Deirdre Breakenridge is the CEO of Pure Performance Communications, a college professor, and host of the Women Worldwide Podcast (She stays busy if it wasn’t obvious already!). She came to Don’t Panic Management because she recognized that she needed more hours in her day as she built her business.
Her biggest pain points were calendar organization and managing speaking and teaching opportunities. It was a good problem to have, but it was still a problem—she simply had more requests to field than she had working hours. There was lots to do!
“My business has a lot of moving parts. I really needed help managing my calendar and coordinating my event participation.”
Don’t Panic worked with her to understand her goals, clear her plate of immediate administrative tasks, and set up a proactive weekly cadence for managing her schedule. Soon, we were able to uncover some other areas of her business that we could help with, too.
After more than two years working together (and counting!), we’re still managing her daily communications while also producing her popular podcast, Women Worldwide. Over the years, we have also done some pinch hitting on her blog and social media channels when she needed an extra set of hands.
Before Deirdre Breakenridge started working with Don’t Panic, she was transitioning from an agency owner to a communications consulting business. She followed her passion and moved toward focusing on the work that she loved to do, but that also meant leaving many of the agency benefits behind—like working with an office manager or dedicated assistant.
“My main goal [in hiring Don’t Panic] was to have a trusted resource manage and coordinate my daily calendar and interact with clients and event coordinators so I could focus on my book writing, interviews, speaking, and growing my business.”
By removing the constraints of agency life, she thought she’d have more time and that her workload would get lighter. Instead, she found the opposite to be true. All the nitty gritty details of running a business were bogging her down. She knew it was time to get some help.
The Way Don’t Panic Helped
It was obvious: Deirdre simply needed another set of eyes and ears on the ground to sort through her inbox, act as a liaison with her contacts, and keep her calendar filled. She was bogged down in small tasks, but if we could get some of those items off her plate, she’d be able to focus on the pieces of her business she was most passionate about.
Luckily, these are things that a trained assistant is able to take on very easily with a bit of conversation.
As our working relationship evolved over the weeks and months, so did Deirdre’s goals. And with the extra hours back in her day, she was able to focus more time on building her podcast. When it got to the point where she didn’t have the resources to build it any further without some outside help, we were able to help her continue that growth.
“We’re now focused more on Women Worldwide, which is an important part of my brand and business. DPM has moved beyond just providing a VA for my daily calendar into having her coordinate all of my interviews and interact with publicists. I also use the DPM team for podcasting production. The increase in work and the goals are evolving together.”
Evolving together! Getting shit done! That’s what the DPM team is all about.
The Don’t Panic Proven Process
Don’t Panic has found that the best way to build a personalized, long-lasting relationship with our clients is through meticulous matchmaking and evaluation. Deirdre is a prime example of a client that has worked with multiple assistants throughout her time with us but hasn’t had to “start over” each time.
It can be difficult when you’ve invested months and sometimes years of time into developing a relationship with an assistant, only to get word that they’ve found another job. With a typical freelancer or employee, you’d be left back at square one. But with Don’t Panic, Deirdre’s first assistant had set up written processes based on Deirdre’s requests that made transitioning from one assistant to another as simple as a few hours of internal training for DPM and a quick introduction meeting with Deirdre.
She didn’t have to invest more time into training this new person because the handoff between DPM team members was all done for her behind the scenes.
Plus, we’ve incorporated a variety of services into her contract over the years as her needs have grown and changed (like any healthy relationship does!). For nearly six months, we managed Pure Performance Communication’s social platforms. After that time, Deirdre evaluated the process and felt that some of her internal team members were actually doing some of the same work that we were doing, so it would be easier and more streamlined to bring that work in-house. We were happy to work with her team to offload the work product and processes we’d been handling on so that her businesses social channels didn’t skip a beat.
It’s such a blast working with Deirdre because she’s flexible enough to try new things, but also knows what works best for her business. Some of the services we’ve tried needed to be handled internally, and that’s okay. Other services worked out to be very beneficial for her to outsource to DPM.
It’s our goal to serve without ego. And that means jumping in to help wherever we fit best.
The Result & ROI
Currently, Don’t Panic Management assists Deirdre with Virtual Administrative Support and full Podcast Production. We’ve been doing this work since January of 2017, though our Virtual Administrative Support days date back to February of 2015. In that time, Deirdre’s been able to write another book to add to her repertoire (launching this fall!), grow her business by 30% (at a half-year assessment), participated in developing 3 LinkedIn Learning video courses (with more to come in 2018), and has hosted the NASDAQ #PRInfluencers panel discussion series live in New York City, among many other achievements.
In our conversations, Deirdre shared with us that we’ve helped her meet her goals 100% and explains that the ROI of working with Don’t Panic has made her more relaxed, both personally and professionally.
“There is no need to panic; I know my VA has my back. I’ve also seen an increase in business and speaking opportunities as a result of my ability to focus more on these areas. I was able to write and work with my publisher to gear up for a new book launch. My VA was instrumental in keeping me organized during a very busy time.”
When asked if there was anything she’d change about working with Don’t Panic, Deirdre said, “I don’t want anything to change. I appreciate the level of accountability and communication you provide. I feel comfortable moving through the crazy highs and sometimes lows of business with you, knowing we’re a team working toward the same goals.”
We’re currently in talks to work on podcasting recording support for live events with Deirdre, which we’re super excited about. Deirdre said it best on a recent episode of Women Worldwide (that features our girl Jess Ostroff), “I do believe that what you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it. It’s a relationship. When you talk about building trust with any assistant, whether it’s a physical person who follows you around or a virtual assistant, you’re the other half of that relationship. You have to determine how much you want to give so that person on the receiving line can actually grow with you and you can do great things together, and they can be an even better resource for you.”
She took the time to build that relationship with us up front, she communicated her preferences in detail, and she helped set up systems with us from the beginning that have allowed us to make her time spent working more efficient so that she’s got more of it to lead a purposeful, independent life.
Now, that’s something to celebrate!
The Love Is Mutual
“Deirdre has always known what she wants, ever since the very beginning. She is very clear and honest with herself about what she can and cannot do to live a life she loves. I am inspired by Deirdre’s commitment to having some semblance of a work/life balance, (which is a challenge for all of us!) but I think it’s because she knows when to ask for help and how to be a fantastic manager, always providing clear instructions, feedback, and a pat on the back when it’s earned. I’m so grateful to have her as a part of our Don’t Panic family!” – Jess Ostroff, CEO & Director of Calm
“Working with Deirdre, both as a virtual assistant and as a client manager, has been spectacular. She’s never shy about expressing her opinion or her feelings, but she always does it respectfully and thoughtfully. She’s extremely caring and understanding, and she also values women in the workplace as much as we do. DPM is extremely fortunate to have Deirdre and Pure Performance Communications as a client, and we hope to continue the relationship for as long as she’ll have us.” – Jenn Hines, Chief Client Officer