PRP 270 | Virtual Assistant


There isn’t really a particular list of things that a virtual assistant can and should do. But that’s where the beauty of this kind of outsourcing lies. You get to choose which tasks you need to offload so you can focus on the things that you’re good at and make the most impact on your business. This is what Julie Johnston helps entrepreneurs with. As the founder of Rhino Squad, she helps entrepreneurs and business leaders hire virtual assistants in the Philippines and design the systems for their assistant to follow so they can stay in their zone of genius. Julie prides herself for building a team of 600 rhinos and for all the things they do for her clients. Tune in and find out if this is a service you could make good use of!

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The Season Of No!

A Virtual Assistant Can Grow Your Business Revenue

You are going to love this guest. She’s so peppy. Before we get started with Julie, I want to remind you to go over to Grab your free subscription of Breakthrough Author Magazine. There are tons of tips, tricks, and everything you need to know about writing a book, getting a book edited, platform building, and video. We brought on a lot of new contributors. There is a ton of stuff over there, and I think our guest is going to write an article next time.

Our guest is the Founder of the Rhino Squad, where she helps entrepreneurs and business leaders hire virtual assistants in the Philippines and designs the systems for their assistance to follow so that they can stay in their zone of genius. She defines the zone of genius as tasks that make them the happiest and produce the most return for their time. The best part is that her virtual assistants love these tasks that are offloaded on them, which is fantastic.

She also owns Camp Rhino Gyms, Rhino CrossFit Gyms, and Rhino Ninja Warrior Gyms. She bootstrapped them many years ago with some fence posts, cones, and water buckets from Home Depot. I killed people to start my business. You went to Home Depot for it. She loves having entrepreneur-systemizer businesses and getting the help they need. She loves her virtual assistants and serving your clients. Welcome, Rhino Julie.

Thank you so much. You are such a great reader.

I don’t know about that. I did pass the third grade, believe it or not.

Usually, we have a hard time with the introduction and you crushed it. It was exciting to listen to.

Thank you. You should do the intro early, but you and I had so much to talk about that I didn’t get it done. I’m excited to have you here because one of the biggest things in the author world is we have VAs that are in and out. They don’t stay long, and we find that our clients don’t know what to ask or how to ask what we need to get done. Before we get going on that, tell us about the Home Depot things. Why did you do that?

All of my businesses have been started because of a need that I saw that wasn’t being fulfilled the way I would want it to be fulfilled. My first business was advertising when I was seventeen, and then I gained a lot of weight. I always say my business was growing as fast as my rear end. I was like, “I don’t like the gym.” I didn’t like it. One day, I tried one session with a trainer, and he had me up on a BOSU ball with my rear end in the air. I felt so embarrassed and hated it.

I wanted to join the military to do their obstacle course because it looked fun. I felt like I needed a drill instructor to make me work out. This is way too long of a story. I will shorten it up. I decided to start my boot camp for civilians because that’s not a good reason to join the military. I appreciate everyone and their service, but I was like, “I’m going to start my boot camp for civilians.” I started it with fence posts and buckets of water. Little by little, I grew it.

It’s been several years now, and I grew it into three locations. I love them, but I just always wanted to be a member there. I never meant for that to be my business. The people that are running my gyms right now are way better than I ever was. That’s how I got into the virtual assistant business because it changed my life in the gym industry.

Every entrepreneur sees this vision. When I went from advertising to real estate, it was literally because I was in a bad real estate deal. I was like, “Are you kidding? You are the best in town that has to offer.” That’s it. I got a license, and I was Rookie of the Year the following year because I went in and went, “Let’s do some customer service and marketing here. Not just, ‘Here, sign my contract and get paid.’” I will say it’s a lot harder than it looks with the real estate. I do value that person now a little bit more, but at that time, I was like, “Really? You are the top agent in town?”

That is an interesting subject. I love what I do right now, but part of it is because I have had a few different businesses, and everything is hard. None of it is easy. The grass is not necessarily greener. I’m like, “I need to make this into something that I can get behind and feel good about every day and be excited to get out of bed every morning for.” I have achieved that. I don’t know if it’s my mindset or if I’m in the right place at the right time or what.

If I look back on everything I have done since I left college, at that time, it seemed wavy gravy like, “I’m doing that.” I was in publishing and advertising, went from advertising to real estate, and then real estate into this business. When I look back, I gained skills that make me rock solid at this from every single experience that I had. Even if I didn’t at the immediate time, nowhere I was going.

You are right about that. That’s in my journal. It is all of my years that have led me to be good at this seriously and all of the pain. One thing I have always been good at is taking massive action, even if it’s in the wrong direction. I try not to feel regretful, but I have gone in the wrong direction and lost a lot of money and a few different things. I feel bad, but now I’m like, “All of that was good for where I’m at right now. I needed that.”

It’s funny, too, because I have set these goals to go in a particular direction. It’s the same with me. I lost money on something, but then there’s that a-ha moment. It’s like, “Am I losing money because I was supposed to go that way?” You find out you are good at that other way. It’s the God, universe, or whatever is the way of saying, “Figure it out, girl.”

I’m going to give you this. I always talk about that with up-leveling. Authors are always up-leveling and trying to get more visibility. Whenever you up-level, you run into those obstacles, whether it’s emotional, physical, money, or there’s an obstacle that’s thrown in your way. It’s almost like the universe’s way of saying, “I got you. You got the talent, but you got to give me something. You got to heal something in return here to move to that next level.” Do you do you find that as well?

I finished the book by Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap. He talks about the upper limit problems. Yes, I feel you all the way. Every time I have crashed, and I have crashed so hard to where I felt, I was like, “I don’t know if I can get out of this one. This one seems way bigger than me.” By crashing, I mean getting in over my head with things. Every single time, I keep waking up every morning and keep trying. I take that back. This last time, instead of trying, I surrendered. I still woke up every day and did something, but I surrendered. Somehow, that has me in the best position I have ever been in my entire life, which is strange. I don’t even understand the word surrender, to be honest, but that’s what happened. I’m like, “What? Julie trying hard isn’t the thing that works the best? What’s up with this?”

Trying really hard isn't the thing that works the best. Share on X

I think I’m much older than you. I didn’t learn until my early 50s. People would say, “Just let go.” It’s like, “Do that.” “I have a goal and I’m doing it, damn it.” I had this moment where I let go. I was like, “Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Leave me alone.” 2 or 3 weeks later, the thing that I wanted appeared, and it’s like, “How did that happen?” It was because I did that thing. I let go, and once you get that, you will find yourself pushing a little, and then you go, “I’m supposed to let go.”

Still, taking massive purposeful action instead of massive action. By massive action, it could be, if we get in our flow state, we could do 2 hours and it’s better than the 16 hours we did on another day.

You have these Vas, and this is what authors need. I always teach in traffic school that you have to learn how to do the task. You can direct your VA. Once you have learned it, which is always hard and time-consuming, you let it go to a VA, and then you are freed up for your zone of genius. Talk about that, please, because they don’t understand. It’s like, “I don’t have the money and the time.” That’s what you are doing. You are paying someone so that you can 3X your business and have the time.

There are things that we can do that we do better than anybody else. When we are doing them, it doesn’t even feel like work, but it’s something that does give us a direct return on our business. For me, it’s having conversations with entrepreneurs and helping my team solve their problems. I love it. I do well with it because my brain can make patterns with all the conversations I have. I can figure out where the industry is going and what’s needed. This is the first time I have ever been in my zone of genius pretty much all day. I have never had that experience before in 23 years of entrepreneurship. My business is set to triple in the next year. I feel like I’m not even trying.

PRP 270 | Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant: There are things that we can do that we do better than anybody else. And when we’re doing them, it doesn’t even feel like work, but it’s something that gives us a direct return in our business.


That’s what being in your zone of genius feels like. Being outside of it feels bad. If we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have enough time,” more than likely, we are not in our zone of genius because when we are in our zone of genius, 1 hour is 4. It’s crazy with the amount of things that we can do and how we can move the needle forward in our business. Whenever I get on the call, I will talk to any entrepreneur who wants to figure out what their zone of genius is and what the tasks are that they should have a virtual assistant doing. What that conversation looks like is, what do you do every day first of all?

When you’re in your zone of genius, one hour is like four. Share on X

What do you do when you first start working? What are the tasks, and which of those tasks could somebody else be doing, especially the tasks that you are like, “Anybody could do this. I don’t have to do this?” What are the things that drive your business forward? What are the things that you do that get you more business that helps you be able to get on more speaking tours, or whatever it is that drives your business forward? All of a sudden, we have this list of things for somebody else to do. This list shows that if I did these things more or spent 4 hours a day doing this instead of only having 30 minutes every once in a while because of all my other tasks, I noticed I didn’t say 8-hour day instead of 4-hour day.

I haven’t achieved that. I do enjoy my work, but half my day is spent learning. I love learning. I love learning new programs. I love anything that has to do with marketing and all of the things I learned directly help my clients. It feels so good. It feels impossible, though, when you are not there yet. It’s like, “How in the world could I ever get there?” The answer is, “It’s starting with one thing. You hand that off and you make sure it’s done well.” All of a sudden, you have more time to do your other things. You then start to see your revenue increasing because you have clarity.

That’s another thing. Having help gives you the time to have the clarity to even know. Maybe in that first conversation, you are like, “I don’t know what my zone of genius is. I don’t know what’s going to move the needle forward in my business.” By the way, when you have to pay someone else to do something, you find out if that task is something that even should be done because we do a lot of things that don’t get us a return a lot.

PRP 270 | Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant: When you have to pay someone else to do something, you really find out if that task is actually something that even should be done.


The reason I want Julie on is we are moving into a recessionary period. I know the government is telling us that we are not, but we are. I have talked to many businesses. They are feeling it. I’m feeling it a little bit too. Julie and I have both been through a recessionary period before. Believe it or not, when the money is not coming in as much as it used to, you have to work more and more. If you are the rainmaker, you have to be working in that zone of genius, making the rain, and letting those other things go. You have got more marketing than you were doing maybe a year ago. You can tell Julie is personal. She will talk to anybody. The big thing is you have to be on the phone building relationships.

Relationships are everything. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I get to do. That’s where things happen. If what we are doing doesn’t feel like it’s working or it feels impossible, getting on the phone with other entrepreneurs or other people who might be referral partners, things start shifting and happening. We start learning and getting clarity. That’s the thing.

If we have enough time to have the clarity, we get clarity on maybe a pivot that needs to happen. When the gyms were shut down during the pandemic, I gave a speech to all of our team members because I have three gyms. I said, “Guys, as long as people need us, we will always be here. If they don’t need us, it’s okay because all of us care about people. We have skills. We might be needed differently. That’s okay.”

That’s one of those surrender things that I came to. It’s like, “Maybe I’m needed in a different way and that’s okay.” It will all be fine. I have been in depressive states where I didn’t know what to do. I wake up and there’s so much to do that I’m like, “What is the thing that I do? I don’t know.” I hate to say it but meditation has helped me have so much clarity. For many years of my entrepreneurial life, I was running away from things like that. I was like, “I don’t need that. I need to do more. I have a big to-do list. I can’t sit there and think about nothing,” but it’s clarity. Even if you open and free space to have the time to sit, think, and ponder.

COVID was such an experience for me because my business grew then. After all, people realized they didn’t have the tools needed to be an online business. At the same time, I told you before the show, I took up golf. Suddenly, I was making more money and spending less time but I have to acknowledge because I do have a good work-life balance compared to most people.

Here’s the other thing. As we move into that recessionary period, you even need that more than you did before because you could be working your rear end off and not getting anywhere. For all those coaches out there who are saying scales, that’s not the time when you need to be scaling. That’s the time when you need to be working in your zone of genius and putting it off if you want to grow.

Agreed. I can’t even tell you how much I resonate with all of that. If you are wondering and sitting there, you are like, “I’m supposed to work harder, but then I’m supposed to take time for clarity. How do those two things happen?” I will be very honest about how it had to happen to me. My family is first. What I found was I was pulled in so many different directions by people, things, and messages. I had to go dark. I went dark. What I mean by that is I set up an autoresponder on my phone that when anyone texted me, it said, “I’m offline for a long time. I don’t know how long. I’m deeply working on a project. If it’s an emergency, let me know and I will try to check it when I can.”

Emergencies are a 911 thing. I also had that be my voicemail. It said, “I’m not checking my messages right now.” If you own a business, you are like, “How in the world do I do this?” You tell your clients, “Here’s your channel. This is where I can help you.” I went dark on all social media, and I went hard serving. I was just serving my ass off, making the connections, forming the relationships I needed to make, and letting go of a lot of things that were pulling at me but were bringing me down, if that makes sense. There’s a lot of guilt associated with doing something like that. I called it my season of no.

I have a new book that came out that I shared my practice with authors. Much the same as you, I am overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do and I had a gratitude and manifestation practice. I don’t know if this happened to you. I was so shocked the first day I did that. I couldn’t think of a single thing I was grateful for. I was like, “What is wrong with me?” I noticed as I did the practice and got more grateful and then I started manifesting the things in the other column and the more I was manifesting, the more creative I got. It is all interconnected there. I’d love that season of no because if you can do that season of no, it’s going to work miracles for you.

I will tell you how far I went. We didn’t have Christmas presents. We didn’t do birthday presents because all of that takes time. My relationships do not depend on those things. I love my people and my people love me without those things. Those things are fun. I understand. I took the holidays off because I wanted to work on it. What I was working on was, “How do I love all my clients, and how do I have a service that they need and that I can deliver without dying or feeling I’m going to die?” I’m exaggerating, except I’m not.

I have been in the hospital four times stressing myself. We can do that. I build a community in the Philippines, and I love my people in the Philippines. I up-level their skills and give them stability. I do mental health checks and build a team that everybody wants to be a part of. If I focus on those two things, no matter what my business looks like and no matter what services we end up providing, we will always be okay.

That became my mantra. It’s the core values, mission, and purpose all combined. Every engagement, everything that people invited me to, and everything going on in my life, is it either spending time with my family because that’s number one, or is it doing one of those two things? It’s making my clients happy or my team happy. It goes without saying that I take care of my health. I exercise and eat healthily because, without that, I would be a basket case. I have to let that go many times over the years. I have gained weight back many times and I’m so freaking miserable. I can’t stand it when that happens.

For me, exercise is a stress reliever. I probably overdo it when I get injured and I have to take a week off. I’m miserable because I enjoy that time outside. It’s my stress reliever.

That’s why I dedicated half my life to helping people with that. It’s so incredibly important. That’s a good place to start. I feel like it’s important how far I went. I coined something that I call emotional terrorism. It’s when somebody demands something of somebody else beyond human kindness. It’s like demanding their time. I’m not talking about business. I’m talking about personal. It’s like demanding quick answers. I tell all my friends, “You have the benefit of the doubt forever. I love you unconditionally. If you don’t talk to me in five years, I assume we are the best of friends. When we see each other, we are going to be like, ‘Aw.’”

Emotional terrorism is when somebody demands something of somebody else beyond human kindness. Share on X

I found myself pulled in so many different directions. I stress myself in the hospital. It’s letting go of that leaves you with the people in your life who are awesome and love you unconditionally. It also left me with the ability that when I’m in somebody’s presence, I give them all of me because I have all of me to give. I don’t have notifications on my phone. If people could be texting or calling, I have no idea. I’m present, and that feels so good. I think it’s allowed me to be a better business person too.

It does and that’s where most people that are in the service industry suffer if they don’t have good boundaries. That’s one of the things I learned. I always joke about new entrepreneurs. They show up for their first day. They are at their desk. They shower, shampoo, and shine, “I’m digging it. I don’t have to go to the office.” By month four, they are so stressed out. The dog is looking like, “Shower, please,” because you can get so deep into it that you are not setting good boundaries. You are not taking care of yourself too. Julie, I know you have to go bake bread. Is she awesome? She bakes bread.

I have a 200-year-old sourdough starter that I got from a dear friend. I’m trying to keep it alive, honestly.

Do you have to keep it alive?

You have to feed it every week.

Do you have children?


The sourdough is like your children?

Also, I have my little doggy. I always say I don’t have children, but I have 600 Rhinos. That’s how many gym members we have.

PRP 270 | Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant: “I don’t have children, but I have 600 rhinos.” – Rhino Julie Johnson


I tell my clients about that too all the time, “You are my kids.” A lot of times, I will have clients that want to stay forever. I’m one of those, “I’m going to teach you how to fish. You are going to go off on your own and you are going to come back.” I was telling them, “You are my kids, and the minute you turn eighteen, I’m going to give you suitcases. You are either going to college or you are moving out. Either way, you are using this suitcase.”

That’s freedom. It is healthy.

That’s how my parents raised me. We got suitcases for our eighteenth birthday.

My mom still wants me to come to move back in with her, which is awesome because I’m like, “That would be pretty sweet.” My mom and I and dad have a good relationship.

How long would that stay great living with them at your age?

I like it. Be optimistic and think about things in the best light. I think it would be hard because I would have a curfew, to be honest, from my dad, and my dresses would need to be a little longer.

Every time a date picks you up, the shotgun is in the shovel bit. You live in Las Vegas so there’s plenty of desert for the shovel.

That would be a lot of work for him. I don’t want to put him through that.

Julie, where can we find you?

You can go to I’m Rhino Julie everywhere. You can find me. I would love to chat with anybody who wants to brainstorm how to be in their zone of genius.

You have a session that they can grab with you. Tell us about that.

On, you can book a session with me. If you want to have a virtual assistant and you are not sure how to go about it, you want to brainstorm the task that you would offload or how to make sure you have a return on this financial investment. I am there. I’m not a salesperson. I’m happy to talk to you about it and figure out the best way forward, whether that’s with me. I also recommend other agencies out too.

Thank you so much for being on. Go bake your bread.

Thanks for having me.


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About Rhino Julie Johnston

PRP 270 | Virtual AssistantI am the founder of Rhino Squad where I help entrepreneurs and business leaders hire virtual assistants in the Philippines and design the systems for their assistant to follow so they can stay in their zone of genius (the tasks that make them the happiest AND produce the most return on their time). The best part is…our virtual assistants LOVES these tasks that are offloaded to them.

I also own the Camp Rhino Gyms, Rhino CrossFit Gyms, and Rhino Ninja Warrior gyms. I bootstrapped them 18 years ago with just some fence posts, cones, and water buckets from Home Depot.

I LOVE helping entrepreneurs systematize their businesses and get the help they need and I LOVE serving my team of virtual assistants.


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