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Attorney Liza Ann Esqueda: “Hire for my weaknesses”

In order to delegate effectively, you must have very specific instructions for your employee to relate to. Your employees need to know exactly what you want to be done, how you want it done, and when you want it done. Standard operating procedures accomplish this role. Take the time to think about and write down […]

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In order to delegate effectively, you must have very specific instructions for your employee to relate to. Your employees need to know exactly what you want to be done, how you want it done, and when you want it done. Standard operating procedures accomplish this role. Take the time to think about and write down everything related to particular projects and tasks. What are some questions that an assistant may ask of you about these? What are some bumps in the road that they may run into? Write all of these down in your standard operating procedures. I personally like to make videos for my assistants. I will make a quick video of the task I need them to accomplish for us, like a video recording of my screen while I run through the assignment, for example. The visualization of the video goes a long way in explaining and clarifying what needs to be done.


As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liza Ann Esqueda, an intellectual and trademark attorney. She supports entrepreneurs and small businesses to protect their brand and products and has a passion for teaching business owners how to have a strong legal foundation to build their business on.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’m currently a trademark and small business lawyer, but I was actually a stay at home mom for 20 years prior to deciding to attend law school at age 41. Being a lawyer is something I always wanted to do when I was younger, but then life interrupted — marriage, kids, etc. And the years flew by! Once my youngest was in school full-time, I had an epiphany that I should go back to school. It was not something I thought about in years, it felt like a sign end and I immediately acted on it. I studied for the LSAT for about 5 months, then shortly thereafter applied to law school.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

There have undoubtedly been some rough times. Being a boss, and owning my own firm is the most challenging thing I have taken on. When you’re a business owner everything falls to you. You are the human resources department, the accounting department, you handle the front end and the backend. And, in my case, none of this has to do with practicing law! Initially, it felt overwhelming. I was given the best advice I can recall at that time when someone told me, ”if you are learning an entirely new industry, that’s your sign that you need to hire someone for that task.” Hiring help, whether you think you are ready to have employees or not, is usually the best way to keep your company moving forward and growing.

I have had moments when running my business felt incredibly overwhelming and felt like an uphill battle. I do not know that I can say I’ve had moments when I felt like quitting.

I get a lot of the drive for my business from watching colleagues. I have friends and well-respected colleagues in my industry that I see succeeding and giving back to the community in the way that I do. Seeing them succeed gives me that drive of knowing that I can succeed at their level, as well.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

There are plenty of mistakes made when starting a business and they sure do not feel funny at the time! As we learn and grow, we can hopefully look back on and laugh later. I am a stickler for procedures. Being a new lawyer, lawyers know the law, but it is impossible to know procedure without actual work experience. For me, walking into a court room and not being certain if the plaintiff sits on the left, or the defendant sits on the right, who speaks first — the plaintiff or defendants counsel? Can I approach the bench? Can I walk up to the court clerk when proceedings are going on? I once had a client who was an informant and I could not say that and I also could not lie, so I was stunned and not sure what to say. So, when asking for rescheduled court date, I had to think fast and come up with a neutral, true, reason, but one that had nothing to do with the real reason WHY my client wasn’t in court that day. The judge knew the client was an informant and he was giving me a knowing look like he was sending me telepathic reasons for me to provide. All of this nearly made me sick to my stomach!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I believe in building a genuine relationship with my clients. I believe in informing my clients 1000% of what they can expect in their legal process and in the relationship with me. Hiring a lawyer to handle your business is a big deal. It’s an important relationship and I want to make sure that my clients choose a person that is a good fit for them, and vice versa. For that reason, I run a no-pressure law firm. All of my pricing is a flat rate, upfront pricing. There are no surprises and working with me. My clients have full access to their files and know that they can reach out to me at any point in our relationship if they have any questions.

I have been told many times by clients that they appreciate my approach of explaining things simply instead of using complicated legal terms. My goal is to ensure my clients are 100% happy with the service I provide and fully comprehend that service if they are receiving.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

What keeps me from burning out is the drive to continue to be motivated. I know people will say make sure you take time for self-care in time to relax. I understand that and I am a big proponent of that, as well. At the same time, with launching a business it has to be one of your top priorities. And while building a business, you sometimes have to work those extra hours in long days. So, staying motivated and remembering my goals and remembering why I started this business keeps me from burning out.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have many people to be grateful for. I have built a community of colleagues and mentors around me who support one another. I am incredibly grateful to be able to pick up the phone and call, or shoot off a text to a colleague and bounce ideas and questions off of them.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

As skilled as many entrepreneurs are, you are likely not highly skilled at every task you take on. Additionally, there are likely tasks you don’t enjoy taking on. A rule of thumb I live by is to “hire for my weaknesses.” If there is something I don’t enjoy doing, something that will cause me to procrastinate or stress, that is a reminder to me that someone else could do that task more effectively and efficiently. A task I may not enjoy could be the “zone of genius” for someone else. Hiring for your weakness and delegating those tasks is a good business decision. This allows everyone to excel at jobs they have taken on.

Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

I believe it’s hard for entrepreneurs to delegate tasks that they know they can handle. A lot of entrepreneurs are pretty skilled I can do a multitude of things. I know a lot of us fall into the mindset of “I’ll just go ahead and do it myself it doesn’t take much time.” The problem with this is that while you’re tackling these tasks there’s no one handling being you, the business owner. To make your company run effectively people need to work in their “zone of genius.” If your zone of genius is being an accountant, then you should focus on that. Hire someone to be your salesperson, your admin, your tax attorney, and let them work in their zone of genius. It will take them much less time to get the task done, and they will do it better. Your business needs you to be the leader. Being a leader means knowing when to step back and delegate to others.

In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

The biggest pivot is accepting that you’re the boss and you have a very specific role in your business. Your role is to lead and grow the company by focusing and working effectively in your role. There are only so many hours in the day and if you choose to take on tasks that can be accomplished by others, you were choosing to not work focus on your best skills consequently not putting your best quality work towards building your company.
There is ultimately one boss, one leader when visionary building your brand. Be that person.

Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

In order to delegate effectively, you must have very specific instructions for your employee to relate to. Your employees need to know exactly what you want to be done, how you want it done, and when you want it done. Standard operating procedures accomplish this role. Take the time to think about and write down everything related to particular projects and tasks. What are some questions that an assistant may ask of you about these? What are some bumps in the road that they may run into? Write all of these down in your standard operating procedures. I personally like to make videos for my assistants. I will make a quick video of the task I need them to accomplish for us, like a video recording of my screen while I run through the assignment, for example. The visualization of the video goes a long way in explaining and clarifying what needs to be done.

One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

It is not necessarily true that you’re the only one that can do something effectively. I think as business owners we all have fallen into that trap at one point or another. Quite often, it feels easier to get something done yourself, rather than hire someone and then have to train them to accomplish the same task. The fault in this thinking is that it’s shortsighted. While it may be true that it will only take an hour to accomplish an assignment, look to the future and recognize all of the hours that you will have to take out of your day to accomplish this on an ongoing basis. Is that really the best use of your time as a business owner? Are there other tasks and duties that an employee cannot handle but would fall exclusively to you? Your time is best spent focusing on those items.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 😊

I believe that people should actively be a catalyst for others. When you help others selflessly, whether it’s in your business or your personal life, you put out an enormous amount of positivity and good and energy in the world. People around you sense that energy, especially the genuineness of it. This is not only good for others, but it comes back to you, as well, because others will remember what you did for them and will be a catalyst for you and your business, as well.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Readers can follow me online at social media handle @LawyerLizaAnn. My website is www.lawyerlizaann.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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