“I had this mindset—and I know it’s common—that if I wasn’t working at least eight hours a day,
I was not successful.”

– Mariska Lehman

Welcome to The Steve Show. Today I have Mariska Lehman on the show. And she’s here because she’s been a client of mine.

We met two years ago, and she was working way too hard. She had several wrong clients that were causing a lot of grief in her life, she wasn’t making the money that she wanted…

And now, fast forward, she’s working only 6-8 hours a week. A week. Not a day. She’s tripled her personal income and it’s been amazing!

To give you some background to Mariska’s business, Mariska ran an answering service. What they do is help business owners who are successful, and they own a 24-hour type business such as plumbers, property managers, physicians, and towing companies.

They have a lot of volume after hours and missing every phone call is really devastating for them. But at the same time, they can’t answer every call because it’s super stressful. Mariska’s team helps them by answering their phone calls for them and handling all their calls afterward.

So, let’s find out how she achieved such amazing results in her life and business! 😊


It was specifically 2016. And I don’t remember the exact date in March. I do remember it was March. I woke up that morning and I checked my email because I had to check my email. I was addicted to email.

I had to check my email. And I had received an email from a very un-WOW client (a client that is the wrong match). And it was very aggressive. She proceeded to call my staff and chew them out three times, calling them liars, and being mean to them. I was just like, “God, this is unfortunate.” Like, this person is not good to work with.

You (Steve) were talking about how you could work with only WOW clients (ones that you love and that make your heart beat faster positively). And I was like, “I need to know how I can have this!”

But I just remember feeling anxiety around clients. I always wanted to be there for the clients. And I was just like, I would just hang on for dear life for everything. And it was just, I would totally freak out. It wasn’t good. It was so unhealthy. And I thought that if I wasn’t working.

If I wasn’t checking my email, if I wasn’t doing all these things, then I was not going to make money! And I wasn’t doing everything that I could do to be successful. And oh my God. That was a stressful time. Which was a lot of time. It was like four years of time in my life!

It’s funny, I didn’t notice I didn’t sleep until recently, when I realized that I was actually sleeping through the night, without any aids. I’d go to sleep now, and I actually wake up and refreshed, and I sleep through the whole night.

But before that, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. Like I couldn’t fall asleep at night. And when I did fall asleep, I’d wake up at about midnight and I’d be on Pinterest ’til about 3 o’clock in the morning because I just couldn’t sleep.

So back to what it was like in the business back then. I was making no money, and our revenue had plateaued that year. And so, I was like, you know, we had grown since I had joined the company. I mean my mom was awesome and let me kind of experiment.

But at the same time, I didn’t know how. I was sort of out there experimenting and reading everything. And I remember cold calling. So, there were all these things, but we would grow a little bit through those things. And one year, we did grow a lot more when I started learning a little bit more about referrals and how to do that. But we had plateaued. And it was not helpful for anybody, you know.

It was like, “Man we’re working. I’m taking every single client that comes my way.” Which was not the best thing. And at the same time, I was making no money at all. So, I had convinced myself, “Oh no. I’m so successful.” And I remember it was you who really got it through my head, “No Mariska, you’re making no money.” And I was like when I realized, I was completely devastated.

This is a classic problem many clients come to me with when they are stuck. They work harder and harder, hoping it will lead to more revenue and money, but it doesn’t.

They confuse working harder as being more successful. So, at the time, the first thing I taught Mariska, was how to work more with her WOW clients, not her “UGH!” clients. The goal? To work less and gain more all while having fun.


I would say that that was a huge shift. Because for the first time in my career, I was like, “I don’t have to work with everybody. Like I’m not a good fit for everybody.” And I know the team—they’re an amazing team—giving them that permission to decide whether or not it’s a good fit for them if they want to work with a client, I think gave them a lot of relief too. And that kind of just calmed everybody.

It was interesting, within three months of working with you one-on-one, ’cause that’s where it progressed … Was it three months? No, it was the first month. Like all these people were un-WOW just quit. Like they’d cancel service. And we were like, “Let’s get some champagne. Woo!”

And, you know, on some degree it was a little scary for my mom—she’s more of a numbers person. But then, what I told her was this was going to allow space for more WOW clients. And then literally, I think within three months, all these WOW clients came. We hit our annual goal last year, in March!

I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs, and even solopreneurs that are doing it themselves. When they could just learn one strategy that could change their life and business.

In this case, it is simply interviewing more of your WOW clients, find out what they want, and give it to them. And when you focus on your WOW clients, you get more WOW clients to work with!

Since then, Mariska has also rescheduled the way she lives her life.

I had this mindset, and I know it’s common, that if I wasn’t working at least eight hours a day, that I was not successful. That’s what successful people do. And I had read a lot. And I had a lot of friends who were like, “Oh, you know. I must go to work at like 7 o’clock in the morning. Otherwise, I’m not successful because that’s what successful people do.”

When I first started, I would do eight hours. And then I’d go to evening networking events. So, that time was filled with all kinds of cold calling and very fun stuff. But then, at the same time, it wasn’t very fun. It was very unpleasant. I’m just not a huge fan of cold calling. And it just feels like an interruption for me, and I don’t like that.

What I found is that I was also filling my time with just not very effective things. Like I was just saying, “Oh, I should do this because I think this is what grows businesses. So, I’m just going to do this.” I started creating work for myself.

One of the things I remember from the first time that you spoke, was it’s simple, and we’re humans, and we make things complicated. I was like, “Oh shoot, I’m making everything complicated.”

I started listening to everything that you said. I’m like, “Alright, that’s it. I’m choosing three things. There are three things I’m going to do every day to grow the business. And that’s it.!” I limited my time, I started doing those things and the business grew. And that was it!”

Since implementing simple things like that, this is what Mariska’s life is like now:

“Yeah, so life is way better. So, I’m working out again. I’m training for my first triathlon. And that’ll be on June 3rd in Auburn. I’m so excited! But it’s interesting because now I’m this phase of the training that’s like, you know, it’s a lot longer on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I don’t actually get to start working until 11 am, and sometimes even 12 pm, because it’s just a lot longer. And I now have this freedom to do that.

One thing that I did, I stopped checking my email as much because that was taking up a lot of time. And I realized that the world doesn’t come crashing down. I check it once a day, I have a 30-minute window for that.

Regarding the answering service, I get no emails. I get 10 emails to respond to a week. Because everyone knows, “Hey there’s a manager that can help you.” And it also helps that we are working with WOW clients, so they aren’t difficult to work with!

That’s it for the post! I just want to remind you that growing your business and gaining your life aren’t separate! You can have them both.

Mariska is such an inspiration. So, if you have any questions for both Mariska and me, we’re both active, so ask away by commenting on this post, and we WILL respond 😊

In the meantime,

Choose Gratitude Create Freedom

Steve Napolitan

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