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Developing Empathy in Your Remote Team with Stefan Kollenberg

Stefan Kollenberg is an entrepreneur and changemaker completely passionate about equity and inclusion. He is the co-founder and CEO of Crescendo, a company that enables global businesses to run diversity and inclusion programs that support their employees and drive measurable business growth.

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Luis:

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the DistantJob podcast. I am your host Luis, as usual here to discuss how to build and lead awesome remote teams. My guest today is Stefan. Stefan is an entrepreneur and change maker that’s passionate about equity and inclusion. He is the co-founder and CEO of Crescendo, a business enabling global companies to run diversity and inclusion programs that support their employees and drive measurable business growth. So, Stefan, thank you for coming. Thank you for being on the podcast.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Thanks for having me. It’s nice I got invited by another Stefan, my good friend. So it’s fun.

Luis:

Yeah. Speaking of which I did only call you by your first name because your second name stumps me. So would you please tell our listeners what’s your full name?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yes, absolutely. So it’s Stefan Kollenberg. Very it’s actually, I’m half German, so my dad was born in Dusseldorf and I’ve got his last name.

Luis:

Oh, nice. I love Dusseldorf. It’s such a nice place.

Stefan Kollenberg:

I’ve been once. Yeah, no. I was five years old, a very little kid, but I remember bits and pieces. Actually, I lost my first tooth when I was on that trip to Germany. So that was an experience.

Luis:

It’s so funny because you’re the founder of a company that’s about diversity and inclusion, and I actually think that of all the places I’ve been in Europe, that Dusseldorf is probably the one where I’ve encountered the biggest diversity of cultures. It really felt that, sure, I’ve been to London, London is the European melting pot, but there was just something about that German city, that I could eat anything, I saw all kinds of different places, et cetera, et cetera. It was really one of the best, I think it’s my favorite place in Germany.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Oh, I need to go back because I mean, it’s been forever since I was there, but hopefully after all of this COVID stuff settles down and we’re able to travel again, hopefully in the near distant future, I can take a trip back.

Luis:

Yeah. Well, I definitely recommend it. So Stefan, I usually try to figure out what’s the most interesting thing about my guests. And I’ve been blessed to have guests that are very interesting for a lot of diverse factors. Your business is very interesting, but there’s one thing that I’ve noticed immediately about you that I’ve never come across, which is that on your LinkedIn profile, you actually invite people to sign up for a coffee with you. And that kind of blew my mind because I usually do that with people that I know. I usually end every email with, “Hey, if you ever want to grab virtual coffee, here’s a link, follow it, let’s have a coffee.” But you just have that wide open to the world in your LinkedIn profile, which is amazing. So I do want to ask you, what’s the most interesting thing that came out of nowhere, in one of those weekly virtual coffees?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Oh man, it’s a good question. So I’ve actually had a lot of students come on there and just like want to talk about career and how do they advance, but I’ve had a few really interesting also startup businesses come on and just book a chat with me about like what they’re working on. I was just talking to a woman the other day, she was trying to adopt a child for about five years, it cost her like $100,000 and even still, I can’t remember the … I’m not sure if I can share the whole story on public air.

Luis:

Of course.

Stefan Kollenberg:

But it was just a very impactful story. And so she is now working on a business to improve the adoption process in the United States and really make it more affordable, more transparent. So that was a really cool business. And she was just getting started and wanted some just like tips on what we went through as founders. Because I’ve been through many different entrepreneurship development programs and accelerator programs so I’m always happy to share that knowledge and learning with anyone who wants to book time.

Luis:

Wow. That’s awesome. And that’s awesome of you, props for doing that, for making yourself available like that.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Thank you. Yeah, no, I’ve benefited from so many people helping me out over the years. All the programs we’ve been through, all the people that have supported Crescendo and myself as an individual so I just want to pay it forward and give back where I can.

Luis:

All right. So let’s jump into talking more about Crescendo. How has remote work made Crescendo possible or helped you make it better?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah it’s interesting. So there’s a few different ways to answer this question. I’ll take the first one and then I’ll touch on the second. So the first one is really about our team. So we’re a remote team in and of itself. So normally we’re based out of Toronto, Montreal and New York. At the moment with COVID a lot of us have gone back to our homes. So I’m in Ottawa. One of my colleagues is over in New Brunswick. We’ve got someone in Massachusetts now, so New York. So really the team as it exists today would not be possible without remote work. We wouldn’t be able to have this kind of diversity of talent and the amazing people on our team.

I remember we were hiring for a learning design role and the person that we came across, he was the best possible candidate was based out of New York. And we made that decision. The founders, we were already kind of split. So Sage, my co founder and our CEO, she was already in Montreal. And so was one of our developers Leona. So we just made the decision, hey, I guess we’re going to go remote, because we want to access the best talent and have the best teams and don’t want to limit that to geography.

So that’s one big way remote work has enabled Crescendo, but then almost on the business side, this massive shift that we’ve seen because of COVID-19 to remote work has meant that so many companies who previously used to run a lot of in-person diversity inclusion programming. So you’d have your events run by employee resource groups, your trainings, you’re recruiting and hiring events, the conferences you go to, all of this was done in person, but now since this has all shifted, they need virtual solutions. And they need something that’s scalable, that’s relevant to their global employees. Because as we know, culture and identity changes so much when you go across borders and you go to different parts of the world.

So when we talk about diversity inclusion, it’s really important that you have something that resonates with people of all backgrounds and all cultures.

Luis:

Yeah, yeah, for sure. That’s the point that I often make that, for example, in the case of DistantJob, we are actually a very diverse company without even making a real effort to do so. It just happened because we were recruiting from the whole world instead of from a specific geographic region. So we just naturally gravitated to finding people from several different continents, several different backgrounds, several different cultures. But something that’s interesting to me is that the kind of work that you develop with this diversity and inclusion initiatives, so much of it is based on developing empathy, on having empathy for the other person. On being able to be in their shoes. And that somehow seems to be a bit harder to build though an internet connection. So how do you think about that problem and how do you suggest people solving? How do you create more empathy without necessarily the ability to people do have in the room to communicate directly to your body language, et cetera?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this is a big part of what we’re building with Crescendo is just how … Because the reality is that we do need something virtual and digital and scalable. We can’t do for 10,000 person companies, you’re not going to be able to run in person trainings for everyone. So that was some of the ethos that we started on. And the approach that we’ve taken is really focusing on the most human possible thing that we can get to virtually. So every piece of content in Crescendo is focused on stories and experiences. So it’s not like training content from a consultant teaching you about like definitions or terminology, whatever like that. That’s not how you build empathy. You don’t listen to words and theories and come up with, “Oh, now I feel more empathetic for this person or someone from this group.” It’s really through stories and real experiences.

And so that’s what we focus on is all the content within Crescendos is a story. But for individuals, on a person-to-person basis is one big part of empathy is just how you listen to others. And so being an active listener, really focusing rather than thinking of what you’re going to say to respond, actually listening to the full answer that someone is giving you, consider maybe where they’re coming from, take a couple seconds and then respond. So I think those skills, that’s still something you can do in a Zoom call. Yes you’ve missed out on some of the body language and some of these other things that help with that in person experience.

Luis:

Yeah, yeah. Makes sense. Makes sense. So tell me a bit about the building of the business. And obviously remote became part of the picture, as you explained earlier, but was it, I mean, once you figured out that remote was a part of the picture, did that change in any way, the way you felt that the future of the company was going to go? Once you realized that in order to get the talent that you wanted, it was going to be a remote operation, did anything else change? Did you change the way that you run it, the way that you planned future ground? Once remote was on the table how did that change the plan?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah. So when we went remote, a lot of things changed for sure about where we were headed with the future of the business, but one of the big priorities for us was the internal operations and how the business function. Because now that you’re remote you lose, if you don’t have an office, you don’t have that kind of like casual sitting beside each other at the desk, interaction that goes on. And so what happens is really that you need to be intentional about the community building time. So we have every Friday, actually later this afternoon, we have a virtual work session. So it’s an hour just pop onto a Zoom meeting, hangout, chat, just do our work, like virtual coworking. We also have daily stand up across our revenue and product team just to make sure that we’re coming together, we’re seeing each other, getting some face time every single day. So that’s really important to us.

We also we’ve used some different tools. So a couple amazing tools that we’ve used, for example, for product brainstorming or positioning brainstorming, anytime we need to brainstorm, collaborate together, virtually we use Miro, M-I-R-O.com. A really great tool. It’s like a virtual whiteboard. Fantastic.

And then we’ve also shifted kind of the way that we approach booking internal meetings. So we have those regular skeleton of our week, where we’ve got like our weekly kickoff. We have a revenue team sync at the start, and then we have daily standup’s with revenue and product. And then we have the end of the week, the work session and our weekly wins.

But in between that, if we need to book collaborative meetings or anything like that, we use a tool called Meter. It’s really interesting. We just came across it recently. But what it does is everyone commits to booking off like 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM for any internal meetings. And then if you need to book something with other people, you can go into the tool, you set the purpose of the meeting, who needs to be there, the level of priority. And then it’s like an auction system where it’ll automatically take in everyone’s possible meetings and then schedule in them to people’s calendars based off who needs to be there, what the priority is and so on. And it’s also shorter meetings. So they’re normally like, like 10, 15 minutes at most, instead of like the long half hour sessions. And so it’s really great for making sure that we can get the most meetings happening in the shortest amount of time and reducing the challenges of booking through a whole bunch of people’s messy calendars.

Luis:

Oh, nice. Nice. Thank you for being so clear about your setup. It seems like you run a very organized operation. And that gave me a really clear picture about how your company works. So thank you for that and for the very specific suggestions.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah, my pleasure.

Luis:

I mean, obviously this wasn’t built in a day. I’m sure there was some trial and error and some experimentation going, but since you started doing this, what have you changed your mind the most about? What were some things specifically about working in a remote setting, working with a remote team, what were some things that you thought were going to be a given and that turned out not being so? And what were some things that you weren’t expecting that then at the end of the day, you figure out, “Oh, this is really interesting.” What were your key takeaways?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah, so I think one of our biggest learnings of all time is especially when you have employees that are in cross functional roles, remote work is much more challenging for that individual role. So for example, a product designer or a customer success manager, those are just a couple of examples where it can be more challenging because you have so much different communication with different people. There just can be more conflict just because of the nature of the roles.

Like product is a very political role within a company because you need to take in all the stakeholder feedback and not everyone’s feedback is always going to get heard. Like I know for myself, like even as a founder, I’ll share my feedback quite a bit, but it’s not always going to be the final version of the product that goes in there because I’m not leading product. So it’s definitely, it takes some learning for everyone on the team, even for myself to realize that, yes, your opinion and your input is important, but it’s not the only one.

So something that I’m always working on, but for those individuals, having personal time with people across the team and being able to have them build relationships outside of their everyday work attractions is so crucial because otherwise it turns into the only time you’re talking is when you have problems or there’s conflict, which is not healthy for a team dynamic. And so that was one of the big learnings that we had is that for those cross functional roles, we need to make sure that there is that time built in for people to have just casual conversations, get to know each other more as individuals, especially if you’re starting to onboard people in these roles, it’s really crucial to have that kind of good start.

So that’s one thing. Another that I’ll say, so before we went remote, I was very big on like, oh, I wanted the whole revenue team to be in Toronto. I was thinking like, “Oh, it’ll just be better, we can collaborate better learn faster together.” But I think that was just me being hesitant to change and try a new thing. It’s ironic being a startup and a founder, we’re always going through a lot of different things and pivoting and stuff, but it was still I had never really done it before. And I was like, “Ah, will it work? I don’t know. It seems like a big commitment to do.” But I’m really glad that we did it because you just have to set up the processes. Once you’re in the reality of the situation it’s like, “Okay, so now we have this challenge of like, okay, well, how can we collaborate better together? How can we operate efficiently as a remote team?” You just get to that problem solving mindset and start finding a solution.

And so for us now, we’ve got a revenue team of five people. So two customer success, one marketing and myself, and then one sales. So I lead the revenue team. And then we’ve got that the branch of the organization. And so it’s been great. We have our daily stand ups, we have our weekly kickoff. We do our one-on-ones biweekly. We have a sales and customer success sync that’s specifically about upcoming onboarding and stuff like that. But we’ve figured out and it’s actually probably made us more efficient. Because now we’re like, okay, this specific time during the day and during the week is when we’re going to collaborate on this and update each other. So it’s made us a bit more efficient in terms of our collaboration time.

Luis:

Oh yeah definitely. So it’s interesting that you mentioned the growth, because that was actually something that I was wondering. Again, when you decided to shift from local to remote, obviously one of the advantages, as you mentioned at the beginning of the interview, is that you can get the best people from anywhere. You’re not necessarily tied to a particular location, but on the other hand, you do need people with different skills. At least that’s my experience is that someone that’s very good at their job may not be simultaneously very good at their job and good at doing the job from home or from a coworking space. You need a different skillset to work remotely than you need to work in an office. So how did that influence you’re hiring, apart from obviously you being able to hire from anywhere, but what kind of skills did you start looking for when you were conducting your hiring?

Stefan Kollenberg:

I’ll be completely honest, I haven’t thought about it in that way before.

Luis:

Why not?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah, I don’t know. It’s just, I guess maybe it’s an assumption that everyone we were hiring was used to working remotely, but I mean, not exactly. I don’t know. I’m reflecting on the past few hires. So since we became fully remote, we’ve made four hires. One of them definitely we were in the interview process … I’m thinking back, it was, I’d say strong communication was a big thing that made us confident and based off our interactions in the interview itself, because we did the interviews remote over Zoom. And so based off of those, we were confident that part of the actual interview process was collaborative and it was working together and going through some different specific questions. So we were confident that he’d be able to work remotely, but we didn’t necessarily look for specific skills in that interview process. I think that’s a good thing. And I’d actually like to add it to our upcoming posts now.

And then the other few hires that we made, one of them, we’d actually kind of known, had been working with us as a contractor for a while. So didn’t really need to … Yeah, like we already knew the working style, we already worked together. And then the other two were interns who joined the team and they’ve been doing great. And yeah, I think they’re both strong communicators. So I think if I was to answer this retroactively, I’d say strong communication is something that’s vital. Taking and giving feedback is such a crucial skill and it gets harder when you’re not in person. So doing it in written format as well as over Zoom calls. So being very open to being wrong, open to seeing another perspective, having that growth mindset that it’s a buzzword I feel like, but a lot of people talk about it, just being willing to learn and improve over time, all crucial skills especially for remote teams.

Luis:

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So let’s spend a bit more time on the communication aspect. So what’s your stand on written/and synchronous communication versus getting on Zoom and hashing things out. What’s your personal preference? How do you use both styles of communication in your business and what do you think that each style of communication is best for?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Interesting. So a big value of having Zoom communication is just the face time. So I think that’s something crucial that can’t be forgotten. It’s just being able to see each other and see other humans. It’s just a big, important part. But in terms of like what communication is done on what mediums, if a thread is getting too long in Slack, let’s hop on a call. If there’s multiple people typing all at the same time, it’s like, hey, this is not efficient communication. Let’s just all hop on a call right away. And then we can pop up a Zoom or a Google meet, or we’ve used so many different video chats. Sometimes I use the Slack call.

So sometimes for example, if I need to confirm something, we’re doing something custom for a client, I need to talk to product, I’d be like, “Hey Tuba, can we hop on a call quickly? I just want to like run you through something quick.” Instead of typing out this whole situation, that’s kind of nuanced and I need back and forth. So I guess something that is to articulate it in like one small sentence, anything that you need to share information and then get feedback and then adjust your answer to get to the final result. So if there’s multiple loops of feedback that you need, I’d highly recommend doing that with a video or an audio call, just because you’re going to save a lot of time and it’ll go back and forth faster. And so having that is crucial.

Other ways that we use Slack communication, so just like quick messages, updates, we have a lot of integrations set up in Slack where if stuff moves through the sales pipeline, or we get a user comment or a positive piece of feedback that pops in. And we talk a bit about that and debrief and align on, “Hey, who’s going to take this next step?” Or “What do we have to do from here?” So those are some different ways that I guess we use communication within Slack and Zoom and so on.

Luis:

Awesome. So let’s get back to new hiring a bit. What’s the onboarding process look like? How do you prefer to onboard people remotely and what kind of steps do you follow?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah so we outline a … So after all the paperwork and everything is signed, we set them up on their tools. So we have internally we have a Notion page where we’ve created a template of, “here’s all the things we need to invite the person to.” So make sure they’re invited to all of their software and they’re ready to go there. And then we have in Notion we have an onboarding template where it’s like day one, week one, month one, and that sets out here’s the goals for your first month. And then those are sometimes up in the air as well. We might define them as we go along and co-create them, but that just gives them some overall guidance on here’s what we’re looking at, here’s what the goals are. And then we start off setting them up with getting them onto Crescendo, the tool. So inviting them within our Slack workspace to start receiving personal messages so they can experience the product, start going through it.

Additionally, making sure they meet with all of the relevant function heads. So whoever’s relevant to their job, whether it’s CS, product, sales, so they can get a deep dive on how does my role interact with yours and your function? So doing those about a half hour one-on-one. And sometimes if there’s, for example, one of the interns we hired, she’s working on product marketing. So in addition to external marketing, so we’ve got my collaboration with her on marketing stuff externally to potential clients. And then we’ve got marketing to users and launching new features and so on, which go to current clients and current users. So she’s split working with product and with the revenue team. And so we had her meet up with my co-founder Tuba, who leads product just to get up to speed there. So that’s an example of how we’d onboard them.

Additionally, what I would say is that we set up our one-on-one schedule, set out our learning goals right away. So one of the first things that I like to do is understand as an individual, what are your goals, longterm career wise, but also short term in terms of skill development and set up one-on-ones where we can check in on how you’re progressing through those. If you’re finding value in the tasks that you’re doing and you’re engaged. So making sure that people are always having that opportunity to learn and progress and from the baseline setting up a really solid foundation for that employee’s growth over the longterm.

So those are really important things. And then I’d also say then having them sit in on some sales demos, just so they can actually see how the product is being sold, how people are responding to it and so on. And we have a lot of documentation on here’s what past user interviews have looked like, so they can read through and see what do users actually say about Crescendo? What do they love about it? What do they want improved and so on.

Luis:

Nice. Nice. It seems like you have a very organized operation there. Well done.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Thank you. Yeah. I love being efficient and having a process. Set it up, it might not be the perfect thing ever, but at least it’s there and it’s repeatable and it works for people. And then we can take feedback on it and improve for the next hire we make.

Luis:

It definitely shows true. So congratulations on that. I want to ask you something that’s a bit more subjective. What’s the best lesson that being a co-founder has taught you?

Stefan Kollenberg:

That’s a big question. Let’s see.

Luis:

I’m sure there are many, but pick out the biggest one.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah. I think that it’s almost about vulnerability and being completely open about how you are thinking and what you’re feeling. So I think like it’s funny, this wasn’t a specific example from me, but we were in an accelerator program and my two other co-founders Sage and Tuba, they were talking in front of a bunch of other founders. And then after that, one of them approached Sage and was like, “Are you two okay? Is everything fine?” She’s like, “Oh yeah, yeah that was a normal conversation.” Because they were going like back and forth with really intense feedback. But to an external person, they were like, “Holy crap. You’re being that open?” And not ripping each other, but we’re just very open and blunt with each other.

And we have this shared trust that we’re all trying to do this for the right reasons. We all have an alignment on what that bigger mission vision and our purpose as an organization is. And we just maybe have different views on how to get there. And that’s because we started as a diverse team. We continue to build a diverse team and we strongly believe that, that’s the way that you’re going to have successful businesses, having these different viewpoints and having a space where people feel comfortable enough to bring them up. So it’s definitely not perfect as well.

It’s not easy to develop that type of openness. It’s something that we’re all, especially myself, I’m always working on. I’m a very driven personality as you may have noticed from the call so far, I really like to push forward. If I see something I’m like, “Let’s get going. Let’s move on it right away.” That it’s a strength in some places, but also weakness and some others, because at times I can dominate conversations. And so it’s something I’m working on, checking myself on to make sure that I’m not overshadowing others and others do have a chance to speak. But I think the important thing is being honest about that learning journey, that we’re not perfect. We’re doing what we can, we’re working on improving and we want feedback on that. And so I think that’s the most important lesson that I’ve learned.

Luis:

Oh yeah, absolutely. And that makes complete sense. When you’re working with something as crucial as building a company together with someone, tiptoeing around each other’s feelings won’t really get you very far. You need to communicate, always trying to be respectful, but knowing that if by accident you get disrespectful you have a way to walk it back and to make amends and people won’t take easily offense. Right?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah, absolutely. I could not agree more.

Luis:

Yeah. So shall we move on to a quick round of rapid fire questions? The questions are rapid fire, but the answer don’t need to be, you can expand as much as you’d like. Shall we start them?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Let’s do it.

Luis:

Okay. So first, this is obviously regarding the way you work, your workspace. What browser tabs do you have open right now?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Gmail, calendar. So Google Calendar, Google Slides, Google Spreadsheet, a link to Pandora’s audience marketing article, Notion, Miro, HubSpot, and a million, Slack, Zoom, a PDF, SalesRight, is a software we use for pricing proposals. I have too many tabs open right now.

Luis:

You are clearly a power user, but that’s the point of the question. Now I have a good picture of your virtual office. So you are definitely a virtual office power user.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah. Oh yeah. There’s a lot going on.

Luis:

All right. So if you had $100, maybe US dollars, because I know that Canadian don’t buy you as much. If you had 100 US dollars to spend with each person working for you, what would you give them? And a couple of rules here. You can’t just give them the money and you can personalize. You need to buy in bulk. It can be physical. It can be virtual, but you do need to buy in bulk.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Okay. So I buy one thing for everyone?

Luis:

Yes.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Okay. Got it. Got it. Oh, so this is it’s a package of things, but it’s all under $100. So it would be a laptop stand that elevators your laptop, plus a wireless keyboard and track pad. Because I think one of the things a lot of where we’re adjusting is to having a bigger workspace where we’ve got monitors and stuff. But I think at least what I’ve seen is that it’s so important, I have back problems because I didn’t have these early enough. My upper right shoulder is still in pain because of the bad posture. So I think it is so important to have a good setup where you’re ergonomic. And that combination of things you can get that, you can find it for under $100. And I think that would be very helpful to a lot of people across the team.

Luis:

Oh, I definitely feel you. That getting my laptop support and a wireless keyboard was definitely a really good thing for my posture. So that is a very good tip. Do you have any favorite brands?

Stefan Kollenberg:

I’m on Mac, so I got it off of Amazon or eBay or something like that. I don’t even know the brand to be honest.

Luis:

All right. So what about for yourself? And obviously, you can say what you just said, but what purchase has made your work life easier or more productive in the past year?

Stefan Kollenberg:

I just bought a monitor a month and a half ago. And this is the first time in forever that I’ve actually not just been on my laptop and it has dramatically improved my entire work productivity. I now have so much more screen space and I’m like, “What was I doing before?” Because before I used to also be very nomadic, I would move around a lot. I liked working at different spaces. And so I didn’t have one set place where I worked. And so now I have more of a home office that I’m embracing. So yeah.

Luis:

So are you using it as a replacement screen or are you going dual screen?

Stefan Kollenberg:

Oh, dual screen. 100% dual screen.

Luis:

Welcome to the club. I started doing this, this year and it was, I mean, I can’t go back. It was a game changer.

Stefan Kollenberg:

It’s incredible. So it’s going to be tough to transition to-

Luis:

Yeah. I was one of those people that say, “Why would I need a second monitor? I can just tower my windows. I can just put each window in half the screen. What’s the big deal about the second monitor?” I was so dumb. I can’t believe I don’t do this before. But anyway, so next question. What book or books have you gifted the most?

Stefan Kollenberg:

I have not really gifted books to be completely honest. Actually, so the one book that I would recommend is Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. It’s a book on positioning. It is an incredible marketing book. Any founder, any marketer, even product people should read this book. It’s a really good insight into how to run effective positioning and compare yourself to others in the market.

Luis:

Yeah. That is quickly becoming one of the most recommended books in this podcast. I am impressed.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Yeah. She’s amazing. I’ve seen her, I’ve known her, followed along the Toronto startup scene for four or five years and seen her talk many times. And yeah, I got the book last year and we’ve used it for our positioning. We’re doing positioning stuff right now as a team. That’s actually literally after this recording, I’m going to do a positioning workshop that is run by Sage based off the Obviously Awesome book.

Luis:

Nice. Okay. So yeah, it’s definitely getting on the DistantJob podcast library. So final question, let’s say that you are hosting a dinner. It’s hard to host dinners right now at this point in time, but once this is all over, you are hosting a dinner where there’s going to be a round table about the future of work and work from home. And the people attending the dinner are the CTO, CEOs, all the important decision makers from tech companies all around the world. Now the twist is that the dinner happens in a Chinese restaurant. So as the host, you get to pick what comes inside the fortune cookie. So what is the fortune cookie message that these people will get?

Stefan Kollenberg:

I love this question. “Think global, act local.”

Luis:

Oh wow. That is great, that really sounds like a fortune cookie. You went all out. Congratulations.

Stefan Kollenberg:

That was the goal. I had to make it sound high level enough and vague enough that it would be relevant to everyone, but still make sense.

Luis:

Good message. Good message. So all right, so Stefan, it’s been a pleasure. Now I really want you to tell where people can find you not only to book a virtual coffee with you, but to continue this conversation and to learn more about your company and the services that they provide.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure. So my personal website is: stefankollenberg.ca. So S-T-E-F-A-N-K-O-L-L-E-N-B-E-R-G. So there you can see me, I just launched it recently, but you can see me talk about the founder journey, identity, privilege, mental health, therapy. All of these are really important subjects to me and I really make an effort to discuss them. So following along my blog there.

For work, you can take a look at Crescendowork.com. So C-R-E-S-C-E-N-D-O work.com. And that’s where you can check out more and learn about Crescendo. And on social media where it’s just @crescendowork on all the platforms. And then just my name on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. So, yeah, please feel free. I’ve got the virtual coffee booking in my LinkedIn bio, but also follow along my newsletter at: stefankollenberg.ca.

Luis:

That’s awesome. So thank you, Stefan. It’s been a pleasure having you.

Stefan Kollenberg:

Thanks for having me on. It’s been very fun, I really enjoyed it.

Luis:

Same here, ladies and gentlemen, that was Stefan Kollenberg. Did I get that right?

Stefan Kollenberg:

You got it.

Luis:

Okay. From Crescendo and I was Luis from DistantJob at the DistantJob podcast, your podcast 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 would 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 more listeners.

Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast. Click on your favorite episode and 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, 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 adieu.” See you next week on the next episode of DistantJob podcast.

 

More ways to listen:

Although remote work has many benefits and positively impacts most companies, some employees don’t have a pleasant experience. They feel isolated being far from their coworkers, or in other cases, like if they don’t belong to the team.

In this powerful podcast episode, Stefan shares the importance of creating empathy in teams, listening to their struggles, opening up, and boosting every team member to become a better version. And although in a virtual setting, developing empathy is challenging, it’s still possible.  He also reveals how remote work changed Crescendo in ways he never imagined.

''The team as it exists today would not be possible without remote work. We wouldn't be able to have this kind of diversity of talent and the amazing people on our team. '' Click To Tweet

 

Highlights:

  • How to develop empathy in a virtual scenario
  • Why diversity is essential for every business
  • The importance of listening to others
  • Tips for building a sense of belonging in a remote setting
  • Tools for boosting collaboration
  • His biggest lesson as Crescendo’s co-founder
  • Insights on his remote experience
  • Strategies for efficient communication in a team

 

Book Recommendation:

 

  • Obviously Awesome by April Dunford

 

This interview is part of the DistantJob podcast.

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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