Developing Emotional Intelligence in a Virtual Setting with Sid Pandiya

Sid Pandiya is a co-founder at Sike Insights. Sike helps remote teams work better together; their first product is Kona, an AI-powered Slackbot that enables you to lead your team with empathy and mindfulness. Sid worked on and led teams, building all kinds of applications for B2B and B2C settings.

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Sid Pandiya

Luis:

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the DistantJob Podcast, a podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. I am your host Luis. With me today is Sid Pandiya. Sid is a co-founder at Sike Insights. Sike helps remote teams work better together. Their first product is Kona an AI-powered Slackbot that helps you lead your team with empathy and mindfulness. Sid worked on and led teams, building all kinds of applications in B2B and B2C settings. Sid welcome to the show.

Sid Pandiya:

Thank you so much. Super excited to be here.

Luis:

It’s awesome having you. That was my introduction of you. Did I miss something? Is there anything you’d like to add or is it okay?

Sid Pandiya:

No, it sounds great. We’re Sike Insights. We help remote managers lead with empathy and mindfulness, just like you said, and we’re currently in the Techstars LA cohort. It’s an accelerator program. It’s a global seed accelerator. We’re very much in the weeds of building and scaling the company.

Luis:

Awesome. Talking about the company, obviously we are living the coronavirus age, so everything is remote by necessity, but I want to ask you a bit, how has remote work, apart from obviously that being what needs to happen now? How has remote work made your business possible or helped you make it better?

Sid Pandiya:

Absolutely. Great question. I guess there’s two parts to that. One is because we are a remote work startup there’s of course the matter of all our customers are remote companies. I’ll get to that, but there’s also the part of, we are a remote team ourselves. We live fully remotely and that’s allowed us to actually be a lot more efficient, even as an early stage startup. I think there’s a misconception that a lot of people have that says that once you get larger, and once you have better processes in place, then you can be a remote team and it’s effective, but at an early stage it’s important for the team to be actually physically in person. We’ve over the past four or five, six months proven to ourselves, at least that we can execute and grow and build an early stage company somewhat, successfully, at least so far, fully remotely.

Sid Pandiya:

Remote work has enabled us in the sense that I genuinely believe that we would not have been able to make the progress as a team that we have, if we were in person. We have operated as an in-person team before. So a bit of context, I’m actually technically still a student at UCLA in Los Angeles. My whole team is UCLA based. My two co-founders Corinne and Andrew, Corinne just graduated from UCLA in March. She graduated early because she had the option to after COVID came, she didn’t want to do online school. So finished school early on. Andrew has actually dropped out of UCLA. We’re all UCLA based.

Sid Pandiya:

Back when we were all in school and working on this, we were working in person and we had been through a couple of accelerator programs in person. We had office space on campus, where we would always go up and meet in person, which was great. We were able to of course build a relationship through in-person interactions, which helped a lot. But I would say that efficiency wise, we have gone up 10X, 20X, even since we got fully remote, because we don’t have the need to actually be in person to get things done.

Sid Pandiya:

Earlier so much time would be lost in just making sure we were all in the same place if we had to decide on anything and that just isn’t necessary in today’s world. Now we use tools like Tandem, we use Slack heavily and all of the remote tools you can think of we’ve tried. We’re able to operate in a remote environment of … We do have the advantage that we’re all in the same time zone. We are leaning a little bit on synchronous, remote work, which is not something that I would recommend that larger companies do. It’s just necessity that we have as an early stage startup.

Sid Pandiya:

Remote work has enabled us in the sense that I’m able to full disclosure, literally wake up, get out of bed, move onto my workstation, get to work, no need to go out, go for … I would walk to work. I was one of the few lucky ones but walk to the office space and do anything like that. I get my full, highly productive time with no commute time and that’s a standard everybody’s avoided that now. But I think what that means is also, I’m a lot more efficient during the day in my actual work time, because I get up, I go make a quick food, I’m eating my own home food.

Sid Pandiya:

That honestly has a big positive effect on me as well. Get back to work. I decide when I want to work. I don’t have any set hours. My co-founders sometimes like to take breaks during the day. We’re fully flexible in that sense. You just can’t have that flexibility and optionality when you’re in person in the office, because you can’t go and take a two-hour break, that’s not meaningful. You’ll just be at the office for 14 hours then. As an early stage startup, that’s helped us a ton.

Sid Pandiya:

The second part is we build tools to help remote teams communicate more effectively and specifically help remote managers build empathy and mindfulness and emotional intelligence. We started the company pre COVID with this exact same goal in mind, but during COVID, our mission has become, again, 10, 20 times more important because we talk to hundreds of managers on a monthly basis. We work with all our customers closely. The number one thing we keep hearing again and again, and I’m sure all the listeners will resonate to this, is that when you’re remote, the hardest thing becomes the softer side. The communication aspect, building those relationships, building the soft skills, understanding how people are feeling, are they stressed? Are they busy?

Sid Pandiya:

That’s our mission is to help managers build those muscles of emotional intelligence, because it’s become much more difficult and yet much more important in a remote environment. COVID has had the unfortunate impact on tons of managers and teams where there’s so many things going on in people’s lives. There’s so many other stressors, and it’s important to still be able to bring your best self to work or understand and make sure that everybody knows that you’re not yourself, because it’s okay to not be yourself during a global pandemic.

Sid Pandiya:

One of the things that we’ve started building around is those things. It’s changed a little bit our product roadmap in the last couple of months to focus a lot on lifetime, how people are feeling. We’ve built features like an automatic pulse check-in that nobody needs to fill in a survey, but the tool will automatically be able to tell the manager overall, without violating anybody’s privacy, this is how the team was feeling. These are some things that you can do to build relationships and show the team that you care.

Sid Pandiya:

I’ve spoken for a long time, but the twofold impact has been one, it’s changed our product roadmap and allowed us to have a lot more impact on actually people’s lives. We’re very lucky to be able to see that in real time at an early stage. Two, it’s allowed us to be a lot more efficient in delivering on that vision and mission, because we’ve been a remote team. We live and breathe remote. We’re very lucky to be one of the few making the most of a horrible situation.

Luis:

As you pointed out, the company started pre COVID, right? This was not a response to everyone going remote. I’d like to ask you, tell me a story about how did you identify that this was a problem that needed solving? What was the event? What is the story that triggered the idea that showcased to you and your co-founders, the necessity of having a tool like this?

Sid Pandiya:

Yeah, of course. Honestly, it’s a horror story. I’ve actually had a prior startup fail because I wasn’t able to effectively lead a remote team. I was leading a team of developers in India and I wasn’t able to motivate them to get things done. I failed as a remote manager, and I really struggled to motivate, get buy-in for things that we wanted to build. We honestly just literally weren’t able to get the product out in time. We weren’t able to iterate and learn from our users because I didn’t feel I understood the team, the team didn’t feel I understood them and they didn’t feel they understood me and that’s the prerequisite to building a high functioning team. That bad failure of mine kicked all the three of us, me and my co-founders into realizing that remote work is hard.

Sid Pandiya:

It’s really powerful if you do it right, but it takes a lot of intentionality. Last year around summer of 2019 remote work was still growing and becoming pretty hot. Tandem had just been coming out as a top remote tool at the time. We saw that the world was becoming ready. Although in my opinion, it has been ready for almost 10 years now for fully remote work. In terms of mentality of people they were adapting a lot better to fully remote and partially remote distributed teams. Looking at the market forces acting there as well as our own passion for actually making this work. We decided, okay, let’s explore. We honestly just said, let’s see, let’s talk to a 100 managers first and understand what problems they face.

Sid Pandiya:

Before writing a single line of code, we talked to a 100 remote managers and overwhelmingly heard the same thing about the same problems I had faced with motivating my team, understanding communication styles, building that relationship, building that trust and creating that environment of empathy and psychological safety. It wasn’t just me that had struggled with it. Every manager struggled with it. We said, this is a huge problem and there’s really not a lot of solutions. Virtual happy hours are great doing one-on-ones and, and random pairings for meetings. It’s really helpful, but it doesn’t go all the way in actually building a working relationship. That’s where we saw a huge unmet need in a huge market and a growing market, and a problem that we really cared about.

Sid Pandiya:

This was all pre COVID and that remained of course became a lot more true and the market just expanded with COVID and it changed a little bit in the sense that a lot of companies that hadn’t previously been adopting to remote had now become forced remote. One of the early realizations for us was that we needed to one, adapt ourselves a little bit more to focus on the needs of forced remote companies. Two, we needed to also understand that some of the problems of forced remote companies weren’t necessarily things that we were going to solve early on. Now over the next six months, as those forced remote companies go through the stages of remote adaptation and become more ready for intentional remote work, that’s when they’re going to need tools like ours. Really understanding who we are targeting, who it’s for at an early stage has been really important for us.

Luis:

Nice. So couple of questions come to mind. Can you give me some examples of the data points that the tool will provide managers with and then what actions the managers can take in order to improve the metrics that they want to improve? Which in this case it’s employee trust, happiness, et cetera.

Sid Pandiya:

Great question. A bit of background, of course, everybody on every team has a different communication style, different feedback style. If that’s not true, then you haven’t hired, right. You want people that work differently because you want a diverse set of perspectives on the team. The problem we’re trying to solve early on is specifically helping managers and team members adapt and understand those different styles. Adapt the way that they work in order to, to meet the person that they’re working with, where they are at, as well as helping others understand them. What that means, and to answer your question about the data points, essentially, what Kona does is it will automatically create a personality profile for you without you having to take a personality assessment, because the way you communicate and write and speak contains that personality footprint.

Sid Pandiya:

Without doing that personality assessment, we’re able to create that profile. Of course, you have control over editing things and deleting things that you don’t want others to see, but then that profile will have things that are approved by you as true, and that you have looked at. For example, something might be this person is super direct and will really appreciate it if you’re super blunt with them. Don’t be afraid to be very direct when you talk to this person. Or Sid really likes large group interactions. I try to find a way where Sid can interact with a larger group of people. I’m super social.

Sid Pandiya:

An insight of what you can do with that is at the end of every week, the manager could get a checklist that says, here’s one thing that you can do for each person on your team that helps you build your relationship with them. For Sid, try to organize a group social or a group activity, some group work where he can look forward to that. Or for Andrew, he’s motivated by data, talk to him about metrics that you’re tracking. The overall idea is how can we use those information points, those things that we know about people that we don’t necessarily keep top of mind for large teams in order to build that relationship and show them that you care.

Luis:

Got it. Couple of questions. Is the personality profiling something that you came up with, or are you using systems like Myers-Briggs or Big Five? How does that work?

Sid Pandiya:

We use the Big Five actually, and we didn’t come up with our own personality profile. In fact, our thesis is actually, we are trying to abstract away the need for people to understand workplace psychology in order to apply it. Nowhere in the Kona product is, the five factor model actually mentioned. The point is so that you can just get the insights and what you can do with them rather than having to know the whole background about, is somebody a INTP or are they a Birkman blue, red, green, yellow, because that is confusing.

Luis:

Yeah. I understand. I mean, something that we’ve noticed recruiting is that someone might be very good at their job, but actually not have the traits that make them good at doing that job remotely. I wonder if you figured out that there are any personality … When you’re trying to hire, let’s say that you want to expand the team. What are the skills traits, et cetera, that you look for?

Sid Pandiya:

Great question. I would say one of the advantages of the five factor model is that it’s not discriminatory in any sense in the sense that there’s pros and cons of every human being, of course. We have strengths and weaknesses and the five factor model reflects that. There’s really no five factor model personality traits that correlate to highly effective remote work. I’ll talk more generally what I’ve seen with teams that I’ve worked with remotely. Like our customers where we’ve seen certain things that work well or not. I think the number one thing for … This is true for any team. Again, I’ll caveat this with saying things that are true for remote work are also just as much true for any individual team, but they just sometimes have become necessary prerequisites for remote.

Sid Pandiya:

The most important thing I would say would be transparency. Being remote means that there’s a lot of trust being placed in each person to execute and be open about when they’re not able to get things done and when they are. Being super humble to admit when things are going wrong and you’re not able to deliver is really important. Transparency would be probably the most important value that we have, and that goes into humility and another would be no ego. GitLab has one of their core values that I really like is called short toes, which means that everybody has short toes. You can not step on anybody’s toes. Don’t be afraid to correct things that you think are wrong because nobody’s going to take it personally.

Sid Pandiya:

Those two are probably the most important traits I’ve seen because on a team, especially when you’re remote, there’s bound to be certain times when you have to resolve miscommunication. You have to resolve conflict and understanding that somebody is not coming from a place or somebody is coming from a place where their values are in line with yours are super important. In order to ensure that that’s true, the transparency and the short toes part have to be true.

Luis:

That’s actually a good point and shout out to GitLab because they have a wonderful manual on working remotely. Really cool.

Sid Pandiya:

They actually featured Kona on the manual.

Luis:

Nice, nice. Congratulations on that. That’s a good referral.

Sid Pandiya:

Yeah.

Luis:

That’s a really good … Tell me a bit about your work day and your daily interaction with the team. Take me through a typical day or a typical week or both working remotely?

Sid Pandiya:

That’s a great question. We’re in an accelerator program right now called Techstars, like I mentioned. Our typical day has changed since that program started. I’ll talk a little bit about how it was before, because during the accelerator program is probably not relevant that much for listeners. But essentially at the beginning of every day, we all … Again, we are synchronous remote team so we are in the same time zone and working at the same time. We wake up every day and we all start our workday with a daily standup, where we talk about, what did I do yesterday? What did I not achieve? What was I not able to do? Any issues, any blockers with what I have to do today?

Sid Pandiya:

Outlining the task, it’s not just talking, it’s also discussing and challenging each other about, is this really important? How are you going to prioritize your work? Because there’s always a never-ending list of things and prioritizing those things matters. The standup is probably the most important meeting in terms of understanding our own direction. We will decide on a priority for a list of things that we have to get done in the day and make sure that we’re not biting off more than we can chew.

Sid Pandiya:

The standup is the first thing after which very often we’ll go off into our own individual work bubble. We use Tandem for all communication internally on the team. Tandem is a virtual office and it’s a lightweight desktop application. We love it because at this point we default to tandem every day after every meeting to discuss. For that serendipitous conversation that the locker room, not the locker room the water cooler talk.

Luis:

Just for the listeners two things, it’s Tandem T-A-N-D-E-M. Tandem. By virtual office, what do you mean? Is it a video chat, like zoom? Does it have several windows? How does that work out?

Sid Pandiya:

Yeah, it’s actually a super lightweight app. It probably takes up maybe 10%, 20% of the screen when it’s on. It basically has a list of rooms, quote unquote. I have a room and each person on the team has a room, and then we have some rooms for general work, a room for daily, standup and a room for engineering, for example. In the morning, we’ll jump into the daily standard room and it’s initially all voice-based, but you can turn on video if you want to. That really helps actually with video fatigue, because some of my co-founders … I love being on video. I have no problem with it. I’m super social, but some people that are slightly more introverted get fatigued with being on video calls all the time.

Sid Pandiya:

Turning off option to turn off video and it’s actually default the voice-based collaboration tool which we don’t really mind on the team because we’re on video calls with our customers, so often we get to see each other. Then screen-sharing, of course is really easy. It has cursors for each person so you can point at other people’s screen, which is again, super helpful.

Luis:

When you’re working during the day, you’re on your Tandem office, and anyone can just go there and jump in and talk with you. Is that it?

Sid Pandiya:

Exactly. All three of us will be in our Tandem. You can add somebody to your room, you can join somebody else’s rooms. It’s very much like if we all had our own workspace and we were all sitting around the table, except we’re just in our own homes. Tandem has been amazing for us. We love it. That’s our default tool and we live and breathe in Tandem.

Luis:

Nice. All right. That’s cool. Need to investigate that. After the daily standup, what happens?

Sid Pandiya:

Usually after the daily standup, it will be, for example, Andrew and I are the engineers on the team. Andrew and I do product and engineering together. Corinne of course, is involved with that and Corinne and I do sales and marketing and customer acquisition together. If I need to unblock either of the two of them in order for them to be able to work by themselves, I will jump into that relevant Tandem room. If I need to jump in the engineering room I’ll jump in there. Or if I need to jump into a room with Corinne I’ll do that. Work with them to sort out issues, ensure that they have the right direction after which we all go into our own individual rooms and we’ll start getting stuff done.

Sid Pandiya:

Then we actually use a very rudimentary tool for task tracking. We use actually bullet points in Slack. We have a channel where we list a bullet points of things we want to do. At any point when we’re working on it, we’ll bold that item. At any point, you can look at the Slack channel and see … And the channel is only purposes for that, that task tracking. Everyday you will see one message from each person of us and we’ll talk about that. In the event that we aren’t able to get a daily standup done, we still know what’s going on. What each person is working on at any given point in time. We’re pretty particular about making sure that that gets done, that happens.

Sid Pandiya:

Most of the day we’re working by ourselves and then jumping in and out of each other’s rooms to work together. At this stage a lot of our day goes in customer calls or sales calls. All three of us are usually on those and we use Google calendar for all that tracking. My calendar is public for the rest of the team. We’ll freely book time on each other’s calendars which really helps with not having to worry about … I don’t have to worry usually because we’re synchronous. I don’t have to worry that somebody is busy during the Workday.

Sid Pandiya:

At least before four or five o’clock, we start taking breaks and going off for asynchronous work after that. But we freely book time on each other’s calendars, book meetings. We use zoom for all the external meetings so we make sure that we’re living by the calendar and we all live by our own calendars, even internally, sometimes for important things. If we need to get something done, we’ll book, a calendar meeting for the three of us.

Luis:

Got it. I want to go back a bit to you collecting feedback from the people using your tool. Even before you use your tool, obviously you talked to a lot of people about their challenges in managing remote teams. What was the thing that surprised you? What was a problem that you were expecting and it happened not to exist and the opposite? What was the problem that you weren’t expecting that is actually a big deal?

Sid Pandiya:

That’s a great question. One thing I’ll say is we try to avoid those surprises as much as we can. One of the things that we’re the most proud of given that we’re such a young team, we don’t get to have arrogance about the fact that we know the market. Our knowledge of the market is 100% coming from people that we’ve talked to. Our own of course, little bit of remote experience beforehand, but that’s nothing compared to what we’ve talked. That was, I would say, only the trigger for us caring about the problem. Since then, we’ve probably talked to 500 plus managers just asking them questions about the things that they struggle with.

Sid Pandiya:

We keep our ears very close to the ground, always about issues. I will say over time, things have come up that we maybe like two months beforehand would not have expected. Of course COVID hitting was a big one. Nobody could have predicted that. Everybody knew that remote was going to be the future but nobody expected just how quickly that would actually happen. COVID has accelerated remote by 10 years. With that has come a lot of teething problems that I think we’ve had to adapt to. Our product when we started was suited towards teams that were well adapted to being remote. We’ve had to, like I mentioned, readapt ourselves to teams that are adapting to be remote.

Sid Pandiya:

For example one of the main features that we’ve added is within our calendar integration … We realized that people are struggling in remote teams, especially during COVID during the pandemic. One of the things that we didn’t expect is we thought managers would have some sort of a good handle on how people are feeling in general. Because they would have those relationships with their team to know when somebody is stressed or too busy or not doing so well, unhappy or disengaged. But that visibility problem is very much there for managers that are transitioning from in-person work to remote.

Sid Pandiya:

We’ve had to build some features around helping managers understand how the team is feeling. Mood check-ins, pre-meeting letting people know in a one-on-one how you’re feeling or analyzing the overall tone of team conversations in Slack to identify when the team is in general, feeling uncertain about the direction. Or highlighting some things that are easy to know if you’re in person, but we wouldn’t know when you’re remote. That’s something that surprised us. That would be my answer is the more live time things have been a struggle for managers.

Luis:

Nice. Well, those are some good insights. Sid usually there’s a point in the show where I do what they call rapid fire questions. The questions are short. That’s why they’re rapid fire, but you don’t need to answer them shortly. You can take as long as you like. The first question is about your workspace. I know that you use Tandem a lot, but what tabs do you have open right now in your browser?

Sid Pandiya:

It’s horrible. I have probably, here, let me pull it up. 3, 10, 50 tabs open.

Luis:

What are the ones that are pinned, let’s try make this easier. Which ones are the ones that pop up when you open your browser in the morning?

Sid Pandiya:

I actually never close my browser and all of these tabs are things I use on an almost daily basis. I usually have four or five tabs open for AWS, because we have multiple AWS services we use for engineering.

Luis:

I cry for your computers ram.

Sid Pandiya:

Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I mistreat my computer a little bit too much. But four or five tabs are typically just for engineering. I have four emails that I manage at the same time. I probably need to sort that out at some point, but four tabs, for email. Then two tabs for the Slack in the sense that … Not for our Slack workspace, but because we build tools for Slack, we have a Slack API dashboard, so two tabs for that.

Sid Pandiya:

We have probably another four or five, actually six or seven Google docs, Google slides, Google sheets, Miro whiteboard tool which we use as well. A bunch of those documents that again, we use on a daily basis so some of those will be our mentor meeting notes. Some will be customer interview notes. We have probably at this point, hundreds of pages of customer interview notes from just talking to customers and logging everything that they say which is a huge Corpus of really valuable insights that we keep referring to when we make decisions. That’s always open.

Sid Pandiya:

We have a dashboard open for who is our ideal customer? What are the KPIs that we’re tracking? All the general things of who we are? Who is our customer? What are we doing? Why are we doing this is, is also pinned to my Chrome. I have a demo video link that I have to keep copy pasting when I send to people. So there’s a YouTube tab open. We also use Mixpanel, another one for you.

Luis:

You are definitely a Browser power user, definitely.

Sid Pandiya:

Very much, Browser power user, Slack power user, Tandem power user, Zoom power user.

Luis:

Nice. Next question. If you have $100 to spend with each person working for you, I guess, in this case, it’s your co-founders, what would you give them? You can’t give them the money nor gift cards, et cetera. That’s cheating. You need to buy something.

Sid Pandiya:

I need to buy something.

Luis:

Yeah.

Sid Pandiya:

For Andrew, I know he really loves having a really cool work setup. I would buy him … I guess probably it would be more than $100 but buy him a really nice ergonomic keyboard or a mouse set, or a really nice … He has a great standing desk right now, maybe a really nice chair or a great camera setup or ring light. He loves all those gadgets and things like that. I’d definitely do that for him. For Corinne, honestly, it could be the same. It could be that or it could be honestly, it could be literally a giant Teddy bear or, so she writes a lot. She loves to write and she actually has a publication on Asian food that’s growing really quickly. She does that on the weekends. It would be something to help her document and visualize her writing. It might be a whiteboard, she loves whiteboards.

Luis:

I should have her on, there is an Asian food related question at the end. I ask at every show.

Sid Pandiya:

Really?

Luis:

Yes.

Sid Pandiya:

Check her publication out. It’s called, have you eaten yet? It’s on medium. It’s actually blowing up right now. It’s getting featured a lot.

Luis:

Awesome. I will. Cool. You mentioned ergonomic keyboards. Do you have any favorite brand or something that you would recommend?

Sid Pandiya:

I personally use a really simple keyboard and mouse set-up called it’s Vic Singh. I just ordered one of the first things that I saw on Amazon. The laptop that I’m speaking from right now is on top of three Amazon boxes. I don’t use a very complicated high-tech setup. I’m very simple like that.

Luis:

I’m with you. My laptop stand was buyed in a $1 shop. I know that some people go on Kickstarter and buy the fancy thing that will probably at some time turn into the Terminator 2000 and kill you, but no, I just go to the $1 shop and buy regular laptop.

Sid Pandiya:

I only buy things that I know for a fact will not turn into the Terminator.

Luis:

Yes. This is a good policy overall. I agree. Now that we’ve settled that, what purchase for yourself has made your work life easier or more productive in the past year, and you’re not allowed to say three Amazon boxes.

Sid Pandiya:

I would. That was the first thing that I was going to say. Let’s see what purchase has made my life easier. I honestly didn’t have my keyboard and mouse set-up. I have a wireless keyboard and a mouse now it’s plugged into my laptop with the … What’s it called wireless. It’s a extension. I have a Mac book and they don’t have any USB slots. I have that, that I actually only bought during COVID during the quarantine, and I probably should have had it before.

Sid Pandiya:

I’ll answer it this way. I haven’t bought this yet, but I’m going to buy a really nice ergonomic chair at some point, because I think I’m only 20 years old, but I’m always afraid of back problems given how much time I spend at my desk. Sometimes after I’m sitting in horrible posture for too long, I’ll have some neck pain or some back pain, and that just should not be happening to me at this age. An ergonomic chair will help with that.

Luis:

Nice. I should take that advice for myself. I keep delaying it, but that’s good. I’m not 20 years old. Well, I guess the damage is already done, I might as well live with it. What about books? What book or books have you gifted the most? What are the books that you think that people in your area or in this area in general should read?

Sid Pandiya:

Great question. Some of the books that I’ve started reading lately are of course, around startups. There’s a really good book around OKR, it’s objectives and key results. That was written by one of the early investors into Google and the founder of a top venture capital firm called Kleiner Perkins. It’s called Measure What Matters. I actually have it with me in my hand right now is by a guy named John Doerr, John D-O-E-R-R. I love that book because it really helped me get more direction into how to set and achieve consistent goals. We set weekly goals called OKRs. Every week we’ll have an objective and a key result that means what we’re trying to achieve and a metric that helps track it. This book has really helped with that. That’s one really good book.

Sid Pandiya:

Another book I absolutely love is called Thinking Bets. I can’t remember the name of the author, but if you just Google Thinking Bets it’s by a world, famous poker player, former poker player and it’s all about how that actually helps influence decisions at work and starting startups and things like that. But also overall, I in general actually loved reading other nonfiction books. I’m a big history buff, and I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned about mentality and mindset as a team lead or as a founder from history. I love books about world war II, military strategy, because that actually has so much about what you can learn from the mistakes of the past.

Luis:

Any specific historians come to mind?

Sid Pandiya:

Yeah. Probably my favorite book of all time it’s called The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It’s a history from start to finish of Nazi, Germany and it goes really into detail on both sides, the mindset that they had, the mistakes that they made. Of course there were some messed up things, but there were some stupid mistakes on both sides and some really smart decisions made. What was really interesting is how much all of them were really influenced by the worldview and the mindset. That’s what I think I really took away as the mindset to have in life, because a lot of those lessons have carried over to real life.

Luis:

Nice, good recommendation. It’s the first time someone recommended a world war II book in this show. Congratulations, that sounds like a winner. I want to read it. Final question, let’s say that you’re hosting a dinner where you’re inviting to the dinner, the top CEOs, executives, hiring managers, et cetera of big tech companies from all around the world. During that dinner, there’s going to be around table where you’re going to discuss the future of work and working from home and remote work. Now, the twist is that the dinner happens at a Chinese restaurant. Here’s the Asian food reference. You as the host, get to pick the message that goes inside the fortune cookie. What is your fortune cookie message for all these people?

Sid Pandiya:

That’s a tough one. I love that question though. I would try to make it a lot more crisp than what I will say, but it would be something along the lines of empathy, emotional intelligence, and how it matters much more than any hard skill. It wouldn’t be that line specifically. Maybe it’d be a metaphor for that. I can’t think of anything smarter than that.

Luis:

That’s pretty smart, we’ll take that as an alpha.

Sid Pandiya:

Maybe just-

Luis:

We can integrate.

Sid Pandiya:

VQ greater than EQ greater than IQ, VQ being virtual quiescent.

Luis:

That’s smart. Write it actually like that, then it’s pretty … It’s going to be pretty thought provoking. I like it. Sid it was a pleasure having you on the podcast. Why don’t you tell our listeners now, where can they reach you? Where can they learn more about you? Where can they continue the conversation with you and where can they learn more about your business and app?

Sid Pandiya:

Absolutely. Feel free to find me on LinkedIn just Google in Siddharth Pandiya, or Siddharth Pandiya Sike Insights should pop me up. If you want to reach out to me feel free here, of course, connect on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. Personally you can also tweet at me. It’s @PandiyaSid P-A-N-D-I-Y-A S-I-D follow me, tag me in tweets. As far as the company goes, we’re Sike Insights.com. That’s S-I-K-E Insights, I-N-S-I-G-H-T-S.com. Again on Twitter @SikeInsights, on LinkedIn @SikeInsights. You can search us up we’re active on those two platforms as well. Website is the main place. If you want to try out Kona, it’s available to try on the website, sign up for the wait-list, or you could directly install the bot from the website or reach out to me at [email protected] That’s just [email protected]

Luis:

Nice, well it was a pleasure having you again. Ladies and gentlemen, this was the DistantJob Podcast. I was your host Louis and see you next week.

We close another episode of the DistantJob Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great. It’s how we reach more listeners. 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. 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 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 of the episode up.

You can actually peruse the conversations in text form. 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. To help them with that again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who we need, and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate, 40% faster than the industry standard. With that I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode.

 

More ways to listen:

Remote work has a huge list of benefits that most entrepreneurs have experienced. However, it comes with significant challenges that make it hard for some leaders to help their teams be successful.

During this podcast episode, Sid Pandiya shares why he and his coworkers decided to found a company that helped remote teams work better. He reveals that, surprisingly, most of the challenges managers have regarding remote work are not with tools or the adaptation, but it’s regarding emotional intelligence and understanding how their employees feel.

 

Highlights:

  • How being remote help Sike Insights to be more efficient
  • Why emotional intelligence is crucial in a virtual environment
  • How remote work changed/affect businesses
  • The main reasons he (and his team) developed Kona for better leadership
  • How their product helps managers improve their leading and communication style
  • Traits to look for when hiring remote workers

 

Book Recommendations:

 

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