Improving the Health of Your Hybrid Remote Culture with Oliver Weiss

After devoting a significant portion of his life understanding the financial industry Oliver Weiss pivoted his career into healthcare, which he found to be his calling, by becoming the founder and CEO of MeCasa.

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Oliver Weiss

Luis Magalhaes:    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the DistantJob Podcast. I am your host, Luis, and today, I will be interviewing Oliver Weiss, the CEO of mecasa. So I will let Oliver introduce mecasa, because he does that a lot better than me. But the reason I wanted Oliver on, and the reason why I enjoyed this podcast so much, is because mecasa is in a perfect hybrid remote situation. 50% of them work from offices, and 50% work from home.

Luis Magalhaes:    And this is a complex challenge for many people, and Oliver has come up with some very practical, one might even say commonsensical solutions. And this is by no mean a diss. I think that common sense is very often in short supply. We tend to over complicate things a lot. But if you’ll notice a commonality between almost all of Oliver’s responses is that they are very thought through.

Luis Magalhaes:    So I had a lot of fun in this conversation. I felt that talking with Oliver gave me some real insights, and I’m very thankful for him being on. So, thank you, Oliver, and without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you my conversation with Oliver Weiss.

Luis Magalhaes:    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the DistantJob Podcast. The podcast where we talk about managing remote teams, managing and leading remote teams, who win. And today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Oliver Weiss. Oliver, welcome, and I’ll already have introduced you by the time people listen to this, but let’s just start off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Oliver Weiss:    Sure. Hi everyone. My name’s Oliver. I’m originally from Stuttgart, Germany, where I was born and raised, but I lived abroad for a number of years in Denmark and Canada and also in India for a while. I have a background in finance. I’ve worked in investment banking before switching to completely different field, namely to healthcare or caregiving. That’s the field I operate in now. So I’m founder and CEO of mecasa. mecasa is a matching service. We match caregivers with seniors in need of care through our online platform.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. So I guess that’s a great place to start, is, tell me the story of what precipitated that shift in career from financing to healthcare.

Oliver Weiss:    Well, I’ve always known, me and my co-founder, we’ve both known for a very long time that one day we wanted to start our own business. It was back in high school when we first met and we found that out. But then we started off, and everyone in his field, doing different jobs. And I was very fascinated by finance and I was actually good at it. Had great opportunities there. But I realized that I needed a certain kind of sense in my life. What I do needs to make sense and I think it should benefit people. And that I was lacking.

Oliver Weiss:    So, Simon and I, we sat down together and we thought of different business ideas. What we could do and how we could do it and we knew that it was going to be in a social space because we both have a bit of a social side.

Oliver Weiss:    So we first looked at childcare but then eventually decided to go for senior care.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    And on top of that, my mom’s a nurse and so is Simon’s mom, and that’s why we basically had a pre-condition, so to speak, in the care giving space.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. And you already had free consulting so that’s also great.

Oliver Weiss:    Exactly.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay, so that’s pretty cool and it’s very interesting how the chips fall like that because you know in my case it was like, I was in the healthcare industry and I transitioned it to the tech industry. More specifically about remote work and about hiring, so it’s a different perspective but it’s nice to see how people are attracted to places where they feel they can make a difference. I guess I want to start talking a bit about remote work because that’s more or less what our podcast is about. So tell me, what’s the more interesting thing to you in the remote work space?

Oliver Weiss:    For me, the most interesting thing I’d say is video conferencing. In many cases, remote work means a loss of information when talking to people. But video conferencing, when everyone uses their camera, actually does a great job and it almost substitutes for an in-person meeting. And that I really find fascinating. It’s really the enabler for successful remote communication and work.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, so that’s actually leads me to a different question. Again, I don’t know to what point and I hope to get better, to what point remote work is a part of mecasa’s either offering or the way your internal teams work, but just off the top of my head, I’ve been hearing a lot more these days about telemedicine. You know, remote appointments with doctors. Is this something you’re thinking about at all?

Oliver Weiss:    So, we’re not offering medical care. Which means that there’s no telemedicine in our business since it’s not part of our offering. However, we do have a lot of communication with the kids of the seniors whom we provide care for. So, it’s not purely medical, it’s also organizational, like where do care givers going to care for your parents or how long. What are the exact terms, and stuff like that. So there is lot of communication on that end. Some of that goes through email. Some of that goes via phone. But most of it actually goes through WhatsApp and the family establishes that connection because they have to do it first otherwise we’re not allowed to use it. But we’re also trying to establish another medium in that communication channel.

Luis Magalhaes:    And so how do you feel that has influenced your business and your offering? What is the response, the feedback?

Oliver Weiss:    Well, it actually makes things more scalable. Writing an email just takes time. A phone call also takes time because you usually talk longer. So WhatsApp is more Twitter like in terms of, you limit your characters, you provide the key message, and that’s it.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    Also you can add all the smileys so you can, or emoticons, which means you can also transfer an additional layer of information which you, like on an emotional basis, which you usually don’t use in an email or via phone.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    So it makes communication more effective and for us as an organization, it allows us to scale.

Luis Magalhaes:    So let’s say your team, you obviously have a technology platform, right? That you have a technology team?

Oliver Weiss:    Yep.

Luis Magalhaes:    So you yourself, do you work remotely? Or do you have an office and you work with remote people? How the remote thing affect your own personal set up?

Oliver Weiss:    So I personally work 100% at the office. But my team works mostly remotely

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh, great, so-

Oliver Weiss:    So our head of marketing is based in Berlin [inaudible 00:08:17] about a six hour drive. And our IT, our head of IT, our techy, he also works from home. Because that’s his preferred way of working. So there is actually a lot of remote work in our team.

Luis Magalhaes:    So what percentage would that be, more or less?

Oliver Weiss:    Half the team, I’d say.

Luis Magalhaes:    Half the team? Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    Yep.

Luis Magalhaes:    So, cool, it’s marketing and it’s the technology development that is handled remotely?

Oliver Weiss:    Yep. For now, yeah.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. So tell me what kind of set up do you have to manage these people? What kind of communication do you expect with them? How do you want them to report? How are you up to speed on their daily basis?

Oliver Weiss:    So, we have a sort of basic structure, framework for every week. So Monday mornings at 9:00, we kick off with a team meeting. We’re using Zoom. We’re having a Zoom call with everyone that is part of the company.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh, okay, cool.

Oliver Weiss:    And we do the same, a quick, really a quick 15, 10-15 minute video on Friday afternoon also using Zoom. So that’s the basic framework. Monday morning it’s like, what’s your schedule for the week, what is everyone focusing on, what are the main tasks, and on Friday we do it [inaudible 00:09:38]. Have these tasks been accomplished, yes or no, and if not, why did it- was there a change in priorities or what was the reason?

Luis Magalhaes:    So, two calls, Monday and Friday, with the whole team?

Oliver Weiss:    Yes.

Luis Magalhaes:    What size is the team, by the way?

Oliver Weiss:    About 10 people.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh, okay. So that’s pretty cool. So that’s more or less a scrum-like approach. Did you take that inspiration from scrum and agile practices or is it just something that you came up with naturally?

Oliver Weiss:    I actually only know the term scrum, but I’ve never really digged into it so I just came up with it.

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s pretty cool, actually the marketing team at DistantJob works more or less in the same way so I can totally understand why you enjoy it and how you find that interesting. So, tell me a bit more about the Friday meeting. When you’re talking about what people achieved in the Friday meeting, do you do some kind of demos, what does that look like?

Oliver Weiss:    I’m referring back to the Monday meeting. On Monday meeting, everyone states what they want to accomplish that week. And we actually do take notes of that. So Simon wants to, when two clients call that guy and do this presentation.

Luis Magalhaes:    Cool.

Oliver Weiss:    And then on Friday, we basically go through that list again and we do check marks or cross things out that weren’t accomplished. So it’s basically checking on things that we decided on doing on Monday.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. So, but what if the things aren’t checking? Well, what if it’s like a five point list and only two are checked? Then how do you do the post mortem on that?

Oliver Weiss:    We talk about the reason. What was the reason for not accomplishing these tasks? Was there just not enough time? Was there a change in priorities? Did something else come up that was not on the list before? And then we reevaluate. Is that task still important? Does it need to go on the list again next Monday? Or is it just less important and we can either get rid of it or postpone it for a few weeks.

Luis Magalhaes:    Between those two meetings, what kind of communication do you have with your remote team in the middle of the week? Do you use any chat system, any Slack-like thing, or is it WhatsApp? How do you prefer to do it?

Oliver Weiss:    We actually use Telegram in general. So that’s our quick messenger.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay, so is it a group for the entire company? Do you split it between departments? How does that work exactly?

Oliver Weiss:    We actually have different groups that we use. So we have one for the entire company so that’s basis information that everyone should have about accomplishments, about new clients that we want. But then we also have a group just for the shareholders where there is no high-level management information. And then sometimes we also have sub-groups that are project related.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    So we’re [inaudible 00:12:44] an IC standard right now. And for that we have a separate product.

Luis Magalhaes:    So that’s a super interesting choice. Why did you go with Telegram? It’s not usual. I do use the tool and I enjoy it quite a bit but what got your decision off using it?

Oliver Weiss:    We’ve tried a few programs. We’ve used Riot in the beginning. But there were some technical issues. A little bit complicated to use. We didn’t want to go with WhatsApp and with our techy recommended Telegram, yeah. It was easy to integrate for us also to go through our own servers and well, frankly, it also has some nice emoticons which [crosstalk 00:13:33].

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s the very important time. Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    That’s the actual reason.

Luis Magalhaes:    When you’re looking to hire people. Is your intuition to hire them for the office or to hire them remotely? And when would you consider hiring remotely in that case?

Oliver Weiss:    So there is no first priority. It depends on the job. I personally don’t have a preference whether the person is here based at the office or works remotely. I’m very much focused on the tasks, on the outcome. If the outcome is fine then that person can work from anywhere in the world at any time. I don’t care.

Luis Magalhaes:    So in that case, what do you usually look for when you’re hiring? Like let’s say you need to hire a new person, an extra person for marketing, or an extra person for development. Now obviously you’re going to look at the skills that they bring in their area of expertise but how do you figure out if this person will work out working remotely or not?

Oliver Weiss:    So at the very first level, we actually don’t look at skill, but we look at the cultural fit. We operate in a very specific field with caregiving. It requires certain skills that are not typical. So your level of emotional understanding should be very high and that’s very important for us, even for techies, for developers, we require them to have the certain ability of feeling what is important, how do people think? It’s not all about zeros and ones. There’s more to professional care. So that’s the first level.

Oliver Weiss:    In terms of working remotely, the easiest way is to just try it out. With every new employee, we try to have a week or at least a few days of basically getting to know each other. And that person wants to work remotely? We try for a few days working remotely. They get a little project just for testing, for seeing how things work together and that way we understand pretty well whether it’s going to work or not.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. So, relating to that, because obviously you touched on a very important point. Especially in the healthcare industry, which I agree completely some- so let’s say we’re talking about a clinic. Sometimes the people managing the clinic don’t have any interaction what-so-ever with the patients, with the users. And it’s very noticeable when those people don’t really- those people that don’t have engagement with users, you can very easily notice the difference between a manager, who even not having a relationship with the user, still has that emotional attachment of, I am in the healthcare industry and people’s lives are very touched by what I do even if I never meet them, versus some managers don’t look at the numbers. So I can totally understand that.

Luis Magalhaes:    Now you’ve told me before that part of what you’re facilitating is a communication between the caregivers and the families of the people that they are giving care. And communication through texts especially, through video it’s like we’re doing now it’s pretty much fine, but communication through texts or even just through voice, sometimes can be a tricky business. Is there any kind of guidance that you give to these people? Have you noticed any pitfalls that they fall on often and that people should be aware of?

Oliver Weiss:    Well, irony certainly is one.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    I think you got to know each other very well. And then 90% of the cases, you will know. But then there is certain people who don’t have that kind of ability for sensing irony. If you lose the information that is contained in the level of the voice or something, it gets difficult. So my recommendation would simply be to use emoticons. That usually helps a lot with this sub-level of communication that you want to transport to the other side.

Luis Magalhaes:    So, the Telegram is even more recommended?

Oliver Weiss:    Yeah.

Luis Magalhaes:    In that case. All right. So, what about emailing? Do you see a lot of conversation going through emailing or do you really just incentivize people to use synchronous chat?

Oliver Weiss:    So, eternally it’s very rare. Is it’s long texts, if it’s legal staff or text related, then we use email. But, in general, it’s mostly through Telegram.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. So how long have you been doing this? You know, working with people remotely?

Oliver Weiss:    Two in a half years now.

Luis Magalhaes:    Ah, okay. So in those two in a half years, almost three years, what have you changed your mind most about?

Oliver Weiss:    So, we started out using messengers like Telegram, like WhatsApp, and they worked great but what I realized very recently when we started working with a guy in Berlin, our head of marketing, we introduced Zoom. So we started doing Zoom calls including video conferencing and that actually changed a lot. It feels a lot more like being present in person. You suddenly have this addition level of information flow so it’s not only the text, the key message, it’s not not only the voice that you have over phone, but it’s also facial expression and that sometimes is very important.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, we go back to where we started that you were really excited about video. So what do you think video is lacking right now? Is there anything that you wish that people building video would do? What would be better than Zoom? If you could wave a magic wand and have it?

Oliver Weiss:    Well, it’s already pretty good. I guess what it lacks now is smell. Whether that’s for the better or the worse, I don’t know.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, I guess so. All right.

Oliver Weiss:    So in-person meetings, there is something, it’s hard to grasp but it’s physical presence in the room. It’s something that you- I don’t even know what sense that is-

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    My body that senses it. But that can play a big role, especially in negotiations. It’s also the posture, like the way you sit or you stand. So video conferencing usually covers your face and a bit of your shoulders, but not the full body, so there is certain things you might not-

Luis Magalhaes:    Well, we can stand up, right?

Oliver Weiss:    Sure.

Luis Magalhaes:    But yeah yeah yeah, that’s part of, and everyone would have to have particle screens like the ones at the arcades, right?

Oliver Weiss:    Exactly.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay, so during these three years, tell me the story of a lesson that you learned the hard way.

Oliver Weiss:    Well, so, my co-founder and me, we’ve known each other for a very long time but using Telegram we sometimes ran into mixed communication. Like some of them, like when it comes to very serious stuff like finances [inaudible 00:21:36] and stuff. When you talk about such things using a messenger, they can be misunderstand. Especially when things get emotional. And that sometimes can end in, yeah, unhappy situations.

Luis Magalhaes:    But yeah, I can definitely feel that. I think that’s it, and you’re right, emoticons can help, but it’s definitely something that you need to be careful of when you’re writing to people.

Oliver Weiss:    And it might be especially true for, I don’t know how many German fellows are listening, but the Germans are usually known for being very straight in the way they communicate. So if we work with people from abroad, that adds another level of difficulty I’d say. For Germans, it’s mostly hi and then it’s right into the thing the communication is about. It’s not matching up small talk and stuff. So to some people that can be a bit of a challenge.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, so, I can definitely attest to that. I’ve worked with people from Brazil to Ukraine and Russia and you can definitely feel the difference from one edge of the world to the other. But there’s also that opposite thing where sometimes some team mates are just blabber mouths and it takes them 30 minutes to get to the point.

Oliver Weiss:    True.

Luis Magalhaes:    You know, that can be very pleasant and very entertaining but sometimes you’re in a hurry to get stuff done. So-

Oliver Weiss:    Exactly.

Luis Magalhaes:    There’s definitely a balance to strike there. So what’s your internal dialogue when you’re dealing with people with other cultures? Does an alarm go on your mind saying, hey, I should make some small talk or maybe start the conversation leading into the subject? What is your own personal autopilot when dealing with those situations?

Oliver Weiss:    So I try to before starting to work with someone, like either German or from abroad, I try to meet people in person at least once. That’s basically the big kickoff. It needs to be in the very beginning. And that way I already have an understanding of how that person communicates, what aspects might be important. So it’s a physical meeting that everything should start with and taking it from there, I already know how I should communicate. I mean, there is still pitfalls and there might be miscommunication but by then I already know a lot about how I should communicate.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. Well, that’s pretty cool. Do you try or do you have plans of having a company meeting sometime, getting the whole team joined? Does that happen or is it just a plan?

Oliver Weiss:    Yeah, definitely. No, that’s actually key for us. It’s mostly celebrating successes. It’s having an Xmas party or a summer party where we fly everyone into Stuttgart. That’s actually pretty important in my opinion.

Oliver Weiss:    And that might add to our conversation from before, working remotely is perfect, it’s great. There are great tools and you know how to use them, it works 100% fine for the job. But not having this time, having a chat over a coffee, that kind of thing that you usually don’t have when you work remotely.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    Or you know, going for a walk for 10 minutes. Spending the lunch break together, something like that. So this personal level where you don’t talk about work but you talk about other stuff. You get to know each other. You establish a kind of emotional relationship with the other side. That is mostly lacking when you use online tools for remote communication. So that’s why we want to meet everyone at least once every six months in person.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay, maybe it’s somewhat related but it’s a detour, I’m just curious because I read another interview that you gave, and I’ve read that philosophy class was the most important one for you that you took in school. So tell me about that, and did that influence in any way the way you approach your business.

Oliver Weiss:    So I think I’m someone, I need a sense in life. I need to know why I do what I do. So I need to know what the purpose is.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    And philosophy, I mean one way to figure that out can be religion but then I’m not a very religious person so philosophy probably is the subject where I can get the most of that way of thinking, of that understanding why is the world as it is and what my role in that world is.

Luis Magalhaes:    So is this something that you try at all to transmit to the people that work with you and how do you do it, if so?

Oliver Weiss:    It’s a matter of company culture and that is very key for us. There’s actually great book, I can recommend it to everyone, by the founder and ex-CEO of Zappos, Delivering Happiness. It’s a book mostly about company culture and how that influences the success of a very big business.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    So, company culture is certainly a central aspect. And it needs to be communicated to people that join the company. Simon and I as the founders, we do have our culture. We know how we want to have things going and stuff, but if someone comes in they haven’t been there for three years. They don’t know how we do things and what is important to us, what the underlying values are. And then of course you can write them down and put them on your website but that’s just blah blah, right?

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    You need to make people understand or actually feel what your company culture is and, in my opinion, the best way to do that is to have them see you, or to jointly do work with that. So in our case, our values are a lot related to managing the family of the caregiver. The way we communicate with them. Trusting each other, establishing transparency, and open and honest communication, that is very important.

Oliver Weiss:    So to give you one precise example, when the family calls and wants a caregiver and it’s just before Christmas and I just don’t have any caregiver that I can send to that family, I advise them to contact a certain competitor. Which is strange, because I’m losing a client and I’m probably losing it to my closest competitor. But then in my head, I want to do the best job for that specific- you know, it’s not my client but it’s still a potential client. I want to provide best service. And that can mean you bring them to someone else. If you explain that or show that to an employee, they will step-by-step understand what your company culture, people need to experience.

Luis Magalhaes:    So basically what I’m hearing here, and it’s obvious but it’s also- it’s one of those things that is obvious but a lot of people don’t talk about, so thank you for bringing it up, but really it is that what you have written on your website or on your internal documents is really no substitute for just giving the example, as you just did.

Oliver Weiss:    Right.

Luis Magalhaes:    So, yeah. So that’s pretty cool and it actually makes it seem like the company itself is very family-oriented beyond the scope of the work. It looks like nice. You think that’s a fair assessment? Do you view your company as more or less as a family?

Oliver Weiss:    Yes. Definitely. Yes.

Luis Magalhaes:    So, I mean, since we’re talking about family, you mentioned your mother before. Nurse, right?

Oliver Weiss:    Yes.

Luis Magalhaes:    And your co-founder. So I guess, what was the best lesson that your mother taught you? And you know, this might not be related to the business but I guess that it could be.

Oliver Weiss:    The best lesson that my mother taught me.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    I guess there are many lessons. I’ll think about it and come back to it-

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    If that’s fine with you.

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s good. Okay. So to help unlock that, let’s give, because I also want to be respectful of your time, well, we’ve been going for like half an hour already. Let me give you some more straightforward questions, but let’s keep that on the back burner to go back later. You mentioned a book from the founders of Zappos. That brings me to the question of, do you give books as gifts? And if you do, which book do you give more often?

Oliver Weiss:    I do give books as gifts, yeah. But not as often anymore as in earlier years. So it depends on whom I’m giving it to. I guess, many of my friends they don’t read anymore. At least they don’t read books, they don’t have time, or they are still in university and they do read textbooks or something like that. So it depends a bit on who it is. What I’ve established here at mecasa is we basically have a small firm library.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh, nice.

Oliver Weiss:    Certain books that one of us has read and deemed as important for everyone to read either because it’s just fun but most cases because they’re relevant for what we do, for how we do things. We put them in that library and the firm pays them. So that Zappos book, Delivering Happiness, it was the first book in there and it’s the one book that I want every employee to read-

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    Because I think it’s very important, that it really helps understanding the way I think about the business.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. So, two questions I guess. Number one, if you had an employee that didn’t see the point of the book, what do you tell them? What would the conversation be like?

Oliver Weiss:    Well, in the future. Right now, it’s not part of the employment contract.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    Certain books I’m thinking of making a mandatory aspect-

Luis Magalhaes:    No no no, that’s not what I meant. That’s not what I meant, though I agree with that. I agree with mandatory reading. But, what I meant was, they read the book and then like, you know Oliver, I don’t really get this. I don’t understand the importance of this message.

Oliver Weiss:    About important aspects of books, we actually do workshops on that.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh, nice.

Oliver Weiss:    So if there’s an aspect that we deem is really key, we schedule a workshop two, three hours, I put down an agenda and we talk through things.

Luis Magalhaes:    Cool.

Oliver Weiss:    We’ve done that numerous times and it will continue happening in the future.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    That’s a great way of typically reviewing what is said in the book and what it means for us, how it translates into our business. And that helps people understand why that book might be important.

Luis Magalhaes:    So that’s super interesting and I know that a lot of people that are listening will want to test that out. Can you give a bit more details on how we do it? What kind of structure do you use?

Oliver Weiss:    So that Zappos book, Delivering Happiness, one thing that he argues is most important for him or for success of his business is focusing on the client. The client needs to be the top priority in everything anyone at the company does. So I took that aspect and I set up a workshop and I wanted people to think how they can put the client on a higher level, on a high priority, then they do right now in their respective field. So from a marketing point of view, what do I need to do in order to serve the client better? What can IT do? What can finance do? How can we make the client, the family, the caregiver, happy, or happier than they already are?

Luis Magalhaes:    Awesome.

Oliver Weiss:    That’s one way to tackle such thing.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, so and then do you just go by, do you do like round table where every people gives their opinion? Is there a moderator? How do you collect the ideas and all of that?

Oliver Weiss:    So these kind of workshops, we try to do in person. Usually not everyone is there in person so there’s also a laptop with Zoom open and a camera and so that the others can join as well. But if possible, I try to get everyone there in person. I usually put down a quick agenda. Just a few words, you know, this workshop, three hours, first hour this, second hour this and then the third hour that. And usually I’m the moderator but in general the structure is very open.

Oliver Weiss:    So, questions might come up. The whole discussion might take turns. There is no- I mean, there is this one specific goal of like, how can we improve things for the client? How can we make them happier? But the way we get there, I don’t really plan that. That is just up to everyone in the group. If things are jerking off, I can get them back on track, but there is no predefined structure.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. Got it, got it. So, couple of questions more. About that library, are there any other books that you think are fundamental to that library?

Oliver Weiss:    So there is a book, it has been referred by many people, but I actually haven’t read it yet myself, Good to Great.

Luis Magalhaes:    Ah, yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    Might of heard of that.

Luis Magalhaes:    I’ve hear that. I’ve read that actually. It’s a good recommendation.

Oliver Weiss:    Okay, so what do you think is key in that book?

Luis Magalhaes:    Well, now you’ve turned the interview question on the head.

Oliver Weiss:    Sorry about that.

Luis Magalhaes:    No, that’s absolutely fine. Look, it’s honestly been a while since I’ve read it. But it really is a book that really explains that, one of the key messages that I took is that actually if you want to survive, if you want your company to be something bigger than yourself, then you need to aim for great. Good is not good enough. Because the great company, only the companies that are great last for like 25, 50, and 100 years.

Luis Magalhaes:    And now the other message that I took from that book that I really recall very vividly was a picture that- I don’t remember the company that it was describing, but it was like the founder and chairman for that company, was basically retired sitting on the porch of a very humble retirement home just enjoying his retirement and looking across the street to the offices of the company with a lot of joy because it was not like, I’m not rich and that was never my objective. My objective was to build something bigger than I. And that same person, again- I don’t really know because it’s been a while, I don’t remember what company he was describing, but that same person was quoted in the book with a rule that I follow to this day which is, try to be the dumbest person in the room. In the other hand, said in another way, try to surround yourself with people that are better and smarter than you and all things. In the sense that when you need something, you should have someone that knows it better than you do.

Luis Magalhaes:    Again, it’s a huge book, but it’s been several years since I’ve read it, but these were the things that stuck with me. And you know, the good stuff sticks.

Oliver Weiss:    Definitely. And I totally agree with that. Especially as a founder, as a CEO, you can’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you. That’s very important.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    And they’re smarter on a general level because they are people out there that are smarter. I especially experienced it in India at a very high level MBA school. But also people who are more skilled in a certain field. I mean, there are experts in what they do in IT, tech, or in some other field. And it’s really important to hire them.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, it’s a bit like, that people sometimes commit the mistake of trying to surround themselves with people that won’t challenge them, which is nice on the ego but it doesn’t tend to get them very far.

Oliver Weiss:    Right.

Luis Magalhaes:    So going back to me interviewing you, I have another question. Let’s say that have one hundred euros to spend with everyone that works with you. And I’m thinking specifically remote people but feel free to extend it to all the others. What are you going to buy them with those one hundred euros? And you can’t say chocolate. Too many people have said chocolate, so get something else.

Oliver Weiss:    I’ll have definitely go out with them for a beer or a coffee.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    Get out of the office. Talk about non-office-related stuff. Have some fun. That’s what I would do.

Luis Magalhaes:    One hundred euros buys you a lot of beer so I-

Oliver Weiss:    That’s true. I mean, yeah, you’re right. So with some of them, it would be watching a hockey match, with others it would be soccer, can still have that beer. Or if it’s a lady, you do something else. You go have ice cream or whatever, I mean. It’s about getting out of the office. It’s about doing something together and having a relaxed time.

Luis Magalhaes:    Are you okay with trying to answer the question about your mother now?

Oliver Weiss:    Yes. Of course.

Luis Magalhaes:    So let’s go.

Oliver Weiss:    So I think one very important lesson my mom has told me, and that was not just at one point in time, but I think for most of my life is to be humble. I’ve been very lucky with the country that I grew up in, the family that I grew up in, and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life, but during all the ups, I remained humble. And I think that’s very important. You know, you graduate from a great university. You get an awesome job in finance. And it’s easy to become arrogant and to start not being nice anymore to people and such. So, that’s really something she has taught me. To keep my feet back on the ground no matter what happens.

Luis Magalhaes:    All right.

Oliver Weiss:    That’s something I’m really really thankful for.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. So that’s great advice and it probably gets you better people working with you as well.

Oliver Weiss:    Yes.

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s definitely cool. All right, just a couple more questions before we wrap up. What is the best investment that you’ve made for your productivity, in the last year or so? And this can be tools, it can be coaching, it can be office material, whatever you think has impacted the most your work?

Oliver Weiss:    So in general I’d say education. It’s certainly the one aspect where I get the highest return. So, university education but also work experience, I mean that didn’t cost me money. It got me a bit of money. But, education, improving yourself, learning certain skills, acquiring certain habits. Those are certainly the things that I deem most important.

Luis Magalhaes:    So what was the last most impactful thing that you learned?

Oliver Weiss:    Using the Outlook calendar.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh. Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    So, invites, structure your week, using reminders, using Outlook to-do lists. This kind of stuff. I mean, it’s very basic. [crosstalk 00:44:06] It’s not a very difficult skill to learn but it helps a lot with productivity. Keeping things on track. Keeping track of time management and stuff.

Luis Magalhaes:    All right. So, I wanted to end by asking you the fortune cookie question. Which is basically, let’s say that again, going back to remote work, let’s say that you are hosting a restaurant where important people from Silicon Valley, founders from all over the world even are coming to have a round table on remote work and it’s at a Chinese restaurant, you are the host, you get to decide what’s written in the fortune cookies that these people have at the end of the meal. What is written on the fortune cookie?

Oliver Weiss:    That’s a good one. “Sometimes things are uncertain. Give them a try.”

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. That sounds like some great Chinese wisdom there. Well done. Well done. So, I guess I said it was the last question but I actually lied. What’s exciting you? What’s exciting in Oliver Weiss’ life right now?

Oliver Weiss:    Making me mecasa big. It’s, you know, as a CEO especially in the beginning when everything is your job and that means everything from marketing, HR, finance, anything that you can think of.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Oliver Weiss:    You’re just responsible for everything. That is super exciting. There’s so much responsibility. There’s so many things to learn. It’s just crazy, and it really fulfills me, I must say.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Oliver Weiss:    I’m very happy with it. I work very long hours and my family and girlfriend probably don’t like that, but I’m still happy because it’s not always fun, but it’s the right thing that I do and I learn a lot. I’m someone who loves to learn and to be challenged. And I do get a lot of that at the moment, so I’m really happy for that.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay. So, that’s awesome. If there was a message that you wanted to leave to our listeners, what would that be?

Oliver Weiss:    You know, I just thought about that book question from before. What other books are there in the mecasa library and I came up with another book that’s very important to me. It’s not especially for the business, but just in general in life. It’s called Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh yeah. I have that to read. I haven’t read it yet but I do own it.

Oliver Weiss:    So I can highly recommend that to everyone. It basically explains certain pitfalls, certain ways of thinking that are not as accurate as we might think they are. How we’re sometimes trapped or fooled by randomness. So to give you one example, stock market experts, they always try to find patterns and to give reasons why a certain stock went up or fell. So, for example, there was an announcement in an earnings call whatever and the stock went up. And they put that in relation and say that was the reason, but in many cases, there is no evidence of that. It could be it’s just at the same point in time. Someone went short or changed a big position.

Oliver Weiss:    So we as humans, we always try to find reasons for things that happen. And in many cases, the reasons we come up with, there some of constructed. Sometimes they are true, at least in parts, but it’s usually just a piece of the actual truth. Certain things, they just happen randomly and there is no actual reason between them. I think that’s very important to have in mind.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah, and you’re right, for life but also for business.

Oliver Weiss:    Yeah.

Luis Magalhaes:    So that’s a good way. So where can people find you in the internet? How can they continue the conversation?

Oliver Weiss:    You can either connect on LinkedIn, Oliver Weiss, or you can get in touch by our mecasa website. So that’s mecasa, m-e-c-a-s-a dot d-e for Germany. I’m also happy to connect via Facebook or Instagram. Any kind of channel is fine. For the German users, also Xing.

Luis Magalhaes:    Ah yeah. Cool, so I’ll have that all on the show notes. Oliver, thank you very much for doing this.

Oliver Weiss:    Thank you.

Luis Magalhaes:    Thank you, thank you for the interview. And you know, keep up the good work, because we need those services. Again, I was part of the healthcare industry before I was into tech and into trying to get, further the cause of remote work, and we need good guys. We really need good guys in that industry. Thank you so much for what you’re doing.

Oliver Weiss:    Thank you for having me, Luis. It was a pleasure.

Luis Magalhaes:    So that was my conversation with Oliver Weiss. Thank you for listening. And if you would like to support this podcast, well, the best way to do it is by sharing the episode on social media. Well, it helps us get to more listeners and more listeners means more awesome guests like Oliver. So that would be really cool. You can also help by leaving a review on iTunes or your podcast hosting service of choice.

Luis Magalhaes:    Now, another thing that you can do is go to DistantJob.com, press on the podcast button, on the top right corner of the website and sign up. Sign up to receive a notification whenever a new podcast is launched, is released. You will be the first one to know. And when we have the transcript of the episode, we will also send you an email letting you know that we have. So you can actually go through it all again, make notes, read it, etc.

Luis Magalhaes:    If you do need to build an incredible remote team like Oliver’s, you can also do so through DistantJob.com. Just go there, use the contact form to get in touch telling us more or less what you’re looking for, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. And that’s usually very fast. And we can help you find some of the best people around the world that work remotely. And of course, check the show notes for all the links about mecasa and how to find and how to talk to Oliver Weiss.

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s it for this week. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much once again for listening. This was Luis, with the DistantJob podcast. See you next week.

For further inquiries regarding podcasts, eBooks, blog posts, or general information about remote recruitment don’t hesitate to send us an email at contact@distantjob.com

More ways to listen:

Today we present the very real story of someone who tapped into remote work to build scalability into a business in the healthcare industry – one that’s not usually associated with remote. There are many challenges inherent to managing an hybrid remote team – one where part of the company operates from an office, and part from their homes or co-working spaces – and with a near 50/50 split, MeCasa sets a sterling example of how to do it.

Welcome to the DistantJob Podcast, a show where we interview the most successful remote leaders, picking their brains on how to build and lead remote teams who win.

MeCasa aims to provide excellent home care by connecting the best professional caregivers with the people who need them the most, and their families.

In this episode, we talk about how Oliver takes an active role in conceiving and creating a healthy company culture. A lot of people mention the importance of culture, but few get into the practical specifics and examples like Oliver does! We talk about communication ( Why complicate? Telegram is enough!), we talk about how remote work provides the opportunity for scaling, we talk about planning and leading bookclub-like workshops with the team.

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Recommended Books:

Fooled by Randomness (https://amzn.to/2PIoVYp)

Delivering Happiness (https://amzn.to/2PMCNky)

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As always, if you enjoy the podcast, we humbly ask that you leave a review on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice – and if you could share it, that would be even better!

Need that one incredible employee to bolster your team?  Get in touch at and we’ll find you who you need.