IAM1879 – Strategist Works With Small Businesses to Manage Their Office operations

Podcast Interview with Laura Darkstar

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In the IAMCEO Podcast episode featuring Laura Darkstar, she shares her experience with handling office operations for small companies.

CEO Story: With nearly thirty years of experience managing both front- and back-office operations, Laura serves as a trusted assistant and advisor to executives in solopreneurs and small businesses. Her specialty is in developing and implementing their office administration/management, digital marketing, and business operations strategies.

Business Service: Laura's work involves building relationships with her clients through collaboration and partnership to develop their office administration, digital marketing and business operations strategies.

CEO Hack: Laura appreciates the utility of analog tools — in particular, The Rocket book.

CEO Nugget: She emphasizes one's service offerings should evolve over time. Hence, it is vital to add new skills, drop some, and understand that where you start is not where you'll stay.

CEO Defined: For Laura, a CEO is a culture creator and vision holder.

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Laura Darkstar Teaser 00:00

Not being able to grow anymore because they can't do all of the admin stuff and Things that are outside of their zone of genius and continue to grow their business and do what they do best. So I try to take off their plates, everything that's not their specific zone of genius, which ends up being everything from like email management to project management and team coordination.

Intro 00:28

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkness values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the IAMCEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:55

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast, and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year.

And we're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call the CB nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on operations. The systems will set you free. So think about systems, think about flow, sustainability, potentially working out in your morning routine, waking up early, e-commerce, different business models.

Think of the operations in the models that basically set up the foundation to allow the creativity within organizations, but also to make sure the trains are running on time and things are going as they should.

Now, this is extremely important because we often turn to the sexy parts of business and forget about the operations and how important that is. So I really want to focus this month on this specific topic. So sit back and enjoy this special episode at the IAMCEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Laura Darkstar of Adminderella. Laura, it's awesome to have you on the show?

Laura Darkstar 02:15

I'm glad to be here Gresh.

Gresham Harkless 02:17

No problem, I'm super excited to have you on. And what I want to do is read a little bit more about Laura so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

And Laura has nearly 30 years of experience managing front and back office operations, serving as a trusted assistant and advisor to executives.

She works with solopreneurs and small businesses, developing and implementing their office administration, management, digital marketing, and business operations strategies. Collaboration and true partnerships are the key for Laura in building her relationships with her clients. Laura, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?

[00:02:52] Laura Darkstar: I certainly am.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:53

Awesome. Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to ask you for what I call your CEO story and what led you to start your business?

Laura Darkstar 03:01

I had a corporate career of about 25 years and was doing executive assistant and office management work and was in the cycle of interview pledge loyalty forever work somewhere for 18 months to two years and then they downsized. And of course, admin staff were the first to go.

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And so after a particularly heartbreaking downsizing, I decided I was tired of being an expendable commodity and I had the skills, I had the technology backing and I was just going to go into doing what I had been doing as my side hustle for all my corporate career and turn that into my full-time gig. So that's what I did.

Gresham Harkless 03:52

Awesome. I definitely appreciate you for doing that. I too have been, laid off and near laid off a couple of times in that yo-yo is not fun at all. So I appreciate you for having the guts to be able to go at your own and take that expertise and that knowledge and be able to build your own business.

Laura Darkstar 04:09

It was the logical next step for me. Just because you get in that cycle and you need to make the decision. Am I going to keep doing that? Or am I going to take my skills and expertise and actually do something really useful with it.

Gresham Harkless 04:27

Exactly, and you start to make a bigger impact or not necessarily a bigger impact. You get to make a different impact. Maybe I should say, and you get to do it and building something and putting those bricks in place.

Laura Darkstar 04:38


Gresham Harkless 04:40

Nice. And I know I talked a little bit offline about how much I loved your name. So, can you tell us a little bit more about Adminderella and everything that you're doing and how you're supporting the client you're working with?

Laura Darkstar 04:50

Adminderella comes from admin and Cinderella. Cinderella was the person who was always working behind the scenes, cleaning up the messes that everybody else made, making sure that her stepsisters and stepmother always look perfect and, on point.

And so that's what I do for my clients is I do all the behind-the-scenes stuff, make sparkle and shiny. And so they get to shine and I don't want to be in the spotlight. I want to be the light that makes my clients shine. So what my clients do is really complex a lot of times and I like being behind the scenes and making it look easy.

Gresham Harkless 05:33

Nice. I definitely appreciate that and I'm sure everybody and all your clients appreciate it even more just because a lot of times, when you think about starting a business, especially or you have a business, you don't think about a lot of those admin things that you have to do.

But if you don't do those things, then, you won't be able to be as successful as you could be. So it's important to either, be able to find somebody, like yourself and Adminderella and being able to do that so that you can shine as best as you can.

Laura Darkstar 05:58

And what happens so many times for solopreneurs is they do everything because they have to, when they first start their business and they just get a point of not being able to grow anymore because they can't do all of the admin stuff and things that are outside of their zone of genius and continue to grow their business and do what they do best.

So I try to take off their plates everything that's, not their specific zone of genius which ends up being everything from like email management to project management and team coordination. So I have a broad spectrum of things that I can do for people.

Gresham Harkless 06:44

Nice. That makes perfect sense. And let me ask you this. Do you know, or have you seen or could you consistently say if there's some maybe signal or something that happens with clients that you've worked with or clients that you've seen even that make them say that, hey, this is now the time to bring on somebody else. I've gotten past that point. Or do you do it from day 1?

Laura Darkstar 07:08

Usually people contact me when they've hit that wall themselves. They've gotten to the point where they've realized there are things they should be doing, maybe software they need to be implementing, and they don't want to take the time to learn that and know how that all works.

Or they've just reached a point where they're spinning their wheels because they're tied up with the admin stuff, and they're not able to grow any further without outsourcing some of that to somebody else.

Gresham Harkless 07:42

That makes sense. Usually, that's that big pain point when there are not enough hours in a day. You need, those 30 hours in a day, which don't actually exist. So you have to be more efficient with everything that you're doing. So I appreciate you for helping your clients and helping so many people be able to do that.

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And you might have already touched on this, But I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. And this is for you or your organization. But what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Laura Darkstar 08:10

I'm somebody who I have a very broad spectrum of skills. So I'm not somebody who's just going to be doing tasks for you, but I talk strategy with my clients too. I can take what I've learned as a business owner. I can take what I've learned working with other business owners and say, There's an easier way to do this or why don't we try doing something different than what you've been doing and see if it works and it makes things easier.

So I would say my secret sauce is a breadth of experience and skill set.

Gresham Harkless 08:55

Nice. And especially, I heard you mentioned, that's zone of genius, especially because I think sometimes as business owners, definitely solopreneurs or even small teams or big teams, you want to have an understanding of, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your gifts are, what you do best so that you're able to spend more time there.

And a lot of times we're so close to what it is that we're doing. We're doing so much that we need somebody that's able to provide that strategy, provide that insight, tap into that it. Level of expertise so that we are able to be our best selves.

Laura Darkstar 09:25

And that's what I help people do, is figure out all of the things they don't really need to have their hands on. And so many times I hear somebody say but telling you how to do that just will take more time than it takes for me to do it myself.

And I always tell people, but if you explain it to me, once I document the procedure, you never have to do that thing again.

Gresham Harkless 09:53

Absolutely. Absolutely. And that ends up being a time saver for you. Just telling somebody again and again and again, you start adding that up. You could have just, had somebody that was an expert at what it is that they're doing.

Laura Darkstar 10:03


Gresham Harkless 10:05

Nice. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this might be an app, a book or a habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient.

Laura Darkstar 10:17

I know it's really easy to think that doing everything electronically and online is the best way to do it. But I would say, don't be afraid of using analog tools. And one of my favorite tools is called the rocket book. It's no book that has a little code on it and you can take a picture of the page once you've written on it and it uploads it to the cloud.

So it's a nice hybrid between ‘I can take notes by hand' and not have to be distracted during a client call by having some program open and typing. I can just take my notes by hand and then I can upload them right into the cloud.

Gresham Harkless 11:00

Nice. I haven't heard of that, but I definitely appreciate that best of both worlds, so to speak, to be able to write things down because I love writing myself and to be able to take a screenshot and have that into or take a snapshot of it and be able to have that into, the cloud. And so you can access that at any time.

Laura Darkstar 11:15

It's magical.

Gresham Harkless 11:17

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I expect nothing less from you. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you can hop into a time machine, what would you tell your younger business self?

Laura Darkstar 11:32

The set of services that you offer when you start can and most cases should evolve. And as you acquire new skills, add them to your offerings, but don't be afraid to drop the things that you don't enjoy as much where you start is not where you have to stay.

Gresham Harkless 11:50

Nice. And oftentimes if you hold onto those things, it's hard to go to that next level. So you do have to be able to delegate or drop things off or do those things in order for you to get to that next level.

Laura Darkstar 12:00

And a lot of times you start doing things and you decide, I don't really enjoy this piece of it or that piece of it, but you think that people expect that from you. Don't be afraid to drop things and add new skills.

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Gresham Harkless 12:17

Absolutely. That's definitely a great reminder. And I think, when you're dialed into, your zone of genius and also your mission and why you're doing what you're doing, it's easier to make those decisions.

If you know that, if you do, if you started a business to have, that work-life balance, whatever your goal or mission might be a lot of times, if you remind yourself of that, then it becomes easier to make those decisions.

Laura Darkstar 12:39


Gresham Harkless 12:40

Nice. And now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different ‘CEOs' on this show. So Laura, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Laura Darkstar 12:52

The CEO is the culture creator and the vision holder. They're really the person that everything starts and ends with them the old saying the buck stops here. And so, they hold the vision and everything trickles down from the CEO.

Gresham Harkless 13:13

Absolutely. And I think too, especially with that culture piece, because a lot of times when, you know, you might work in a certain environment, you don't necessarily like it or be part of a certain team. You don't necessarily like it, it's the exact opposite. But as the CEO, as the person who has started the business or the organization, you have, you can implement a lot of those things.

You can make changes to a lot of those things. So it's on you to create that culture, to create that vision so that not only yourself, but also the team members are able to thrive in that situation.

Laura Darkstar 13:42

And, having the vision and being able to articulate that is so important.

Gresham Harkless 13:48

Exactly. Exactly. Because everybody has to be able to understand exactly what as best as possible. And Laura, I truly appreciate your time. And what I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know.

And then, of course, how best they can hear about all the awesome things you're doing and how best to get a hold of you.

Laura Darkstar 14:08

If you're a solopreneur or a small business owner, and you're just feeling overwhelmed, we should have a conversation. And a lot of times those conversations end up with me just saying, okay, this doesn't sound like right now is the time for you. Keep in touch and we'll move on it then. And sometimes it generates a new client for me.

But I like to have those discussions and talk a little strategy. And see where the people are. And best way to reach me is I do have a contact form on my website, which is adminderella.com and you can email me laura@adminderella.com.

I'm on Facebook. I'm on Twitter. Twitter, however, does not allow anything with it with the word admin in it. So I'm actually Laura Darkstar on Twitter.

Gresham Harkless 15:05

Really never knew that. So that's interesting to know. But I appreciate you for doing all the awesome things that you're doing to help so many people shine. We will have those links for Twitter and every other social media site in the show notes as well as your website. So that people can follow up.

And, I think again, sometimes we're so close to everything. It's very hard to get a different perspective. So I appreciate you for having those conversations so that we can just do sometimes just say dive into all the things that we're juggling it and how best we may need help or may need help further down the line. So thank you so much for that.

Laura Darkstar 15:37

I'm happy to provide the platform to have people bounce ideas off me and it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be a client right now and that's okay too.

Gresham Harkless 15:52

Absolutely. Yeah, it definitely helps it get everything out sometimes. So, we will have those links in the show notes and Laura, thank you so much again for your time and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Laura Darkstar 16:03

I hope you have a really great weekend Gresh, and it has been a pleasure being here.

Outro 16:09

Thank you for listening to the IAMCEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. IAMCEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the IAMCEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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