Ari Meisel

Here’s The Simple and Cutting-Edge Way To Transcribe Audio, Live!

The next level of transcription is here, and the method is pretty simple and incredibly effective.

Here’s how it works.

Rather than just recording your thoughts into a microphone for them to be transcribed, introduce another human being into the mix and make it a conversation.

Running ideas past someone else, while the exchange is being recorded, helps you develop ideas more efficiently, illuminates issues you may not have considered and makes brainstorming possible outside the constraints of a scheduled meeting.

So just record yourself talking about an idea, a process, a challenge with someone else, preferably a writer, who can then craft the conversation into an article (like this), a podcast, a strip or any form of communication where you need your ideas well-crafted, vetted and honed.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

How to Create Meeting Agendas That Work

Here’s a little hack we’ve been using for our meeting agendas. We host most of our live meetings over Zoom because we have team members all over the world.

But when you have a lot of people, with a lot to say on a Zoom call, it can be like the Brady Bunch intro.

Things can get unruly if you don’t have an agenda.

We tried several different agenda tools and none of them did what we wanted, which meant they were never fully adopted (unlike the Bradys).

In the end we did what we often do, we used something in an “off-label” way.

First 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 something that was already 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. Finally, you couldn’t edit posts from your mobile device.

We were getting frustrated…

Enter To-Do Bot

It turned out to be the perfect solution. Now anyone, from any device could add a “to-do” item by simple saying /todo. They just had to put the name of the item, the person responsible for it and when it was “due.”

So for example if I wanted our hiring manager to talk about our new background check software at our weekly huddle on Wednesdays, I could just write

/todo discuss new background check software @jaba on Wednesday

and that was it. Then when it was time for our weekly huddle, everything would be listed in Slack and we could complete them one by one. Problem solved!

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

How to Improve Your Employees as You Scale Your Business

When it comes to scaling a business, I believe that the most difficult part to scale is your people. You’re faced with two problems, bringing in more people who can complement and enhance the team and supporting a existing team culture that won’t break down when you hit critical mass.

There are dozens of startups that offer products and services to facilitate a myriad of reviews: performance reviews, 360 reviews, peer to peer reviews, OKR meetings, etc…

But in a world where organizations are getting flatter (no one in our company has a title) it remains a challenge to identify and recognize a job well done or provide guidance.

I want to share our three pronged approach to nurturing the members of our team through constant feedback.

1) Performance Reviews

About 9 months into the operations of my company, I decided we should create some formal process for reviewing performance over the quarter and set goals for the next one. We came up with some questions and had each team member book a 10 minute video call with me, one on one.

I asked them about their goals for the quarter and things they could improve upon, I’d take notes in Evernote, and then I would decide whether or not that person should get a raise and/or level up to the next rank.

It was time intensive, overly subjective, unscalable, and completely incongruent with how we do everything else. So we changed to a version that, from the outside seemed less personal, but had our DNA written all over it.

Every quarter an automation through Zapier posted messages to our Slack channel asking the team to fill out a Wufoo form for their quarterly review.

Seems impersonal right?

Autonomy was one of our core values and scalability was part of everything we did. Filling out the form was at the option of the teammate, if they didn’t fill it out, they didn’t get a raise or a promotion.

When they did fill it out, they answered a specific set of questions, including their goal for how many hours they wanted to do over the next quarter. All these entries went into a Trello board, in a list for the current quarter. Then at the end of the month, the managers reviewed the submissions and made a decision.

We then shared that with each person individually and on if they wanted to we scheduled a one on one video call. Last quarter three people requested a follow up conversation.

2) Task Reviews

This process began as a way for me to do quality control on tasks. We asked that once every two weeks each team member book a call with me to go over their current tasks, identify any issues, and answer questions.

In order to keep this scalable, we used Calendly to book the calls It has a really cool option called, “Group Meeting.” which allows as many people as you want to book a single time slot. It will continue to show that slot as “available” until you hit your set limit.

Sometimes the call would be with five people, but more often it was three or less. These evolved from talking about tasks to a organic opportunity to connect on a nearly one on one basis with members of the team.

It was akin to a mini-mastermind where they could get guidance and give and get feedback.

3) Bonus Process

From a behavioral economics view, this was one of our most interesting innovations. One of our key performance metrics as a team was the number of hours we clocked in a given week. It was on the order of hundreds of hours. For every hundred hours we did as a team a bonus was issued to a VA.

So if we did 800 hours one week, eight VAs would get a bonus. The bonus was 40% of whatever the VA made that week. This was an incentive for more hours as well as overall improvement to earn a higher hourly rate.

It worked extremely well for us but naturally, we upped the game.

The new bonus structure was still based on the number of hours per week but with a twist. Each week the VAs who felt they earned a bonus filled out a Wufoo form, checking off the boxes of the core values they felt they exemplified and why.

This pushed them to bring their achievements to my attention, I could give specific praise and feedback when they didn’t get the bonus. Now in order to prevent them from submitting a request every week, we scaled their bonus based on how often they applied and received it.

So now the top level bonus was a full match, 100% of whatever they made that week. But if they submitted for the bonus four times and only got it twice, they got 50% of the bonus.

These three methods allowed us to shine a light on our teammates, provide feedback, guidance, and of course praise, in a completely scalable and quantifiable way.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

The Simple 3-Step Process for Automating Your Greatest Personal Strengths

Welcome to the future. This is the curation of curation. The best of the best with absolutely no effort.

For a long time, I’ve known that one of my unique abilities is as a curator and creator of content.

I think that I’m really good at “connecting the dots” between disparate pieces of information to develop innovative solutions to complex problems.

A lot of that comes from the massive amount of content I process on a daily basis. I typically go through about a thousand blog posts, two dozen newsletters, and as many podcasts pretty regularly.

I’m always looking for the newest and best tips, tricks, research and apps to make people more effective. The thing is that I could never quite explain to anyone why a particular piece of content might strike me as interesting.

But the end result is that I duct tape together a piece of psychological research with an automation platform and a news article from a podcast and end up with a process that can 10x someone’s business.

The problem is keeping up the habit.

I love gleaning all that information but at some point the return on your time goes down. Plus, if you slow your pace of input or stop entirely for a period of time, it’s really hard to get back up to speed.

I also hear from clients all the time about the fear of missing out. otherwise known as FOMO. They know that there is industry news, or insider knowledge, that they have access to but they never have the time to get to it.

The result is an overflowing inbox, a messy Evernote or Trello board, and a constant state of stress that everyone knows something you don’t.

I have used Feedly for years to follow over 200 different blogs every day and was pretty obsessive about staying on top of all the latest information available.

I’m happy to inform you that as of today I never plan on looking at Feedly again, and the curation of content that the Less Doing community will not only keep going, it become more prolific.

I Love MonkeyLearn

MonkeyLearn is a machine learning platform, you can teach it to categorize things that you — as unique and interesting human — would. I wrote previously about how I used this tool to pick through relevant press opportunities and deliver them to me.

Now I wanted to see if I could teach it to curate content that way that I do.

Step 1 — Getting the Feeds

Ive built up my collection of blog feeds in Feedly over the years, it’s a carefully pruned grouping of sites that give me the information that I want. First thing was to export that which Feedly does in the form of an OPML file.

Then I found someone who built an online converter to turn an OPML file into a CSV file so I could upload it into a Google docs sheet.

For the Product Hunt stuff, the RSS feed didn’t have enough data for me so I went to to see if someone had downloaded a massive dataset of Product Hunt posts and sure enough they had.

Finally I needed to combine all the feeds into one nice package so I could “show” it to MonkeyLearn. For that I used RSSmix.

Step 2 — Teach the Machine

Now it was just a matter of creating a new “classifier” in MonkeyLearn, hooking in these feeds and then categorizing posts as either COOL or LAME. It took me about 10 minutes to go through the various items and in the end, the machine said it was pretty accurate.

I was blown away. I was able to transpose my unique ability to a web based application in 10 minutes and achieve a result that it believes will be 80% as good as me.

I can’t help but think of the 80/20 rule here over and over again.

Step 3 — Create the Automation

Now it was a simple matter of creating the Zapier recipe to distribute the info. So anytime a new item came up, MonkeyLearn would classify it, if it was consider “cool” then it would post it to a Slack channel as well as create a new card in Trello for me to process later.

Done and dusted, as my British friends say.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

This 1 Idea Will Change Your Whole Approach to Life and Family

I took a one-week Disney Cruise with my family from NYC to the Bahamas and it was the greatest vacation I’ve ever had. It was also an unparalleled experience in customer service, attention to detail, proactivity, and fun.

Before I talk about the cruise I want to give some context to why this was so fascinating to me. Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach has what he calls the “Four Seasons Rule.” He and his wife, Babs, decided that when they are at home they never want to have to do anything that they wouldn’t have to do while staying at the Four Seasons.

No trash to take out, no beds to make, no shampoo or wine to keep stocked, no repairs, etc…now obviously to do that you need to hire a lot of different people and put a bunch of systems in place.

Essentially they’ve setup one of those yard sticks at carnival rides that tell you if you’re kid is tall enough to go on or not. If the task at hand is below a certain level, it’s not something Dan wants to have to deal with.

It’s a version of one of the fundamentals of the Less Doing system whereby I teach people to create artificially restrictive limits on themselves in order to force innovation and eventually, effectiveness.

Except in this case instead of saying you can only take an hour to do something, or you can only spend $100 dollars on a project, this version says that unless the task requires involvement above a certain level, then there is no involvement at all.

That’s how we felt the entire time we were on the Disney Cruise.

Some of my favorite highlights:

1. The boys all got bracelets that were locked to their wrists and essentially acted like LoJack.

They could use them to access the various kids clubs on the ships and once they were in they were “secured” and couldn’t leave until a parent picked them up.

Inside they were treated to events, activities, visits from Disney characters, meals, whatever they wanted. It was a really flexible and honestly spoiling (for us) solution.

If the kids were getting crazy and needed to let out some energy, kids club. If we were sitting at a meal and one of them wasn’t having it, kids club. If we just needed a little adult time, kids club. Totally amazing, and they loved it.

2. The level of personalization was beyond anything I’d ever seen.

Even though we ate at a different restaurant every night, we always had the same two waiters, Pedro and Franchescha. They referred to all of us by name, knew our preferences, and had our favorite drinks waiting on the table when we arrived.

3. Our room was cleaned or organized no less then three times each day.

Each day we had an itinerary of the next days events and the rooms were spotless. A unique feature of the Disney Cruise staterooms is a split bathroom. There are two small units, one has a sink and toilet, the other has a bath and sink. The idea being that you can still bathe a child so someone uses the toilet in private.

4. The unending access to food and drinks was not as dangerous as I thought.

The food was not astounding but it was really good, really available, and you never had to wait for anything. So of course the first day I totally gorged myself but for the rest of the trip I did a lot of grazing.

It was really nice because it meant that if one kid wanted to go on the water slide but another one wanted to sit and watch a Disney movie on the outdoor movie screen I could go back and forth between the two, stopping at the shawarma stand for 30 seconds to get a lite “snack” to keep me going.

Also the idea of having to sit down to a full on meal — with four children way more interested in the guy dressed like Captain America than eating — would normally be much more stressful.

5. The level of coordination is unlike any I had ever seen.

We were sitting in the grand theater about to watch a live show and one of my boys said he wasn’t feeling well. As I picked him up and rested him on my shoulder he quickly proceeded to throw up all the way down my back and pants and onto the woman in the row in front of us.

Mortified, I tried to apologize while expediently moving towards the exit. In the 9 seconds it took for me to get to the door of the theater, two people were already on their way in to clean up the “protein spill.” (Disney has their own language, for example there are no employees at Disney, only cast members).

We got to our room about two minutes later and my wife was feeling really bad for the woman we had pretty much drenched in our sons vomit and wanted to get her a gift card to the on-ship boat.

I called the front desk no more than 4 minutes after my 4 year old got sick on a boat with 3599 other people on it and asked the representative if they could try to find out who the person was.

I was told that she had just heard from one of her colleagues and that the guest was staying in room XXXX. I was shocked that they had that information, again making us feel like we were the only ones on that ship.

6. I figured out a couple minor but important hacks.

The showers on cruise ships are very very small. I realized the first day that I could go to the locker room of the very ample gym/spa and enjoy a sauna and shower that was nearly the size of our entire stateroom.

In addition, my youngest still has the occasional bottle and storing milk would have been a pain. The “beverage station” on the boat had unlimited soft drinks, tea, and coffee. Which meant there was a milk dispenser with unlimited access, problem solved.

One of the biggest things for me is that it was the first time in my memory that I was fully disconnected from the internet (by choice because you can pay for WiFi on the boat) for more than two days.

I had just relaunched my Less Doing brand and I only needed to implement one system in order to set my mind at ease. I setup Intercom with a company email and set an autoresponder on my personal email that any request should be sent to

Then I had a couple of very trusted team members monitor activity on Intercom. Not only could they respond to inquiries but in my absence they were actually able to close business for us.

That week with my family was an experience I will cherish forever. I highly recommend anyone with the opportunity, take a Disney Cruise.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

I walked into a meeting at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday & asked my co-founder to buy me out of the company.

From the 298th episode of the weekly Less Doing Podcast.

When you reach a fork in the road where one founder wants to go one way and one wants to go the other, you can not take both forks.

Today, it’s just me. A letter of how and why I’ve changed my direction. Not going back to, but a revival of my brand and endeavors that allowed me to be closest to the work I crave the most: help someone reclaim their time. This is when I feel the most impactful.

In this episode is the I wrote this letter to my community detailing this transition. The why and the what’s next. Several of the core values from the company I co-founded such as “love what you do”, “learn from experience”, and “never settle” are being felt and honored in full force throughout these weeks following this transition.

I chose to take my fork in the road on my own, following my heart and focusing my attention on the thing I am most passionate about: people.

My future, is the reaffirmation, expansion, and evolution of Less Doing and the Optimize, Automate, Outsource framework through the Less Doing Labs, the Less Doing Coaching Certification, The Less Doing Mastermind, and my own speaking and consulting. I can’t wait to see what challenges I get to work on tomorrow.

Make it an effective day!