If you’re seeking a prime example of BELAY’s mission to “glorify God by providing solutions that equip clients with the confidence to climb higher,” then look no further than Stanton Lanier.
It may seem improbable that an award-winning, internationally known musician would have needed anyone’s help to get better at what he’d already mastered . . . but then he hired a BELAY virtual assistant.
“My virtual assistant has encouraged me about the value I offer to people,” the Marietta, Ga.-based pianist says. “It’s led to some great concert opportunities. Having a comrade with you, standing with you, carries a lot of credibility.”
That’s what Stanton says now, but less than a couple of years ago, he was playing a different tune. Stanton, the “Pianist of Peace”™ and leader of Music to Light the World, a 501(c)(3) faith-based nonprofit that is the platform for his inspired instrumental music, had essentially been a one-man band until he teamed up with BELAY in early 2016.
“It’s been a long journey – one day, month and year at a time,” he says.
For more than a decade, he and his wife, under the guidance of their Board of Directors, had primarily administered the many functions of their growing ministry. Stanton tended to creative production, event booking and various operational concerns, while his wife provided expertise related to financial management, bookkeeping and compliance on a part-time basis. Occasionally, they had volunteer help.
The couple proved successful, though pinched for time between their limited bandwidth and aspirational vision. Lanier had released nine albums and even vied for – and won – awards for which megastars like Enya and Yo-Yo Ma were nominees.
But eventually the former businessman – perhaps drawing from his financial planning, consulting and insurance industry background to get him this far – knew he needed help.
Becoming Aware of BELAY
A fan and follower of Michael Hyatt, one day Stanton came across the bestselling author’s endorsement of eaHELP, as BELAY’s virtual assistant service line was previously known.
“I had a trust level with Michael Hyatt. His experience and professionalism spoke volumes,” Lanier recalls of the bestselling author’s testimonials about the benefits of having a VA.
So Stanton followed up, requested information and spoke with the company.
“In 2016, at the turn of the New Year, I had a really clear sense that it was time.”
Two months later, in March, Stanton was a bona fide BELAY client and had his first-ever virtual assistant. The care and intention with which the company matches clients with talent made a major impression on Stanton. He credits the synergy he’s achieved with his VA not only to her skill and diligence, but also to BELAY relationship managers’ expertise in pairing client needs with the background, competencies and personality of the just-right support.
Even as a songwriter, composer and performer, Stanton has achieved true bottom-line business results by hiring a virtual assistant. His VA, Laura, works about 10 hours a week tending to the tasks and needs that used to account for way too much of Stanton’s time.
She manages his booking calendar, engages with donors and customers, arranges meetings and appointments, researches performing and event opportunities, and helps to administer Stanton’s social media accounts. Additionally, Stanton has a new rhythm to his work week. Laura has helped to bring new structure and parameters around each day, optimizing every hour with new focus and productivity.
“I have a weekly template,” he explains. “Monday is for content. Tuesdays are for projects, Wednesday is studio time, Thursday is for booking, and Friday is when I have appointments and meetings. It’s not a perfect science, but the strength of that structure has grown by having a VA. I had never spent a full day on music, on a regular basis, until I had a virtual assistant.”
Plus, though Stanton is in Metro Atlanta and his virtual assistant is in Florida, there is absolutely nothing stereotypically “remote” about their interaction. They speak routinely, see each other regularly via videoconferencing and collaborate just as seamlessly – if not more so – than office-based colleagues.
“There’s a sense of connectedness and workflow on a continuous basis,” Stanton says.
The Deal with Delegation
Like many business people who want to become more productive, efficient, agile and focused, Stanton vacillated about hiring a virtual assistant before finally making the commitment.
“The need was there for a while, and it got to a point where we needed to take that leap of faith and hire an assistant,” he says. “I needed to reach a place where I could spend more time writing more music instead of operating the ministry.”
Stanton admits that he’s “still growing, still evolving” as a delegator, but the long-term risks would have been greater had he not taken the plunge.
“We previously had volunteers who were willing to assist in various ways. We could pay them hourly in some cases. But all those experiences never had a sense of professionalism or matching – truly top-tier talent helping us,” Stanton details.
Are you ready to start delegating? Here's a resource to help you start thinking about who on your team is ready to take on more.