Case Study: VAs for Podcasting – Mentor Nation Podcast with John Abbas

John Abbas is a native of Nashville, Tennessee and the creator of Mentor Nation Podcast.

  • John Abbas grew up “super poor” in Nashville, TN. He didn’t know anything about business or money, but he knew he didn’t want mentor-nation-with-john-abbas-john-abbas-VHS8Zt-_J2P-GT8N3vmSAxO.1400x1400to be dependent on his parents for any kind of support. 
  • One day in his  high school cafeteria, John ran into a Navy recruiter. “Everything he said sounded great. I could travel the world at 18, I could make my own money…and they would pay for all of my college…What 17 year-old wouldn’t be attracted to that?”
  • He signed a 6-year commitment with the Navy. He loved the experience and it taught him great work ethic. But the military wasn’t making him the kind of money he wanted. He didn’t like the idea of there being a “glass ceiling’ on his income. 

The beginning of his entrepreneurialism

  • Growing up without monetary privilege mixed with the discipline he learned from the military turned out to be a motivating combination.
  • When John was 23 and his brother was 19, they started a small construction company right around the time that hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. They helped with reconstruction and continued to build their business from there.
  • Once they’d had a sample of the success that can come from entrepreneurism, they were hooked. pexels-zen-chung-5749140They’ve been entrepreneurs ever since.
  • He’s owned a restaurant, built large sales teams…recently,  he’s opted to work in more traditional businesses. He owns a preschool, a medspa, his wife is in real estate and John runs the podcast as a “passion project.”

His breakthrough:

  • John was in the military and got word that he was going to be deployed for 6 months to the Middle East and he became “super depressed.” 9/11 was still fresh in the country’s heart and John was resistant to the idea of leaving friends, community and family. (Communication and the internet were not as advanced as they are today.) 
  • After a week of feeling negatively toward his predicament, one of John’s friends called him out on his behavior. She took him to a hospital to volunteer with terminally ill children. pexels-pixabay-263402It was a life-changing experience for him to see the children so positive and happy, even in their circumstances. John’s friend proved her point – that it’s possible to remain positive and enthusiastic, even in non-ideal circumstances.
  • In John’s opinion, it’s common for people to plan for what they want in the future and then just grind through the days trying to get there. They’re not happy, they’re not fulfilled, they’re living day by day on what they hope the future will be like.
  • His advice? Don’t waste your time, don’t put your happiness and the things you want to do out into the future. Figure out how to be happy and live now. It’s not about the end result, it’s the journey. And many people don’t realize that until after they’ve met their goals and realize that’s not where the happiness is. 

Tell us about the benefits of being an optimist

  • “I’ve always been an optimist…when you don’t have many things growing up, the little things make you super excited.” 
  • “The world is beautiful and people are inherently kind… I fell in love a long time ago with the law of attraction and pexels-oleg-magni-2764678I really believe in it. I really believe that what you see is what you attract.”
  • John’s philosophy is that whatever you’re looking for in the world, that’s what you’re going to see. So if you’re looking for positivity, that’s what you’re going to find. “[Negative people] don’t get any joy or benefit for being that way, so what’s the point?”

Mentor Nation – soon to be launched.

  • John has been working for two years on a start-up called “Mentor” which he describes as an “Airbnb of learning.” The concept revolves around information-sharing. To paraphrase John – if you want to learn how to start a podcast, you could either watch a million youtube videos or you could attend a live webinar or talk to someone (in the information-sharing space) and learn directly from an expert. The same goes for any other area in entrepreneurship.
  • The idea for Mentor Nation (which he’s been working on diligently for 2 years–launch date TBD) came from John’s own experience of starting a podcast. He spent hours up late at night watching youtube videos and trying to make sense of them, but they were all saying different things and some were outdated. So he had the idea to start an information-sharing platform for entrepreneurs to make learning new skills easy and peer-lead.

About Mentor Nation Podcast

  • There’s something powerful about watching entrepreneurs on stage, and that was the inspiration behind John’s podcast, Mentor Nation. 20210317 PexelHe learned that most experts give their best information and wisdom in a keynote speech. They don’t have a lot of time, they’re speaking to a lot of people, they have to value in an abbreviated form and they’re being paid a good amount, so there’s urgency to deliver. 
  • So John had the thought, “What if I could take the value of a keynote speech and deliver that to an audience in an interview-style session?” John sends his guests a questionnaire ahead of time and asks them to think about the questions as if they were going to write a 45-minute keynote speech around them. And then they record their answers live with John on the podcast.

Have the podcasts changed how you do business yourself?

  • In short, yes. When you interview successful people, you start to see patterns in how they do things. They all say similar things in different ways. 

How did you come across outsourcing?

  • To quote John Abbas: “I was mind-blown. [John Jonas] talked about how he had built this multimillion-dollar company with virtual assistants. entrepreneur on fireI didn’t know anything about virtual assistants or how you would find one. With my traditional businesses, we were looking for someone here in the US and to get anyone to do anything [costs] $15/hr, even just grunt-work. I was listening [to what John Jonas was saying] and I was like, you have to be kidding me.”
  • So he reached out to John Jonas and asked him to appear on Mentor Nation Podcast. “I wanted to know how it actually worked through his platform that he built. As soon as [we finished the podcast], I got onto because I was just blow-away.”
  • At the time, John Abbas was focused on growing his podcast. It wasn’t making money but it was very time-consuming. He thought, “how great could it be if I could find someone to do all of my podcast stuff–editing, design, the banners…everything for each episode. So I went on to…and it was so easy!”
  • Eventually, he found Rogalin, his current VA, through He hired her for “way less than what I would pay anyone here in the United States.”
  • The first thing John had Rogalin do was build a website for his podcast, If you visit that site, she built the entire thing. As soon as she was done, 20210317 Pexelhe knew he “needed her forever.”
  • She does design, forms, banners, cards… his daughters (ages 12 and 11) wanted to sell slime and fun homemade things. She built and designed their youtube channel and helped them build a website. 

How do you train your VA?

  • She brought a skillset to the table to begin with, they just needed to “get used to each other.” In John’s opinion, you do that through feedback. 
  • For, John gave Rogalin all of the information she needed at the beginning of the project. Then he let her create the initial page and then gave her tons of feedback. That’s how they learn how you are, what you like, what kind of design you want…
  • Initially he told her that he wanted a clean modern design, he gave her the content for the website, asked her to create certain tabs and after a lot of feedback, she eventually got to know his style. 
  • When he needed her to make a banner for his first podcast guest, John sent Rogalin an example of one that he liked and asked her to mimic the style. 
  • It’s like being in a relationship – over time, with good communication, you start to understand the other person’s tastes, their quirks, their needs, their wants. Through all of their communication, Rogalin learned how to do that for John. 
  • The core of training Rogalin in the beginning was pexels-vanessa-garcia-6325981giving great feedback. After time, she started to pick up on what John liked and what he expected.
  • In terms of training, “[There’s] no secret, you just commit to it.” – Referencing the time and patience it takes to train with positive feedback and guidance.

How much time do you spend managing Rogalin each week?

  • (Almost) none. There’s an outlined process she follows to design banners and promote each new podcast, so all John does is send her the recorded file. She does the rest. 
  • Rogalin sends John updates every morning at the same time. If he doesn’t have a project or podcast for her to work on, she does SEO for the website and the youtube channel.
  • The only time John spends managing Rogalin is if they’re beginning a brand new project that she’s never done before. He gives her instructions, sends her examples, sends her lots of feedback, and because she is already familiar with his style and expectations, she catches on quickly.
  • John would probably have more of a detailed training approach if Rogalin did more systemized and  technical tasks, but where her work is mostly creative, he doesn’t have to do much to manage her. Since he spent time in the beginning creating systems to guide her design work, it’s mostly hands-off now.
  • Every now and then John asks Rogalin to help with something that’s completely out of her comfort zone. pexels-ivan-samkov-4240606She will tell him upfront that she doesn’t know how to do it, but she’s very open to learning new things.
  • She ‘s branched out to building funnels (which was not her strong suit), Shopify, SEO and other tasks.

What do you do with the time your VA saves you?

  • John likes to use the time Rogalin creates to reinvest into family, travel and creative endeavors, including the creative side of building his business.

If you could go back 20 years and you had 60 seconds to talk to younger yourself, what would you say?

  • “Don’t get so caught up in the destination – enjoy the journey. I’ve set big goals, and then I stress out on the way to achieving those goals, and then I achieve that thing and it’s great and it lasts about 30 minutes. And then you’re on to the next thing. And so you realize that  95% of your time is always going to be in the journey and less than 5% is in the destination…The thing that you talk about to all of your friends when they’re over dinner is the journey. The thing you got excited about and the thing that was fun was dealing with those problems and how you overcame them.”
  • “Be grateful all the way through.”

And if you want to see more videos, check out our YouTube channel or our Facebook page for more outsourcing tips. You can also check out how to get started on hiring Rockstar Virtual Assistants.


About Shelane Tuttle

Shelane Tuttle has worked in content development with John Jonas and the team since 2010. She’s a mother of four, book devourer, beach bum, wannabe music and art connoisseur and she thrives on learning/teaching others about new things, like outsourcing.

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