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Defining the Remote Work Boundaries with Stefan Palios

Stefan Palios is a journalist and writer passionate about remote work and remote entrepreneurship. He is the founder and editor of PulseBlueprint, where he creates content to help people overcome workplace challenges and do things better and faster.

He is also the founder and publisher of Remotely Inclined, a regular newsletter about remote work.

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Successful Remote Entrepreneur

Luis:

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to another episode of the DistantJob podcast. I am your host as usual Luis, in this podcast that’s all about building and leading awesome remote teams. My guest today is Stefan Palios. Stefan is a journalist and writer passionate about remote work and remote entrepreneurship. He has founded multiple businesses and is currently the founder and editor at PulseBlueprint, where he creates content that helps you get things done better and faster. He also publishes Remotely Inclined, a regular newsletter about remote work. Stefan, welcome to the show.

Stefan Palios:

Thank you so much for having me.

Luis:

It’s a pleasure having you, and I guess that the first question that I want to ask is, how has remote work made your business possible or help you make it better?

Stefan Palios:

Yeah, absolutely. So it’s definitely the former, it’s how did it make it possible? That’s because I started my business by accident and it’s a weird story. So I had been writing …

Luis:

I wanted to hear about that.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah. So I had actually tried to start a previous business in the recruiting space and it wasn’t doing all that well, but I started doing some content marketing. I wrote about diversity and inclusion back in 2015, 2016 and it started to trend a little bit. And I started talking about how diversity and inclusion was important in recruiting and in talent broadly. And I got the eye of an editor from a small media publication at the time here in Toronto, where I live in Canada.

He said, “If I have an opportunity for you to do a piece, I’ll let you do it.” And so eventually that happened. Then I wrote a couple more and wrote a couple more. Then I was at an event and I got cornered and this guy was like, “Oh my God, are you Stefan?” And I’m like, “Oh God, did I write something bad about your company? Don’t kill me.”

Luis:

You had that minor internet celebrity moment.

Stefan Palios:

Oh yes, googling how to handle fame. No, but I was cornered at this event and this guy was like, “No, no, no, I love your writing. Can I pay you to write for me?” And I was like, “Yes, absolutely.” The only small snag was that I had a full-time job. So for me it had to be remote because I had to manage it on lunch breaks or evenings and weekends. I didn’t have the opportunity to just say that, sure, whatever, let me come to your office, let me do all this, it’ll be fine.

So remote for me was actually how I was able to have a business. And I had to figure out how to do briefs via email. I had to figure out how to do all of my own invoicing. And then the second thing actually happened where I got an email from somebody who went, “Hey, I heard you do consulting. Can I hire you?” And they were actually in Kitchener. So Toronto to Kitchener is about an hour drive in good traffic, but there’s never good traffic, and I also don’t have a car in downtown Toronto. So again, that had to be remote. So starting the whole business, it would be impossible if it wasn’t remote because I had a full-time job at the time, and I already before I even registered the business, had a client that wasn’t in my town.

Luis:

Yeah. Wow. That’s quite the story. And it does seem that the ability to work remotely has helped you make the best out of those opportunities.

Stefan Palios:

Absolutely. Would have had to say no if it wasn’t possible.

Luis:

Yeah. So I was reading some of your stuff, and you recently talked about something that I’m surprised that more people haven’t talked about. So the world is currently in the midst of a pandemic. I tend to avoid talking much about it in the shows, because I think that it won’t age well. It will be very nice for the next three months, but in three years from now, people will be listening to this show hopefully to these episodes and they will figure out, all right, that was a thing that happened in 2020.

Stefan Palios:

Yes, it was very.

Luis:

But yeah, I don’t think that it’s great to build a piece of educational content around. But you have mentioned that a lot of people are very gung ho about how this pandemic will show that yes, remote work is great and it’s the solution, but I’m a bit divided about that and I feel that you shared a bit of my concerns. I feel that as people … as a lot of companies are forced to go into remote work, they’re not going to do it exactly well and the experience will suffer for it. And then we will get, once people start going to the office again, the reaction will be more like, thank God that we’re done with that whole remote work business and let’s agree to never do that again, unless the apocalypse comes.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah, and I did. I published this back in February when coronavirus was growing in China. It was a growing concern, but there was still mostly flippancy about what would happen in the Western world. People, frankly, were-

Luis:

Of course.

Stefan Palios:

Some people were a little bit arrogant and others perhaps just uninformed. So I wrote that coronavirus is a terrible thing for remote work, and that was when even the New York Times was like, “Oh, is this going to be a watershed moment for remote work?” I’m like, “God, no. Like it associates remote work with a pandemic, does anybody want to do anything that is permanently associated with a pandemic?” And I think the other side, you mentioned this but it’s absolutely correct, when you’re forced into it, you’re not prepared. You don’t have the tools, you weren’t given a choice.

You didn’t have the option to have an all hands meeting and decide that remote work was going to be something your company wanted to try, or you didn’t have the autonomy to choose a remote company to go work for. You suddenly got pushed home and done without any support, without any resources, and that’s going to make everything horrible by comparison. It’s just a useless proposition. So overall like a terrible thing in the sense that it’s not just going to make people go, “Oh, I love this now,” and “This is great. Thanks so much coronavirus.”

That said, I do think, and I mentioned this in the article as well, that simply the art of trying it, some people will like it, and it’s going to be the companies that responded very quickly to it, or the people who realized that they are the type of person that’s significantly better suited to remote work and doesn’t need a mental transition because there are a lot of really good benefits to offices, and I know this is a remote work podcast, so I don’t mean to say that.

Luis:

No, no, no.

Stefan Palios:

The office can provide community. It can provide physical space which offers both physical and psychological safety. I see the benefits there. So I don’t want to march on this drum of, if you’re not remote, you’re a failure and corona forcing you to do remote is the best thing in the world because it did disrupt a lot of lives and families. And I don’t like the idea that people think that corona lockdown is remote work because in many, many ways, it’s not, and that was another article that I published is like, there are seven kinds of remote work and COVID lockdown is not one of them.

Luis:

For sure. Well, I mean, I’m still a bit divided because having done this for a while now and having helped people get remote for a while now, I do know that some people do their best work in a physical location. I don’t think you can deny that. I don’t think you can deny that. However, when I consider just the global and societal impact, I honestly don’t see any benefit of in location work. I mean, the only reason I actually see … the only justification that I see for putting people in the office is if people actually like it and feel more productive, but everything else it’s bad for the businesses because they spend more money. It’s bad for the environment because it produces more waste. It really is terrible.

I don’t like feeling like a tyrant, but sometimes I do feel that well yeah, maybe you work better in an office but get over that, you’re destroying the planet, it’s not good for the economy seriously. So I haven’t fully made up my mind about that. I think from the individual perspective, I can see advantages to having it both ways, choose if you want office or remote, but just from a global perspective, I really think that working as we did since the industrial revolution is not adaptable to our times.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah. And I think it’s interesting remote work. You see all these tweets about like how amazing remote work is, and I think that community was really loud, about five, six months ago. Now it’s like, well, we get to add another feather in our cap. We are climate change warriors and we’re going to solve this problem. But you’re right, I think there’s a certain march of time to consider, there’s a certain … if we are able to do better, why aren’t we doing better?

But the one counter I’ll say for offices is if there is such a thing as the reduced capacity office and our downtown cores are not 85 storey towers block by block, by block, by block, simply because we can’t do anything else. That could open some really interesting conversations for what’s environmentally friendly actions you can do. There are ways for buildings to become carbon neutral. There are ways to give back to the environment and to the local economy.

And I do think there’s an argument to be made for having a location to work. So for example I obviously don’t have a permanent office, but I did have a co-working membership, and it was a company in Toronto called Flexday where you can actually co-work at one of like 40 different co-working spaces. So I was getting a different physical environment to work. I wasn’t just in my home all the time. I was getting different socialization. I was getting some different resources, good coffee, well, as good as it gets in Canada. And that kind of additional physical change, I think could be an interesting thing for the idea of the hybrid remote office individual.

So I’m a remote worker, but I actually went to an office three to five days a week. It was just of my choosing and through a more distributed area. So when I think of the future of work for me it’s almost not, do you want remote versus in office? It’s more of a conversation of how integrated do you want your work life and your home life? For some people that’ll be 100%. They either want to work right in their home. They love it. That works for their life, or they say, “Good, God, get me out of here. I can’t work in my home,” but that still doesn’t mean you can’t be a remote worker.

We’ve seen this before with digital nomads. They never worked from home, they don’t have a home. All the way to the remote worker like me who actually had a co-working membership because I enjoyed it and it gave me more freedom. So I think that will be an interesting use of office space where it’s like everyone in Toronto is a remote worker, but we all still go to an office of our choosing at a time. And when you start having those flows, you can then think about how to make sure that you’re offsetting your own environmental issues.

Luis:

Oh yeah. I absolutely agree that sometimes being stuck at this … So first of all, you’ve written about this before, and I talk about this all the time in the podcast. Even when you work at home, you need to have a location to work. It’s very hard to successfully do remote work if you don’t have an at home office. Now, you can do it as I do myself. People don’t know it because this is an audio show, but I basically have a corner of my living room set up as an office.

Stefan Palios:

I do too.

Luis:

That works as long as you don’t have children, which is my case for now, but maybe that will have to change in the future, and then I will have to find a place with a door. But it’s also the thing that the current quarantine situation is impacting the most is that I find that there’s a real benefit in being able to grab my laptop and go work somewhere else a couple of days of the week. Just because the shift in location helps get the mind juices flowing, so that’s something important too. That’s something important to consider as well. But I still don’t think that is the justification for an office. It is a justification for a place where people can go to and work, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that an office, right?

Stefan Palios:

Yeah, no, you’re completely right. And there’s a company that I admire and just I’ve done some work with them before. They’re called Crescendo and they are a Slack application for cultural competence training and empathy training. So basically, when you’re on Slack, it sends you relevant education to whatever level you’re at in your educational journey. But what I like about them is that they’re actually a fully distributed company. They’re very conscious to say that they’re not a remote company, but they are a distributed company.

The way that they’ve explained it, or the way I understand it is that they’ve got founders in Montreal and Toronto and team in the Montreal and Toronto areas. So they’re kind of a two city company by design. It’s where their founders are from, and it’s where their founders wanted to stay, but they all have spaces. So in Toronto, they’ve worked out of a co-working space, not right now, obviously, but usually they do. In Montreal, the founder there has made a home office because that works for her.

So it’s that idea of like, the company is distributed, but there’s still an expectation that you create a workspace, and if that needs to be a co-working space, then what can a company do to financially support that because obviously those are not free or you can choose to work from home if you feel that, that’s going to make you the most productive. I think that, that will be an interesting model of, we’re not just saying be remote, go work from a Starbucks, but working with employees on an individual level to say, what do you need to do?

There’s one other company and I’m blanking on the name right now, but they actually got their employees instead of co-working space memberships, they got them social club memberships, like at Soho House or something. And said, “Go work from there. If you want to take private calls, take them from home. But if you want community and you want a cultural connection to your city, go to the club,” because it was costing about the same as a co-working space, but it was that cool factor as well as providing them a cultural connection to the city.

So it’s not just a sterile office that looks like it could be anywhere, but it’s actually a really immersive experience with talks and connection to the arts, which for a tech services company was very novel. So there are all these ways that you can provide space without actually saying, we need to have the company office on X streets, which I think, to your point, I’m agreeing with you.

Luis:

No, and that’s a super interesting solution. I never heard about that, but that’s a super interesting solution and it does make the work life fusion concept much more appealing and apparently doable, so that’s a cool idea.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah.

Luis:

All right. So you touched a bit on communication and I want to tie it back to one of our articles. You are super prolific in writing, by the way congratulations.

Stefan Palios:

Thank you. I just talk a lot.

Luis:

You mentioned the newsletter at the beginning of the show, and it’s definitely a newsletter that I recommend because if anything, you put a lot of interesting stuff out there and I’ve read a bunch of it and it’s quite cool. So thank you for doing that.

Stefan Palios:

Thank you very much.

Luis:

But one of the things that intrigued me the most, one of the articles you intrigued me the most in the newsletter was one where you talked about communication and different kinds of communication. And you presented some interesting ideas on how to better communicate remotely.

Stefan Palios:

Yes.

Luis:

So one of your tips in writing, was to when you write the message to start with the outcome, not the input, right? And I wondered if you would like to expand a bit on that. Obviously, I want people to go and read the newsletter, but that is something where I wanted you to expand a bit on. Obviously, the statement that I want to make is that I want to drill in deep in this topic because it’s particularly near and dear to me, and I find it very interesting, but this does not exhaust the amount of good topics that people can read up on the newsletter. I hope to exhaust this topic as much as possible in this conversation.

Stefan Palios:

Sounds good.

Luis:

People should go and subscribe for much, much else.

Stefan Palios:

Thank you, and I appreciate that. I’ll send you a check in the mail later. No, I’m kidding. But I appreciate the recommendation there. But to the question about outputs, not inputs, that for me came from a lot of personal experiences where I would be emailing, and actually it was at my in office job. It’s just that my boss traveled a lot. So our working relationship was remote. I would say, I’m doing this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this.

And it was so easy for my boss to either ignore that and kind of assume that I knew what I was doing, or look at my inputs and go, you’re wrong. You need to change your inputs. And so we’d go on this goose chase where I’d say, “I’m going to do a white boarding session,” and he’d say, “No, you don’t need to whiteboard.” And I’m sitting there going like, “You asked me to be creative, this is how I’m creative. I’m stuck, well, what should I do?” And that makes you seem really helpless. And so the response would often be like, “Well, you figure it out. You’re creative,” and I’m like, “Oh God.”

Luis:

It just keeps on turning, going around and around and around.

Stefan Palios:

This terrible cycle. So I started saying like, from my understanding, this is what I’m attempting to achieve, and here’s what I think I need to do or what I’m going to start doing, because many of the times I did know. Here’s what I’m going to start doing, let me know if you have any major issues with this. That way it aligned our incentives because as an individual contributor, my job is to do my job. But as a leader, my boss’s job was to think about how my work connects up, how bigger company initiatives need to come down as well as a couple of his own individual deliverables around creating new initiatives for the team.

So if you think about it that way, it’s almost a form of upward management where I’m looking up and going, what language does my boss use, and how is that going to impact how I talk about it? And then that started to make that relationship a little smoother, where I’d say, “This is what we’re attempting to accomplish, that’s why I’m doing this task. It’s not just me pulling something out of my hat and trying to look busy.” So that way, at least if my boss disagreed with one of my actions, which of course still happened, it’s going to, the conversation was significantly more productive because we had an anchor. We knew what we were going toward, which communicated A, that I knew a little bit more than just waiting to be told what to do, and B, put us on an aligned business level.

But the other part that was useful for me with this tip that I ended up sharing in the newsletter was that I found it worked across individual contributor levels as well, because I was an individual contributor in the marketing department or in the customer success department. Then I would be communicating with the sales team or the HR team, or other teams in the company. When you’re doing that, they don’t need to know that I’m going to be white boarding, unless I’m inviting them to join.

They need to know what I’m accomplishing and by when and what the scope of my impact will be to see if it impacts them. So similar to how I looked up at my boss and said, “Okay, what language are you using?” And in that case, its strategic outcomes. When you look across the company to your colleagues, their biggest concern is how does your work impact me, or if I’m dependent on you delivering something, I don’t need to know about your process, I need to know about your delivery.

So that tip came from those two experiences and multiple versions of those experiences. And it basically became this tip of like, well, if you’re stuck for communicating and you’re not getting your point across, think about it in terms of what other people need from you, not just what you’re going to be doing, and then add what you’re going to be doing for context, for color, for feedback, for new ideas and all of that good stuff on the end that I do believe is crucial.

I’m not saying only write your outputs or your outcome goals, but when you start with outcomes, you have a better chance of getting everyone on the same page. It’s like, I’m trying to achieve X and I’m going to do ABC to do it. It allows someone to say, wait a minute, why are you trying to achieve X? How does X impact me? How does X affect the next goal we have? And it puts the conversation at a much stronger level and far less about, oh, I’m not sure you know what you’re doing, because that’s obviously either not true or if it is true, then you need far more help than just being told you don’t know what you’re doing.

Luis:

Yeah. The point that I try to make to remote leaders and managers, is that you should start with the why. Instead of telling … because when managing a team, we often have to delegate.

Stefan Palios:

Of course.

Luis:

That’s literally the major part of the job. You have your direct reports and you need to tell your direct reports, do this. I need you to do this, this, this, and that, right? And I find that not only the more productive, but also the more humane way to do this, the more respectful way to do this, is to lead with the why, right? Is I want this to happen, I think this should happen because of this reason, and that’s why I’m giving you these tasks, right?

Stefan Palios:

Yeah.

Luis:

Because otherwise it’s hard for people to be really motivated when they are given a task, and the reason, if you let them fill in the blank for the why, they’re usually going to fill it with the thing that’s most at hand, which is my boss told me so, right?

Stefan Palios:

Yeah.

Luis:

That doesn’t lead to happy employees.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah. I’m a big fan of process over direction or directions over directions. So giving someone an area to look at, instead of saying this, this, this, and I had my favorite story ever. My favorite experience ever where this happened a few years ago, probably 2017, I think it was. And it was just my absolute favorite. So I had been running fundraising for a national non-profit here in Canada, and I was leading a team, a fully remote team of eight people. We all of course had targets. We were the revenue arm of the organization. If we didn’t do our job, then nothing else happened.

One of the things that I’d noticed in my previous experience, because I’ve been with the organization for three years at that point, I found that there were a lot of companies that wanted to do in kind sponsorship. They wanted to give us products and services for free or steeply, steeply discounted and we actually had no way to do it. The previous sponsorship packages had only ever been set up for a financial relationship. So it was all about revenue generation, not cost savings. And I had actually even tried to find a way to create an in kind sponsorship package myself.

But as the leader, I got super busy, I was in charge of our biggest sponsors. Our major accounts, I had to focus. Eventually the deal got scrapped. So I had a new team member in 2017 and I wanted to try out this new process that I … or process that I had recently learned about called the advice process, which was brought up by Frederic Laloux in his book, Reinventing Organizations. And the premise of the advice process is that anyone can make any decision as long as they consult with everyone who’s impacted.

So I did a slightly augmented version of that and said, “You are on the sponsorship team, you’re on the revenue team, can you please help us come up with an in kind sponsorship package?” And I said, “Look, the reason behind this is there is demand. We have no way to capture it. I don’t have the wherewithal and the time to dedicate to this. I’ve got a lot on my plate, so can you please follow this advice process and get me a sponsorship package so that we can close sponsors and bring more into the organization.”

And he was like, “Yeah, sure. What’s the process?” And basically what I did is I set him up with interviews with everyone who would be impacted by the decision. So the president of the organization, myself, as the head of sponsorship and a few other individuals, he interviewed everyone. He collected all of that data. And I had told him, I kind of restricted myself and said, “I’m not allowed to veto you, I’m only allowed to tell you that you have an obstacle you must get around based on my knowledge, because I’ve been around longer, blah, blah, blah.” So it was funny. In the end, he did this, he did an amazing job.

When I tried to do it myself the year before, I worked at it for about three months off the side of my desk and eventually stopped because I had to focus on actually bringing in money. In his case, in three months, he not only finished the sponsorship package, it was way prettier than anything I’d ever imagined, and he’d already closed five in kind sponsors for the organization. And that was just the coolest example I’ve ever seen in my life of giving someone a deeper reason behind something, giving them a process to follow, but having them be completely responsible for creating and he did such a brilliant job. I was so happy and that I love that example because it just shows …

Luis:

It’s a great example.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah. If you give someone a little bit of a reason behind something and then kind of remove yourself, because some of the feedback I’ve received as a leader, which was hard to hear, but I’m grateful was like, you say that you’re very open, but it feels like you’re just going to veto us, so we’re not going to be as creative. We’re just going to kind of leave it to you because you’re smart and you’ll figure it out. So the big thing for me as a leader was removing myself and saying no, like I can’t veto you.

Once your decision is made, your decision is made. The only thing I can do is point out obstacles, and if you can find a way around them, then you win, that’s it. So that was a really good learning point for me as a leader, but that individual-

Luis:

It’s good reiterating that, because I think that’s a very good rule. I think that’s a very good and very actionable rule, and instead of vetoing stuff, point out obstacles, right?

Stefan Palios:

Yeah, because that’s where my value is strongest. With him, he knew what he was doing. He’s the one who interviewed everybody. Who am I to say that I’m smarter in that instance? I’m not. But what I am able to do is I have significantly more institutional memory and significantly more experience with our team in ways of work where I can look at something and go, you will have a problem with this. And I think that, that’s what a leader can do a lot with their team.

Luis:

Yeah. Okay. That sounds nice. That sounds like actually the piece of good, actionable advice that people can take from this and-

Stefan Palios:

Hopefully.

Luis:

And obviously again signing up to the newsletter could open them up to many.

Stefan Palios:

I might share a tip or two.

Luis:

Yeah. So I want to move to the final part of the show.

Stefan Palios:

Sure.

Luis:

Where I ask some rapid fire questions.

Stefan Palios:

Let’s do it.

Luis:

The questions are rapid fire but the answers don’t need to be, so feel free to expand as much as you’d like.

Stefan Palios:

Sure.

Luis:

So first question, what browser tabs do you have open right now?

Stefan Palios:

Ooh, let’s take a look. Okay. So I have my inbox, I have about five Google docs for client work, as well as content planning, my calendar. I have a masterclass tab open. I am a little bit obsessed with masterclass. I’m currently taking David Axelrod’s and Karl Rove’s class on campaign strategy. I’m not a political guy, but I was fascinated. I have work tab trackers for every single one of my clients, and I have LinkedIn.

Luis:

All right. That is some heavy memory usage right there.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah, my battery fan is not happy.

Luis:

Exactly. Okay. If you had $100, could be Canadian, could be in US, I’m not discriminating.

Stefan Palios:

Sure.

Luis:

To spend with each person working for you, what would you give them? Two small rules, you can’t just give them the money and you can’t ask them what they need. You need to buy bulk. It doesn’t need to be physical, but you need to buy bulk.

Stefan Palios:

I need to buy one thing in bulk for everybody?

Luis:

Yeah.

Stefan Palios:

Okay, well the cheap answer out of this is like an Amazon gift card because it’s functionally cash, but I won’t do that.

Luis:

That’s kind of a work around though.

Stefan Palios:

Yeah. I won’t do that. Ooh, that’s an interesting question. So if I had $100 for my team, everyone working with me, honestly, I think it would be some form of coaching. So some form of professional development or skill development or something more passion like everyone take a chocolate making class. That I actually probably got like closer to something a little not work-related, but you have to … you develop the skills that will help you in work, teamwork, following instructions, creativity, whatever it is. I’m a huge fan of learning from adjacent industries, and if I can do that for my team and anyone working with me, that makes me a happy camper.

Luis:

Sounds great. So what about yourself? What purchase has made your work life easier or more productive in the past year?

Stefan Palios:

Ooh, my purchase, what purchase has made my work life easier? Two and both are actually knowledge products. So I subscribed to The Logic, which is a Canadian innovation reporting, it’s a news company, a digital news company, but they focus exclusively on the Canadian innovation economy, and that has kept me connected to really smart people whose entire job is to make me more intelligent, which makes me happy. But then honestly my masterclass subscription, I was like almost annoyed at how much I liked it because usually when you think of celebrity content, it’s just click bait crap. But masterclass has done a very good job, whoever they have interviewing these celebrities, I want to meet them because they’re brilliant, but it’s basically …

Luis:

What have you learned so far?

Stefan Palios:

Okay. So I’ve taken five masterclasses. I’ve taken Anna Wintour’s masterclass on creativity. I’ve taken RuPaul’s master class on creativity. I’ve taken Usher’s masterclass on performance. I’ve taken Reba McEntire’s masterclass on country music and I’ve taken Paul Krugman’s master class on economics. And I love how much it has opened my mind. I am not in any of these industries, although I guess I’m in media with the Vogue connection there, but completely different kinds of media. And I love hearing just how they’ve done things.

And I think the part that makes masterclass very valuable, is it takes these people who are at the top of their game and it asks them, how did you accomplish this? So not a whole career thing where people start pontificating or waxing poetic, but “Hey, Anna Wintour, look at this cover of Vogue that you love. How did this happen?” And she goes in depth on sourcing the right photographer and finding the right subject and looking at the right fashions of the day.

And obviously, I’m not in the fashion space, so that doesn’t apply directly to me, but the strategic level, the strategy mind that she’s describing was so cool. Or when you hear Usher talking about like, captivating 20,000 people, that’s a cool skill that I would love to learn. So why not learn it from one of the best in the world at captivating people, even though he’s a singer, I’m a writer, but we’re still creatives at the end of the day.

Luis:

Awesome, sounds good. You sold it to me. I hope you get a check.

Stefan Palios:

They did not pay me for this, they will not pay me for this, I genuinely have just been really impressed with the quality of the content.

Luis:

If they do want to send me a check for the show I will be very happy to accept it.

Stefan Palios:

All right. All right. I’ll let them know.

Luis:

What book or books have you gifted the most?

Stefan Palios:

Gifted the most? That would be April Dunford’s book, Obviously. Awesome. So April Dunford is probably one of the smartest people in the world on product positioning. So thinking about it, is Arm and Hammer a baking company with baking soda or do they deodorize with their various other identical products that just are labeled differently? That book, it helped me think differently and I really appreciate any book that helps me think differently. And I’ve given that now too two or three people.

But it’s just a wonderful book, and the premise of product positioning, the idea that the exact same item can be seen as a completely different thing, opening up new opportunity, new ways to connect, new markets, et cetera. I think that’s a mentality that everyone should learn how to cultivate because when we only see something from one side, including ourselves, we miss out.

Luis:

Okay. I have to say, I had been avoiding that book simply because it’s quite recent, and I tend to think that books are overrated based on recency, but over the past month, like three different people recommended that. So I guess I need to review it and look at it.

Stefan Palios:

And I completely understand the recency debate because so many books are just derivative psychology or armchair philosophy. And the reason I think April’s is really good is because it’s baked in her own experience. She didn’t read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and go, I have a better idea. She was living in the business world and noticed this gap and developed her own frameworks, which is why I think it’s valuable because she’s not saying best practice suggests this, it’s I’ve turned this business around by doing this, and that will always, in my opinion be more valuable.

Luis:

That’s definitely a good point. So final question. Now, this has a bit of a longer setup.

Stefan Palios:

Okay.

Luis:

So let’s say that you are hosting a dinner where are the top and key technology execs are going to go for a round table on remote work. We’re talking about executives, hiring managers, et cetera, and the twist here is that the dinner is happening at a Chinese restaurant. So you as the host get to choose the message that goes inside the fortune cookies. What is your fortune cookie message?

Stefan Palios:

Oh, no. I think it would be something around you have more power than you think, or you have more control than you think, and that’s two fold for me. So one is about remote work and then a part of that is about the individual. So the remote work side, many of the misconceptions about remote work are around lack of control. At the end of the day, what you’re really saying is I feel out of control when I can’t use one of my major senses, my vision to see, “That work is being done.”

So you talk about, “Oh, I think employees are going to be lazy. Oh, I think they’re going to slack off. Oh, I’m not confident that people can communicate in writing. I’m not confident that I can provide the employee experience that I want remotely as well as in person.” And a lot of that is simply a lack of control, so that part I think is crucial. But then you get the other side and maybe this is just my experience growing up here in Canada, but people can often have that oh shucks, type of personality where you say, “How did you do this?” And they’re like, “Oh, shucks. I just tried a little bit, just collaborated a little bit, nothing too fancy.”

And I think that we sell ourselves short and I think there’s a difference between being arrogant and boastful of your accomplishments, but on the flip side, owning what you actually accomplished and what you did. So instead of saying, “Oh yeah, I raised hundreds of millions of dollars for my company, and all I did was just a little bit of collaboration.” Being a little more honest about what you actually accomplished and you don’t have to present yourself as great in order to do that.

So I think the idea of you have more control, you have more ability is no, you can do these things. You don’t have to have this oh shucks personality. There’s a lot more to it. And I think if you think about that context of the dinner specifically, when people are definitely going to be thinking, oh, crap, I’ve been a hiring manager for 20 years, I’ve never hired a remote person. I don’t know what the heck to do. It’s like, yes, you do. There’s a simple process of problem identification, solution identification, that’s what this dinner is all about. You have way more control than you think you do.

Luis:

Awesome. Awesome. Thank you for the message and thank you for the explanation. And now is the time where you tell people how to connect with you, how they can continue the conversation with you, where can they sign up for your newsletter and all that good stuff?

Stefan Palios:

Absolutely. So if you’re interested in remote work and remote entrepreneurship, then go to remotelyinclined.com. And that is the newsletter. We’d love to have you as a subscriber in the community. If you want to reach out to me personally, I am super active on both Twitter and LinkedIn, and it’s just the Stefan Palios on both of those things. And Stefan with an F not a PH, but otherwise reach out, both my DMs are open. I am talkative. I respond to people, let’s continue this conversation there.

Luis:

Stefan, it was a pleasure having you on the show.

Stefan Palios:

Thank you very much. It was great to talk to you.

Luis:

So ladies and gentlemen, this was Stephan Palios and I was Luis from DistantJob in this podcast that’s all about building and leading awesome remote teams. See you next week. And so we close another episode of the DistantJob podcast, and if you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That will be great. It’s how we reach more listeners, and the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to have more listeners.

Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast. Click on your favorite episode, any episode, really, and subscribe. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up and whenever we get the transcripts off the episode up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

And of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country, look around the whole world because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. And to help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who you need, and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate, 40% faster than the industry standard. And with that, I bid you adios. See you next week on the next episode of DistantJob podcast.

 

More ways to listen:

Some employers think of remote work as the enemy of productivity, imagining their employees watching Netflix all day long. Others see remote work as the door to increasing their business productivity and profits. But what exactly is remote work?

In this podcast episode, Stefan Palios discussed what actually means to be a remote worker, and it has nothing to do with just working from home. He also shared his insights about how the future of work panorama looks like.

''When I think of the future of work for me, it's not, do you want remote versus in office? It's more of a conversation of how integrated do you want your work life and your home life'' Click To Tweet

What you will learn:

  • Are we really experiencing remote work during COVID-19?
  • Insight in the idea of the hybrid remote office individual 
  • How to communicate better remotely? Outcome before input
  • Tips for being an effective remote leader in your company 
  • How ‘process over direction’ makes a difference when managing projects
  • How to encourage your teams’ creativity

 

Book recommendation:

  • Obviously Awesome by April Dunford

 

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you won’t miss all of the other interesting episodes that we have coming up in the next few weeks!

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