Business-First Creatives

CEO Talk with Ashley Kang

August 18, 2022 Colie James Episode 11
Business-First Creatives
CEO Talk with Ashley Kang
Show Notes Transcript

I met Ashley while we were both in the Done in a Day program, working on our VIP Day offers.  Since leaving, we spend every Thursday morning at 10am MT together on a business besties call, intentionally working on our business with a few of our other favorite people.

I am going to admit, in the beginning I had NO idea what a CEO Day was or why I would need one. But as I have heard Ashley speak in multiple venues about them, I now believe every business owner needs one. If you are curious about them, listen to our conversation and make a plan to start implementing some CEO Time in your business immediately  😉

Here are the highlights…

[00:16] About Ashley’s business
[01:26] What does it mean to be a CEO of your business?
[04:12] What are the CEO tasks creative entrepreneurs are overlooking??
[07:21] What is currently moving the needle in your business?
[08:46] Best day for CEO tasks
[10:29] ClickUp vs Airtable?
[13:41] Making time for monthly/quarterly CEO tasks
[14:34] How much time do you need for a CEO Day?
[18:59] Flexibility in CEO Days
[20:51] Time-blocking and day-theming
[26:15] Tips for creating your own CEO Day

Ashley’s IG: @ahkbusinessmanagement
Ashley's Weekly Email Series: Becoming the CEO
Ashley’s Website:
Done in a Day Conference - September 2022


Dubsado VIP Experience: This is a fully done-for-you offer for creative entrepreneurs and service providers, which includes full strategy and implementation to provide each and every one of your clients with an amazing + consistent experience.

CEO Talk with Ashley Kang

Colie James: Hello, Ashley. Welcome to Business-First Creatives podcast. How are you today?

Ashley Kang: I am so excited to be here with you Colie. I am so excited for you and this podcast and happy to be here.

Colie James: Oh, I thank you, honey. So for the audience, tell them who you are and what you do.

Ashley Kang: Yeah, I am Ashley King. I am the CEO and founder of AHK Business Management. I am a business strategist, Coach, CEO Day Queen, and I teach coaches and service providers to elevate their businesses and regain time and clarity with simple systems and CEO days. So they can spend more days working in their zone of genius.

Colie James: So basically you do the opposite of me. I teach people to make systems for their client work and you teach people to make systems for the backend of their business. That has nothing to do with clients.

Ashley Kang: Yes. It equips them to help their clients.

Colie James: Yes. Cause I'm like, I need a little Ashley in my life. So Ashley, just for the listeners, because, the really weird thing is that when you hear people calling themselves the CEO, I mean, we all know what a CEO of a corporation is. And I think that in the world that you and I exist in, CEO is a word that gets used a lot.

But for people who are maybe not in our world, like photographers, tell me, or tell the audience, what does it mean to be the CEO of your business?

Ashley Kang: So I start really simple of if you've been building your business from the ground up. You've been making all the high level decisions, and you have the intention and desire to evolve and grow your business. That's what makes a CEO, a CEO, even if you're a solopreneur. Cause I know you both, you and I are solopreneurs.

Sometimes we have contract people in, but for the most part, we're doing all the things in our business, all the things.

Colie James: All the things!

Ashley Kang: But again, I think really being a CEO is if you have, it's not. Oh, I have this business, but I have this desire to grow and evolve my business. I think that's like that special thing that makes a CEO.

Colie James: Yeah. So let's talk about CEO days, cause this is what you do. What is a CEO day and what gains might someone expect to see if they implement a CEO day into their business?

Ashley Kang: Sure. So for people who don't know, a CEO day by my definition, is a designated block of time or a full day if you can, that is consistent each week. So Monday or Friday, where you are working on the business growth activities for your business. So you're not doing any client work at all during your CEO day, which I think is sometimes hard for some of us to let go of, but, um, CEO days are so valuable.

I mean, I could come up with a million reasons, but the top few reasons is that one, it is that time to work on your business and not being in your business. Um, so you're able to spend more time, well, spending time being able to figure out what needs to happen, what, what you need to do, and planning for, and preparing for it, so that during the rest of the week, you're not wasting the time being like, what do I need to do now? You can just hit the ground running. 

It's also the time for intentional self care, professional development and being able to reflect, because I think as entrepreneurs and business owners, we're often like full steam ahead and we don't stop to take a look at what has happened and how does that inform our decisions moving forward.

So, you know, in a very rough sense, CEO days are all about reflecting, renewing, and resetting.

Colie James: Oh, look at you with the Rs. All right, then Ashley, say those one more time.

Ashley Kang: Sure CEO days, uh, the things that you do during them fall into three categories, reflecting, renewing, and resetting.

Colie James: I probably need all three of those in my life. So what is the most overlooked CEO task that you see for creative entrepreneurs that they are not currently doing in their business?

Ashley Kang: Ooh, I do love this question. Um, definitely because I don't consider myself super, super creative. Um, but a lot of the people I work with would first define themselves as creatives. And something that I see with clients and with other business owner friends, is that creatives are really good about learning and knowledge acquisition.

Like they just want to learn all the things, do all the things almost to a fault. Like it's their greatest strength and greatest weakness. Because you're so busy learning and taking in things, you're not able to hold yourself accountable to the things that are actually going to move yourself, move the needle on your business.

And it's hard to build consistency for yourself. So I think that's like the biggest overlooked. It's an overlooked task, but it's, there's a lack of focus and accountability. So I'm not sure if that's necessarily a task, but it's a habit that can really impact a business owner.

Colie James: No Ashley so this knowledge acquisition. It's a different way to think about it. So, you know, the premise of my show is that I feel like a lot of creative entrepreneurs spend too much time trying to improve the creative aspects of their business without actually working on the business side. I've never thought about that as an obsession with like knowledge acquisition, because at the end of the day, that is the problem.

People do all of this knowledge acquisition, and they don't actually sit down to implement. So honestly, the way that I think of your CEO days is like, okay, I'm getting all of this knowledge. I'm learning from this person. I'm learning from this person, but I'm not actually making the time to sit down and then figure out how to implement everything that I'm learning into my business.

It's like sometimes I'll take a course. And I'll figure out, you know, the one thing that I'm trying to solve. And I quickly put that in and then I just pushed the course to the side to move on to other things. I think that's where I fail. Is that I need some time to sit down and implement the things that I'm learning instead of just, you know, like bouncing around from one idea to the next.

Ashley Kang: Well, and it's not just having the time to implement, but it's also, um, having the focus time in the week to actually do some of those knowledge acquisition and learning pieces because oftentimes, oh, it's so easy to just, you know, Hop into a course or watch a summit replay or whatnot. And it's, it's more fun cause there's, it's just, you're learning.

And so people tend to use that as like a distraction or procrastination tool almost during the week. And so incorporating a little bit of it into your CEO day means that there is an intentional devoted focus time that you can do that in and that's it. So that way you're actually using the rest of your time in the week, more effectively for your business too.

Colie James: Oh, Ashley. Yes. Intention. Intention should be like, yes, we all need a t-shirt that says intention. Seriously. So you mentioned moving the needle. So let's talk about your business first. What is a system? And that could be a process. It could be a piece of software, just something that you have in your business, that's moving the needle for you right now.

Ashley Kang: So I consider my CEO day as a system. It's my Monday system. Um, and it is that ecosystem I live in every Monday to make me more efficient during the week, give me more focus and that intention, um, so that's like the greater system, but as far as like systems, as in tools, I really love my ClickUp because I can have a CEO day checklist of things that I need to get done every Monday.

I don't have to think twice about it. It's all there. I just go to dome boom, and it shows up as a recurring task the next week when I need it to. And I have a really great reflection form for myself that I fill out each week as well. And it's my form of journaling, um, to track how I'm feeling and also where the business is.

Um, I mean, pretty much everything I do there's like a system or a process.

Colie James: And it just literally occurred to me. And I can't believe that you and I have known each other this long and that I just figured out that you are saying to have your CEO days on a Monday or a Friday, so that you're basically starting the week and making sure that you have intention through your week.

Or you're doing it on Friday to kind of evaluate what you did the prior week and be ready for the next week. I cannot believe that it took me this long to realize that's why you say Monday and Friday, like I was listening to you talk. And I was like, well, you know, I think I'd like my CEO day to be on Wednesdays.

And I just now realized that no, that's, there's a reason why it's the way that you start your week or you end your week.

Ashley Kang: Yeah. And I mean, I, I used to do my CEO days on Saturdays. It was a terrible idea because I was like, oh, you know, I can just whip this thing out and be done. And. Still maximize my time during the week. It was not a good idea. Um, and I know there are some people who do them on Wednesdays, but it then becomes more of like a check-in, admin, catch all day, um, rather than a way to flow easily into your week or to close out your week with like peace and, uh, clarity.

And you're not rushing. That's why I always am like Monday or Friday. I highly recommend Monday just because then you start the week without like scrambling. Um, but I know for some people, Fridays are really good for the mentally and emotionally. So Monday or Friday Colie? No, none of this Wednesday nonsense.

Colie James: Yeah. And you know, I know that you do all of this and ClickUp, um, just for myself because I have you here. What are the benefits of doing this and ClickUp versus say, Airtable? Is it just a preference or is ClickUp better for a particular reason?

Ashley Kang: I like ClickUp for a lot of reasons, just generally speaking, but for your CEO day, um, you can have reoccurring tasks, like as soon as you change the status from like to do to done, if you set the recurring task, it'll just repopulate for your next week. Airtable, doesn't really have that functionality or it's a little more difficult to have that happen, um, and ClickUp. I really see ClickUp as my task and action management versus Airtable is my data management tool. For me, ClickUp is the mobile flexible, like on the go tool, which is what I need for my CEO day.

Colie James: Gotcha. And the thing is I put this as two separate questions, but I'm realizing you're probably not going to have a different answer for this one, but I'm still going to ask, just to check. So what's the one system that you teach or implement for your clients that ends up moving the needle for them. And I'm sure that you're going to say a CEO day, but if it's not a CEO day, tell me what it is.

Ashley Kang: The CEO day, but there's different pieces to the CEO day system, right. Um, based on the whole reflect, renew and reset. And so there's little systems that go with each of those things, um, to make your CEO day one fun, and two actually something that will positively impact you and your business each week.

Um, so as part of the whole like CEO ecosystem, right, you might have a system or a process for, um, checking your, reviewing your metrics, like your social media engagement. Um, you might have a system or, you know, maybe more habits of self care during your CEO day. I have like a specific regimen of things I do Monday morning before I sit down at my desk, which includes, you know, a walk, if I can maybe yoga, making myself tea, um, making myself a nicer breakfast, you know, things like that.

That's still a system that's, those are habits that I string together. And then, you know, there's a system for resetting. I have a whole like planning checklist and system that I have for annual, quarterly and monthly planning, um, as well. And so those are things that I coach and teach my clients to do as part of their CEO day.

Colie James: How much. Cause I just thought about that when you said some of those things, I'm like, but like I outsource my bookkeeping, you know this. So even though my bookkeepers are doing it all, they do send me this really nice, like report at the end of the month so that Colie can see if she's perhaps spent too much money that month. I'm assuming that reviewing the report needs to be part of my monthly CEO tasks.

Ashley Kang: Yeah. Yeah. And, and that's, you actually bring up a really good point because you have a weekly CEO day and there's definitely things you do every single week, but then you can use your CEO day as your monthly and quarterly planning sessions. You don't have to go around trying to find extra time on your

Colie James: another day.

Ashley Kang: Right. It's built in, and then you can do those monthly or quarterly tasks, like reviewing your books. Um, maybe checking your progress on your annual goals, stuff like that. And again, having a list of your monthly and quarterly tasks, right? So that you're tracking everything, you know, what needs to happen and it takes the guesswork out of it.

Right? You're not scrambling. You can just ease yourself into the week. I'm all about like, you should not be starting Monday morning, feeling like

Colie James: Frantic, no

Ashley Kang: None of that.

Colie James: mean I'm trying to think of how I spend my Monday mornings Ashley. So for CEO Days, like give me a ballpark because I mean like, you know, you and I are in the VIP day world. And so, you know, those go from like five hours to eight hours and like all of these things. But so if someone wants to try to incorporate a CEO day into their business, what is the timeframe that someone should expect to set aside for those CEO tasks/day?

And does it fluctuate depending on, you know, the season of business that you're in?

Ashley Kang: Yes. So to kind of parse that out, I say, if you can, minimum of three hours, so that's like half, half the day, like the morning. Um, if you can swing it a full day is great because depending on what you're doing in your reset portion, you might be, uh, lauding time to do like internal project work, working on a launch, offer creation, et cetera.

So you need more time for that. In addition to all the other things you're doing. Um, also some people will format it so that they're doing a lot of their business. and planning work in the morning and then they leave their afternoon clear so that they could maybe go get a massage or, um, schedule a doctor's appointment.

Right. Because there's certain things you can't schedule on the weekends. You have to do it during the week, but you don't want to take away from your client time. So I know some people will have that flex afternoon of their CEO day so that yeah, they could be working on projects, but if they need to do something else they can.

So I always say shoot for three hours. Um, if you can, and then, you know, you can work your way up to a full day. And so for me, I do a lot of like my checklist, the more administrative operations things of my CEO day in the morning. And then I tend to do a lot more like networking calls, coffee chats, um, self-care things in the afternoon.

Colie James: Oh, so coffee chats can be considered part of your CEO day. Okay. That just opened up some things. Okay.

Ashley Kang: Because, and I say this with the caveat of don't go like booking five coffee chats on a CEO day, but coffee chats mean that you are networking and you're strengthening relationships with potential clients, referral partners, collaborators. You're building your network and those things feed into your business and just make everything better.

So, and it's not client work. So I definitely consider that as part of the actual, like renew feeding into your business category.

Colie James: Okay. Okay. I mean, you know, you, you can't literally see my brain going, but my brain has definitely going at this point. So minimum of three hours could extend to be longer. Okay. I like this.

Ashley Kang: And. I think the, one of the beautiful things about CEO days that can be overwhelming, I think when you're first starting out, is that it really is a choose your own adventure. Um, that's why I say, okay, there's the three categories of activities, right? Reflect, renew, and reset. You need to be doing a little bit, you need to do at least one thing for each of those categories.

Colie James: Okay. So you do have to make sure that you do one of each. Okay.

Ashley Kang: I definitely recommend it even, you know, there's a range of things, especially when it comes to like renew. So those are self care professional development. It can be as easy as you're just going to go do your CEO day at a coffee shop, or you're ordering lunch in for yourself. Um, but then I could range from, oh, I'm going to go take a massage I'm or I'm going to, uh, have a therapy appointment, I'm going to get coached.

You know, there's a range even in, within each category, right? So it's a choose your own adventure. And that's why having a checklist is great because those are like the set things you need to do. And then you also know that there are some other things I could do, um, depending on where I'm at, what the business needs in that week or that.

Colie James: Yeah, let's talk about that flexibility. Because this week on Instagram, I saw that you had actually given up a small portion of your CEO day for a client that needed to be rescheduled.

Ashley Kang: Yes.

Colie James: I know that doing your CEO day on the exact same day each week helps you get habits. It helps you make sure that you are definitely implementing the time in your business, but like you mentioned, this week, we all need to be a little flexible.

And the fact that we own our own businesses is, you know, that's one of the perks, right? So what are some tips that you have. In the event that something comes up and you do need to modify and actually take a portion of your CEO day and do client work. Do you suggest that people completely reschedule it to another day so that you still get that block of time or in that case, is it just about shortening your CEO day for that particular week?

Ashley Kang: Yeah. So, I mean, at least in this particular instance I knew it was a one-off situation. This client and I have been working together for a long time. I trust her. She felt terrible. She knows I don't take client calls on Monday. Just the way the schedules were working, we had to reschedule. Um, but I also implement time-blocking and day-theming the rest of my week.

And so I knew exactly when this client call was going to be that we had to reschedule. So I simply just swapped the 30 minutes of the client call and what I was going to do on my CEO. 'cause I knew ahead of time. I really recommend for people who are just starting out with CEO days, just put a moratorium on doing it.

Like don't even try to do any of that. Client's swapping and being that flexible with your CEO day.

Colie James: Until you get your habits down. I get it.

Ashley Kang: You got your habits down. The other tip I have is theme and time block the rest of your week, because it helps you leverage your CEO day and the rest of the week.

When you have clear time blocks and you have clear day themes, then as you're sitting in and planning your CEO day, you know, okay. I have time later on this week to do XYZ, or even during the week, if something comes up, you're like, I don't have time to do this right now. I can do this during my CEO day.

When you need to be flexible, you can, because you're already forecasting out. You have a clear understanding of your time and your capacity for the rest of the week. I don't know if this is making sense.

Colie James: It is, but I do for anybody in the audience that does not time block and does not have day things. Give me a few examples of a day theme because I only know what it is because you and I have chatted.

Ashley Kang: Yeah. So day-theming. If you are a VIP day service provider, day-theming is really great for you. Let's say your CEO day is on Monday. And then Tuesday might be all sales calls. You devote chunks for sales calls or any client related calls.

Wednesday might be your VIP day that you're actually conducting your service. Thursday might be devoted to marketing and Friday you're touching base with your team doing team meetings, anything team related or big project related that you need your team for. 

If you are a retainer service provider, so you're an OBM, you're a graphic designer on retainer, et cetera, time blocking would mean, okay, you have three clients, A, B, and C, and you are devoting, let's say two hours a day to each client. Then you have other types of work blocks. So you have a marketing work block. You have a block for sales calls during a couple of days a week. You might, you know, it's shorter chunks as versus a full day.

Colie James: Because you can't afford a full day to yeah, I get it. So it's just all about figuring out which way your brain works best, because I will say one of the reasons that I progressed over to VIP Days. Is because the working on multiple things every single day was beginning to make me not as productive. So when I get this one client and I'm working on them, so for me, I have a VIP experience, not necessarily a day anymore. Because my clients get me for two full days.

So we have a strategy day and we have an implementation day. And the way that I do my business is the strategy day is usually Monday or Tuesday, and then we get it done then. And then there's always a buffer day in case my client needs to do more work on their end to get me more items before I do their implementation day at the end of the week.

So I am now a day-themed service provider, which is so weird to say, but before that I was doing time blocking. So, you know, as a photographer, I had like editing blocks and I had call blocks and things like that. So I think it is really important for people to not only think about their CEO Day, but to also think about these other ways that you can organize your business because the name of the game is getting you to be more efficient and giving you the skills that you need to get habitual about making sure that you are protective of your time. Which means you're not getting overworked, which means, you know, your business will thrive as well as your personal life.

So that's how I think about it.

Ashley Kang: no, and you're so right. You're hitting the nail on the head. And, um, something that I like to tell people who are like really do I really need to CEO Day. And I, I would just simply say, you know, a CEO day is a love letter to your business. It is when you get to refill your CEO cup, because if you're not filling your cup, You know, taking care of yourself and your own business, you're not able to show up for your business, your team, your clients, or yourself.

Like you need that time.

Colie James: I think of, and I don't even have a CEO day, but now that you're telling me this, first of all, I need one next time we chat, I will have one implemented. Number two, I feel like, I feel like the thing about the CEO day is that when you're working in your business, you can feel like a hamster on a wheel.

You're just going around and around and around doing the exact same thing. And you're not really giving your time yourself the time and the space to reflect and expand your business or, you know, streamline or whatever it is that you have for the goals of your business, other than working with your clients.

Ashley Kang: Yeah. You need the time and space. If your intention is to grow your business, make it more sustainable. Um, you need the time to step away from the client work and actually do those business building things, right. And business self-care, and CEO self-care. You know, just to execute the basic functions of your business.

So really CEO day is like the ultimate form of, self care, business care, strategy all rolled into one really. 

Colie James: So if someone wanted to get organized and create themselves a CEO day, you've already said minimum of three hours, what are some tips that you have in order to get organized to start? Because I think that everyone that's listening to you is going to be like, yeah, a CEO Day sounds great. Okay. And here's my three hour time block on Monday.

Now, what?

Ashley Kang: Yeah. So we'll definitely for one thing, pick the day on the time block and save it in your calendar immediately. Like protect that time. Like starting now. And do it the same day and time block every week. But that is the number one, like starter tip I have, because when you start moving it around or shifting it, then it doesn't become a habit.

So that's like my golden starter 

Colie James: golden rule.

Ashley Kang: The second tip I would have is have a checklist, um, that. You know, has some of those tasks and things that you want to do every week, you can do it in, ClickUp. You can do it in Asana. If you're in an Asana user, you know, whatever task management platform you're using, like put it there.

Um, because then you're able to track every week, set due dates, reminders, et cetera. I also have a weekly email series that helps you learn about simple systems, CEO days, how to implement those things, to get organized and manage your time and your capacity as a CEO. So that's a free series. And when you sign up, you get a free training to learn more about the, uh, different activities you can do as reflect, um, renewing, and resetting.

So that is something that would also be really great starter tip. 

You know, everybody's CEO day is a reflection of them and we are all individual and different kinds of business owners, different people.

And so my CEO day is going to look different from yours. Everybody's CEO day is different and they always evolve and change too. 

Colie James: Yeah.

Ashley Kang: So I actually have a task it's a, uh, quarterly task on my CEO day checklist to look over my checklist and be like, do I need to change things? Do I need to get rid of things? Do I need to add something? 

You are the CEO, you make the decisions.

Colie James: Yeah. So the funny thing is I thought I was going to implement this on Monday, but I just had a thought because my husband is now home on Fridays. Like Friday is one of his like official day off unless he's working for someone else. So I'm now wondering about making my CEO day Friday. So that he's here. He can bring me my latte, he can make sure that I have a fabulous breakfast. Maybe we go have a breakfast date like we did today, but then I could sit down and do my CEO tasks, and then we could spend the afternoon together. Like this has given me all kinds of ideas, Ashley. So here's what I want you to do.

I want you to say your website where they can get it, but also guys, this will be in the show notes to tell you where to get Ashley's weekly emails and guys sometimes. Like she, we both have a Coach Kirsten, um, and she is very big on telling people, but my emails are my gift to you. So like, you don't need to have a freebie in order to get people to sign up for your email because the email is the substance.

And that's what I love about Ashley's emails. So tell everybody where they can access them. And it will also be in the show notes.

Ashley Kang: Yeah, so you can get them on my, like the link in my Instagram @AHKbusinessmanagement, the show notes. If you just DM me on Instagram, I'm happy to just send you the opt-in link. And I love hearing about people's CEO days. I, whenever people tag me on Instagram, I'm all about CEO Days I'm like, oh, there's a CEO day in the wild.

[00:30:21] Colie James: And yes, guys, if you're not following Ashley on Instagram, you should, because she makes the most awesome reels. I mean, you know, I, yeah, whenever I need some inspiration, I just kind of flick through Ashley's reels and I'm like, oh, that's a good one. How can I talk about the Sato and systems using this audio that she used?

So, I mean, an Ashley is just someone that's awesome. Um, follow on Instagram and get tips from. So she's already given us the website. She's already given us her Instagram. Please go sign up for her amazing weekly emails. Anything else that you want to mention Ashley in closing?

Ashley Kang: If you're now all of a sudden feeling a little overwhelmed and be like this all sounds good in theory. And yes. Read those emails and yeah, I'm going to take in your content, but if you're feeling really overwhelmed, but you are like, I want a CEO day custom fit to me and my needs like yesterday. Um, I do have a VIP day service.

It's called Design My CEO Day, and we map out your CEO day plan. So you can apply it every week and regain time and space to grow your business. And we implement those simple systems so you can build the consistency. Um, I give you that expert coaching, the recommendations and support, as you implement as well.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay. I'm here to help.

Colie James: Well, I thank you, Ashley, for coming on the show. It was amazing to have you here. I'm going to have to have you on again, you know, talk about more systems. Well guys, that's it for today's episode. Thanks for listening.