just kind of start with, like, it doesn't matter the role we say the same things no matter what.

H: It's the thought that, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. I mean, I'm sure you've heard, I don't know how many thousands of people say that if I want it done right, I have to do it myself. Or the time thing, like the time it would take me to explain it to my executive assistant I might as well just do it myself. And here's a good excuse for not investing in developing that person who works with you but what if I take the time to train them and then they freaking leave or get pregnant or move.

G: Al the things and, and will they leave? Yes, my bet is you are gonna be in your business longer than any single employee or team member is in your business so if you let that hold you up, you know, you're never going to try. I'm actually gonna share a funny analogy so what was hilarious was you and I were going back and forth on the topic for today's episode but on Tuesday in my group coaching program, it had come up about the hesitation to hiring and asking for help. And I'm on there and we're going back and forth and I mean, they're adamantly telling me the reasons why they don't want to move through hiring for everything we just said. If I hire it, they're gonna go and then they said, this is us going back and forth. They're like, well, let me tell you about this horrible experience I had right. And I said, okay, let's hear it because I want to hear the filter, the lens in which they're making their decisions through.

So we don't hear stories just to hear stories and coaching, but I wanted to hear it, to understand what was motivating or demotivating my client from moving through, making a decision. So she explains this really not great story. It is kind of a horrific story of hiring out and let me tell you, any seasoned business owner has that crazy story. I have them right? It happens and I sat back and I said, you know what this is reminding me, I've had a few girlfriends lately that are single now and they're back on these dating sites, and I could just sit down and have a drink with them and hear the most horrible stories of this dating and these blind, essentially blind dates they're going on, right? Well, what if my girlfriend said, and I'm done, I'm never going on a date again, love is not for me. I will just be single the rest of my life you'd be like you're gonna get out there cuz your Prince Charming is out there right? And yet we do the same thing in our businesses nope, I'm not hiring for that role again. Last time I did it, it did not work out. It was a horrible story you know, you just wash your hands of it.

You wouldn't give that advice to your best friend so stop taking your own advice of not pushing through. I think there's a lot of lessons if you pull back the curtain and observe what went wrong when it went wrong. I think there's a lot to be said about actually having to go through potentially some rough hires to get to amazing team members, because having an amazing team member literally will change your business. I can attribute the biggest growth over and over in the last 12 years is in my business to two things, a great hire and hiring a great coach. Those two things single-handedly have changed over and over the pace or growth of my business, and so I'm gonna tell you, I am encouraging you to try again and learn from what may or may not have worked. Which we can talk about all the things that may or may not be working with, you know, hiring out and thinking I need to be the only one that does this thing.

H: And you delivered this during your group coaching experience how did they respond?

G: I mean, they were just laughing and they're like, well, you know, I close with them got me the first little lady goes, I don't see any connection to that example at all jokingly right. But sometimes I think there's a lot of life lessons that we can see blatantly for other people. Or blatantly in one part of our lives, but then we're blind and we don't see it in another part of our lives business. And so that's why I like to use a lot of examples, even outside of business to bring home some business lessons.

H: No, I absolutely do too and I'm also very fond of analogies and metaphors because people don't, they can't guard themself because they don't know exactly where you're going, and then they're like, oh, I get it. It's really interesting I think sometimes it's because a lot of personalities feel safer when they're in control. But I also think cuz you brought together the hesitation to hire and the hesitation to ask for help and I think those are related, but separate things because I think there's a lot of us. I mean, let's face it, if you're going to become an entrepreneur, even though you and I surround ourselves with lots of entrepreneurs, there are people, we are part of this group, we are actually a distinct minority. The vast vast vast majority of humans want a job, have a job and would never dream of having their own business, even though a lot of people think it's romantic or sexy.

So if you're going to take the risk, if you're gonna have the audacity to step out and start your own business, you kind of have to be at least a little bit of a risk taker and yet we don't want to be dependent on others. And you know, I'm a former therapist, so I'm going there, I'm thinking it's more related to not necessarily want, not wanting to risk disappointment that this person won't be as fast. They won't do it as well, they might leave, but just the pure feeling of needing someone and depending on someone and what we make that mean. I think I see that as a huge bottleneck.

G: Absolutely and I mean, that can come up from any areas. Like if you're used to people leaving you in your personal life or maybe you ask your spouse for help and they're like, no. And then you're thinking, well, if they don't, how could I ask for help in my business? Like there's so many scenarios or none of those things happen and you still feel like it's very difficult, you know, to ask for help and depend on people. And it's also very vulnerable because if you think about it, if your business is at a certain stage and you have confidence that while it might be a little stressful and you might work some late hours, you can do it like you got this, like you've been doing it. It's like the devil, you know, versus the devil, you don't. But then when you hire someone, and by default you're gonna grow and you're gonna expand the business has now got more needs. What if they leave how do you handle your role and their role? How do you still serve your clients? And that can feel very vulnerable to depend on somebody else, any role in your company, thinking that if they left you no longer have a company or you will be really, really inconvenienced and that no one wants that.

H: Absolutely true, I also think for a lot of people, and I see this with a lot of the folks that I've worked with, they are the face of the business. The business began as an extension of them. They began as a personal brand. They achieve success now it's growing, now they continuously raise their prices, but they still have more demand for their services than they can possibly meet. So then they go from doing one-on-one work to doing group work, and maybe that still isn't enough or it's working, but they, it feels uncomfortable. What kind of bottleneck issues do you see happening kind of at that stage? I know they're really all the same, but how they might show up in someone's mind and in their behavior might look a little different.

G: Yeah, so what you're explaining is that if you're the face of the business and you're a service-based business owner, meaning you are what you're selling for many people, if it's coaching or even if you're, say an interior designer, it's like your special skillset that you're selling, right? Well, there's a lot of ways in which you don't need to be the bottleneck, but still keep the face of the business. So right now, you may be the person that handles all the way from, you know, marketing strategy to incoming calls, to filtering the clients, to going on every appointment, making every design, all the way to say installation, right? But you can still be the face and ask for help, someone can send contracts out, someone can help with estimating, somebody can help with consultations. You could be the visionary for every project, but do you need to answer the phone for every client call every contractor. And so what I mean is, is that if you can re-envision the pieces that are uniquely your skillset or things that absolutely bring you joy and start delegating off, hiring out for a lot of the other pieces that do not create the same impact either for yourself or your client. Because when we say we're the face, it's a valid thing.

So I'll take my business as an example, I am the face and I am the coach but behind the scenes I have a lot of help, which allows me to stay in front and have a lot of FaceTime with my clients because I'm not dealing with so many other things that it takes to run the business. So those are two very, very specific examples. If I said, oh my gosh, like, I'm trying to come up with an example in my business, I've had all kinds of examples. Oh my gosh, I am the only one that can do social media and marketing because nobody else knows my voice. Well, if that was true, do you know how much time I would be spending in marketing and content management and all of those tasks because I'm saying no one else can learn my voice there's only so much time in the day. I would not be able to be as valuable to my business or my clients because my time is elsewhere so I hope that answers your question I was just using some examples to answer it.

H: No, I think the anecdotes and the examples are really helpful and I'm also thinking that you were about to take several weeks off and I mean, that's, to me, that's like the holy grail for for a lot of people because your business is not gonna come to a screeching halt, your clients are continued to go be served. Your podcast is going to continue to show up in people's podcast players week after week because you created a team, because you created the systems and because you trusted yourself and others to take some things off your plate. Now, obviously in your speaking work, you can't send somebody out to do a training for a company or give a keynote or I mean, it has to be you. But just about everything else that getting your travel in, sending pitches, responding to request for proposal, sending out your media kit, like you don't need to do that.

G: Yeah, absolutely and then so that touches on the, you know, choosing to build a business model that supports your goal. So some people are gonna listen to this and say, I have no problem working 40 hours. I don't have problem working on Saturday mornings like that is actually what I wanna do. And then there's gonna be others that say, actually I wanna work four days or four and a half days every variation of that if you stop listening to what it is you want, you won't build a business that supports that. And for me, it took holding a value of like, this is the life I wanna live, how do I tweak and create a business model that supports that? And I think that's really important when you think of being the bottleneck, you know, for me the last, I would say the last four years, I take anywhere between eight and 12 weeks off a year total. And I don't now even work a full work week but were there years that I absolutely worked a full work week?

Absolutely but I say that to stay that there's different seasons of our life and there's different seasons of our I have different goals now, and so I've tweaked my business to support that. And you too can, like anyone that's here listening is that once you start asking that question and you say, how can I run a successful business, but be more specific, what does that mean? Bring home X amount, certain X amount of clients so you're gonna be really specific and fill in the other side be healthy, have healthy relationships be off when my son gets off of school, fill in the other side. And when you make that and formula, you start asking different questions. And when you hold that as a priority, you may be willing to walk through being uncomfortable asking for help, hiring and delegating because you value that equation of what your full success looks like. And so sometimes we need something to look up to and for like we're reaching for, to push through a lot of uncomfortable.

H: That is such an excellent point, Amber, because I'm thinking most people hearing this thinking, wait a second, she takes eight plus weeks off a year. You're not closing the doors to your business during this, the machinery keeps on rolling. You personally remove yourself from the day to day because you have other things that matter. When we know what else matters to us, when we allow other things to matter to us, and it's not just my business, my business because that that is the nature of workaholism. When the business absolutely is the only thing that matters and we complain about the business and we complain that we can't find good people to work in our business. And we complain that the market is fickle and the market is saturated, and we have all these stories. But sometimes the real issue is we need the business to take everything from us because we don't know how to do the other stuff and I'm sure you've seen that too.

G: Absolutely. I mean, when I was going through my own journey, first of all, I love to work because I love my job, I love my clients. And for a long time I was like, that is my hobby, it's my job, it's my everything. Like, don't judge me like I am doing my thing and you know, when I'm working, I'm, you know, being valuable. I'm not just working to work and then I asked you know, I had always had really good boundaries between like family and work. But then I started asking different questions of like, oh, what would it be like to like find a different hobby of gardening and you know, just being experimental and see, okay, what else can bring me joy? And when you start playing with that, again, asking different questions, I had to solve different problems in my business to make that possible so, yes, to your point. I actually wanted to come circle back. I've got something on my mind I just really wanted to share.

We've been talking a lot about mistrusting, other people, they're gonna leave. They won't do a good job, they're not gonna be the right fit we depend on. But I think what we don't talk about enough, and that I see really often is, sometimes the bottlenecking is happening because we actually mistrust ourselves, and I wanna explain that. We may have thoughts whether we verbalize them or think them subconsciously, and this is how we're making our decisions is like, okay, so yeah, totally get and agree with the strategy of hiring somebody, but I don't trust I can communicate what I need. I don't know that I can train them to do it. I am embarrassed that my backend is so messy. I have no processes. I have no systems. I've been winging it and like doing this long enough, but what if I open that up and invite somebody in? They're not gonna wanna work with me and who would wanna work with me, I'm just such a small business. Like I literally got shivers because I am quoting clients, I am quoting people that are business owners that can share that because they're uncovering it.

Of course, it's a very vulnerable place and so the antidote to that is what I believe is not common you know, sometimes we're like, oh, it's a mindset thing just don't think. Yeah, I don't know anyone that's worked for, so let's go with this sometimes that little voice is just a liar and you need to call BS on it. Sometimes that little voice is your gut telling you something that you can work on and improve on so that you become more confident. So is it true that you can learn to delegate? Absolutely. Is it true that you can actually learn how to teach somebody things? Absolutely. Is it true that you might want a few systems? You don't need to have all your systems in place to hire. Yes, so go do that little gut is actually telling you what might be the next priority to solve for, so that you can confidently lean into growing your team.

H: I'm so glad that you circled back to this Amber, because listen, one of my favorite clients refers to me as the Speaker of Uncomfortable Truth. So I love having conversations like this because the things that, there's an expression, you're only as sick as your secrets, and so there's a lot of shame among business owners. I work with mostly female business owners, we are all socially conditioned to try to be perfect or at least look perfect. And so the number of people who have said to me, I don't know that I would want to bring in a bookkeeper or an executive assistant because they're going to see how messy and disorganized, and everyone talks about their messy backend, right?

And it's like, but we don't talk about it enough to understand that everybody thinks their business is messy. And that's exactly why an assistant has job security because the stuff that you either hate, can't figure out, can't get around to is literally what they live for. And it's like, wait a minute why would somebody want to clean up my mess and find satisfaction? It have you ever paid someone to clean your like it's the transformation from this to that. A lot of people why would you go to the department store and see someone in the cosmetics counter and get a makeover because there are people that love transforming messy to marvelous. So and nobody, your business isn't any messier, more disorganized, more chaotic, more broken than anybody else's. But the thought that it is, well, that's your biggest, that's not even a bottleneck, that's like a complete blockage.

G: Yeah, it is and it's a catch 22 because you are ready at, I call it redlining. I mean, you are maxed out working in your business and so you say to yourself, you tell yourself a lie. You say, well, when I slow down and have time to fix my backend, then I'll ask for help. Okay how's that worked out for you because you're not slowing down and even if you slow down, are you the right person to clean up your messy back end. And when you hire somebody, that is when you will have time to say, this is the project I would love help with. This is how I would like my business to run or operate and find people that can help you. You can only do that truly when you buy back time. You buy back time by hiring somebody, and then you take that time that you've reclaimed and you decide what is the best place to invest it in. And oftentimes for small business owners, it's going to be to invest it working on your business and not in your business.

H: That's absolutely true. I recorded a recent episode of the podcast, walking people through the distinctions between a business strategist, a business consultant, and a business coach, because it's one of the other stories that we tell ourselves because many of us either won't hire any help or we hire the wrong type of help for the wrong reason, at the wrong time. Of course it doesn't work. We don't get the result we wanted and then that becomes part of the storyline that see even when I did ask for help, even when I hired an expert to help me, it still didn't work. So there's a lot to unpack in terms of mindset. If someone's listening and they're thinking, oh shit, I think they're talking about me like what and we are, because hand raised, I have been the biggest freaking bottleneck in my own business. Not once, many times over, I'm sure you have too. It's part of the human condition. It is part of the makeup because we tend to be stubbornly self and it takes a long time and a lot of practice to get to the point where you first think, who can I get to do this instead of immediately adding it to your own plate. So if someone's listening thinking, wow I never really thought about it, but maybe this is the problem, how would they go about figuring that out? How would they go about answering that question, oh, am I a bottleneck in my business and what might be the first step they would take to start to deal with it?

G: Yeah. You know the one of the things that comes up when you ask that question is something that I actually give my clients. You have to want to do it and so what I love to do, like if it's a should and you're like, I know I could use some help. Here's where I'd love to start with is I would love for you to write out what your new role in the company would be because there's a sense of loss of identity when we let go of things. And so if we don't know how we are going to get to serve the business and what that role might look like, we hold on like clenched fist white knuckled to the things that we are currently doing. And so, you know, we can be motivated by like fear or we can be motivated by good things, I'm sure that's said differently. But you know when we think, oh, if I don't hire somebody, I will just have to keep working long hours.

Well, I've been doing that, fine or exactly or you can be motivated, which is the way I like to be motivated is like, Okay, so what would this look like if I was able to let go of X, Y, and Z, what would my new role look like? What do I get to do more of that brings me more joy and has a bigger impact on the business? Write that job description and when you can get clearer, not clear, nobody's clear, first of all, it's not right, it's not gonna be a hundred percent, but just as an exercise, start dreaming. As you get clearer to me, it always comes up naturally, you're like, oh my gosh, like I can't keep doing bookkeeping. I can't keep doing the social media and show up over here. I can't keep doing all the CAD drawings and meet with every single client because each business is different and each person is different. Only you doing this exercise are going to realize what are the things that you can let go of and then I'll give you more practical, another practical tip.

There's two places you should be letting go of something. Things that you do not that you are not good at. So you are recognizing that the business has a need and you are not the best person to be doing it. It is not in your zone of genius. Two is going to be that there is something that you're doing that does not bring you joy because when we think of business ownership, it's always a fight for our mindset on how we can show up our best. And if our days and our weeks are filled with activities that do not bring us joy, that's a harder fight. And I believe that we do our best and we are most productive selves when we get to show up our best selves so think about you know, something that you don't enjoy doing because if you don't enjoy doing it, it's taking two hours and you can hire somebody one hour to do like just plain and simple. You're procrastinating, you're letting distractions come in. You are leaving it to the end of the day after dinner. There are so many reasons why you shouldn't be doing things that actually bring you joy because you're showing up differently in your business doing those things.

H: You refer to the zone of genius, and this is a, a big area of focus in my work too. What I find, I'd love to hear your opinion on this, I think a lot of people do find it challenging to acknowledge, and for people who are listening who are not familiar with the concept, there's like four zones of work that we might be involved in. There is the zone of incompetency so like, you suck. You should not be doing this thing, and you're probably not because you suck so hard that you wouldn't even attempt, that's your zone of incompetency. Then there's the zone of competency. You could do it, it's effortful. You don't enjoy it, you probably put it off as long as you can, but you can do it. But there are any number of people who could do it better, faster, and with more enthusiasm.

Then there's your zone of excellence in my opinion, Amber, most people spend most of their lives, if not their entire careers in their zone of excellence, these are the things that you are good at. You've probably had education, training, experience, certifications. You've built a reputation in this thing. You acknowledge that you're good at it does give you a sense of satisfaction, pride, joy to do, and it is not the singular thing that you are a freaking rockstar at. You are brilliant at you are a genius at you are a singular sensation because that is reserved for your zone of genius, I find for people to let go of the incompetency no question. Take it it's already gone, competency, yeah, sure fine, you can take that too, where I find people have the hardest time letting go because it's usually a lot of sunk cost.

I've spent years, decades doing this thing, but I know it's not my actual genius what would you say to the person who, Hey, like, I get it, like I've been a whatever for a million years. Like I'm thinking about someone I worked with who was a teacher for many, many years, wonderful teacher, professor, really good at it. But what they really wanted to do was to be a public speaker, similar skillset, but being on a stage, giving a keynote instead at the podium in front of a bunch of students, half of whom were just looking at their phone anyway, was really the change they wanted to make. And that was such a difficult thing that when we were talking about the different steps that she could take to begin to explore that there were just so many rationalizations, excuses, avoidances. And you know, we understand it's something you've put a lot into, but if the bottleneck that you've created is that you've done things in your business that you are really good at and you're very attached to, and you know they are holding you back from going to the genius level other than a lot of therapy and a kick in the ass like, what do we do for these people because I know they're out there.

G: Yeah, I mean, what comes to mind for me, I mean, you touched on so much of it in the question, right. I mean, there's a lot of fear and there's a lot of normalizing you know, excellent is a great place to be, there's a lot of people that would strive to be excellent. I feel that there's this sense of like calling or yearning or maybe you might be excellent, but it doesn't feel joyful or fulfilling is to listen to that and to lean into you what your zone of genius may be. So in the example you were sharing about your client, you know, the advice is just go do it which is what we give but really there are steps right. And I'm sure you gave her those little steps after she was able to work through it. People have a hard time seeing that for themselves and ironically, it was the advice I gave is first see for yourself what role you want and what you wanna be doing so that that calls you more than the fears along the way. So I guess my advice really would be similar is start envisioning it, ask for help on who maybe has done that transition before, what are some microsteps that don't feel as risky that you can start taking to get you there?

You know, instead of just like, I quit today and I start tomorrow. This new venture is, how can you tweak and do like course corrections. Now I'm telling you that, but I actually have many examples in my own life that I've done this. I interned for two years in real estate. I went to college and got a degree in real estate and double majored business management. I worked in a company for 12 years and I walked away from it. What, how could I walk away from it well, I pulled the through thread that I shared at the very beginning of today's episode this said, how can I take positive proof and wins of what I did in this other career and pivot and do it in this new career and then. You know it being in business now 12 years, I have pivoted many times, I was not always the productivity specialist and I was not always as clear as I am today about how I serve the world. And that has come with continual feedback of looking for my own North star, what brings me the most joy, what feels like the next leveling up for myself, which is always moving towards what you would call into your zone of genius.

H: What I'm hearing and if I were encapsulate this entire conversation the through line is that you give yourself permission to evolve. You acknowledge that loss may be uncomfortable, but you allow it in service to your continued growth and what I'm also hearing is that you have allowed yourself to develop a sense of calling. And whether people call that a higher purpose or their ministry, their mission, their reason for being, that is so much more powerful and so much more energizing than any accountability or must dos or because you're being led forward by something that is intrinsically magnetizing to you as opposed to, I need to do this because I can't keep doing that. And I love that philosophically and practically because we need something more powerful than the shoulds and the musts and just simply the desire to make our business life less effortful to make those important leaps to trust ourselves, to trust others, to do the hard work of letting go of things that we've outgrown and that can become a continuous process and you've also said you hired a business coach to help you with that as well. So I can really see in all of your answers how that's really the through line is that you've allowed yourself to continuously given yourself permission to let go of things and you kept looking ahead to whatever was calling you forward.

G: Absolutely. I mean, to say yes to all of that and to say that my belief is that we, by choosing entrepreneurship, have actually chosen something that gives us such a gift, and the gift is, is that I believe it's the biggest personal development journey we can go through because we're always and continually putting ourselves in situations that are unknown and new and challenging. And sometimes we might feel like we stagnate a little bit, but my message or my encouragement would be getting comfortable with being uncomfortable because I was not that way for starting out my business at all. But once I started embracing that dance, I started looking forward to it. And you know, I can say that overall in my business and I think that that is also great advice around thinking okay, so if I'm the bottleneck, there's all these strategic decisions that need to be made in the business financial changes, help, org chart, like you name it. Once you have said, I'm the bottleneck you have to be open to how that can be fixed, and that's gonna be change.

H: Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, accepting it's like I don't know if you are a TikTok person, but a few months ago on TikTok, everybody was posting a little videos with, I understood the assignment, right? I'm remembering that as the assignment, if you choose to accept of entrepreneurship is continuous personal evolution, and that is ultimately how you become the bottleneck and then you get unstop and you continue to do so because it is cyclical, it'll happen again. But in service to your continued growth, your personal growth, as well as your business growth, that's how you get out of that bottleneck situation.

G: Absolutely.

H: I knew this was gonna be an amazing conversation.

G: Yes, I've really enjoyed it. I mean, this is one that I think you and I could probably talk a half a day about or more. It is, you know, something that I'm passionate about and I think that it's a conversation that, would you say you speak the hard truth?

H: The Speaker of Uncomfortable Truth.

G: Oh You're the speaker of uncomfortable truth. Well, it's very uncomfortable truth to say, you know, raise your hand and say, I am, the reason my business is stifled. I am the reason that it's not growth. I am the reason I'm not making it home for dinner. That takes courage and so this was a great conversation to that point.

H: Thank you so much. Thank you for being my guest and to that end, tell people how you would like to be found by them.

G: Absolutely. Well, you can find all the things about me over on my website, I also have a podcast called Productivity Straight Talk. So wherever you're listening to this podcast, you can take a search and listen to one of my episodes and see if it is of service to you and where you're at in your business and I like hanging out on Instagram, Amber_delaGarza.

H: Love it, I will make sure we link to all of that in the show. Thank you again and take wonderful care of you.

G: I will. Thank you.