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Tyrone: All right, welcome to the Internet Podcast with Chris Ducker and Tyrone Shum
on the Tyroneshum.com blog. It's a real pleasure to be able to have Chris on the call today,
he's our special guest. I wanted to share with you today on the call a little bit more
about what Chris does because he's a real expert in the outsourcing field and it's really
interesting to be able to see because he's living in the Philippines, what's he's currently
doing out there and how he's been able to achieve excellent and growing massive business
there. So, welcome Chris to the call!
Chris: And hello Tyrone, how are you?
Tyrone: Good, I'm good.
Chris: Very good.
Tyrone: Well, firstly I wanted to start off with you just sharing your story with the
audience and letting the people know what you currently do also why you're living in
the Philippines. Yeah, what's your story?
Chris: Okay, I'll give you in a nutshell because it's approaching 40 years in terms of a life
story. So aha, I'll give you in a nutshell -- 20 years in business, majority around
the telemarketing industry and 12 years ago I came out to Asia. I started working originally
in Hongkong in the film industry over there doing film distribution. Then I stumbled across
to the Philippines, beautiful islands of the Philippines for a long weekend and I kind
of fell in love with the place to be honest with you. Came back, made some good friends,
and did some consulting work 5 years ago. That was 10 years ago when I first eventually
came to the Philippines and 5 years ago I opened up my own company and started to build
things up from the ground out there. We are seven people when we started including myself
and my wife and now we have about 213 like that, I think all close to it something along
Tyrone: Okay, I'm going to ask you, what enticed you to move or I should say you cam right
into the Philippines. That's a major move and major change in your lifestyle.
Chris: Yeah, I mean because I've been traveling across Asia quite frequently in quite couple
of years and I was working in and out Hongkong quite a bit. I guess I probably got the bug
for Asia more than anything else because I didn't just went to Hongkong. I went over
to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and when you're in Asia it's quite easy to travel around
as you probably know. I got to the point where there was a couple of personal circumstances
back in the U.K. that were quite life-changing events for me and I felt "You know what, I'm
going to just screw it for a bit and see what happens..." and I was very, very lucky to
get some great 2-3 years of great consultancy work over here based over in Manila and eventually
I stumbled across Cebu City which is where I'm based full-time now with HSBC. They hired
me to come over and basically train the telemarketers here, work with a telemarketing team. The
rest is a little bit of history as I say, I guess.
Tyrone: That's amazing. So you've been there now for at least 5 years. You've known this
area for the last 10 years or so. Over the last 5 years, what have you accomplished in
terms of your business and share with the audience exactly what this business is as
Chris: Well fundamentally, we're an outsourcing company. We work in 3 major fields which is
customer service so all of those sort of overtaking 100 numbers of inbound work, we also do quite
a bit of telemarketing -- lead generation, appointment setting, database cleansing, surveys
those sorts of stuff and probably for the last couple of years, we've been quite focused
on the virtual assistant aspect of outsourcing. But you know it's a lot more than the freelancing
stuff where they work on home based stuff obviously. They have this huge infrastructure
that we have, the facility, and everything that goes with that. At that part of the business
actually is the one that's truly when you look at it seat-by-seat, client-based client
ratio, that's the one that's grown fast than anything else for the last couple of years.
But the telemarketing probably still has the lead a little bit on everything else that
we do. We're kind of known in telemarketing and sort of lead generation and things like
that. But I mean yeah, when we started out 5 years ago, we've started doing nothing but
telemarketing because it's new and simple. Even though, I had been in contact centers
and call centers areas in the Philippines for training purposes for consultancy and
management work and things like that, I knew the industry and I knew the outsourcing world.
I've been involved in it ever pretty much since the day I arrived in the country 10
years ago but it wasn't like I said around in the middle of 2000, middle of 2005 where
I decided, "Wait a minute, there's way too much money being laid in this luck and I need
to get involve with this." We literally started off with 7 members of staff, we had facility
which was good for around 30 but we only built desks for about 15 of them. You know literally,
8 weeks later, we're building extra 15 desks and then free mums into it, we got 30 people
working for us. We actually started as a pretty smally outsourcing company for about a year
and a half or so. There's no more than 50 people working for us for a while. It was
nice because we were still kind of finding a way a little bit, we're still learning how
to market ourselves properly and things like that. We fast-forward 5 years later, we now
have 3 floors in the building where we are and like I said almost 220 people are working
for us so it's moving very quickly in the last few years. The last 3 years seem a real
major growth force and it's been a rollercoaster I can tell you. It's not simple running a
growing organization in the Philippines, it's a tough country to do business in with regards
to people might say about it being paralyzed to work like "Yes, I'm 30 minutes away from
the beach, and the resorts are beautiful, the waters are crystal-clear and the fishes
are gorgeous and all the rest of it..." but if you're doing business on a global scale
based here, it's a slightly different board game. You know when we're talking about a
little bit before you hit the record button. It's not as easy as most people think particularly
when you're talking about several hundred people working for you, it's a touch caper
Tyrone: Exactly, you know I'm just dealing with one or two people and you said you're
dealing with couple of hundred people.
Chris: Yeah, indeed.
Tyrone: I think a lot of people I think will be actually curious about jumping from around
50 to say 200 people in that span of time. Did you get the demand first before you decided
to fill the seats or was it like basically you said "Okay, we're looking to target at
growing at this pace. I need to get these seats put in there..." Which was it?
Chris: Sure, like I said when we first setup, we had a relatively small area on the 5th
floor building which is now where my own personal office where I'm sitting at right now. That
space was good for 30, we've expanded it to about good for about 60 after about 8 or 9
months being in the business. Then we filled it up like I said we basically stayed at that
sort or level for about a year and a half to 3 years or so. I think we went from 60
to about a hundred. We're very lucky we're in a building where the landlord's contract
we had it written that he would give us first that we use on any space in the building.
It was a relatively old building about 10 years old but the infrastructure is great,
cable wires everything like that. But we're actually above the number 1 high-end dealership
in the entire country -- it's a 5-story building and the first story has obviously nothing
but cars. Right?
Chris: So it's a very easy place. You know when we have clients coming to visit us they
say, "How do I find your office?" and we say "It's in blah, blah street..." then they'll
say "Where the hell is that?" Just get in a taxi and tell him it's like a high-end building,
and they're able to find it. It's a very big showroom.
Tyrone: Just make sure your virtual staff don't go downstairs and start to testdrive
cars and put on their credit cards.
Chris: That's right, exactly. They got them locked up pretty good. It was something that
was planned I think in every major growth step. You know we consistently have seats
empty waiting to be filled. We build out and then fill them up, build out a little bit
more and fill them up. So went from the 5th floor which was a relatively small area and
we took the entire 3rd floor which was kind of our own showroom I guess where we have
the lobby, conference room, training room, chill-out lounge for the staff, the pantry
area and then the entire floor has all the servers down there, everything's there. Then,
we also then took about free calls on the second floor for additional calling space
and VA space as well. It's slowly but surely, we got about 40 seats empty right now. I mean
they'll be filled by the end of the year, but easy, easy.
Tyrone: That's interesting because what we are going to probably talk about is I want
to jump over to your blog that you've created called the Virtual Business Lifestyle. This
is how Chris and I actually met, I contacted Chris through the Virtual Business Lifestyle
blog and also I think I sent you a message on FaceBook and Twitter as well. We got in
contact and we started chatting and this is how we came across the interview. But it was
very interesting because we complemented each other very well, we are both in the outsourcing
field and we like to teach people and we also have very much similar mindset. What I wanted
to ask as well for the audience is to ask you what inspired you to create this blog
Chris: My wife, actually.
Tyrone: Okay, that's interesting.
Chris: As with most lucky guys say you know usually there's usually this decent woman
behind all or to the side of them and sometimes in front. But no, I mean leading the way,
leading the bloody way right? Come on, this isn't a family production we're talking about.
Tyrone: Family channel, yes.
Chris: Terrible, basically you've completely lost me now. But okay, it was my wife's idea
to start a blog and it was basically, it came about because last year, I think it was around
the end of the first quarter I started my blog ChrisDucker.com which is now no more.
But I started talking about anything and everything you can think of. Following one of the most
successful posts on the blog was about outsourcing -- what it is, how it works, how to do it,
how to not do it. It was quite months to post, there's good couple of thousand words. But
usually when they get a long blog post like that usually people are like "Geez, I'm not
going to read all that, that's insane." But it became very popular, there were about 70
or 80 comments on there by the time I took it off, I mean that's sort of period of months.
But I mean that for a blog that has come out from nowhere, it became quite popular.
Chris: I noticed that all of the posts that I've been putting on there that were in relation
to creating more free lifestyle but still revolving around business so you can make
money and living more of virtual kind of life, been able to travel while seamlessly at work
and things like that, I noticed it was those particular posts that were showing all real
interest on the blog. I did a post about how I did a fantastic experience in Starbucks
with my son and the staff at Starbucks. I love writing that blog post because it was
very close to my heart but I've had like 5 comments on it. That was a very popular blog
post and I thought it was great! But tt didn't quite float with the audience. The bottom-line
here is that those kind of posts became more popular and so we sat down over Christmas
period and I was sort of strategizing a little bit for this year for growth, things like
that and making some key-highs. It just sort of went into one thing that led to another
and she said to me, "You know what you should do, you should create a site where you're
giving away advice, starting discussions and a community where people can come and talk
about that kind of lifestyle design and still revolving around business but with a real
heavy twist on outsourcing and virtual staff and things like that because that's what I
do, that's what I know." It's kind of hit me and I was just "Okay, what am I going to
call it?" She came up with the name, she came up with everything. It was quite ironic because
I've been involved to marketing and sales, branding in my whole career and I didn't come
up with a single thing so it was all down to her. Honey, if you're watching, thank you.
Tyrone: It's always them. They're always gearing us good values.
Chris: We shouldn't really tell them so much right? That will create problems at some point.
But no, it just managed the snowboard. We've launched it in the middle of we're up to where
week away from being 6 months old and it's just spoiled. I've been interviewed by so
many people and I get asked literally daily to do guest posts for people and things like
that. The big thing surrounding the blog is my goal for this year and that was the main
focus when we launched it. I launched it with a video post and told everybody about my 2000-thing
goal. A lot of people have quite a few goals that they want to achieve every year but I
wanted to put together the mother of all goals and that is to completely and actually remove
myself from this brick-and-mortar business on a day-to-day basis and become a full-time
virtual CEO by the end of this year. Without giving the entire giveaway because no one
will come and visit the blog otherwise. The bottom-line is I've broken the goals down
to month by month miniature goals. We tried to achieve and in fact actually I'm 3 weeks
ahead of June so far and slowly but surely it's developing. The one big major requirement
for this goal to be hit is for me to hire another foreigner, another expat as we call
them here in the Philippines. Predominantly, they have to be American because 80% of all
marketers are Americans and once I hire that one person, the rest is just icing on a cake
really. Once I've got that person, I can become fundamentally do whatever I do everyday here
myself and I can leave. I may hit the goal sooner if I can find that person, I don't
Tyrone: That is great. I mean looking at replacing yourself is something that I think a lot of
people want to be able to achieve. If you can achieve it in the scale of your business,
there's a huge market out there who wants to be able to follow your footsteps. I'm for
one who's really, really excited because I've been following your goals as well. It's just
really interesting to be able to learn so much from it. I'm sort of on the small scale
of things but I'm still quite happy with what I've got and achieved here. For people who
want to achieve what Chris' doing, this is a fantastic way to be able to learn how he's
done it. This is a real inspiration to be able to learn straight from you because you're
doing what you do, you know you walk your footsteps and you really do what you talk
Chris: But on the blog itself just so for your viewers, now on the blog itself, there
are actually monthly reports for the dues at the end of every month where I talk about
what I did that month to get myself one step closer to that ultimate goal. And when I say
virtual, I mean completely virtual -- I don't want this chair, I don't want this nice office,
I don't want a place that is Chris' place in this building for my company. I want to
come in the office once a week for a 2-hour management meeting and that's it. The rest
of the time, I'll work out of my home office so I'm completely setup at home as well so
I work out of my home office and anywhere else I want to. That's the whole deal.
Tyrone: Exactly. Do you see yourself as well once you've created this virtual CEO, what
do you see yourself doing once you've get yourself out of the business and working less?
Chris: Absolutely nothing. No, I'm just joking. I would go stuck crazy doing nothing everyday.
Tyrone: I can see that already.
Chris: I understand when people say "You know if I'm going to sell my own company, I'm going
to get $10 million, I'm not doing anything for the rest of my life..." and I'm like how
boring life crap is that? I mean it's just so crap, why would you want to do that? I
have a couple of business interests that I don't really focus on right now that I would
like to focus on to see what I can make off them. They don't really making a whole lot
of money but they do okay but I also have a lot of plans for the online world in producing
very high quality information products for aspiring lifestyle designers and virtual boxers,
things like that. They really all obviously, they're not happening this year. I'm actually
going to launch a brand new service in July which will bridge the gap between the service
provided virtual staff and the freelancing virtual staff. It will bridge the gap perfectly
in regards to the uneasiness and unreliable kind of factual work from freelancers from
time to time. We're completely eliminating that sort of stuff and I can't get to much
more about it but we're still finalizing it. When the time comes, I'll tell you about it
so you can let your guys know.
Chris: But the bottom-line is that's the one online project that we're launching and probably
I think I'm about halfway through an e-book in regards to the work of a virtual staff
as well which is a very condensed e-book, it's not one of those waffling e-books which
are 120 pages long and it looks pretty, things like that. It will still look pretty but it
won't be 120 pages long. To be honest with you it's priceless, I can be literally giving
it away to give people the opportunity to learn from it a little bit. But there's going
to be a lot of different things and that's the whole point about versifying your income
and creating several strings of passive income which is part of the process for the Virtual
Business Lifestyle and we'll see what happens. I'm a pretty flexible fellow and I'm not one
of those guys who are sort of rigid who knows what he does in business. There's no right
or wrong way, there's only your way to do business. That's why I think you mentioned
you're quite happy with what you're doing right now, the money you're making and the
way you're living your life and your success. You're already a success.
Tyrone: Everybody has got their own definitions of success and it doesn't mean you're going
to get other people's approval. As long as you're happy within your own life, you could
be making $500 a week living the lifestyle that you enjoy.
Tyrone: I know that there are plenty of people doing that as well. There are people who can
make million dollars in a year and I'm happy so you have to look at what success has defined
you not other people's successes. Absolutely you're creative with that one.
Chris: Absolutely, yep.
Tyrone: Are you interested in going back in the U.K or in the U.S. once you create this
virtual business lifestyle or virtual CEO. Or do you plan to stay in the Philippines?
Chris: Full time? Probably not, to be frank with you. I do want to spend a little bit
more time in the United States mainly for business reasons. I get over there once a
year pretty religiously and I'm usually there for about a month at the time when I'm there.
For the last year, I've actually been taking and I'm going to quote Mr. Ferriss here. I've
been taking mini, what do you call these...mini retirements where I've been doing a month
here and there. I've really enjoyed them and I've also found that even though I'm exposed
to those mini retirements, I've been incredibly productive in that kind of setting so I wanted
to do a little bit more traveling with my family as well and we'll see what happens.
As for going back full time, I mean for the U.K. absolutely not, no way. The U.K. now
is a completely different country to the one that I grew up in and enjoyed growing up in.
You know when I go back there now and I find myself shaking my head and you ask anybody,
anybody in my age in the U.K. would say exactly the same thing. If they not, if they can't
say exactly the same thing, they are either blinds or deaf or they're just mental phased
because the place is just going to crap, it really is. It's not the same country. Look,
I'm English and I'm patriotic and I'm very true in the lands of tomorrow and things like
that, but the bottom-line is that I would not want to live in the U.K. full-time again,
I wouldn't want to do it. Both myself and my wife enjoy the U.S. and we are eyeing San
Francisco or L.A. one of the two
Chris: And there maybe a little good quality six to eight weeks at the beginning in next
year. We'll also probably do a month in England as well and we'll see what else happens, there
you go. But that month would be July/August month. That would be the whole months.
Tyrone: That's a nice practical advice there so you're not coming back there.
Chris: No. We'll spoil here in the Philippines, you know the weather is beautiful all the
time and we'll completely spoil.
Tyrone: Well you're lucky, it's freezing here today. It's been freezing for the last few
months and that way, it keeps you in bed. But if some of those comes around, they'll
definitely come under Australia, it's a nice place. Check it out as well.
Chris: You know what, I always want to come around there, I just never get around to it.
I'm only 8, 9 hours away from it or whatever it is...
Chris: I know, and it's just as easy to get on a plane. Get Sydney, or Perth or wherever
anybody then it is getting on a plane going to Hongkong or anywhere else. It's just slightly
long and a little bit expensive but I will have to do Australia actually. I've never
done it, I have always wanted to so you know maybe you can pick me up from the airport.
Tyrone: Yeah, whenever that happens. Sounds good. All right, I want to sort of go on to
a little bit more to helping and giving some valuable content, not that we haven't been
giving a lot of content today but for anyone who's starting out in their internet business
and who are looking to outsource as well, what three tips of advice can you give to
people who are looking to outsource to say, Philippines and looking to create a business
lifestyle like yourself?
Chris: Three tips...okay, there's really two major ways to be able to outsource to the
Philippines. The first one is with a provider like our company, somebody who's setup in
a relatively large building with a great infrastructure, management all the rest of it, and then you
can outsource in a freelance way. I think probably a lot of people are going to be watching
this and visit your blog as well as mine to be very frank, I'll probably going to be more
leaning towards the freelancing because it's a cheaper version quite frankly, plain and
simple. So we'll focus on that one otherwise I'll just be waffling on like "Yeah, get the
freelancer stuff..." so that's what I'll focus on. When you work with a freelancer, there
are three major tips that I usually give out. The first one is make sure that you make your
expectations of your virtual assistant very clear in terms of the way you want work done,
the way you want it produced, I mean I'm talking about the details, I'm a detail-freak. Write
the way down to what font you use, what size of the font you use, everything because ultimately
you may have to spend a little bit of time to going through those specifics and being
clear in those things at the beginning but ultimately you don't have to correct them
all the time. Correcting somebody at a distance particularly through on different time zone,
it's a lot harder and time consuming than it is if you're registered in the same office
where you can talk to each other on the same desks. I have a luxury of having a personal
assistant here in the office literally on the other side of world over there, she's
spectacular. But I also actually hire and work with two virtual assistants who have
not anything to do with the company. The reason why I do that and the main reason why I started
it is because I wanted to experience the freelancer route myself. So I know what I'm talking about
when I'm talking to the readers' blog and things like that. But as time has progressed
for both of those, I mean working with them for about four months now, I now utilize them
very heavily every single day. They both on a full-time payroll for me and they're both
fantastic. Finally enough, they're both actually here in Cebu so I do get to meet them and
I buy them pizza or ice cream stuffs like that and everybody's happy. Getting back to
the question, the first one is being real clear on your expectations, the second one
is when you're working with tasks is to put timelines in place because if you don't, nothing's
really prioritized. You'll find that VAs do need that kind of guidance, really heavily
in terms of timelines. You're not just giving them one task a day, you can give them several
tasks then there's going to be what I call revolving tasks that they do everyday --
be it comment on blogs for you, or send tweets on your behalf or whatever the case maybe.
So you have to with any major project or any major tasks, you have to put timelines in
place. The third one is very simple -- pay them on time.
Tyrone: I like that one.
Chris: As simple as that. Telling you right now in the Philippines particularly with the
freelancing virtual assistants that I've met, I mean I've done seminars for them so I've
met hundreds of freelancing VAs over here, everything from admin assistants to web programmers.
The number one break with virtual assistants in the Philippines is getting paid late because
here this is not about generally building a career. It's about job security, job stability
and you know a week before payday is here, they've already spent the month. They're giving
this to the sister for college, they're giving this to their mothers for the rent, and it
really is. You pay a Filipino late man, I'm telling you, and they'92re not going to stick
around very long. Plain and simple.
Tyrone: I know that and that happens generally in any industry. I've been working with trades
people, they love it when you pay on time especially when I was running my other Dragonboat
business, since I paid on my supplies on time, I'll get the deliveries right and expected.
Tyrone: It's the same relationship. It's big, big thing and make sure you look over you
staff and pay them on time.
Chris: That's it. We actually have virtual assistants who've worked with Live2Sell and
who's virtual bosses are say in the U.S. or in the U.K. whatever and you would be surprised
and this is actually down to me telling our clients to do these types of things because
it does keep all VAs happy and with us instead of working with another company is that I
say to them, "After you've developed a relationship with them, after they do a really good job
on a major task or major project for you, don't just say thank you, yes say thank you
but do it in a way that they really are going to remember." We've had flowers delivered
at the office, we've had FedEx packages with books and DVDs, and we've actually had, we
actually had one and I swear it's true. I asked the guy if I could do a press release
about it because it's just a PR magic but you would never let me do it. We actually
had a relationship between a virtual boss and the VA developed so enrich that he asked
his VA to be present at his wife's birth via Skype. I swear. The reason why is because
the VA actually was a registered nurse here in the Philippines, back in the nursing industry
to come and work in a call center environment. Because the boss himself was traveling all
the time, she developed quite a relationship and quite a rapport with the wife. She talked
about the kid's schooling, doing this and doing that and all sorts of stuff. So quite
a relationship built up and she was there for the birth.
Tyrone: Wow, that's...
Chris: That's probably ultimate conclusion for the birth. It was a U.S. client I wasn't
on the shift that night but I do remember several of the staff laughing and joking about
it the next day and saying, "Why can't I do things like that, that's just an easy job."
Being in the buzz, you know what I mean.
Tyrone: Oh, that is amazing, that's fantastic. What you shared is definitely called a laugh
Chris: Laughed 5 years in business, if you don't have few stories like that you tell
them you haven't done a very good job in business right?
Tyrone: Exactly, I'm pretty sure, there'll be more stories to come which we'll share
to the audience another time. I think we should probably even one podcast story after story.
Chris: Just a story? Story time with Tyrone!
Tyrone: That's excellent. All right Chris, I wanted to wrap this up now and let the audience
know that they can still get in contact with you. You seem to be someone who's very easy
to talk to which I found going to know you over this short period of time. How will people
get in contact with you Chris?
Chris: You can invite them on the blog, plain and simple it's VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com.
You can also find me on Twitter and FaceBook, and you can get all the links on the YouTube
channel. I do quite a bit video posting and things like that. Actually if you guys are
interested in virtual assistance out there on your readership, I have 10 video clips,
very short and condensed about 2 minutes each that I shot on a beautiful paradise here called
Boracay at the beginning of the year -- my top ten virtual assistant video tips and you
can find them on YouTube. But just go to my blog VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com and everything
else is there.
Tyrone: I'll definitely put that as links down the bottom and insert. I'll make sure
people will get them.
Tyrone: It's a pleasure to be able to do this podcast interview with you and I hope that
the audience has benefited quite a lot from this. Thanks very much again Chris.
Chris: No problem.
Tyrone: If anyone wants to find anymore podcasts out or listening to anything similar to this,
just go to Tyroneshum.com. My name is Tyrone Shum from Tyroneshum.com. Have a great day
and catch up soon!