Hollie Barac is an accountability and productivity partner, podcast host, and speaker. She helps women in business find suitable strategies and solutions to help them achieve success in their business. Today, she will tell us about her job, her podcast, what productivity actually is and how she uses Mailbutler to save time.
Hollie, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview today! Let’s start with our “fill in the blank” questions to get to know you a little bit.
When I was a kid I always wanted to become…
The best thing about my job is…
...being there for my family.
Since Covid-19, I changed the way I…
An important characteristic of a good productivity coach is…
...to be empathetic and understand that not everyone operates the same way.
I hope to spend my retirement…
...enjoying life, whatever that holds. We can’t predict the future, but I hope to be spending quality time with my husband in our community.
Thanks a lot for those responses, Hollie! Now let’s dive into your day-to-day work. You started Mayday VA in 2018. Could you tell us about it? How did this project come about?
Absolutely, things sure have evolved since then, and in such a short space of time.
A few months before Mayday VA began, I had been helping friends - other women entrepreneurs - with various tech things such as email marketing setups, intermediate website design and maintenance, as well as basic design work. These friends were only too happy to pay me for my time, and they didn’t flinch when I sent them my invoice. I realised that I was silly to let this opportunity slip away, and at the time I was in a large group membership - i.e. potential client base - so saw it as the right time to start life as a virtual assistant.
However, Mayday VA is no more. I've recently rebranded to use my own name, Hollie Barac, in my work as an accountability and productivity partner.
Wow! Helping people is something innate in you. Why did you decide to become a productivity coach?
In early 2019, less than six months after starting Mayday VA, as I was writing a letter to my future self, my fingers suddenly typed something along the lines of holding in-person group coaching sessions to help women move forward in their business. The dream wasn’t meant to come true until 2022 when our daughter started primary school (when she is about to turn six years of age), but it started to happen much sooner.
I’m a natural helper, I’m the mother hen of my friends. I’m also the organiser and the planner. Helping and nurturing people come naturally to me, so becoming an accountability and productivity partner - as opposed to a coach, but more on that later - seemed a natural progression. It’s the happiest I’ve felt (at work) in a very long time.
On your website you say “I’m not your usual business coach, probably because I’m not a business coach”. What do you mean by that?
Although I am quite experienced, I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a coach as I have no formal qualifications in business coaching. Yes, I help women in business find suitable strategies and solutions to help them achieve success in their business, and have many accolades and much experience, but I don’t want to label myself as a business coach. Instead, I’m like a giant sounding board.
I’m your ultimate wing woman. I have the capacity to help women recognise their strengths and abilities, and to help strengthen the areas they’re less confident in, without making them feel inferior, without making them feel as if there is only one approach to business. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The way you help women is admirable, Hollie! Who are your clients and with what kind of problems do they usually come to you?
My clients are women in business, small business usually. They come to me looking for help with problems predominantly about time management and productivity, thinking the pair go hand in hand. And in some ways, they do, however not in the way society expects.
Society thinks of productivity as ticking many things off a list in a certain time frame, but I like to reframe this with my clients as ticking off the right things in a certain time frame. If you’re tired, rest. Resting is just as productive as ticking 10 things off your list. You’ll be no good to anyone - let alone yourself - if you’re burnt out.
Being productive is about finding the way you work best for you, your business, and your life. There is no one cookie cutter approach.
You also have a podcast called “Productivity! With Hollie”. What inspired you to start a podcast? What do you want to achieve with it?
Productivity! with Hollie comes off the back of my first podcast (soon to be found only on my website), Organised Women in Business with Mayday VA.
I’ve always loved telling a story, and when I started my first podcast, it was because I learned that’s the type of content my audience prefers to consume. Ironic really because I am a visual learner and much prefer blogs or videos. I rarely listen to podcasts myself!
Being a podcaster though is much more than delivering a podcast. Voice carries emotion. It helps to tell the story, to carry the message. And I think that’s why I love it so much.
My dream for Productivity! with Hollie is to help even just one person realise that there is more than one way to be productive, that they don’t have to conform to society’s expectations in order to be happy.
Absolutely, there are many different ways to be productive! You have 20 years' experience with customer service and administration in the corporate and retail sectors, including management. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout your professional career?
Without a doubt, it’s that you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and you can’t be everything to everyone.
I don’t hide that I was - and in some parts I probably still am - a people pleaser. I needed everybody to like me. Not because I wanted to be the center of attention, rather I absolutely hate letting people down.
I wanted to be everything to everyone so that they knew I was reliable, that they could depend on me. This is coming from someone who was fiercely independent as a teenager, and is only realising just now, some 20 years later, that the fierce and independent teenager is still inside of me, and that it’s okay to challenge the status quo. I’m not yet 40, and still have a few years till I reach that incredible milestone, but I am no longer worried about being everything to everyone, nor am I worried about everyone liking me. Instead, I’ll be everything I can - within limit - to those that love and need me already. Like my husband and daughter.
You’ve recently started using Mailbutler! How does Mailbutler support you in your work? Would you recommend it?
Mailbutler is an absolute gem, and has supported my business wonderfully in the short time I’ve been using it. To me, inboxes are akin to black holes: once you get in there, it’s impossible to get out. Mailbutler allows me to gloss over my inbox and know which emails need actioning, what’s still waiting to be opened by the recipient, and so much more.
Without a doubt, I recommend Mailbutler. It’s revolutionised my inbox.
Which are your favourite Mailbutler features? If you had to choose one which one would it be?
To begin, from an aesthetic view, I love the customisable, clickable email signatures. I’d been looking for an email signature app that would do this so when I found Mailbutler, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.
Another feature that I love is the ability to schedule follow-ups on the email itself. I don’t have to jump into my calendar and put in a reminder, all I have to do is open the Mailbutler sidebar when I’m in the corresponding email, and click When to follow up? It’s that simple. No more flicking between tabs or picking up my phone and keying stuff in. It’s all right there in my inbox.
I also love the ability to add notes and tasks (with deadlines/reminders).
And honestly, I can’t pick just one feature that I love most! I love them all equally. Mailbutler has already saved so much time in my business, and given me the confidence to finally finish setting up my email folders in Google Workspace.
Don’t miss out on our interview “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books: An Interview with Zibby Owens” with writer, author and podcast host Zibby Owens! We talk to her about her passion for books, her podcast, tips to increase productivity and how she uses Mailbutler for email planning.Register with Mailbutler now