TMBA605: What Makes a Great Remote Employee?

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This week’s episode was inspired by a question from a listener.

Katie recently graduated with her master’s degree, and while she appreciated the insight that we’ve shared in the past about how to get a remote job, she wanted to know more about what it takes to succeed at a remote position once you get it.

This got our wheels spinning, and we put together a list of five important factors that can help employees become “A Players” in their remote positions.

This conversation is of keen interest to remote employees and employers alike.

You’ll hear about the difference between good employees and great ones, why “B players” have been struggling with remote positions, and a whole lot more.

We’ll also be sharing some news about our first event in nearly two years.

See the full transcript below

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why remote work has been difficult for B players. (12:40)
  • The fundamental difference between a remote-first company and a traditional one. (18:55)
  • How you can benefit by putting your unique lifestyle situation front and center. (25:50)
  • The advantage to being a “one person productized service”. (31:46)
  • Why previous remote experience is so important to companies that are hiring. (38:43)

Mentioned in the episode:

Before the Exit – Our New Book
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Dynamite Jobs
Dynamite Deals
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Post a Remote Job
Dynamite Jobs – Remote Recruiting Sales Page
Let’s Talk High-Level Podcast Strategy for 1 Hour
Jesse Schoberg
Jason Calacanis
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Deep Work by Cal Newport
SpyGuy.com

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

TMBA305: Building Teams of A Players
TMBA381: A Conversation with Cal Newport
TMBA593: How to Get a Great Remote Job

This week’s sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Smash Digital.

Smash Digital is a growth agency filled to the brim with unicorn images and SEO memes.

A team of SEOs who actually know how to use SEO instead of just selling SEO to people who don’t know SEO.

An agency with so much link juice, you’ll need a mop and a bucket to clean it all up.

A group with actual skin in the game, ranking their own portfolio of profitable businesses, and offering the exact same services to clients.

If you want to have Smash Digital in your back pocket, check them out over at SmashDigital.com, and a big thanks to Smash Digital for sponsoring the show.

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian


 

Full Transcript


Dan: Happy Thursday morning. Welcome back to the podcast. Welcome back to the podcast Bossman. In typical fashion, this is being done at the very last moment. Busy week in business. And it’s pretty cool to be sitting here, in person, in the business function room, hashing out some deals

Ian: In the business lounge. I think it even says that on the outside of the door here at your complex. Here we are.

Dan: Here we are. So in this week’s episode, we’re going to be answering a listener’s question. We absolutely love those. So I’ll just list them up here at the top. If you’d like to give us a prompt for an episode idea or question you’d like us to answer, hit up our producer Jane at TropicalMBA dot com and Ian and I’s emails are also at this domain. So Ian and Dan at TropicalMBA dot com, we’d love to hear from you. Okay, so we’re gonna get into that. But first, I want to do a little bit of news. There’s some really exciting stuff coming down the pike for us. Events are back. We posted less than 24 hours ago, the registration page for DC Mexico City, our first event since late 2019.

So this is going to be two years later. And we’ve been sitting on our hands doing Zooms. And now all of a sudden, we’re going to be in ‘The Intercontinental’.

Ian: The hotel looks awesome.

Dan: I’m just so excited, and to see the surge of interest amongst Dynamite Circle members. I don’t know, should we share numbers, but these spots are just absolutely flying off, people have been waiting to go back to events. It’s been such a big part of who we are and what we do since 2011.

Ian: 10 years.

Dan: Yeah, we’ve been hosting events for listeners of this podcast. It’s incredibly rewarding, like talking with the event team today about the plans we have for it, and how we’re going to connect people, and who’s coming and how bright they are and how much they’ve progressed. That’s one of the things about doing this for 10 years, you see that so many of us are hard at work building incredible businesses and come back every year to share it with each other. And incredible lives for that matter too, to see people bring families until the next year or years later and to build generational wealth. It’s been inspiring, cool, and it’s an absolute honour to be in a position to bring folks together in that way.

Ian: This event is gonna be pretty cool, Dan, we’ve never done an event in Mexico City before. But I truly believe this could become a staple in our event diet. We might go back to Mexico every year because basically the way that we do it, generally speaking, is Bangkok in October, but we’re gonna have Mexico this year, because it’s still very hard to get into Asia. But at ‘The Intercontinental’, where we’re booked in, it seems very much like DCBKK.

Dan: Part of it is just the value prop, right? It’s just the fact that we’re gonna be staying in a world class facility that has capability to grow with us. Members can come and stay the whole week, and it feels like a good value. It’s also a communal adventure. Mexico City is really cool. It’s really rad. And even for those of us that live here in Austin, yeah, we love Austin but maybe it’s not that much of an adventure to go to an event in Austin. And I’ll tell you this, just the economics of what you can deliver, like our ticket price is $650. And we go to work with that money, we spend that money back on the members. And what we can get for that down in Mexico City is just absolutely a better value than what we can do here in Austin. So pre pandemic, this a little inside baseball, this was our plan all along to move Austin DC. So last year’s Austin event, that we had to cancel due to the pandemic, was planned to be the last Austin event. So yeah, the five year vision is we’re going to do Mexico City and Bangkok. These could be our two key events. And just a little sales pitch. Those events are for Dynamite Circle members only. It’s a pretty simple application process if you are a founder of a remote first business, have a look at the application, this event is going to be absolutely rockin looking forward to

Ian: You mentioned $650. We do have early bird ticket prices – July 23 is the last date for that. And that includes a mastermind ticket on Friday. So our format is mastermind on Friday and then talks and breakouts on Saturday and Sunday. And of course people will be organising earlier and later on.

Dan: It’s an absolute whirlwind. I hesitate to even wade into it, it’s like a beehive of activity and different sorts of functions and meetups and casual and serendipitous and planned and all this stuff. But the punchline is: this is an opportunity for those of you out there to see what’s actually happening on the ground. Just a small example. I always notice what you see on the internet versus what’s happening in real life. What’s happening in real life is that listeners of this podcast are building multi seven figure businesses, they’re changing their lives, becoming founders, they’re moving up the value chain, becoming leaders in the business industry that’s happening whereas 10 years ago, we were digital nomads, trying to figure out how to get a VA in the Philippines or whatever.

For example, when we post about this event, there’s like a ‘like’ function, right? So if you look at the Internet, you think, oh, like this number of people liked it. But six times as many people that liked it bought a ticket to come to the event. So, in that sense, this is an opportunity to see actually what’s happening on the ground, actually how people make a career, actually how people make these businesses, and to be with your peers. I just think if you’re just hanging out on Twitter, if you’re just hanging out, even in the DC, like, it’s not the same as meeting with those people in real life and figuring out how you can learn from each other and work together in the future.

Ian: We’re getting back to it, man, very excited. Like you said, it’s been a two year hiatus due to COVID. But we are essentially entering our 10th year of throwing events. Very excited to see everybody and to talk shop and have a great time in Mexico.

Dan: So speaking of success, I got to mention, just for the newsworthiness, that June was our biggest month of sales in over six years, since we’ve had the e-commerce business. Those of you that have been around for a while, we exited a business in 2015. Well, since that time, we had never gotten back to a seven figure run rate. And this is a month Ian that we’re at a seven figure run rate. Your reflection?

Ian: I’m very excited. And I’m very scared, like any entrepreneur, you know. It’s like, oh, cool. Yeah. And then the first week of July is like, slow, you’re like, Oh, this is all gonna come crashing to an end. Perfect. But yeah, if you want to know the secret to running a seven figure business, Dan, I’ll tell it to you. This is special for you and listeners to the show, work for three years, don’t make any money, put in over a quarter million dollars, and then eventually you might get to that point. So that’s just a quick tip for our competitors out there. And anybody thinking about achieving success in the future. No, but seriously, we had a huge month. And we have a huge team now too, which is cool.

Dan: We hired 4 people this month so we’re making it but we’re spending it all.

Ian: We really are. Because we feel like this is a really big opportunity. And it’s something that we’re going after. We can do a whole show on that, at some point, if you want. But yeah, it is great news. I’m just very excited for us and our team to see what happens for the rest of the year. Last year, this time, I went back and looked at one of our weekly reports. We were barely even recording revenue or reporting revenue, because we weren’t even focused on it in so many ways. We were trying to get this quote, ‘job board’ off the ground, Dynamite Jobs dot com. Now it just feels great, man, because you and I’ve been hammering on this thing for the last year, we’ve brought a bunch of people onto the team. And we’re focused on revenue, we’re focused on product, we’ve got some really exciting things going on over at Dynamite Jobs dot com if you want to check it out, give us some feedback. I am Ian dynamite jobs or Ian at tropicalmba dot com, shoot me an email.

Dan: Hopefully, we’re tossing a bunch of numbers around about our expenditures and our strategies and other stuff. Probably realistically going to be breaking that down somewhat at the event. Hopefully that stuff will make it onto the show. But, the reality is, things are moving so fast that it’s a bit of a whirlwind right now, it’s hard to pull out learnings as you’re just absolutely in the middle of it. One thing I will say though is – there was a comment that Jesse Schoberg made on the show a few weeks ago where he said, ‘Hey, as a founder, I’m really good at zooming in and zooming out’. And we talk all around our lives about not getting stuck in the middle, like choosing one of the polarities. Like you’re either micromanaging some ridiculous detail that people are like, ‘Why does this guy care about this?’ Well it’s because it’s a dedication to excellence. Or sometimes the devil is in the details like the details can matter. They can lead to innovation, but you can’t be in the details all day long. You can’t be a micromanager all day long, you zoom back out to 40,000 foot and ask yourself, ‘What’s the vision for this company?’ You don’t want to get stuck in the middle like managing clients or delivering product, you want to be 40,000 foot. So zooming in, zooming out. And part of that is just consistency and energy and just showing up every day because both things require a lot of energy. And a lot of founders only do one or the other. They only do the vision stuff, if they don’t have a bunch of times a day dedicated to their business, they show up and do vision. A lot of founders, they micromanage for whatever reason. And so I think there’s a lot of value, like Jesse said, in figuring out a work plan, a path, whatever it is a routine that allows you to both zoom in and zoom out on a daily basis. That’s the news. A lot of exciting episodes are coming down the pike here. This one was based on your question, your emails help inspire this stuff.

So today’s question is all about how to be a good remote employee. And there’s just some broad things to bear in mind here, something we have a lot of experience in. And I think a lot of what we’re going to talk about can resonate with founders as well because essentially what we’re talking about is how to be an A player, that’s relevant for founders, freelancers service providers and employees alike

Katie writes, “I’m reaching out because I was recently introduced to the pod via an acquaintance” – must be a very good friend – “who has a similar lifestyle to me, dividing our time between the US and overseas”. That sounds baller.

Ian: I’m trying to maintain my life in Europe too man, it’s not going so well with this pandemic. But I hear it’s opening up, so it looks like 2022 it’s a possibility.

Dan: “I graduated with my masters in the wake of 2020, everybody knows what that means. When job interviews were at a standstill, now that the economy is opening up again. I’m hoping to sign one or two remote positions in the very near future to maintain my current life here and in Europe. While your episode ‘How to get a great remote job’ has provided me with helpful advice to attract the attention of remote employers. What’s now weighing on my mind is how to keep the employers attention, ie how to actually be a great remote employee. I would love to hear a podcast on the topic. As a listener, it would be interesting to hear the opinions of employers about what has worked, or what hasn’t worked when moving online. What qualities have shined from employees who have successfully transitioned, etc. Thank you and all the best. Katie”. Katie, what a lovely question. And there’s just so many ways to dig into this, Ian and I obviously have spoken with hundreds, if not 1000s of employers over the past decade in remote first companies.

We’re gonna present these as tips. I wrote ‘counter intuitive tips’, because I just don’t want to do all the basic stuff, like work hard. You know, I wanted to try to throw a couple curveballs Katie’s way. She sounds like she’s pretty advanced as it is. So the first point is that remote work has been very tough for B players. But B players are still critical parts of any company. Before we talk about this, we need to define an A, B and a C player. And also to note that they’re not mutually exclusive. You know, I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn here, even if I suggest that at times in our lives, we have both been C players,

Ian: For sure. Often.

Dan: Let’s talk about it a little bit, though. And I think there’s like a trend here, which is, you know, to set the narrative context in 2021. There’s an anger sweeping across North America right now. And that anger is that employees are being asked to come back into the office, after having been out there doing their jobs well, for an entire year. And now they’re mad that they want to be controlled and brought back into the office. And a lot of those candidates are coming to our site Dynamite Jobs, which is sweet.

Ian: Thank goodness,

Dan: Thank goodness. But I think there’s a secret, sneaky hidden intent behind this, which is what the employers actually want is for the B players to get squeezed out. So if a B player refuses to come back to the office, the employer is like, ‘Okay, well, that’s the policy. So cool. Now you’re off the payroll’. Whereas, my guess is that in a lot of these larger tech companies, if you’re actually an A player, and you call up the company, you say, ‘Look, I can’t be one of the people that comes back’, they’re gonna be like, ‘Nah, you good. You A’. So right there, that’s a difference for you to A and a B player, a B player, you got to come back to the office.

Ian: That’s right. So when we’re talking about a, b, and c players, I think a general description of the difference between A, B and C is – A means overachieving or excellent, B is okay, pretty good. And then C is average. And so when we say remote work is tough for B players. I think what we’re saying is part of the quality of an A player is to show visibility and to show accountability and to also do great work. And that’s really hard to do if you’re a remote worker, I think. This is also something that’s acquired, and it’s something that you learn how to do. And part of me just reading all this news Dan about remote work and all this stuff. I’m like, ‘Welcome to the party. 10 years late’. We’ve been doing this stuff for so long, it almost seems .. well it’s definitely normal, but it almost seems abnormal to me to be talking about an office. So I think the answer to how to be a good remote worker lies a lot in, ‘Have you done it before?’ That’s a chicken and egg problem – well, I can’t do it until I’m given the opportunity, but you kind of got to go out there and get the opportunity. And I think there’s a lot of different ways to do that.

Dan: All right, so let’s take just a little bit more of a moment to define the difference between A, B and C players and why it matters for this. So an A player is someone that when you delegate a task or a result to, you are extremely confident that they are going to deliver or over deliver on that. And they’re going to do it with a minimum amount of management and definition from you. And so, an A player will do things, for example, they’ll ask you very pointed questions that get to the heart of the matter. A players will often put success in their career and job ahead of other things in their lives, including ego, and including their own self interest, potentially, at the firm. A players will build coalitions proactively around the projects that they’re building, they’ll fight for them within the company, and build up a consensus of shareholders and people that can contribute to getting the desired result. A players are very good at taking critical feedback and improving. A players often work harder than B and C players, more hours because everything that I’m mentioning isn’t simply a skill, it’s also a grind, it’s difficult to do this work. The reality is, a lot of things that come across as a lack of skill are actually just like a lack of effort. Sometimes a B player or a C player will bring like a half finished project to your desk and like they’re kind of looking for guidance, but actually, they’re just being lazy, and A player typically won’t be lazy. And then the final thing is A players are very good at providing, and we talked about this coalition building thing, they’re very good at providing transparency around what it is they’re advocating for in the company. So why are we looking at this? Because these A player skill sets are what thrives in any organisation, but particularly in remote organisations, where there’s a lot more transparency strangely enough on results.

So I think that that is potentially the fundamental difference between a remote first organisation and a typical office situation because you don’t have the general office politicking and hierarchical organisations that tend to happen when you create organisations in an office context. So for a B player, who’s not used to providing transparency, who’s used to waiting for super well defined projects that come their way. You know, one of the ways that happens in an office, Ian, is that you sit in meetings all day long. And then you kind of schlep up to the next meeting with the kind of project to the level that the other people in the meeting are satisfied with. Whereas if you take that same thing to a remote context, you might be in a shorter meeting where that slide deck gets delegated to you. And you got to come back to the next meeting with something like a finished slide deck that works for the client, as opposed to continuing to schlep around to meetings, if that sort of makes sense?

And I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from A player’s and implement them simply to have a stress free remote experience. One is having, and this is something we’ve taken from Jason Calacanis, something we call an SOD and an EOD reporting system along with weekly reports. This is a start of day, this is an end of day, this is, you show up and say, ‘I’m here, this is what I’m working on’. You report on what you’ve completed. You also sum it up in a way that matters to the rest of the team on a weekly report on Friday. This is what showing up looks like in a remote context. C players will just not see the value in this and they’ll just drop off. So I think that’s a good one.

Ian: I want to get back to a point that you made, which is there’s kind of a place for everyone. And it depends what you’re optimising for. If you are trying to optimise for lifestyle, meaning like you have a side hustle. Or you really want to spend a bunch of time with your family or something like that, go ahead and slip your way into one of those companies that maybe has a couple of hundred people, maybe it’s like, you know, a larger organisation, whatnot, slip in there, and be a B or a C player, and enjoy your paycheck. If you slip into an organisation that has 10 people and that’s remote first, you’re going to have maximum visibility, maximum accountability, because there’s only a couple people in the organisation. Chances are the tasks that you have only you can do, chances are that people are going to know what you’re working on kind of at any given time that you’re going to be an integral part of the system. So it’s hard to be a B or a C player in those types of organisations because you have so much visibility. And I think that’s to your point, which is like a lot of these remote first companies do have that vibe, they do have this extreme visibility.

Dan: A results oriented culture, essentially. And the reason for that is because it doesn’t really work that well otherwise. The reality is the remote first companies have just cut out a lot of the fat that would typically exist in companies that were conceived of decades ago.

Ian: That’s correct. I like to think about this in terms of lmanufacturing, because that was our last company. Everything moved to China, that was the efficiency. So, at first, it was a quarter of the price. And now I’m in China and so now I’m crushing all my competition. The next version of that is like remote first, in my mind, ‘Well, not only did we find location arbitrage with all of our team, but they’re less expensive than if I went to have to go find somebody in San Francisco. And a lot of times are even better’.

Dan: I must give the caveat, we’re not assuming by any means here that Julie’s a B player. But I do think the reality is, most employees are B players, and I think that learning some efficient tips from A players and implementing them in sort of B lifestyle, can be hugely effective. So here’s just one final tip on that front – don’t have a leaky desk. And what I mean by that is, you don’t want to create work for others by going to your colleagues, and especially the owner, or the top management in your company with unfinished decisions, essentially hot potatoing your responsibilities to others. And so a way you can do this via written email, we used to have this convention called, ‘unless I hear otherwise’.

So it’s essentially, ‘Hey, for these reasons, I’m going to make this critical decision by Friday. If you want to intervene in that, let me know before Friday, I’m available in these two ways’. Another way you can do it is when you do finally get to the point where you engage your manager or your boss, don’t waste their time by not having a clear decision having already arrived at. So basically, you go to them and say, ‘Look, I’ve done the research, based on our goals, you know, and I’ve asked you the questions, I built my coalition, I have a vision, I made the decision that we should do x rather than y. I’d like to get your feedback on that and see what you think’, rather than coming to them and saying, I’ve got alphabet soup. I really want you to take on the work essentially. I think the idea here is that knowledge work is essentially about making decisions. And if you start to outsource up decisions, you will create fatigue and frustration in your bosses and your managers.

Ian: This is all under the assumption too that the boss and the manager are good at what they do. So you can be an A player and do all the things that we’re talking about in the show and then you deliver this to your boss, or to the manager or the owner, and they don’t pay attention. They don’t receive in the right way. They don’t act accordingly. You’ve got to think about this from a whole organisation perspective. And that should also be the reason you leave an organisation, if you’re an A player. If you’re kind of doing all these things, you’re making all the right decisions, and then progress isn’t getting made, well maybe it’s just the B or C organisation.

Dan: And that’ll be very typical of an A player, because A players will demand that there’s actual results being created in the real world. Whereas a lot of B players think they’re A players, but what they actually want is recognition, accolades, they want their opinion to be valued, all these kind of second order things that B players are concerned with. The A players are concerned mostly with actually making things happen in the business. Rather than having someone in a hierarchy, tell them that, ‘Hey, you’re really valuable around here’, you can see if you’re valuable around here, by creating results in the real world, like, ‘Hey, we have more podcast listeners this week’, or, ‘Hey, we created more sales this week’, those are the things that a players care about,

So the number two point is to consider passing on your savings to your employer. This is a concept that is becoming more and more relevant as essentially we’re exploring the concept jointly of arbitrage of cost savings, of being strategic about locating staff around the world. The reality is a remote first company’s balance sheet is really clear. If you’re just doing the same work that you were doing in an office, but now you’re doing it for Europe, I don’t think you can really expect the same salary, typically speaking, because now you’re competing globally, and I think that’s something you really have to consider as a remote worker. And if what you want to do is present yourself as that corporate professional, you were in a previous life with your first few remote gigs, and you convince that employer to pay you the same amount that might not be ultimately be a sustainable salary, given new transparency, number one on actually what you’re delivering to the organisation. And then, number two, on the global competition you’re facing as an employee. So this is both positive and potentially negative, because now your upside potential is much higher, because you can really point a finger on how many results you’re creating for the company, and there’s going to be less politicking in your way. Because literally, you’re out of the office, you don’t have to, like make people like you, you just have to create the results, more so. But you also have that global competition as a downward pressure on your earning potential.

Ian: Also, there’s all these new conversations that are starting to happen, which I think are great, like, ‘Hey, I used to do that work for you. Well, now I want to live in Europe, I still want to do like 70% of the work for you. But my cost of living is less here, I’m not going to be coming to the office, and I’m only doing 70% of the work that I was doing before. Let’s explore paying me less’, or, ‘Let’s broker this new deal’. I think that that’s interesting because before, Dan, everybody comes into the parking lot, they all see each other’s cars, they all walk into the office, they all see each other’s clothes. And there’s this transparency in that way, which I think doesn’t lend itself to these types of negotiations. In a lot of ways, that’s a lot of unproductivity being shown there, right? It’s like keeping up with the Joneses or keeping up with your office mates. Well, if you can display to your company or to your organisation that like ‘Hey, actually I can be less of a burden. I can be almost as efficient, or maybe just as efficient, and I want to earn less, potentially’ or the same. There’s an opportunity for a conversation that never existed before.

Dan: I think you’re right, I mean, think about it this way. I’ll challenge you with this – say you’re in the market for an experienced growth manager through paid advertising, so essentially an online marketer with a lot of experience. One example is they’re based in Austin, Texas. And you know, they want to make $7,000 a month, you know, which would be befitting of someone who’s had a career at tech companies and the second option is that same person who decided to move to Lisbon with their family, and now they’re coming to you and saying, ‘Hey, I’m willing to start off at $5,000 or $4,750’, who would you rather hire?

Ian: The person living in Europe has the opportunity to not hit the ceiling so high. If I’m hiring somebody in San Francisco, they’re like, I know what they’re up against, you know, what I mean? I know what their housing costs are, I know what their sushi budget is. I know if they own a car how much it’s gonna cost and all that. And I also kind of know what that costs in Europe too. And I think that there’s opportunity in that for the employer and the employee. People get scared about this stuff, you know? So it’s like, ‘Hey, we’re hiring in the Philippines’, 10 years ago, and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe it, like, you’re gonna take my job, and you’re going to pay somebody $2,000 in the Philippines’, it’s like, ‘Well, yeah, they’re just as good as you, this salary represents a huge opportunity for them’. And on the other side, I know exactly what I’m getting here in America, when I buy this, for that price, like I there’s, there’s no mystery to me, it’s all upside in the Philippines.

Dan: So again, our point is interesting, which is – pass your savings on to your employer. But maybe this wasn’t titled that well, we’re really sort of working our way into this idea that your unique lifestyle situation ought to be front and centre as an asset to you as an employer. Another thing worth mentioning is that payroll taxes are very high in America. So America’s small businesses that are hiring, you know, Americans have to pay an extra tax in order to have you on the team. And so then you have to justify that to the company.

Ian: This is a problem, obviously, with the American tax system that will probably get figured out sooner than later, I would think, from the government’s perspective. But everybody that runs a company now doesn’t want to hire American employees that I hang out with, at least, if they have a remote company, everybody’s like, ‘No, I’m not hiring anybody in America, because then I got this W2 and all this stuff’. You don’t want to do it. It’s the same thing that happened with manufacturing, ‘I’m not going to pay like three times as much to have this developed here when I can just go to China’. I’ll say this, too, because we see this all the time at Dynamite Jobs, people refusing to put their location on their profile, or on their application, because they feel like it’s a negative. Your location is an upside, so this is very important. This is something that’s changed recently. Somebody like applying for a job and like, let’s say they’re in India, or Europe or Philippines are like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to put that on there. I’m just as good as everybody else. But I’m from this country that I don’t think they’re going to be attracted to’. We are attracted to that country. That’s why we’re putting this out on a remote job site, like we want those people to apply. Because, like you’re saying Dan, that is our upside as well as your upside. It’s like a shared upside. The smartest employers are looking to these places to hire because of all the things we just outlined.

Dan: That leads us to our third point pretty nicely, Ian, which is – be a one person productized service, or a very smart freelancer. What you just demonstrated there is like when you’re applying for jobs, and indeed trying to maintain them in an old school hierarchical, in person office setting. There’s this little bit of this be everything to everyone kind of vibe like be a good diplomat, a politician. If someone comes into a meeting and says, you know, let’s do this, let’s go this way, you’re flexible, you’re on it, all that kind of stuff. And especially when you’re applying, you have the sense that, ‘Man, I just want to get that conversation, I can convince them to hire me, I’m willing to do this job, I’m willing to get that money’. Because the reality is there’s probably like six companies hiring in your geographic area and if you don’t get that job, you might not pay the rent. Well, the whole thing got flipped upside down with remote work and now you can basically apply to 1000s of jobs every year, from all around the world. And that same strategy won’t work. And so Ian, you just showed there’s like, there’s a real, real emotional difficulty that candidates have with pigeonholing themselves. And the reason, the point is become a one person productized service or a smart freelancer, which is, you have to make that decision for the employer for your application status of, ‘This is who I am right now, in this application, I’m somebody that does this specific thing, this is how I drive value your same way a business would’, the same way Dynamite Jobs is gonna say, ‘Hey, we will recruit remote employees for you’. As an employee applying for these jobs, you essentially have to do that now, as well because it’s not just warm body with x degree with x kind of vibe in x city. Now, all of a sudden, I have to figure out what your genre is by just looking at a resume or an application. And I think feeling free to pigeonhole yourself and disqualifying most employers, and most jobs is a better strategy when it comes to remote first companies.

Ian: This is a huge issue. We see it in applications that people are applying to our positions and to other positions, which is like, ‘Hey, I can do that’. And like you said, that’s kind of the office attitude. That’s not what these remote first companies need. They need specialisation. They need precision. And they need A players. So I think it’s fine to disqualify yourself. Again, I think it’s fine to disclose your location. I think it’s fine to disqualify most opportunities as well. The good news about this remote first, kind of smart freelancer, productized service person is essentially if you can do this well in your organisation, and being A player, you’ll be able to start your own business one day, if that’s what you want. If that’s not what you want, then that’s fine. You will be hunted by companies for your specialised service, or skill. So either way, you’re going to win. We just launched this services marketplace over at Dynamite Jobs, talked about a little bit here on the show. But basically, organisations like ours and other remote first companies are making the decision, ‘Do I hire an employee? Do I hire a contractor? Do I hire a freelancer? Or do I hire a service?’ They will all become the same thing? Probably at some point.

Dan: You’re just buying productivity. In the old world, you say, ‘Oh, now we’re on the four day work week, I come to the office’, and say, ‘Hey, guys, I’m going to sit here for four days a week and do whatever comes up in the company’. That’s kind of like how you do it in the office. And then with remote first companies, it’s more like, ‘Well, what actually are you doing for the company? What are you actually in charge of? We’ll pay you for that. And then we’re not really worried about how many days or hours it takes you because you’re simply in charge of doing that’. For example, if I had to start from scratch with my skill set right now and I got kicked off the Tropical MBA podcast, maybe I could move to Lisbon. And I could go out and say, ‘Hey, you know, I will do all the podcasts, editing, production and marketing for a company that does one show a week for this amount of dollars a month’. And that can be my marketing role at a company. I’m going to look for that. I’m going to define it. I’m going to go out and see what kind of companies are seeking that kind of thing. That’s a really good approach as well.

So our fourth point is read Cal Newport’s book. ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. A cheeky point. However, I think that Cal really captures, with his whole cannon really, what work in the digital age looks like. He has books on digital minimalism. He has books on deep work. And he has this wonderful book on career called, ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. It’s really a guide for success in knowledge work. He really rails against folks who try to run around and look and find their passion in life. And really digs into what it takes to be someone who’s results oriented, who makes decisions and who essentially are, ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’. So rather than rehash the points of the book, then you point this out that this is essentially a handbook to doing everything that we’re talking about on today’s episode.

Ian: Cal was also on episode 381 if you want to give that a listen.

Dan: So for our final point, we’re gonna discuss some things that worked in the past and don’t work so well now. One of the things that Katie prompted us to do, I thought was really interesting, is dig into what’s changed and what’s going to feel different, and I think that she’s pointing to something important. This is a real Rubicon to cross. This is really disoriented for a lot of people that are used to working in a geocentric style. In fact, it’s such a big Rubicon to cross that we are very hesitant to suggest people without remote work experience to our clients. One of the basic things is really controlling your environment. Having a high quality space to work from, that’s part of what remote works about. And if you’re the person on the team, that’s always getting to be interrupted by your dogs, by the kids, by the poor internet, by the travel schedule, that’s going to shine through in the quality of the work you’re able to deliver. And I think it’s a simple thing, maybe an A player, it’s not a big deal for them. But I think it’s worth considering if you do go seriously remote work, what your working environment is going to be and how you’re gonna be able to sustain the effort required to deliver results.

Ian: Another thing that I’ll mention about A players too, Dan, they’re gonna have an easier time transitioning from office work to remote work. That being said, it’s not always clear, in an office position or in a larger organisation, if you actually were in A player. It’s immediately clear, once you get to the small organisation, where you have a lot of visibility, whether or not you’re an A player. So like the transition and the things that you’re telling yourself, they might not be true. I can think of a couple examples in my career pre remote, where I maybe thought I was better than I was, because the organisation was maybe average or because the result that I needed to produce wasn’t that hard. You actually might have to step your game up a bit, given you’re in a new kind of environment, and you’re also competing with people that maybe have been there for a little bit longer working remote, like you said, they have their kind of environment locked, or they kind of know the rules of engagement. Because as much as we’re making fun of like this, like khakis, and like what kind of car you park in the parking lot and all that stuff, those were kind of the rules for the office, there were ways to get ahead, through politicking. And so it’s not to say that those things don’t exist in the remote company too. We’re, we’re making it seem as if it’s stripped down to like pure productivity, and, and transparency. But there are some of these things that still exist in remote companies.

Dan: I’ll say this, Katie, if you like to have this sort of conversation, listen to this kind of content, definitely should find a founder, owner manager who likes to do the same. Because if you’re able to do these sorts of inquiries, this is exactly the sort of conversation that leads to a successful employment. So I think there’s a final element here of sort of a social bravery. There’s kind of a very top down approach in a lot of office environments where you please the person ahead of you. And you do that by doing the things they say. You can really benefit as a remote worker by having a little bit of bravery to be vulnerable about what you do and don’t know, to reach out and build coalitions, to reach out to people and ask them these various sorts of questions like, ‘Hey, I want to drive more results for the company first, can we agree upon what sort of results those might be? Second, do you really think I can have the ability to drive those results? You know, what’s your feedback for me? What can I focus on here?’ I guess I don’t know if this is like, metaphor, whatever. It’s a lot harder to step on people’s toes in a remote organisation because the toes might be on a different continent. So you can kind of go directly to the source, carve out a desk for yourself, a desk of work that you can make an impact on. and go from there.

Big shout out to Katie for her question. We love receiving those and your thoughts and ideas for what can be on this show. As for all the employers out there, we’re still trying to figure out who we are Dynamite Jobs, but we’re basically about promoting your amazing jobs, there’s something about remote first companies with results oriented cultures, where, you know, people were treated like adults and in humane ways and not humiliated. There’s this whole big thing across the country right now, in America specifically, where people are so pissed off that their bosses are asking them back to the office to essentially control them, this idea that, ‘Hey, it wasn’t good enough for you that we had an all time year last year, and I was at home with the kids and I was treated like an adult, I acted like an adult. And now you want me to come back for what?’ And our people aren’t like that. We don’t put up jobs like that.

Ian: When you look at the front page of DJ this last week, our buddy Allen of Spy Guy put up an opportunity, and I just see these opportunities because I know these people that are posting these jobs …

Dan: Dream jobs,

Ian: They are. I think you definitely want to work with that guy, you definitely want to learn about what that guy is doing. You definitely want to read the books that he’s reading

Dan: 100%.

Ian: So I think these jobs, and they were for us, they can be life changing opportunities, and that’s why it’s so exciting to be able to present them as such. And, and part of that is they are remote, for sure. Part of that is that you get to enjoy your life, whatever that is, wherever that is and then also participate in this organisation, like you said, get treated like an adult.

Dan: Very cool. All right. Well, that’s it for this week. Big shout out as well to our sponsor, Smash Digital dot com. We appreciate you. That’s it for this week. We’ll be back next Thursday morning.