Minimalist Business: Less Is More in Business & Life with Diana Olynick - Conny Graf

How to make your business more efficient to make more money and have more profit, build a minimalist business. 

Less is more in business and life, I am sure you have heard that phrase. But often we get hung up on how much is less and how much is too much.

I would say from my own experience, yes there might be some concepts and even rules around how much is enough or too much, but in the end it's you that decide what is enough and what is too much, nobody can decide that for you. 

Today's guest, Diana Olynick is an engineer and business strategist that is helping business owners make their business more efficient so they can make more money and have more profit.

We talk about how she learned as an engineer about the lean approach or Kaizen approach and how she is using this methodology now to help her clients to streamline their business. She calls this a minimalist business. 

But we are not only talking about business, Diana is also the mom to a 7 year old and a 3 year old and we talk about how she uses the same approach at home with her children and their toys. She says kids are very smart and understand when we explain it to them, and that we need to involve them into the decision process. It is important to Diana and her husband, what values they are teaching their children, and that more stuff doesn't mean we are happier. 

As a little side-note, in 28 - What to do with other people's clutter I talk about some ways on how to declutter toys and the things from our children. 

Back to Diana, she says whether in business or life, I firmly believe that simplicity is the only secret to achieving your goals, so check out this conversation. 

If you find value in this conversation with Diana please share the episode with one or two of your friends or family members, because if you find value in it, they will too. 

Diana Olynick

is a business strategist, minimalist at heart, helping women to streamline their businesses & life for more freedom and purpose.

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Reading instead of Listening (Transcript) 

FYI: this text is not polished, I try to keep it as close as possible to how the guest expressed herself/himself . 

Conny Graf
Okay, welcome Diana I'm so excited to have you on my podcast How are you today

Diana Olynick
oh I'm doing so well thanks so much for this opportunity. I'm also very excited, I'm ready to share my journey and the best of me with all the listeners.

Conny Graf
thank you so you so much for your time. You told me that you are a minimalist at heart. And you even do that in business. So can you explain or tell us a little bit how you got here, what was your journey to become a minimalist?

Diana Olynick
Thanks for that question. I was born in Colombia, so I am an imigrant in Canada right now, and in Colombia the life is very different. It's a country that is mostly poor, and is very affected for many circumstances, for example corruption and so these types of circumstances were always part of my journey.

Living in a poor family and in a poor country, I was certainly very limited, and I'd say that during the period of time that I was living in Colombia I could see a lot of kind of chaos in my life, literally. I also happen to be born in a family where my dad was very abusive with my mother, and all of those circumstances in my life I think shaped therefore the view that I had about the world and life. For the years as I was coming ahead in my professional development, and in my personal life. So, at some point, when I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to become a journalist, but I couldn't because it was a degree that was very expensive, and we couldn't afford that.

So I ended up going to a public university and applying to whatever it was the first option that was there, which was engineering, so I became an engineer in Columbia.

Diana Olynick
I learned in particular how to apply systems to different companies, mainly it was in the manufacturing and industry type of field. And I liked that topic when I was at the university, and so when I got a job, even before I graduated, it happened to be in that area. That job led me also into working with consultants and into visiting businesses and teaching how to implement systems more in the frame of strategic management and quality management. Within these frames there is something interesting that is called "lean", like the lean approach of businesses.

Later on in my life, my personal life was affected, I went through a separation in a different country, not speaking the language, with a two year old kid, so my life was in chaos. I wondered a lot, how the life actually unfolds, is there actually a destiny? I asked myself many existential questions, and it led me to circumstances and it led me to read books, investigate, read a lot.... and I happen to falling in love with a philosophy that in my opinion simplifies my life. And that's what I wanted to simplify my life, to make things simple, and that is my minimalist philosophy. So at the point that these two join is when I started to analyze how this journey of becoming a minimalist at home, what it became for me, what it meant for me.

Later on I birthed my family again, and I had a partner and we had another kid, and I started to see all of these increadible things in my life that changed the journey, part of the journey, so it was the transformation. And then I started to think about my past life and also make relationships with the business side of things, with the expertise that I got when I was practicing as an engineer in my country. I came to see these very very common points in the two journeys as a professional and in my life. So, I realize that, for businesses in order to be able to streamline their operations which is a smart thing my opinion. In order to gain more profitability and applying systems in a business is the same as when we are at on home and we want to make our lives more efficient, more optimize and more streamlined. It's the same.

So, at home we have to get rid of the stuff. I went on a journey which was painful because I used to accumulate a lot of stuff, I used to buy a lot of stuff. That was kind of the culture that if you have more you become happier. So I had to go through that painful journey, and it was difficult and I did it. I realized that, yes, I became more efficient I was having more time available, I was being able to enjoy more the time in the places that I wanted, because before I was overwhelmed with so many toys, I really was disorganized. I was coming from work stressed and having to clean a lot. Because I am actually kind of an organized person, but when you have more stuff you have to work more. So, I enjoy the opportunities of streamlining and seeing the impact of that. Little by little my life started to become a little bit more organized and I have more time for myself and for the kids, and of course for my husband. So, I fell in love with that and then started to make the connection with business and I found that it's exactly the same. So these are strategies that I learned in the past, I was able to make the connection with the minimalist philosophy.

And it happens that the lean strategies in business, also come from the Japanese philosophy. So there is even a model that is called the Kaizen model, and Kaizen stands for continuous improvement. And it goes through the same kind of meaning, streamlining operations, getting rid of all the activities that don't serve the actual profitability goals that you have. And it has of course strategies that you follow, like a process in business, just like you have a process at home. So that's how I actually came to this point of combining these two, and being able to now express this idea and why it's important for businesses.

Why it's not just about the marketing and of course the marketing is kind of the most important aspect of the business because it's bringing in the money with the sales strategies, but a business is actually the whole picture. What I consider is the major benefit of minimalism in terms of businesses, is that when you streamline, you have more time as a business owner to focus in idea strategy, in what you should be doing, not in the minor tasks. So that is the beauty and my journey to become a minimalist.

Conny Graf
Yeah, that's beautiful and I'm always about streamlining and making things easier so can you maybe give an example of one specific area that most people do one way but you would suggest to do it in a minimalistic way and different, that would support what you just talked about.

Diana Olynick
Yes. I think the example that I'm gonna share is applied in life. So, at home we, that was my experience at least, we have kids, and when we have the first kid, we fall in love with so many beautiful things that are available for kids all the toys, and the beautiful materials and everything, and we start to accumulate and accumulate and accumulate. I realized at that time we got to a point where we looked around and we had mountains, mountains of toys, we were flooded with toys.

Conny Graf
Yeah.

Diana Olynick
So this is a real example that happened to me. And one of the things that I found really useful in my journey to manage this is first of all: everything starts with the mindset, right. So, what is it that I want to teach to my kids? What are the type of kids, as humans for our society, I want to raise? So if I was going onto this journey I want them to learn the same type of values. So the first type of values that I like to share with them is saying exactly what I'm saying right now.

The more we have, the more we want to have more. And then it becomes a cycle about being unhappy, because we are never satisfied. So I am teaching them exactly the same thing, they understand, they are super smart, all the kids are super smart. They know that with the simple things we are happy. We teach them that with material things we pretend to be happy but in reality we are unhappy. That's what we teach them when we buy more, that's what we are indirectly saying to them.

Diana Olynick
And so that's what they understand. So practical things that we did was, we got some bins at the beginning, and included the kids to decide what type of toys they wanted to place in those bins to limit the number of toys. So in that way they kind of develop their own idea and self control of and what is: I try not to keep things that I'm not going to use.

They know that through the examples of when we were streamlining, they realized that there were so many toys there that they never want to touch again. So there was no point in us to keep them, and they understand that concept. So, by asking them to put the toys in the bins themselves, we were giving them the space and the freedom to decide what was actually the stuff that they wanted to keep to play. And also, rotating toys, is a good strategy, so they don't get tired of playing always with the same. And teaching them, in general the values about us sharing more time with them rather than take these and go distract yourself, us getting in that experience with them, playing with them, and giving them the space and the opportunity to value those moments more than material things. I think that helped a lot in that process.

So the reason why I share this particularly is because I in my own case, I thought that this was an area that was one of the most difficult ones for me to attack, because it's something that doesn't depend just on me, it's not just my clothes, not just my shoes, but it's the kids. And we are very very like... we melt when they say, please buy me this, please I want this, and they cry and I'm very emotional. So that was hard for me to manage, but I find that these strategies helped me a lot, and especially ultimately wondering what are the type of kids that I want for the society and for my family and for themselves to have a more fulfilled life. So that's how it helps, and now the oldest one says: oh yeah, we shouldn't get so much stuff because that's not gonna make us happy, right? So he comes with those conclusions by himself and I think that that is very rewarding what he says and it's coming from his heart.

So, that is the best way to see the results when they actually start to value other things over than just been getting more and more. And of course they still want the stuff, but we come back to the roots, we analyze we say, if you want something let's see what type of toy that could be, what would be the benefits, and if we do that, we have to get rid of one of the toys that we have, because that is the point. So we go through all of that, that process

Conny Graf
So how old are you, children?

Diana Olynick
one is seven, and in my other kid is three years old

Conny Graf
three years, okay. I just was wondering because a lot of parents feel like they have to make the decision for their children and I always say like this can be really hard because I still remember things I had when I was three and four. And if they would just disappear, then I would have, I would still remember this I actually do still remember something that disappeared when I was young, so I feel like it's very were advised to involve them in the decision, like you just explained, because then they also understand why they not getting something or they understand why they have to give away something instead of us just you, being the mom and just making the decision for them. Yeah, so that's why I wanted to know

Diana Olynick
That's part of the of the... so to find these practices effective, we have to approach them as if they make their own decisions, because they are an active part of the family. And the age doesn't matter, they understand they are very smart. As soon as we ask them a question they are going to answer just like if we ask a question about a comic that they like, they are going to answer. So, they also have their own active participation and that's the only way that they actually embrace that and see the value of that. That they can have that so intrinsic in their life so that they can use this when they are adults.

Conny Graf
Yeah, I totally agree. So, now you've found a way to use this whole concept in business and I think you help people to get to a minimalist business. So do you use the same strategy with your clients that you use with your children?

Diana Olynick
That's a good question, every single business is like a house. Imagine that if I were a professional organizer, I still have to respect their home. It's their home and they are ultimately the ones that are going to make the decision. We offer general strategies, and we understand that if, for example, a business has five people working in a team. But, if we go into a store, for example a brick and mortar business, and we realize through an audit that there is a person that is there every single day but they don't have a lot of work assigned as I've seen sometimes.

Then it is time to wonder, if this is efficient for the actual profitability at the end of the day. Because sometimes in business, we make these decisions and then we get busy with other things, and we don't realize that there are activities that are happening that are not providing any value, and are not helping for the productivity that the business should have. So in getting rid of activities that are inefficient we can reduce costs, and through a reduction of cost we can get more profitability. So for a business to be profitable is not just about getting more clients or more sales, it is also about all the activities that inside are not being efficient, to actually reduce costs. The less resources that you use, the more profitable you can become, that's another way to get good profits in our business.

So, with the participation of the business, the interaction is totally active. If I try to show them these strategies or apply them in their business, and the business owner doesn't agree, and definitely feels that this is the right way, we can't continue. Of course I respect that. And of course we look at the vision and analyze the purpose, the objectives, all of that, but finally it's their own decision. The participation is so active that they always can see what is the deep methodology, and why it's gonna actually give them the results. The idea is that if we take a financial statement, we can start to compare after one month or two months after the implementation and they start to see results in their financial goals.

That's the ultimate goal, and because they understand that it's gonna impact the actual financials, then they can be more flexible. It is a totally active participation process and is very interesting how business owners are always super grateful and realize it's not just about making the sales in order to be profitable.

Conny Graf
Yeah, it sounds totally similar to what I do when I help people declutter in their home. I would never tell them that they have to get rid of something What I do is actually also show them how much time they're wasting by keeping all these things. If you have so many things you use a lot of time, you need to clean clean around them, clean them... I actually had a guest that said she used three hours a day to clean her clutter.

So yeah by showing them the effect that it has right now and what could change to the better that's how they can make their own decision. I would never tell them to let anything go or to get rid of anything that's always their decision, it sounds like you also go in and you just make suggestions and then they can decide for themselves whether they're going to it. So is that how you start if somebody comes to you and says, Diana I need you to help me get a more streamlined business? Would you go in and do an audit or where would you start with them, just to give my listeners an idea.

Diana Olynick
The process always starts by discussing what is, of course, in general, the business about and what are their personal goals even. Because I feel that a business has to be aligned with a personal life, and who they are and what impact they want to make, what is their mission and purpose. And from there, we start a conversation about where do they envision themselves getting to in the future, what is the ultimate goal. For example, for some people it is, I want to be at this level of profitability in two years or in one year. Or I want to reduce costs in this process, I just haven't been able to or I don't have the time to do it myself or other reasons.

So they ask, how can we get to that result? So every time it's a different circumstance but the process is the same. We start by exploring, what is the present state, the state of the art of the business, the purpose, and where they want to be in a certain period of period. From there, we can then start analyzing those specific objectives, what are the main processes inside the business that are related to those objectives. So for example let's say a graphic design company, they want to have a certain level of profitability so we have to start establishing exactly how the process in the design is working right now. How a client requests the designs, how long does it take for a designer to produce one of those designs. How many reprocessing happen, and why? It's going to the detail to know if there are inefficiencies in the system. then the question comes, how do we measure those inefficiencies and how can we streamline those operations in a way that is more efficient. For example how can the time of the processing be reduced.

What happens in, time is a resource and money right, if time can be reduced then the result is that you can take on more clients or more designs. If you can make more designs more efficiently, because the process is streamlined, it gives you more profitability. Because more clients or more designs equals more profit, and that is just an example of a business.

Conny Graf
yeah and I would think the employees are more happy at work too. If there is less redundancy or when it's flowing easier and more streamlined then usually the employees are happier too. They do a better job and so the quality of the design, in your example of the design company, is higher quality. So, you also get a lot of soft results not just financial results but I'm thinking you get a lot of soft results too and you do that.

Diana Olynick
Yes, that is the beauty of this, but for some reason, we miss many of these details in business, exactly as when we are at home, again, and we miss sometimes the chaos that we are leaving or we haven't discovered it yet. So that is my mission to help people discover that there are other ways that we can work around just as streamlining a home, and the benefits of that.

Conny Graf
Yeah, I love your message so much. So where can people find you like if they are now intrigued and want to find you. What is your website and what is your favorite social media platform, where should they go?

Diana Olynick
In all on all platforms as Diana Olynick, anybody can google Diana Olynick, Olynick is O-l-y-n-i-c-k. I like to think of the relationships that I like to establish with anybody as more of a friend relationship. So I'm not gonna intend to take you into our sales funnel or, you know, sell you something. I just want you to meet me, and the best way to meet me is to maybe take a look at the work that we are doing, the stuff that I'm sharing on social media and I also have a podcast. It is called Alkimia Success Academy, and the mission of the podcast is also to showcase, the journeys of other entrepreneurs and to serve as inspiration.

And Alkimia stands for alchemy, in English, and alchemy means transformation. So it's trying to show the journey of transformation, and it's because that word describes me and transformation, Alkimia. So that is another way to meet me through the podcast. And other than that of course I have my own web page which is www.dianaolynick.com, but I am really interested in establishing our relationship first and get to know each other.

Conny Graf
Yeah, and I had the privilege to get to know you a little bit here on the podcast, which was really great thank you so much for your time Diana. Do you want to share any last wisdom or last tip with the listeners before we wrap up.

Diana Olynick
I like to say my favorite phrase is less is more, of course, and that is very true in business and in life, that is my basic philosophy. It's the simplest philosophy, but in the simple things is where we find most of the results that we are looking for in business and in life. So, I find in my own personal life that, the less I worry about the ultimately results on goals, the more I remove stress from my life. And the more I remove the stress the more I embrace the present of everything that is happening.

So when we go to the business side, there is something interesting, and that is, in business there is the pressure of making money usually, because business is about making money. But what I discovered is that the business seems to be also in our life as an excuse for the self discovery journey that we as entrepreneurs are going through. So, for example the business sometimes pushes people to be more confident because you have to share the message, so you kind of self improve yourself in that sense. Or to be more focused on quality and driven because you want to provide something that really serves people. Or to become better at helping people actually, serving people.

Because we start to understand that is not just about trying to get more money, it is about going on the journey of making people happier through your values, your expertise, making an impact on people, that is beautiful. So, the less we worry in business about specific results, the more we open space to actually enjoy the journey, and the journey is happening, moment by moment with the little things that we do not just as a financial goal. As much as I am actually helping people to get to their financial goals, you also have to have the balance and embrace whatever result we're getting right now with an open mind.

Enjoy the journey, so we don't create stress, and we still have our own goals, but the whole life is actually about enjoying our journey. I feel that we are already there, and this idea is a little bit difficult to extract, or digest. I see that we are already there in all the goals, in the combination of all the goals that we want. I already have all the success that I want, I already have it. Just for the mind to discriminate between what we call time, in physics time, the mind has to take little pieces, and show it in frame of time, but we are succefful already and have that thing that we want. We actually have it by now, so we have to recognize that.

So, less is more and that is my most valuable insight that I can give.

Conny Graf
Yeah, thank you so much for that I feel that is such a beautiful ending. And I love that you're not just being focused on the money part and just about streamlining streamlining streamlining. But you bring actually the philosophy and the mindfulness into the job and the process as well. So thank you very much Diana for being on my podcast and sharing your wisdom with us.

Diana Olynick
Thank you so much for these, and I wish all of you so much peace.

Conny Graf
Thank you very much. Same to you. Bye bye.

If you have any questions

If you have a question about decluttering, organizing or something you heard me talk about on the podcast I'd like to invite you to a free public call "ask Conny". You can ask me a question anonymously or just listen in what others ask.

Register here, I look forward to seeing you there. 

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