Reneé Clair (@im_reneeclair) is a productivity consultant who helps entrepreneurs lighten their workloads so they can have more time and energy and make more money.
In this episode, Bobby talks with Reneé about her journey from an AI skeptic to embracing what it can do for entrepreneurs. Reneé shares specific examples of how business owners can use existing tools like ClickUp, ChatGPT, Perplexity, Copy.ai and more to systemize operations, analyze data, automate tasks, and be more productive.
Bobby: So could you tell our listeners a little bit about you and what your company does?
Reneé: Hey everybody. My name is Reneé Clair. I am The Productive Wellnesspreneur. My main mission is to help entrepreneurs lighten their workloads so they can have more time and energy and make more money while enlightening the lives of the people they help.
Bobby: What is the overall journey that customers take with you from not knowing you exist to becoming raving fans?
Reneé: First, they usually find me either on Instagram or word of mouth.And they’re usually just curious. They’re like, who is this productivity coach that keeps talking about putting self care first? And what does Self care have to do with productivity?
So people end up going into my Instagram and hanging out with me there. And then they start to realize that, although she has a yoga and meditation background and she talks, in kind of this yogic way, she also teaches really practical tips. Anything from time management to using certain software that help people with their businesses. And then from there, they usually are curious even more and book a call with me to see if they can work with me. And along the way, most of the time, they end up going to one of my many webinars. And my famous one tends to be on goal setting, which you all will hear more about in the new year.
So I’ve got webinars and workshops and then I do one to one coaching. That’s actually where I think that I make the biggest impact for the impact makers that I serve. And so I also have something called CEO Days where we sit down for about four hours and I help people go from nothing to having super aligned goals to creating an actionable plan for three months to achieve the goal. And it’s been so incredible to see people really thrive in their business and make more money and just feel good with how they’re spending their time and showing up in their life overall with their partners and kids.
Bobby: I’d love to dig into the perspective that you have working with so many different CEOs. What are you finding that CEOs and business leaders are really struggling with most right now when it comes to productivity and getting the most out of their days?
Reneé: I’ve worked with a ton of entrepreneurs, whether they’re solopreneurs or whether, they’re in small businesses making over seven figures. And what I see along the way, it doesn’t matter where a person is on their process, but it’s really honing in on operations and setting the foundation of success for their businesses and or getting their teams to learn operation principles and or processes to see success.
Bobby: I really want to scratch my own itch here because this last year or two has really been about being more systemized and being more about process. So hopefully by asking you this question, it will also help other people listening. How do you know when to put processes in place? And let me give you some context here. So the problem that I’ve had in the past was that I would create different processes. And then I would, because my memory isn’t the best, I would forget they even exist. I would forget to look for them. They wouldn’t be top of mind. So how do you go about creating processes? And then how do you continually use those processes to the max?
Reneé: Oh, that’s a really, really great question.
So I think that sometimes so many of us, at least when we’re solopreneurs, we’re just relying on our memory to do things. And I think the biggest time to stop and create a process and or slow down and document your process is when you’re inviting a new software into your business. So like a lot of us, when we start off as solopreneurs, we’re writing an email directly in a software, like MailChimp or sending it directly from Gmail. Let’s say, okay, you want to advance and you want to, use HubSpot, which I love, then that’s probably a good time to say, okay, wait a minute, let me backtrack here.
What is my process exactly when it comes to writing an email. We talked about ads earlier, Bobby, before we started this interview. And so, for me, depending on the social media platform, there’s all kinds of different confusing steps to create an ad. So it’d be a great time to document all that. Go back to getting comfortable with the process, and so you can set it and leave it. But I do recommend people revisit their SOPs once a quarter, or at least once a year, just to tidy things up. And that way you can have all that information there, especially if it’s time to hire a new person. You just hand it off to them, and they take over, and it’s pretty seamless.
Bobby: So it sounds like getting into a rhythm in terms of checking your, I would say, maybe library of processes and SOPs.
Reneé: I work with a lot of super smart very creative, very passionate people. For those people who aren’t as operationally focused, could you talk us through what are some of the signs that you should be using processes when you’re not? Like what should you be looking for that, oh, this is a problem that I need to address?
Yes. Yes, I’ve been there too. Shout out to all of my majorly creative people. I love working with you because you all have the skills that I don’t have. So working with your operations person could be super magical, right? But some of the signs that I see when there aren’t SOPs in place is a sense of frustration and a sense that your team isn’t understanding you. Right?
That there’s something that’s not clear or people are providing you with work that you’re like, well, wait a minute. They just missed the mark. It’s like the opposite of taking it personal. Rather than holding someone else responsible and thinking it’s their fault. They don’t know what they’re doing. Usually we come back to that, old saying: it’s not a people thing, it’s a process thing, right? And so when we can uncover that, wait a minute, we’re having miscommunication. There’s conflict. We’re missing deadlines. If people aren’t understanding my needs, usually then that’s a good sign to create an SOP to kind of wipe out the personal stuff that comes up for us and just keep things objective. Or revisiting that if you have an SOP and you’re like, someone missed the mark. There could be a really big step or there could be new software that was left out. So those SOPs are honestly, they’re like continuous training guidelines and it can always help your team sync back up together.
Bobby: I imagine it’s easier to have SOPs followed and have people be successful with those SOPs when it’s more administrative or more black and white. But how do you think about SOPs and following processes when the role is more creative, like a copywriter or a designer?
Reneé: Oh, yeah. Oh, my goodness. Those tend to be a little barren. Rather than step by step things you can have certain steps like a copywriter writes it, goes to someone else for a review, there’s either another round of edits or an approval process, and someone else comes to edit it. You can have something super generic like that and just take out the extra steps. But also think about, what’s the objective, what’s the scope? And so you can even turn to that and just say, okay, for copywriting, the scope ismaybe outlining tone. And so there can be other things that you do that isn’t just like, okay, here’s the process, but like, here’s what we are agreeing to, almost like an agreement. Okay, you promised me three rounds in this tone of voice and turnaround time is three days. Or something like that.
Bobby: Yeah, I like, giving them the scope, giving the parameters around it and not making it so cookie cutter for those creative roles.
Reneé: Yeah, I’ve learned that for sure with creatives, the more that you box someone in, the less that they perform well. Because they just need that space and time to produce something brilliant for the world.
Bobby: As a sort of creative person myself. How resistant I used to be to structure because I had this idea that I just need my full creative self. But the problem is that the nuts and bolts that compose, 70 to 80 percent of something takes up so much mind share and so much of that mental energy that if you can standardize that, that leaves that 20 percent that you can really go all in on.
Like you would be so proud of the, I use Lucidchart and I just mapped out the entire, swim lane diagram with all these different roles and the process that it goes through. It’s a whole process diagram. I was like, Oh, this actually makes my life so much easier. Especially as a small business owner, because I get to go here are the different hats that I’m wearing and all the different stages and it makes a lot easier to know when I need to be the creative person and when I need to just be the administrator, just getting things done.
Reneé: Yes. Amen. A plus, first of all. And I love that you brought up Lucid because there isn’t just a one size fits all for creating an SOP. You know, I’m a very wordy person as everyone can probably tell. So I enjoy a GDoc. However I’ve also been creating SOPs, especially for my team, in video form. So Loom or Awesome Screenshot has a way that you can, record your screen. And if you want to put it back into word form, you can grab a transcript and then you can do Lucid, you can do a Miro board. There’s lots of different things that you can do. So if you don’t want to be confined, to a G doc, think of other creative ways that, will make it more fun.
Bobby: Yeah, I think for people who have heard of SOPs before, you think of like a corporate,Word document. Very boring and structured. And kind of just so uninteresting if you’re like a creative entrepreneur type. So yeah, that’s a really good way of thinking about it. There are different ways via video or a whiteboard or something like that to communicate those ideas and that structure in a more interesting way.
So I think we have to talk about it, nearing the end of 2023 here AI. So I know you have been playing around a little bit with AI and its use in terms of operations. I know certainly I read a lot and explore a lot in terms of content creation and copywriting. But I would love to hear the other side of things and where is being used in terms of operations and productivity.
Reneé: it’s a wild west out here, you guys. But you know, what’s fascinating, the more that I dive into AI, the more I realize, okay, there’s been a lot of this already. We just didn’t call it this. We’re just sort of repackaging it and making it shiny and new and adding more features. Do you agree with that Bobby?
Bobby: I agree. Absolutely. As I was preparing for this conversation, I realized, you know, I edit these podcast episodes using a program called Descript. And they have AI built in. It’s not like what you think of as the new AI with ChatGPT and stuff like that. But it removes the filler words and it removes the gaps. Like that’s all AI kind of in the backend processing that for you and really speeding up your workflow. But it’s funny how much it’s already seeped in to things, even like just Google searches. It’s been there for years.
Reneé: Yeah, it’s interesting and scary. But honestly, I’m trying to use the AI powers for good and see, okay, what have I been missing and how can I make my business run more efficiently as well as help my clients businesses run more efficiently. And so one of the neat things that I’ve discovered is being integrated into software that already exists, in particular for task management software. So I can tell my task manager software. I personally use ClickUp. A lot of my clients use Asana. And now I can say, okay, this is what this task is about. It will create a longer description for me. It will ask me more questions. It’ll fill in a title. It will even create subtasks, which is pretty incredible, and even recommend a due date.
And so that’s pretty cool, because normally I just do all from my brain. So I’m discovering like, okay, this is creepy, but I can save way more time. And it’s actually fairly accurate. So I highly recommend, anyone that has task management software, project management software to go in and see if that features there and play with it. And see if that can save you time with your workload. And also the people that you work with when you’re assigning things to them.
Bobby: That’s awesome. I need to play around with that. I haven’t played around at all with the ClickUp AI features yet, but that’s really exciting if it could, help me be more efficient. I really love the perspective of AI as helping to get the most out of me.
One of the ways I use AI is just, in a lot of ways, the answer is already inside of me. I just need help getting it. And so I like to use this prompt with ChatGPT where it’s like, here’s my thinking. I want you to use the Socratic method and challenge my thinking and ask me these tough questions and challenge me. And I find that a really useful way of just addressing things and getting things out of my head. Because it’s already there. It’s just helping me get the most out of myself.
Reneé: Yeah, I have yet to use the Socratic method. I keep hearing people talk about it. I’m like, oh my gosh, I need to go in and play with this. So thank you for reminding me. But I agree. There’s so many things that I personally do as an employee or contractor for my clients. The other day I had a couple of colleagues that were offline and I’m here, the operations manager. And so I was just like, you know what, I’m going to jump in to ChatGPT and ask it to help me create an AR, which is an automated response email, or confirmation email. And that was brilliant because I was like, okay, we’ve never done that before, but it’s lining up with everything else. And, what’s been fun to play with as well: creating graphics and using Dall-E or there’s Midjourney to create these images from things that you described. You don’t have to like surf on the web or go to Shutterstock anymore. That’s pretty rad.
Bobby: Yeah. Midjourney has been so impressive. The image that it comes up with.
Reneé: Yeah, they’re stunning images, everybody. Highly recommend you go check it out. Dall-E seems to be a little more affordable, and that’s through ChatGPT. I kind of keep finding myself, like, hanging out with ChatGPT. But on a personal front, for me as a project manager, I’ve actually been chatting with ChatGPT and saying, Hey, I have this project coming up. Can you help me outline it and set up due dates? And it’ll do project management for you guys. And it’ll create a table if you ask it to. And so everything’s right there at your fingertips. And it’s like hours and weeks that you might’ve spent like preparing for a project, like just at a snap. It’s just clear as day.
Bobby: Yeah. Just having like an assistant there. Hey I have this big visionary idea or this project I want to do. And just saying like, Hey, ChatGPT, what’s the structure? What are the milestones I should be hitting?
Reneé: Yeah. There’s another task or project that’s part of operations. A lot of us are always handed a lot of data to analyze and say, okay, what’s the trend for sales or how did this marketing campaign go or how are employees doing in this capacity? And there’s actually software now is called Perplexity that integrates with ChatGPT. You can feed it an Excel spreadsheet or a Google sheet and it provides you with a response in qualitative form, word form, of the age range that are responding to this question are between this and this. And it is so fascinating. Now you don’t have to sit there and analyze these numbers yourselves, you guys, you can use a software. And you can double check, of course, but it tends to be correct. Have you tried that yet?
Bobby: I’ve done something similar with Claude.ai. I love it. It does a lot of things very well. It accepts attachments, which I have not found with ChatGPT, but it sounds like Perplexity might be a way around that. So I’ll upload a transcript for the podcast, and then I have it do a first draft of a title and a blurb and an intro and all that. So it helps me speed up my process. And then also I’ve used it for survey data, like, what are the segments that you’re seeing in the survey data? And it, it did like these three awesome segments. And I was like, wow, yep, I agree with these.
Reneé: That is fascinating. Okay, I just brought up Claude.ai I’m going to research that some more. And yeah, the more that I dig into AI, the more different software that I find that’s available. And it’s quite fascinating. There’s one in particular that I enjoy, which is called Copy.ai. The reason that I tend to like cheat on ChatGPT and go over there often is because that website will really nicely analyze a webpage. And so you can say, Hey, analyze my sales page and create this whole big email marketing campaign for me. Or you can say, Hey, I need to update my LinkedIn profile. Or here’s a potential lead, can you analyze this person’s LinkedIn profile or their website and create an email for me? So there’s different ways to like help yourself with different ways to be productive.
Bobby: How has your understanding and mindset around AI evolved this year as you’ve been playing out the different tools? Like when you think about how you fold it in, how do you even think about what AI can do for you?
Reneé: That’s a great question. I actually started off the year very wary of it. Because I know that there are going to be some greater implications on the world, some very positive and some very negative. And more so the negative ways that I’m seeing as around education. And the accessibility part of it,. Like who has access to this kind of software to help them in their career progression and things like that. But on the flip side, I’m like, okay, let me see if this is something that’s going to be beneficial. The more and more that I dive into it, the more that I see the benefits, especially when it comes to time saving. And that of course equates to saving money and or making money. And I also am able to use it to set up structure in my business. And it’s so interesting ’cause I was really worried about copywriters when it came to AI. And I’ve actually chatted with some and they’re like, no, this is just another tool that we use now.
And I’m like, yes. I’m so glad people are finding strength in this. And I am too. And I’ve saved so many hours. It’s really, really delightful. It would be the word. So I’m curious to see, where it’ll go for me. And I just keep exploring. And I think the biggest thing that I would recommend for people is just to try on one little thing at a time. Cause the first time I sat down to ChatGPT, I don’t know if you’re like this too, Bobby, I was like. I don’t know what to do. Like, I don’t know where to start. And then I would take a training here and a training here. And all of a sudden it’s just this robust thing with so many possibilities. What was your experience, Bobby?
Bobby: Yeah, it was kind of similar. It was like, it almost does too much. Especially with a tool like ChatGPT. Other tools like Copy AI, and I’ve used Jarvis in the past, where it was a little bit more structured. They would have these built in templates to steer your thinking and steer your use of the tool. But something like ChatGPT, the world’s your oyster. And so
I started to think about ChatGPT as a junior level employee Because when you think about what you want to get out of ChatGPT. you have to remember it has less context than a new employee would. It hasn’t been through any onboarding. It doesn’t know anything about you. And so it has capabilities and it has things that it can do for you, but it’s so important with a tool like ChatGPT between others where it needs context. Right? It’s been fed the internet of context, but it hasn’t been fed your specific projects context in your business’s context. So you need to be teaching it so that it can get the most value to you. Just like you would if you train a new person in your business.
Reneé: Yep. I completely agree with that. I’ve noticed it’s like a new copywriter. It’s a new project manager. It’s a new customer service person. And so it really is a great tool. But you’re right. It has these limitations and I think it takes just pausing and being super mindful. And you know, to me, they’re really great tools to use in certain circumstances. But I still believe in the power of humans and relying on them and their creativity and for longer efforts and longer projects and processes.
Bobby: Yeah, absolutely. I forget who it was but there was a business leader that I follow talking about how they hire really good people and every employee gets an assistant. I was like, wow, that’s such an interesting way to think about it. Like you’re going to hire really good people and you want to get the most out of that person. So you have each of them have their own assistant to help with whatever. And I thought wow, if you didn’t have the means to do that right now, but each new person in this part of your team, you made sure they had a really good, ChatGPT or AI assistant, is a really good starter way to do that.
Reneé: That is so cool. And that’s unheard of before this year, really. I think there were a few people who knew about ChatGPT or other software. But now our productivity can increase, we can do so much more and all we have to do is just be a little thoughtful about the way that we approach it, for sure. Agreed.
Bobby: Is there anything else in terms of operations or AI that you’d want to cover?
Reneé: Yeah. One thing that I wanted to touch on for sure was that, we can use AI for process automation. And that’s saving people a lot of time when it comes to admin tasks. You can just puzzle things together and get maybe data entry done or scheduling appointments, just so much more that you can just remove yourself from. So I did want to highlight that it does take a little bit of research or maybe being mindful about, well, wait a minute, I’m doing this task and it’s draining my energy or it’s taking a lot of time. I bet there’s a way now to remove this or reduce the amount of work that I’m putting into it. And I think that’s the shift in mindset. So in an operations, for a lot of us, it is a shift in mindset. We can get really stuck in our, process ways that we have or analytical ways. But just holding that moment to be like, wait a minute, I bet there is a way now. I don’t have to do this. I bet there’s a way. Let me just spend a little bit of time researching it. And I think that that’s really fascinating in the world of operations.
Bobby: I love that. It’s a really nice reminder to have the presence of mind. Like, hey, is this more difficult than it needs to be?
Reneé: I often am sitting there and thinking, because I do a lot of predictivity coaching, as you guys can tell, and time management coaching. Like, how can I save more time? How can I save more time? How can I save more time? Because that time that we can give back to ourselves is like, if we could just hold on to that as a driving factor, we can spend more time with our partner, our dogs, or go travel or whatever. And so I think instead of holding on to negativity, like I can’t, or there’ll never be a way to just lean into possibility and see what’s possible. That’s exciting.
Bobby: Well, Reneé where can people find you online?
Reneé: Come hang out with me on Instagram and LinkedIn. You can find me both @theproductivewp. And then I would love for you to come hang out with me on my website. I have a time blocking guide. So if you’re interested on saving time and having more energy and finding, like Bobby said earlier, that balance of creativity with structure, I have a free guide. So come hang out, join my newsletter. And you can even message me from my website or Instagram. It’s me. I will respond to you. And my website’s www. renee, R E N E E dash Clair, C L A I R dot com.
Bobby: Awesome. Yeah. And Reneé will be there personally. It will not be an AI bot.
Reneé: Not yet. Not yet, everybody.
Bobby: Anything else you’d like to share with our listeners?
Reneé: I think the last thing that I’d like to take away is, just being thoughtful about what comes up for you when you think about the word operations and what comes up for you when you think about AI. And see if you can sit with it and maybe untangle yourselves from what we knew before. Because so much is changing and both of these areas can be really exciting. Especially for the way that you want to grow your business or the way that you want to show up for your clients.
And so I’m so curious to hear from all of you. Does the word operations make you feel bored? Does it make you like want to cringe and go into your turtle shell? Does AI feel scary? I’d love to hear more from you all. So let me know. And I hope that you have a good journey with all of this.