The goal of the Leverage Podcast is simple: to learn from the best and discover how we can all live a better life, build a more fruitful business, and be more efficient. Leverage’s Founder and CEO, Nick Sonnenberg, is the host of the Leverage Podcast. With a background in data science, high-frequency algorithmic trading, and business efficiency consulting, Nick has an innovative mind and is obsessed with learning from the people around him. Join him each week as he interviews fellow entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and leading experts to discuss everything from efficiency hacks to new technologies to life as an entrepreneur.
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Jun 18, 2018

Have you heard of the six steps of the ASK methodology for sales,  originally created by Ryan Levesque? Enjoy these highlights from a fascinating webinar with online marketing expert Jamie McKean, who has studied and implemented the ASK method extensively with his own business and clients. Listen in and see what using the ASK method can do for you.

Before you dive into learning about the 6 Steps, scan your current website.

  • Have you done your research? Meaning, do you know why people visit your website and what they want when they get there?
  • Is your message, or your “ASK” (or what you want them to do) clear to the visitor, right away?
  • If the visitor isn’t ready to “buy” just yet, are there other options for them to learn more? Eg: email optin, free download, etc?
  • Is it simple? Do you speak in your industry lingo, or is your message crisp and clear in the language that your visitor will understand?

Now that you have a general idea of areas where your online business could improve, we can dive into the ASK method funnel.

1. Prepare

Step 1 is all about knowing your audience and understanding what they really want by sending a survey to your current database. If you read the full version of the ASK method, it tells you a specific way of structuring the questions in your survey to get the proper insights, but, the single most important question to ask your audience will look something like this:

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH (insert your service/pitch)?

When you receive the results, something miraculous happens. You get to know first-hand the pain points of your target marketing and it is all written in their language, or how they would refer to the problem.

This helps you map out what comes next…

2. Persuade

After you know what your audience wants, you create website to bring it to fruition. In the images and language you use, relate to your audience and let them know that you are the best source to help them fix their problem(s) they identified in step 1.

3. Segment

In step 3 you segment by what your audience needs by fitting them into two or three main “buckets.” Keep in mind that the language that resonates with your target audience was already identified in your survey. You can use that same style of language in your website, marketing and sales conversations.

Say you have three main pain points that were identified, or three main reasons a person visits your online business. You can segment these items in order to make the site user friendly and make it easy for the customer to navigate.

For example, if you are a realtor and you found out that people typically call your business to buy, sell or rent a home, you would segment your business into those three sections.

Buy a Home | Sell a Home | Rent a Home

Each of these sections can be clickable online, leading to a different landing page and experience for each type of customer.

4. Prescribe

You can take segmentation a step further, by tailoring your entire sales funnel to the specific type of customer. The ASK Method refers to this as prescribing. If they visit your site to learn more about buying a home, they will be “prescribed,” or they will receive a different set of emails than those that visit your site to learn more about selling, and so on.

It is important to note here to first focus on the top or most important “bucket,” and once you have a high performing funnel, you would move to the next in the queue in terms of priority or demand from your audience. You don’t have to be overwhelmed to do it all at once.

5. Profit Maximization

Step 5 is monetizing your funnel to make sure your website isn’t only getting views, it is converting traffic into paying customers. In the profit section, you can build in steps to upsell to your customer and secure their business, or use Ads as a revenue stream if your site is popular, such as how we see ads now flowing through Facebook. In sticking with the realtor theme, if you’re potential “buying a home” customer is opting-in for your free resources, maybe they are ready to buy your magazine on popular home features to look for when buying, and then if they buy that and trust your expertise they’ll be ready to trust you to take them on tour or two, until you help them find their dream home.

Keep in mind, Profit Maximization doesn’t work in all business models, but if you can find a way to make this work, then you can use the profit from this phase to fund more advertising to feed your funnel and ultimately to build your business.

6. Pivot

During the pivot phase, you assess what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and where you need to pivot your tactics to better fit the customer you are targeting. You can receive feedback through another survey to find out how your customer views you. Based on the feedback, you pivot — perhaps putting the customer into an alternate funnel.

If you want to know more, leave your comments below or join our free Slack community!

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Jun 11, 2018

Let’s start with the basics. What IS a podcast?

Everyone you ask might give a slightly different version of their idea of a podcast, and that is part of the problem. Most people think podcasts are important, or good to do for promoting their skills or business, but don’t know what it really is. According to Paul,

“A podcast is simply Audio or Video that is made available Online for easy, on-demand consumption and/or subscription-based delivery.”

Some people are so intimidated by the thought of podcasting, that they never even try to start. But chances are, if you are producing any type of consistent media, you are already on your way to forming a podcast.

You can turn digital media into a podcast in four easy steps:

  1. Create digital media — if you’re new to podcasting, this doesn’t have to be a formal or high-tech endeavor. it can be anything digital, even as simple as recording yourself speaking into your phone.

  2. Put it online — no one will benefit from your digital content unless you put it online. The key is to find a host that is prepared for podcast content and always read the fine print to avoid any surprises if your podcast becomes a hit.

  3. Make it podcast ready — this step can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The simplest form of editing a podcast would be cutting out any extra chatter at the beginning and end. In-depth edits could be things like removing “ums” and “ahs”, removing long pauses, creating custom music…and so on.

  4. Tell the world — get your podcast in front of as many people as possible. Get it listed in major directories, form and implement a marketing plan, and promote your podcast.

Now that you’re ready to start your podcast, use these 4 hacks to get the most out of your time.

Hack #1 — Seasons

Be strategic, purposeful and seasonal. If your podcast is on say, productivity, follow the Apple trend setters and turn several episodes into one season.

  1. Outline 10 episodes
  2. Record all of them in one session
  3. Give it to your editor and let him or her take it away

Now you have a full season of episodes, and listeners can download by season/topic.

Hack #2 — Use Libsyn

Libsyn is the tried and true podcasting service. They do all the heavy lifting to get your podcast up and running.

Hack #3 — Prep for the Future

When you assemble your show, don’t assemble it for next week — assemble for next year, or even the next ten years. The goal here is to think big and think long term. You never know when your podcast may inspire Oprah to call or if you’ll receive a Tedx speaker spot, like Grammar Girl.

Hack #4 — Outsource

Is it impure to outsource your podcast? Short answer: NO.

At Leverage, we’re big fans of outsourcing work so that you can focus on the more important parts of your business that support your unique talents.

You can continue to be the author and provide the information for your podcast, but handover all the other parts to someone who can do them better or faster than you could. Genius Network calls this “focusing on your unique ability.”

If you have–or want to have–a podcast, we would love to hear from you! Leave your questions, comments or other tips below.

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Jun 4, 2018

When you’re camping in the forest, you need a walky-talky to communicate with your group, and you need a map to find your way. As we mentioned in our other posts, Slack is the walky-talky. It is a great tool for communications but in addition to the daily comms, your company is going to need its full roadmap…and that is where Trello comes in handy.

To boost your productivity, you’ll need these three tools to cut down a large portion of your workload and make your work efforts effective. The three tools are:

  • Properly use email (for external communications only)
  • Use Slack for all internal communications
  • Use Trello (or a similar management tool) for project management — we recommend Trello but others have great success with tools such as Asana.

After implementing these tools you will drastically improve your ability to manage your company and your time. We’ve covered Inbox Zero and Slack in our previous posts and today we’ll walk through Trello. Trello is your map Trello shows you what project you’re working on, its stage and status, what steps you need to take to complete the project and who is responsible for next steps.

Communication tools are a quick and easy way to share ideas, but if something is a task, project or to-do then it requires a project management tool. The more complex a project is with different stages, the more important it is to use a tool like Trello because all of those different states are hard to track within a communications tool.

At Leverage, we use Trello to fit our business and therefore our layout looks slightly different than how it is intended for use. We’ve created a board for each client, and within each client’s board he or she may have several tasks. However, typically speaking, if you’re running a company you could use this on a per project basis such as “Create an IOS App” and then each section would help guide your process of creating the IOS app.

In the section below, we’ll walk through examples of creating a wedding to show an easy example of how to set-up a Trello board.

1. Start by creating four categories for your project - Backlog, doing, waiting, done

2. Write each task within each phase of you project Backlog contains items that aren’t a priority yet, such as sending invites and creating seating arrangements. Once you’re ready to start a task you move it to “doing.” If you are waiting for the task to be completed or need info from another source, move it to “waiting.” Once you are finished with the task it can be placed in “done” therefore you always have a list of your completed items.

3. Create and customize the specific details within each card You can make a checklist for each task such as a list of venues that you want to visit in California and New York, then cross each one off as you go. Within each card you can also choose: Due date Color label Assign a member/owner of the task Add other attachments such as receipts, directions, etc.

4. Power it Up! Use Power Ups to make your workflow more efficient. You can include things such as a calendar power up to view a broad scope of your whole project and keep it organized. Other Power Ups like the card repeater can help automate a recurring task. Therefore if you want a new Trello card to pop-up every Monday to remind you to check in with your florist, the card repeater will make that happen.

5. Get familiar with best practices A few extra helpful tricks to organize your workload are: In the “doing section, “ list each task in the order you want to complete them Create a line between a group of cards to create a distinction — or to break your big list up into smaller, sections of lists.

If more than one person owns a task, then nobody owns it, (aka you’ll never need more than one member on a card because if the card requires more than one person, most likely it should be split up into two separate tasks.)

Plus, if nobody owns the task, there is a greater chance that the work won’t be completed — each person on the card might think the other person is responsible for the task. Having only one owner makes it clear who is responsible for what portion of the project/task.

Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts? Start engaging with our network, join our free online Slack community!


May 28, 2018

Zoom a simple tool Leverage uses to keep our online meetings productive. It’s easy to use and integrates with Slack and mobile devices too.

We host most of our live meetings over Zoom and have nearly 200 team members across the world. When you’ve got over 100 people on a Zoom call (yeah it’s like the biggest Brady Bunch intro ever) things can get unruly if you don’t have an agenda. We’ve tried several different agenda tools and none of them ever fully did what we wanted, which meant they were never fully adopted. In the end we did what we often do, used someone in an “off-label” way.

We tried using Cisco Spark Notes and while it has a Slack integration it’s still a separate web app and one more place to login, plus it isn’t mobile friendly. We really wanted to something that was in Slack to avoid having to switch around and add another tool. So for a while we were using the built-in option to create posts. They are basically mini blog posts that live in Slack.

It worked pretty well, anyone could edit it and add their items, and it was accessible from anywhere you could access Slack. The problem was that someone had to create that post each week, name it properly so it could be found using search, and people had to add notes, with their names so you knew who added it. Lastly, you could not edit posts from your mobile device. We were getting frustrated…

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May 21, 2018

In this episode, we’ll look at how anyone can achieve the holy grail of productivity: Inbox zero. All it takes is a few simple steps and an email management app, like Inbox by Google, and you will never go back to your old system. Listen in as we walk you through the process now.

Lately email is getting a really bad rap. You’ll see all sorts of blogs that say, “Don’t check your email! It’s a productivity killer! It only wastes your time!” And if you’re staring at an inbox with 3,7643 unread messages, it might be easy for you to agree.

But what if we told you that 99% of the population uses email INCORRECTLY and you’re probably a part of that statistic.

Truth-bomb: If you use email effectively, you can check it multiple times a day — even 10+ times a day if you want to — and it’s only going to help you get things done. Because now, your email is your to-do list and it should be your ONLY to-do list. Anything you see in your inbox you’re able to complete and move to done OR find the right place for it to follow-up at a later time. Sounds scary, we know. But with a little practice it becomes so easy you’ll never want to revert to your old email habits.

The magic steps to get to INBOX ZERO.

We recommend Inbox by Google, but you can apply these steps to whatever email you use and still reap the rewards. The best way to get to Inbox Zero is to get to Email Zero.

Email should be used for external communications only — all other communications should be through tools such as Slack, Trello or other internal platforms. By changing the way you use email this automatically reduces the number of in/out emails per day.

Aggregate all of your email addresses to feed into one account. This way, you have one master to-do list to pay attention to.

You will need 1. Inbox 2. Snoozed 3. Done. These immediately show if you use Inbox by Google Why you only need these three folders Email only has three states — you deal with it now, later or it’s done. Typically people are unaware of where or how to file their emails. By keeping the filing process simple, every email will now have a distinct place to live. By using the “Done” folder, an email is never deleted and therefore always searchable. BUT it is out of the way and not clogging up your inbox.

Get rid of all email from the past that you no longer need in one clean sweep. In your inbox, select every email that was sent more than two weeks ago.Chances are you will never go back to reading email that is more than two weeks old, so not to worry, you won’t even miss them. Automatically move every email selected to “Done.” This ensures you that your emails are always searchable, never deleted, just in case there is an email you need to find in the future.

Now you are ready to FULLY CLEAR YOUR INBOX!

There are three things you can do with an email: Deal, Defer, Done.

1. INBOX — DEAL WITH IT If you see an email and you can respond right away, respond to the email and then immediately mark it as it to Done by clicking on the ‘tick’ button to get it out of your inbox. This helps clear your inbox yet the email still exists in the Done folder in case you need to find it at a later date.

2. SNOOZE — DEFER If you see an email and you — -Need to collect more info -Are too busy to respond -Need to access the email at a later time — example you have directions to your dentist but you don’t need the directions until next week Then you get this out of your inbox by snoozing it to a later date so that it pops back up to your inbox when you need it or when you have time to respond.

3. DONE When an email is not immediately useful or it has already been dealt with, move it to the Done folder, therefore it’s always searchable.

Once you learn to create the distinction between “I need to deal with something NOW” and “I don’t need to deal with this right now” — your email gets easier and easier to manage.

Keep in mind:

  • Your inbox is now your immediate and high priority to-do list.
  • You can check this multiple times a day to maintain Inbox Zero.
  • The intuitive bundles created by Inbox by Google catch everything else. You can still breeze through this once or twice a day just to make sure you didn’t miss anything important but you will save TONS of time simply by delegating the use of the two.

A few tips to keep in mind:

Email should be used for EXTERNAL communications only. All internal business should go through platforms like Slack. This itself will reduce emails drastically.

In your settings, change low priority email to come to your inbox only once per day.

Comment below and let us know if you try this method and if you’ve reached INBOX ZERO!

Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts? Start engaging with our network, join our free online Slack community!

May 14, 2018

If you haven’t used this tool yet, start saving time by understanding how to make it work for your business. Zapier is the glue that joins two systems together, enabling you to extract and send info you need on command. It allows apps to “speak” to one another, and by visiting their website you’ll notice there’s more than 750 apps to choose from, which means if you’re looking to automate something — it’s more than likely a possibility.

You may have heard of IFTTT IFTTT, or “If This, Then That”, is a simple, conditional commands tool similar to Zapier, but with Zap you get more integrations related to business and that is why we use it at Leverage and why we recommend it to our clients.

With Zapier, you can easily build your own custom zaps or choose from their pre-made menu, which offers hundreds of options. For example, if you search “google calendar” you’ll see more than 100 suggestions for how to automate your calendar. You can choose to send a certain email every Monday, or even send a certain email every time it rains…seriously!

You might be thinking that these tasks, or weekly reminders that you could easily automate, don’t take up that much time. And it’s true to an extent — if you want to remind clients to join a weekly webinar every Monday, like we do, it might take about a minute to send a message. But when you add up the workload of these mental tasks and the inbox clutter they create, it becomes a big deal.

Remembering the task each week, creating the message, sending and then adding up the other five or ten — or more — small tasks similar to this that you do everyday, you’ll start to realize how much this can take off of your plate. Now, instead of sending the message yourself, you go along with your Monday and allow a Zap to do it for you by connecting your calendar to Slack — or whatever medium you are sending your message through.

Set a Zap in 3 Easy Steps:

  • Choose a TRIGGER
  • Choose the ACTION
  • Confirm and SET LIVE!

With this Zap, every time we upload a new video to Wistia, our members receive a message through Slack to let give them the link to view the recording.

Even if you don’t want to learn the set-up, our team is skilled at setting this up for you. This blog brushes the service, but once you start customizing your Zaps, creating multi-stage Zaps to send multiple action-items from each trigger, and relying on this to help redefine your repeating tasks — you’ll discover its extreme power in automating your business.

Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts? To start engaging with our network, join our free online Slack community at

May 7, 2018

Take a look at some of the tools Leverage uses to constantly optimize our service. We feel it’s our duty to to test and perfect these models in order to equip you — our clients and community — with the right information. Learn some of our tried and tested techniques to get the most out of popular tools like Slack, Trello and more.

At Leverage, we aren’t just using and customizing the latest new tech, but are deeply exploring more efficient and clever ways to use what we have as effectively as possible.

Each tool we use, whether it’s email or something like Slack or Trello, is only as good as the way we use it. Email can be a great tool, IF it is used effectively. Same rule applies to Slack. It can be one of your biggest productivity boosters, or productivity killers, if you let it.

We are huge advocates for Slack and use it daily for keeping in touch with our team that spans across 16 different countries. Considering our heavy use and integrations, we would estimate that we were in the top 1% of users, yet we weren’t even close to optimizing it — until now.

Steps to optimization

  • Check your security settings Only admins should have the ability to create a new channel. This helps manage how many channels are active and useful, rather than allowing it to get out of control. To put this into monetary terms, we had 30 people in an “offboarding” channel when this only needed 3 key team members. A few weeks ago we were having a conversation about offboarding a team member and the conversation went out of control and took 30 min. Now if it were just the 3 key people that did this it would be fine, but when you have 27 unnecessary people wasting their time…it can be a significant cost. If, say on average, I pay people $30/hr, then 30 min of wasted time times 27 people = $405 of pure waste for that one conversation! You’ll notice in the screen grab that there’s a lock symbol next to the channel names. This setting ensures that only admins and owners have control of the channel.
  • Create naming conventions Once you have an idea of what channels you need, you can create a naming convention to make them easily searchable by department. In this image you’ll see an example of our channels — anything with a 0 is first since they are task related and most frequently used. Then we get to onboarding, HR, marketing and several others after these. Muting and snoozing If you have alerts set for every public message to push a notification to your phone or desktop, you might end up getting a ping every few minutes. This is a BIG part of the communication tool that can lead to hurting your productivity. In order to not get sidetracked you can mute your notifications when you need your laser-focused attention on a project, or snooze them to let members know you’re out of the “office” — even if it’s a virtual office like ours. — by setting the do not disturb parameters. You can also choose to only get push notifications when you are directly mentioned, as pictured below.
  • Integrate to keep it all in one place Slack has all sorts of
    integrations — for instance if you use intercom as a CRM, you can receive your inbox directly to a slack channel. You can also have your calendar show up as an automated reminder for a date and time of weekly meetings, or even type “/zoom” and click send to immediately create a zoom meeting ID.
  • Last but not least, HAVE FUN WITH IT! Constant text can get boooring. That’s why it’s fun to spice it up and keep the culture light-hearted among all the hard work. There are tons of apps within Slack to enhance the experience, such as donut and our teams’ personal favorite, guggy. With guggy you can write anything and it will turn it into an image. Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts?

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Apr 30, 2018

How Intercom has reinvented the wheel when it comes to personalized communication with clients. Intercom is a communication tool + email automation + help center + shared inbox all rolled into a single platform. Learn how Leverage uses Intercom to make customized communication with clients simple and easy.

Like all of the tools we use at Leverage, it’s not enough to just know about the tool. In order to really get the most out of any service, you need to customize the experience and use a developer to customize the way YOU need it to be used.

At Leverage, we connect Intercom to our database, allowing us to receive details such as customer information, total revenue per client and a hub of internal notes on each person — all in one place. Intercom’s API makes it easy to customize your experience.

With its Zapier integration, you can set up commands, such as tagging any client that reports an issue, automatically starting a checklist in Process Street for that issue, and automatically filling in a client’s necessary information. It can also integrate with your email, text and Facebook, therefore if someone sends you a message on any of these platforms, you can choose to have it sent to your Intercom inbox.

Intercom makes segmenting audiences and email marketing a breeze. You can choose who receives each message you send, whether it’s a one-time or recurring automated message AND who is going to be responsible for follow-up.

This list allows you to choose between sending a message to leads or your current customers, or take it to the next-level by choosing guidelines such as “customers that have done over 10k in revenue and have been active for at least three months” and send this custom message within minutes. You can even choose whether they receive this as an email or a push notification on their linked devices.

For example, Intercom lets you choose both the sender and responder. Nick will send a message and if a reply comes in, the Leverage management team will all be able to see it and respond, therefore more people can manage responses and eliminate wait time for the user.

Conversations can also be assigned at a department level, not just a person level, by creating rules. For example, you could create a rule that if the subject line of an email comes into the shared inbox and contains the word “receipts” it will automatically be sent to the finance department.

Now that you have an idea of how to set up a message for various audiences, let’s review some other helpful features of Intercom:

  • Do you know the chat boxes you often see pop-up on websites? It’s most likely from Intercom. These can be run automatically by selecting trigger parameters, and/or sent out manually for one-off messages. If you visit, you’ll notice we’ve set a timer so that once someone visits our homepage for 15 seconds, a video shows on screen.
  • There’s Intercom Educate, which are help centers and Q&A forums that live within Intercom — it allows you to create collections, and then have multiple articles within a collection. At Leverage, we have a Q&A collection for clients and an internal wiki for our freelancers.
  • Within your inbox, you have the capability of assigning certain messages to people. For example, if we receive a question about hiring, we’ll tag our HR manager so they know they are in charge of responding to that message.

If you’re interested in developing your custom Intercom, let us know! We’ll get a team member to set you up today.

Ready to Join the Community of Business and Productivity Enthusiasts? To start engaging with our network, join our free online Slack community at


Apr 19, 2018

Process Street has been all the buzz around Leverage. We can’t stop talking about it — or using it. This tool has proven to be so useful that we are giving our members a free enterprise account for an entire year. Here’s a behind the scenes look at how Leverage is using this tool to transform our service.

Leverage has already documented how we do every task in the form of an easy checklist in Process Street. Documenting has benefits such as reviewing your current way of doing things to notice areas of improvement and make your current process more efficient. But, it is also a great way to implement a brand new idea. Before launching the idea into action, you organize each step of the way and assign the appropriate team members to each part of the checklist.

Recently we received a case study from our Head of Business Operations, Florence Bout. She told us how Leverage is using Process Street to create a brand new service offering for our members, to provide an easier and more positive user experience.

Leverage is rolling out fixed project pricing, instead of its signature hourly rates. Why? Well, there are many reasons we chose to go this route to better serve our clients, but to keep it simple it is a way to give clients a full project cost estimate and remove any uncertainty before their work begins.

Phase 1 — Project Scope

In this phase, all parts of the checklist are formed around discovering what the client needs, what the project will entail and creating a full scope of the project.

Phase 2 — Define

After the project is assessed, we develop specific project milestones and the total cost. This way the client can see a timeline of deliverables and the project cost… therefore mitigating unexpected surprises from popping up along the way.

Phase 3 — Set-Up

Here we prep all the Trello Cards and/or Slack channels that we’ll need to properly manage the project and all internal + external communications.

Phase 4 — Milestones

This section is specific to our finance department. The image below shows how each person on the team and their respective cost is shown directly in the checklist, keeping it easy to organize how to pay multiple team members that are collaborating on a single project.

After all of the milestones are completed, the project is finalized which means the client is given their final deliverables and the project is closed.

So, there it is. Our real-life, real-time example of how we document our workflows and prep our staff to be fully prepared each step of the way before we launch a new idea or service. This process, in theory, could be applied to most types of project management application for testing prototypes, new products or new service offerings.

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