Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Distant Job podcast, your podcast about building and leaving awesome remote teams. I am your host, as usual, Luis. And today I have with me Shannon Teague. Shannon is the CEO and co founder of Scaling Up Simplify. Shannon, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Louise. Nice to be here. Nice to finally meet with you. I’m excited to be interviewed by you.
Yeah, it’s great having you. So why don’t you start by telling our listeners? I mean, obviously I did the simplest intro possible, but would you like to share with our listeners a little bit more about you, who you are, what you do?
Yeah, sure. So I started my remote journey nine years ago. I had a recruitment temping agency that catered to the hospitality sector, and I set it up remotely from the start. So my support team and I were based all over the world. And then our contractors were in the UK, obviously attending the shift. And I had scaled it remotely and then COVID happened. And because we catered to the hospitality sector, I needed to be creative because all of our shifts basically got canceled for like, two years, got canceled in a day. So I decided, yeah, it was rough that these things happen. So I decided to transform my knowledge into two published books called Hiring Method Simplified and Scaling Up Simplified and to courses where I teach remote CEOs around the world how to develop scalable hiring systems in their business, from virtual interviewing to everything in between. How to identify job titles and skills. Because this is something that small business owners really struggle with when they first start the hiring process. They don’t actually know what job titles they need to hire for. They get so overwhelmed that they just do nothing. They take no action at all. So our courses basically cover all of these areas and solve all of these problems in a simplified manner. That’s basically nice.
So was that your first experience with remote work, the the building of your company, or did you work remotely? Well, so so you jumped all in. Right. Where did you get the inspiration to do that? Because I don’t think it’s for people who haven’t experienced remote work before. I don’t think it’s obvious for them that this could be the first business that they built. Right. So what inspired you?
Yeah, that’s a great question. Thank you. I was a spa therapist myself, so that’s how I went into a temping agency for spa therapists. And I went to Thailand and I met somebody, a friend of mine that was a remote worker, and he had set up a remote business. And that’s where I got introduced into this lifestyle. And I basically read Tim Ferriss The Four Hour Work Week and then quit my job and started my business because I wanted to be remote and travel the world. And that’s kind of how it all fell into place. So it took me three years. Obviously, I had to build the business first, but it took me three years to get to the point of actually then being able to leave the UK and travel and live in various parts of the world. So that was basically my journey.
Yeah. So what did it look like in the beginning stages? Did you start locally and then go remote, or did you build it remotely right from the start? Hiring people, interviewing people, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? Because the people that you were temp placing, they were not remote workers, correct? That they were, because it’s hospitality industry. Unless, I suppose, there are remote jobs to be done on the hospitality industry. But most, it’s fair to say that most can, correct?
Yeah, that’s right. So our temping team, we had a team of 80 therapists working around the UK. They were obviously based in the UK, but my support team were based all over the world. South Africa, India, the UK were all based all over. So reading Tim Ferriss’s book gave me a lot of inspiration about it. Opened my mind to outsourcing to different countries, just thinking in that way. And it was actually really beneficial to be remote from the start because I didn’t have all the office overheads or anything like that, so I could go directly into investing that money that would have been invested into an office, into staff. And I started with marketing, and then I got a manager on board and I slowly started to gradually grow my team and all the functions that make up business.
So when you were interviewing specialists to join your temp agency, what was that interviewing process like?
Because we catered to the five star spa and hotel six, so some of our clients were four seasons or tested very high standards. And I did this at first, so it was at my house at first, so our process was that they would come in for an interview, we’d do a trade test. I had to test them on their massage and all their skills and everything. And then I would identify which clients suited their personality, which clients suited their skill set, and I would align them with our client base. And then I moved to hiring someone. So one of my team members that was based in the UK, I hired her and she took over that whole process and she managed that whole process for me within central London. So she was based in the UK, so we had sales team in the UK, and then we had marketing and virtual assistants and everything based all over the world in various.
I’m sure there were. Right. How was the coordination in the beginning? And I guess now I assume that it feels that sometimes you have to juggle a lot of things. Right. You’re in the UK right now, correct? Right. When you’re in the UK, do you take the chance to see that side of the business right in person? Or is it just completely independent? Are you just in the UK. Just to do your own stuff? And the business continues running 100% remotely?
Yeah. So it runs 100% remotely. Just to specify, I don’t actually run the temping agency anymore, so I’ve gone, got it straight into, okay, shifted completely. Shifted completely. The business model that I have now is 100% can be run from anywhere in the world. My team can be anywhere. We’ve gone fully, fully, fully remote. But before in my temping agency, it was 100% remote. But when I was in the UK, and I had staff in the UK. I did meet up with them. I met up with therapists. We had company functions and all those kinds of things. And I did show my face a lot because it showed value, basically.
It’s good appreciation. Yeah. That’s why there’s still a big market for remote conferences, right? Because obviously, even though everyone enjoys working remotely, there’s something to be said about getting together, getting everyone together once or twice a year. That’s very powerful.
Definitely. So with the team that were virtual and were traveling, because we were all kind of I wouldn’t say I was a digital. Nomad, because I would stay in places for five, six months. I like to stay in a place for like an extended period of time.
I don’t like to yeah, I agree.
Yeah, you are. Okay. Yeah. So my team were the same, but we did meet in Bali or Southeast Asia. Whoever could meet up, that’s kind of what we did also. So the team that weren’t based in the UK, I met up with them in various parts of the world, and that’s kind of how we structured everything.
So you shifted your business model completely, right? You went from being running a temp placement agency to running a course and a very specific, very specific course about some very specific things. Obviously, it wasn’t starting from scratch because you were bringing all your expertise from one area and teaching it to other people. You add what you wanted, your ideas, your concepts, solidified. But the product itself and the selling of the product is completely different. Right? So how was it like? What were the steps to building the new business? How did you adapt to being in.
The education space has been a journey, let me tell you. It’s a completely different business model. So I have brought all of my expertise, and I’m teaching what I did. I’m teaching how to scale. I’m teaching how to implement scalable remote hiring systems. And my target audience is specifically remote business owners now, but the business model itself, like you said, is completely different. The marketing is completely different. How you market the content, the target audience, the mail list, everything is completely different. So it’s been a learning curve. I have coaches. I’ve always had coaches. My whole business career. And I’ve used a lot of the information that I’ve learned from coaches in my course and implemented it in my business. And I’ve learned from that and been able to teach people that teach our client base what I’ve learned from coaches also. So a lot of coaches, a lot of courses myself that I’ve learned. I attend a lot of courses and online trainings. And I have a small marketing team at the moment that help me with marketing everything. So this business model is basically content marketing, getting your name out there, everything. Whereas the previous business model was more sales in person. And I had a sales team directly for that that met in person. Similar kind of concepts with marketing, but yeah, they’re completely different in how you actually get a sale in the end. And this business model, the reason why I decided to was kind of pushed into it, but the reason why I decided to go in that direction was because it’s a lot more scalable on an international level.
For sure. Yeah. And the team is much more flexible. Right. I assume, maybe I’m wrong, but I assume that your team now should be much smaller just because it’s a much more focused industry. Right. There are certainly less moving pieces when you need when you’re doing Elearning than when you’re doing a temp placement agency. Right, I know, because we are a templacement agency. There’s a lot of moving pieces here. So what is the team like now? You mentioned a marketing team is you and then a marketing team, or do you have other functions and how big is the marketing team?
So it would be smaller in terms of, like, I don’t need all the contractors. Like I mentioned, I had around 80 contractors, and I call that like the technician role, basically. But my whole organization chart, I’ve mapped it out for the next few years. My whole organization chart would consider all of the what I call them seven functions. So it would consider the operations manager, the sales, the marketing, and everything. So I hire according to my goals. And at the moment, our main goal is everything to do with financial. So we have certain conversions that we need to meet in the next year. And as I start to meet those conversion goals, I start to hire my next hire would be a content manager to basically create all of our content for us. And then as our leads start to come in and the conversions start to happen and our conversion goals start to get met, we would then need customer success managers. And I’ve kind of mapped out this entire thing based on this is actually what I teach people in the course that we’ve just about to launch now, called this year’s Roadmap to a Five Hour Work Week, how to map out this entire journey. And I’ve been able to do this, obviously based on experience from my previous business, I know what I need to hire next. And then I kind of reassess my goals when I’ve met those goals, reassess what happens next, and assess where clients might be complaining or where there might be a bottleneck in my business. And I hire according to that. And that’s kind of my strategy. So at the moment, our main focus is everything marketing. So I’m only hiring within the marketing department at the moment.
What is the communication lack right. With that marketing department? Again, fully remote. Right. So how do you deal with them on a daily basis, weekly basis? What is the communication of cadence? What are your use tools, et cetera?
Yeah, so, great question. What I do at the moment is and I’ve kind of used the strategy for the last few years, I create every Monday, I create my to do list for the week based on my goals and where we are at the moment and how far we are from whatever my quarterly goals are. And then I create my team’s to do list for the week. I put due dates in the tasks and have a meeting with them and ask them, would you be able to meet these due dates? Because I obviously don’t know your job. So I need to know whether my time frames are realistic or not. And then at the end of the week, we reassess and see kind of what we may not have finished and where we are with them and where we are in relation to our goals and what’s kind of falling behind. And that’s how we work. And then every day for myself, I create in the morning 30 minutes. I take 30 minutes every morning to create my schedule and my top three focuses and I create the top three focuses for my team. And then as my team starts to grow, say, the operations manager would come in, the operations manager, I would manage the operations manager, and they would manage everyone under me. And each department manager would manage each department. And that’s kind of the system that I use throughout my business. Yeah. And it’s easy to navigate. Everyone knows where they stand. Everything’s on the CRM system. Then we use Google Drive for links, and our Google Drive is systemized also according to all the seven functions. And then we use like, Loom videos to explain things. So yeah, so it’s very organized and also easy to navigate. I don’t really care what time anyone works of the day. If you work in the morning, the evening, don’t really care. It’s up to you. But obviously, when customer success managers come in, it would be a different story because there would be customer facing.
Exactly. That’s a tougher position to make. Flexible, of course. So it seems to me that if I understand correctly, you have, like, two weekly check ins with the entire team. Is that fair to say? Right. One in Monday, one on Friday.
So what does that look like? Is it a synchronous or is it a big town hall like video?
Yes, we have just a catch up on zoom, but again, like, at the moment, because our team is quite small and we’re gradually growing, as of course, the business is growing. At the moment, it’s the team, but as the business grows, I make it department based. The team meetings. I wouldn’t have the whole team in a team meeting if it’s not relevant to them, then we start splitting it up into departments. But yeah, so at the moment we have a weekly team meeting and then on Fridays, it’s either a catch up if we all have the time, or it’s just a quick loom video to see where we are, or just communication on the CRM system to see what’s falling behind. And if we need a quick meeting, that’s what we do.
So when you’re hiring, and obviously hiring is a world, right? And there’s a lot of heart to hiring, so obviously that’s why you have a course about it. And I do want to incentivize people to check out the course. We’re going to put the links for your courses and for your websites in the show notes so people can check it out. But just as a general principle, right. What do you look for when hiring specifically for remote positions? And I ask specifically for remote positions because it’s been my experience that sometimes people can be five star professionals, but just not deal that well with working remotely. They need the office to be productive. Right. So when hiring specifically for remote, what kind of traits, skills, qualities do you usually look for? Do you usually prioritize?
That’s a great question. Everything that I do when it comes to hiring is based around company culture. And I know that I think that this is also your process in your business, if I remember correctly from your website. So everything that we do is about company culture, and I really highlight the importance of the fact that this is our company culture. And by highlighting your company culture is like the first point of contact. So I think of hiring in the same form as marketing. You’re attracting your target audience. So people that if you think of marketing, you’re going to have a campaign and it’s structured around your target audience. And people that aren’t your target audience are not going to even pay any attention to your marketing campaign because they’re just going to scroll right through it because it doesn’t attract them. You’re not communicating to them. You’re not understanding what their pain points are, but you’re understanding your target audience pain points or whatever desired outcome or whatever the case is. So when hiring, I use the same principles as marketing and I create the whole company culture and job spec around my target audience. So my target audience would be and the target audience in this case, when it comes to hiring, is obviously the candidate. So the person that you’re going to be hiring. So because you structure your job description around your company culture and you make that select your main point of focus, you’re going to be attracting people that are excited about that. So my company culture, for example, is everything about traveling, adventure, fitness, all these things are really important to us. And we highlight once a year we’d meet in a location. If you are scared of traveling and you don’t like traveling or you like a home person, you like to be in your hometown, that’s going to scare you, that’s going to put you off. You’re not going to want to work for a company where that is like the main feature. And I also make it very clear that you have to be comfortable with yourself and you have to be comfortable with your own space because that remote working requires that. But then also one of our guidelines is that we pay for your cowork space twice a week. And that is a guideline. You have to do that. So you have to go to a cowork space of your choosing anywhere in the world past a week in order to get that external stimulation so that you don’t get bored. And even if you love your job and you don’t have the external stimulation, it can get a little bit boring if you’re just at home all the time. So this is kind of how we structure it. So everything in we have we teach a 17 step recruitment system, which sounds complicated, but once it’s implemented, once you’ve put all the tools in place and everything, it’s automated and very streamlined. But everything is about company culture. Absolutely. Every step we take, every one of the 17 steps is all around defining your company culture. And once you’ve defined that, you can really succeed in hiring. And I think this is how you filter out people that might not necessarily want to work in just a remote setting because they’re not going to like the sound of that, and if they don’t fit in, they’re going to leave. So we set it all up around understanding their personality in relation to our company culture rather than the CV. I don’t care about the CV.
No, that’s a great point. Yeah, I 100% agree. Right. To me, it also comes down to the interview and to getting a feel for the person. Right. For technical positions. Right. Obviously the CVS some value, right? Because you are looking for a certain amount for a certain set of skills. But yeah, even when it comes to education, I’d much rather see site projects, right, proof of work, things like that. Then necessarily the right universities are the right courses. Okay. So before we started recording, you were telling me, I asked if you were coming to running remote so that we could maybe meet. Sadly, you are not but in the next time, right? But you do have some nice travel plans, and you’re obviously traveling around as you run your business. That’s part of the appeal. That’s part of why you love it. So what is the way you usually plan that traveling? Is that a thing of the moment, or are you more strategic in the way you plan your traveling? Do you have a goal? Right. Do you want to visit x countries or x this or x that? How do you decide on your not digital nominating, but on your traveling around the world while running this business?
Yeah. So, again, great question. I did have a traveling goal, per se when I first started, but it’s been nine years now. At first started when I first went from motor, was in europe, and the first country I visited was croatia for a month, and I moved basically it was beautiful, and I moved basically every two or three days, and it was exhausting. And then for eight months, I did that. Running a business and moving every two, three days just does not work.
Yeah, it doesn’t work at all. We also went to south africa, and I actually visited my own country for two months, which was amazing, and kruger park and everything, and I was working in kruger park, but again, I was moving every two days. So at first, yeah, I just wanted to go everywhere and see the halls, and I do. I always have a travel bug. But my traveling did become a little bit more strategic, if you’d like to say, where I started traveling to cowork spaces and got cowork space recommendations. So, as you would know, it’s quite a small community. Well, it’s larger now because of COVID but before COVID it was quite a small community of digital nomads around the world, and you would kind of all run into each other different workspaces and recommend different workspaces. And that’s kind of how I traveled for a number of years. For about five years, I was just traveling to different cowork spaces and mostly within southeast asia because at that stage, I still needed to be kind of within UK hours because my business was based in the UK. And it just made things easier to communicate with everyone. But now that this business model, I don’t have to be it’s not time bound. So I want to go south america. I really want to go to south America. That’s, like, on the top of my list. But, yeah, I like to travel to places where there’s cowork spaces and there’s kind of that community of digital nomads, if you want to say, and there’s loads around the world.
All right. Okay. So let me ask a couple of rapid fire questions before we wrap up. Number one, right? I know that your team is small, but you intended to get bigger and bigger over time, your works are done, what is the thing? And it does need to be a thing. It can’t be a gift card or cash or another cash equivalent. Right. What is the thing that if you could, you would buy for all of them. Right. And just we can just put the price tag to it just so it’s a bit easier. Right. Let’s say at 100, $150.
If I could buy for my team, what is the one thing I would buy for them?
It might be a little bit more expensive than that. That’s good flight to somewhere cool and a week of being in a really cool place and team building.
Nice. That’s a good choice. Good experience. Yeah. So what about for yourself? What purchase has improved your work life situation the most in the past six years or six months, whatever your time frame of choosing.
So I would say that improved my knowledge is what you mean or my experience.
Your favorite metric. Your favorite metric somewhat related to your business and your work. Of course. But why you choose the metric that you improved?
Okay, cool. Yeah. So there’s actually a course that I bought that taught me how to write a book and become a publisher. So that was one of the most valuable and that actually remember the name? Yes. Called publishing life. Publishing life. Yeah. I can put a link because if people use my link, they would get a discount to the course. But yeah, they taught me how to published author. My books are published worldwide on Amazon and other platforms.
Nice. I actually think I know that course. Right. But do send over the link. Okay. We’ll include it in the show notes as well. All right. You mentioned the four hour work week. Right. I’m actually a big Tim Ferries fan though. I kind of dropped off on listening to podcasts just because there are too many of them and it’s too long. Right. I have less podcast listening time since I became a parent, so I had to cut off the Tim Ferries podcast. But I have all these books and I’ve read them. The four hour things are really great. Right. So that is taken care of. Now, apart from that, because you already gave a semi recommendation and apart from your own book, of course, because we are already going to promote that on our links. What is the book that you give out the most?
What is the book? At the moment in my life, I’m actually more into buying courses than I am books. And this is kind of where all my knowledge is at the moment. I’m more into videos and courses and this is kind of where I’m educating myself the most. So I’d say the last two years I’ve just bought so many courses and it’s taught me so much. It’s taught me how marketing everything to do with this business. And like I mentioned, the course earlier about becoming a publisher and yeah, this is more where I’m educating myself in my life at the moment than reading at the moment. I went through a stage, of course, I’ve always gone through stages, and I’m a published author myself, but I’m finding a lot of value in digital courses, of course.
So any standouts?
Yeah, I think a lot of people might know her. Amy Porterfield. She’s amazing. Then there is Evelyn Weiss is how you say her name, I think, or Vice, it’s an Australian.
Sorry. Austrian, I think.
So, austrian lady. So she’s marketing everything and she teaches about memberships, how to develop memberships, which is like the next step that we’re going to be doing in our business. So, yeah, those are great platforms, but with all of the work that needs to be done, as well as learning from these people, it’s just so much work. So I haven’t really found the time lately to be reading. Also.
Learning is fun but tough. Yeah, for sure.
Yeah, it is, for sure.
Okay, so final question about remote work and the remote life and et cetera. Let’s say that you’re organizing a dinner with influencers, big influencers, and leaders of companies, important companies from around the world. You’re hosting a dinner, and the topic of the night is remote work and the future of work. Here’s the twist. The dinner happens in a Chinese restaurant, so you as the host, get to pick the message that goes inside the fortune cookie. What is that message?
Oh, that’s a nice one. This is my favorite quote in the whole world, and you may be familiar with it, but I live my life by this, literally. So everything works out in the end. And if it has not worked out, it’s not yet the end.
That would be my nice I like that one. That’s very positive. And it’s also true. I agree with that. It is true. I agree with that statement. Thank you for sharing.
All right, so, Shannon, please tell our listeners, how can they find out more about you? Where can they continue the conversation with you and where can they learn more about your business and how it can help them?
Yeah, so they can go to our website, which is either scalingupsimplified.com or hiring methodsimplified.com. The domains are linked. And also I’ll give you a hiring readiness indicator checklist that people can download. Like I mentioned earlier, I find that one of the biggest problems is business owners know that they need to do something because they at full capacity, they’re overworked, but they don’t know what to do, they don’t know who to hire. And then they’re also confused about whether they should actually whether their business is ready to hire. So we’ve created an indicator checklist that helps define whether your business is ready. So six warning signs to look out for. And then also on our website, we have a course that’s for free. Called the basics of remote hiring, which is basically all the principles of remote hiring, the advantages of it, some software recommendations, and that’s kind of like a nice introduction into remote hiring. And everything is on our website. So our YouTube channel and our Instagram and LinkedIn and email addresses and everything is on our website. But I’ll give you all the links also to put into this podcast. Okay, yeah.
All right, that sounds awesome. Listeners, please checked out all of that in the show notes and yeah, Shannon, it was an absolute pleasure having you here. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you. It’s been awesome. Thank you so much for having me and your time.
Yeah, it’s my pleasure. And thank you, listeners, to the Distant Job podcast. This is your show about building and leading. Awesome both teams. See you next week.