A benchmark of a great leader is being honest with one's self and admitting when help is needed. I remember the moment I realized that I required additional support in order to sustain the level of productivity and exceptional work that I was producing. I knew I needed a teammate to help restore balance in my days; to manage my time, so that I could continue to excel in what I do best: create, design, and innovate for some of the most impactful brands in the world.
In the end, Belay (a virtual assistant staffing company and remote work specialist) paired me with a virtual assistant within weeks of our first conversation. Almost a year later, the partnership with my VA is going strong, so much so that I've been featured as a Belay Success Story!
Case Study: Mel Lim
Mel Lim is the founder and CEO of Maspira Groupe, which, over the last 15 years, has helped some of the world’s greatest companies create sustainable, profitable growth through innovation. From private equity to Fortune 500, their expertise is both broad and deep, spanning a vast set of sectors, industries, regions, and offerings.
As an award-winning global growth strategist and serial entrepreneur, Mel Lim stays busy – and keeps a countless rotation of irons in the fire.
Because beyond being the founder and CEO of the Maspira Groupe, her international background in architecture design strategy has propelled her success as an author, prominent keynote speaker, and member of several advisory boards.
She has, essentially, built her brand on the premise of crafting innovative experiences through mindfulness.
But at times, her growing success precluded her from being present in her life.
“I remember reaching out [to BELAY] in December 2019,” Mel says. “I was working a 100- to 120-hour workweek and at the same time, managing the children – and it was the holidays.
“And I knew at that time that I really needed help,” she continues. “It was really, truly time. I was working at 2, 4 in the morning, and then I had to get up at 6 a.m. to get the kids ready.
“We were celebrating Christmas at my sister’s for a week – and she was really nagging. She said, ‘You’re here, but you’re not really here. You’re working nonstop,’” Mel shares.
And while Mel had other assistants, none was the right fit – so she would do things herself because it was easy and fast. But, she admits, she was spending time on things that weren’t the best use of her time and didn’t enjoy.
Scheduling alone was taking huge chunks of time – time she didn’t have to spare.
So on Christmas, she emailed three agencies searching for a virtual assistant – and BELAY replied the next day.
“I thought, ‘OK. There you go. That lady gets me.’ So we talked on the 26th [of December],” Mel says. “I was very excited. And I realized that the other agencies didn’t even respond to me until four or five days later – but [BELAY and I] were already having a conversation about getting help.”
Mel was paired with Angie – and they haven’t looked back.
Their first order of business? Getting Mel’s schedule under control.
“Managing my schedule is a big task,” Mel says. ”Now, we’re syncing the kids’ schedule with my schedule, my clients’ schedule, [Angie’s] schedule. It’s so wonderful to have that because if not, I’d spend 2-3 hours every Sunday night just coordinating everything.
“And now, I just pass it on to her and she’s guarding my time. And it has made me really effective in using the time that I have.”
Then, it was on to everything else that consumed Mel’s time – but wasn’t the best use of her time.
“We both sat down and figured out what she could do to help alleviate some of the stress,” Mel shares.
Though admittedly, it took Mel some time to let go.
“In the beginning, I was reluctant because I’m so used to doing it all on my own,” she admits. “So I gave her little bits, little bits, little bits because trust has to be earned over time. But she gets me; she gets that I’m OCD. I have all these high expectations; I don’t accept mediocrity.
“And she gets all of that.”
Angie was quick to recognize Mel’s high standards and took the initiative to implement and enforce those standards.
“English is not my first language, so it’s great that I have someone who’s so good at writing. So then I’ll just do a brain dump and she’ll craft such beautiful sentences for me,” Mel adds. “That helped me really focus on the actual work itself, knowing she’s going to look out for these things.”
“It’s been an accumulative experience,” Mel says. “You don’t really see it until you start realizing that it all adds up. At the end of the 45 hours a month, you start to realize that, ‘Wow. In the past, I spent all that time doing stuff that I should have been delegating.’”
“I still have urgency, but I’m not as stressed out; I know that it’s planned because she’s really very good at guarding my time,” Mel says.
“She’s made me a better leader. I’ve always prided myself in terms of time management but now, Angie keeps me accountable,” Mel adds. “I’ll say things like, ‘Perhaps I should take that coffee meeting’ and then she’ll be like, ‘Well, tomorrow you have this’ – just to remind me, but in a very gentle way. It’s made things very clear for me – like where I should be spending the time to engage.
“I love that honesty and having a partner to keep this balance.”