Leading a digital nomad lifestyle with Hotjar's VPO Ken Weary | DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency

Leading a digital nomad lifestyle with Hotjar’s VPO Ken Weary


Ken Weary balances his life between being the VP of Operations at Hotjar (a product that reveals the online behavior and voice of a website’s users) and being a father and husband in a digital nomad family.

Six years ago, he took a sabbatical which really changed his perspective about how we wanted to live his life and decided to start working remotely, house sitting for people around the world. Currently, he is house sitting and working out of Scotland, and while he tackles the tasks of a VPO, his wife “world-schools” their kids.  

Read the transcript

Luis Magalhaes: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to another episode of the DistantJob  Podcast, the podcast that’s all about building and leading awesome remote teams. I am your host Luis and I have an awesome guest today. It’s Ken Weary from Hotjar, he is the VP of operations and he is traveling all around the world for the past, how many years Ken?

Ken Weary: A little over five years.

Luis Magalhaes: Wow. So welcome.

Ken Weary: Thanks. It’s great to be here.

Luis Magalhaes: So the main question on everyone’s minds is how do you manage to get anything done? It’s a common thing that more and more remote workers do the digital nomad lifestyle, but it’s not very usual for leaders. And you’re the VP of operations. There’s a tremendous burden of work on you. So how do you manage to do it?

Ken Weary: There’s a not so secret secret which is I have an awesome partner, my wife, not only do I travel with her, but we also travel with our two kids. To be honest it’s a lot like a work and my day job of it’s delegation and understanding roles, responsibilities and accountability. Right now we’re currently house sitting in Scotland. We’ve got great incredible neighborhood. This great little village in this great house, the free rent, and we’re watching this amazing dog. We’re doing it for a month. Which we wouldn’t be able to do if it wasn’t for my wife watching the House Sitting Boards and a little plug that trustedhousesitters.com we’ve been using them for years and highly recommend them.

When we were doing house sitting she takes care of house sits when we’re not doing house-sitting I take care of booking places on Airbnb or other options. And then we just kind of go from there. And we have a routine that we do. I’m in charge of internet, cell phones and whatnot. She’s in charge of schooling the kids and takes care of groceries and you name it. So we’ve been doing it long enough where we’ve got a routine built down that that works for us. By all means, it is an undertaking, especially when you start if you were to move towards this lifestyle. I’ve had a number of friends that have tried it and said, “Well, not for us.” Because it’s not all sitting on the beach drinking margaritas and surfing. It is a hobby and a passion of ours and so we invest in it.

Luis Magalhaes: So what was that initial conversation? Which one of you suddenly home one day and said, “Hey, let’s do this. Here’s the ones who are going to do. Why do you think about this?” How did the conversation go?

Ken Weary: So about six years ago my wife and I went on a vacation and we’re both runners. And so we went on a running vacation in Guatemala where we had a guide in Guatemala. It was an incredible vacation. It was incredible runs. It was beautiful, picturesque. But while we were there, we met a number of expats, people who’d relocated from their home countries. Got to meet them and talk with them and it just planted a seed in both of our minds of, wow, that’s kind of cool. You could live in this almost paradise of area of Guatemala with its own niggles as well. But it’s amazing country. So just kind of planted a seed of, wow, we could look into doing that. And so we started doing our own research and both of us began talking and we couldn’t believe that each other were both as serious as we were. And it just evolved six months later, I had quit my job, we had rented our house and we were on the road.

Luis Magalhaes: Nice. So this was before. So you didn’t find a remote job, you quit your job. I assume you were jobless for a while?

Ken Weary: Yeah. So I had been working in a corporate jobs for the balance of my career. I had done a number of corporate gigs remotely and managed remote teams. But at the time I had been traveling to and working in an office in the Seattle, Washington region of the US and had really gotten burnout on the on the corporate grind. I was traveling a lot for work into cities that really didn’t have much appeal to me and weren’t allowing me to explore my passion for travel and working how I wanted it to. And so decided you know what? I’m going to take a sabbatical. And we began traveling.

After about six to nine months, we said, wow, this is a really cool lifestyle. We really, really liked the idea of traveling more. There’s no reason why I couldn’t use my network to reach out and find contract remote work jobs. After about a year of doing and bet it was in Hotjar. And so they had an opening for a role for the vice president of operations working remotely, the time we were in Mexico about to travel to Belize actually applied for, went through Hotjar’s recruitment process about three and a half years ago and offered the role while we were in Belize.

Luis Magalhaes: Awesome. That’s super interesting. There are a couple of things in email. I promised the listeners that I will go into leading teams and managing teams eventually, but this is just too interesting to pass up on. So because I’m a big fan of sabbaticals, when I took, I used to be a dentist and people said that was insane because they specifically argued that if I’m out of the game for a year then it will be very hard to get back in. And I want to say that I didn’t believe them, but I really just didn’t care. I was tired, I had enough money, I wanted to stop. So what kind of self talk, what was the internal conversation that you did yourself to convince you that it was okay, you would get another job when you needed it?

Ken Weary: Great question. I think a lot of it was a retrospective and inspection on what it was that I was burnt out on. And so I was burnt out on the corporate travel. The corporate gig had a great salary, great options, and everything that I had thought I really, really wanted in a career. I realized that I wasn’t fulfilled and I wasn’t getting that. And so from the aspect of stepping away, really reflecting back on my own, really investing in myself from a learning, teaching, flexibility, passion perspective I was looking for the reset. Was I scared? No, I wasn’t from the perspective of two fold.

Number one, recognize that I still had incredible contacts and a network built up that I knew I could plug back in. Can I plug into the same job at the same things lined up? No. But could I find another job that was just as good benefits and compensation perspective? I was confident in that after a year in, besides I think about what if I was interviewing myself? I was interviewing myself, what did you learn? And the stories I knew with the stories I would have to be able to tell about the problem solving aspects that I’ve had to do. The research, the preparedness, the delivery, the stories, the fulfillment would be honestly a selling point if I was interviewing myself in a job. And not a detractor.

So that was number one, and number two, the other thing that was really reassuring as we planned it was to say, can we really afford this? And the place where we were going, Guatemala, Central America and Nicaragua, Costa Rica all incredible places, all incredibly cheap places. And so it was something we knew we could afford. Not only because we had the savings but we I felt that we could recoup, lost income based on much lower cost of living.

Luis Magalhaes: Nice. So obviously a key part of this as your partner, as you’ve said before, does your wife also work remotely?

Ken Weary: In the sense that she is the the kids teacher? Yes. So she was a educator also worked in both education based startup as well as public and private schools. She was very comfortable with homeschooling her children as well they were interested in, we like to say we world school though. So like for instance here in Scotland she took them to a preserve for wildlife of red kites. This nearly extinct bird that has been restored to the natural environment in Scotland and took them to a sheep herding clinic where you see actual shepherds teaching how they heard their sheep with dogs and teach these clinics. Well, it may sound like inapplicable skills, it’s incredible life skills where you see people utilizing their skills and techniques to command and work in an environment that is sustaining and fulfilling and those are the values we want to teach them as well as reading math.

Luis Magalhaes: It sounds to me like quite premium education to be honest. Certainly, I’m no fan of the educational system in Portugal and I assume that it’s not very different in the United States. I am not an education abolitionist but people could definitely do with more life skills. I agree. My applicable life skills. And so, but my question is more then something that I feel that a lot of people struggle with, with working remote and especially people in leadership positions, but not only, is when they have significant others that work regular jobs and the don’t work remotely. And then they arrive home and their husband or wife was home the whole day because they work from home. There’s kind of this expectation that the stuff around the house should have been done or should be done. I just came in from the office. I would like you to be doing this or doing that.

It feels like the people who don’t work remotely expect the task distribution to be more skewed towards the person who works remotely. And as the VP of operations, you probably know that you can work remotely and actually work a lot more than you should. So what would you advise the conversation to be like for people who are working remotely and need their significant others to be more on board with what that means?

Ken Weary: Cool. No, I’ll take it a step further too and say, what if you don’t have a significant other? You’re absolutely right. There’s the reality that, you’re at home, so yeah, stuff around the house should get done. And there’s plenty of single people who work from home and their house is a mess, right? Or the plants die. You’re absolutely right.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah [inaudible 00:11:11] that thing eventually, I guess. What did you do?

Ken Weary: It is recognizing the acknowledgement of when you’re at home working, you are working, you’re not at home flip out of a mindset to say, “Oh, now it’s time to dust the bookshelf.” Some people are more capable of doing it than others, and that’s great. But most people, it’s a hard switch to flip and that’s okay. So much like I said with my wife, it’s who’s doing what and when. My wife right now is homeschooling the kids in the kitchen. Does that mean she’s making lunch for me? No it doesn’t I can tell you that. It’s understanding what those expectations are within the relationship that you have even if you’re single. One of the things we do at Hotjar recommend to other remote companies to take a look at is we provide our team with a home office space allowance.

And so you can use that for whatever you define as your home office space in whatever your needs are. So if you prefer to work at a coworking space, cool you can use that for your coworking space. Most people prefer to work from their homes and so they can use that money to make sure that they have good a home based internet for their aspect. They can also use it people do for office cleaning, for housekeepers to come and help to clean that area. And so being at home doesn’t mean that you neglect your surrounding environment.

Luis Magalhaes: That’s a pretty good initiative. When you are living alone it’s certainly nice but when you have a partner as well and both work, it certainly key having those resources to get someone to take care of the house or something like that instead of just assuming that the person working from home will have this spare time to do it. So I want to shift a bit to talking about the ways you handle your team. I’ve been managing remote teams for over 15 years now and to me the biggest challenge is always engagement. They’re supposedly a team, let’s say a team of five people. But what happens most of the times is that those five people don’t act as a unit, they act as five siloed units that pass the ball between each other as needed.

And there are engagement strategies, of course, but I always find that it’s quite hard, especially in a corporate environment to get people engaged. People tend more to take their jobs, to you act as if they were not part of the team, but if they were a freelancer that’s getting a fixed amount of money from the company every month, if this does make sense, how do you prevent people from being siloed? How do you drive engagement among your team?

Ken Weary: Cool. There’s a lot there. So at Hotjar, one of the things we do is we have a variety of different ceremonies or rituals which is to say common norms that we have. Which is everybody in the company works on a one week agile sprint cycle, meaning everybody in their company is expected to effectively sign up for work that they’re going to get done that week. And we do each team, whether you’re in marketing, operations or engineering is looking to sign up in that one week sprint for the work they’re going to get done. And they do it collaboratively within that group. So everybody’s aware, “Oh, what is Sally doing?” She’s doing this and Larry’s doing that. And so you have the awareness.

And then every single day the teams have scrums. And so there’s 15 minute touch point where the team raises any blockers and makes people aware things are shipped. And so again, you raise awareness within that small group as to what’s going on, what are the commitments? And if somebody’s hit a stumbling block, what it is. Those kinds of things help to build empathy and buy-in. And it certain times when you hit a big stumbling block they can serve as a really good time for somebody to get help.

And so we do that. And then at the end of the week, the entire company comes together for a full demo. So the demo is what did you ship this week? And so every team has the ability to profile what they shipped, which again raises awareness, buy-in and synergy amongst the entire company. And so I think those are the kinds of things where you build the rapport and you really build the team.

Across operations one of the things that happens twice a year that really helps to build synergy, and again, operation to Hotjar is a really good random collection of people that do finance work, people that do legal work, people that do people ops work and miscellaneous aspects. So yeah, it could be very easy to be siloed but twice a year in addition to everything else I just mentioned, twice a year, we do a and a meetup for the entire company where we physically bring everybody to the same location together as a team on various different things.

Well, the operations team plans it and runs those events. And so people from legal, finance, people ops all have to come together to make this event happen for the entire company. And we’re forced by default in a very, very good way to make sure we are collaborative working together not to siloed.

Luis Magalhaes: So are there are a couple of questions that that raises. I’ll take it one by one. First you mentioned that everyone commits, there is one when week long sprints and each person commits to what they’re doing. But what about if a person’s workload is mostly recurring tasks? At some point it feels a bit silly to just to go through the motions every week of saying, “I am going to be doing the same recurring tasks that I’ve been doing every week for the past month.” There’s kind of I guess [inaudible 00:17:10] there. But you do know that running a business, there are lots of people with lots of recurring tasks. Correct. So what do you do when it comes to those people? To helping those people be engaged with the team.

Ken Weary: Absolutely. So examples could be like customer support. They’re there to service the customers or bookkeeping. You’re there to process receipts and pay people.

Luis Magalhaes: Actually bookkeeping because I can see the customer support, at least they have different stories to tell. But bookkeeping, it’s the same week in and week out, right?

Ken Weary: Our belief is two fold there. Number one, you’re absolutely right. There will always be recurring tasks, but if you don’t carve out a section of your work week for improvement to make it easier to automate things, to look for the next system that’s going to replace that, to fulfill other aspects of your job, then not only will you never grow as an individual, but you’ll probably leave the company because that’s a really boring job. That’s our core beliefs is that we want to make sure that we are investing in the people and improving our processes constantly. Which helps to, not only for the business to run more efficiently, but more importantly for the team member to be able to grow. What we try to do is if it’s something that is completely wrote, we look to automate it, how can we make this in an automated fashion and remove some of that aspect which also reduces human error.

Luis Magalhaes: Hey there, it’s Luis. Welcome to the intermission after DistantJob Podcast. If you’re listening to this podcast, there’s a very big chance that you’re interested in building a great remote team and to build a great remote team you need great remote employees. That’s where distant job comes in. So here’s how it works. You tell us the kind of position that you need to fill. We talk to you, we try to figure out not only what are the exact requirements that that person should have, but also we try to figure out who would be a perfect fit for your company culture because we really believe that that matters. Then once we have an exact picture of what we’re looking for, we’re off to the races. Our recruiters tap into their global network and we filter people very well so that you don’t waste your time interviewing people that are never going to be of interest to you.

We make sure because we are techies and our recruiters are techies as well. So when people get to you, they are already pre-selected and you just have to decide between the cream of the crop. And once you make your selection, we handle all the paperwork, we handle HR for you, we handle payments and you get a full time remote employee that’s among the best on the world and managed entirely by you, by your processes and following your culture. If this sounds good, visit us at www.distantjob.com and without further ado, let’s get back with the show. Thank you for listening.

So let’s talk about scrum a bit. I’ve seen the map of the Hotjar team. If we would connect the dots, it would make more or less a straight line around the globe. That’s a lot of times zones. How do you do presidential scrum? Are there people who don’t sleep?

Ken Weary: So we’re not quite as distributed as you might think. We’re currently 88 people and we’re spread across 19 different countries. But the great predominance of those are really in two regions. We have nobody in Asia, for instance. 80% of their company is in yeah, EMEA or the European African region. And the other 20% are in the Americas North and South America. So because of that, we capitalize on as much of a crossover as possible. So we ask everybody to work what we call core hours, which is from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM central European time. So we focus in on that does mean people in the Americas have to get up earlier and plan for that. And people in Eastern Europe are definitely going to be asked it to be available until later in the afternoon or 6:00. But we have that from the aspects, increased collaborations, make sure that we can have a participation in scrums. Working at 10:00 at night or up at 2:00 in the morning kind of thing.

Luis Magalhaes: Right. So and the final piece of the puzzle was demo day on Friday. Can you take me through a tour a typical demo day and what does it look like? How long does it take of the day? Do you all teams demo to all other teams? How does that work?

Ken Weary: Yeah, so it’s a one hour long. It’s a one hour meeting that the entire company is invited to. We ask for everybody to attend, but if you can’t attend due to a conflict or maybe you’re on holiday or whatnot, we record them. We do them on Zoom. Each team we go on a round robin aspect, we’re starting with the engineering teams and ending actually with the operations team. And each team has a couple of minutes to profile their top work that they shipped for the week. We have a pretty specific rules of, we don’t want to see anything that’s in progress. If you’re not done with it and you didn’t ship it, save it. And so we do have times where certain teams say nothing to ship we got something coming next week. Because they’re building something in an agile fashion.

Luis Magalhaes: My position is marketing, so I always tried to look at this from a marketing point of view. Again, when I think about doing review first, you are 88 people.

Ken Weary: Yes.

Luis Magalhaes: 1 hour for 88 people even thinking that some teams will won’t have shipped anything. That still sounds like very, not a lot of time. I can imagine my SEO guy spending five minutes on weekly analytics alone. Five minutes is not a lot of time. How do you? Is it just like a standup? Where a person stands up and does each person in the team talk about what they did or does the team have someone who carries the flag for the team and says what the team did?

Ken Weary: Great question on the mechanics. Yes it is. Each team has one representative that profiles what that team did for the week. And that person does need to take into effect, how do you summarize this? How do you make sure it’s coherent and not overly technical or overly legal or overly jargonesque. Which is also a really good development point that we’ve seen where people are like, “Oh, I hate public speaking.” Well when you’re on a teleconference with 88 people that is public speaking and people do feel the nervousness and it’s a good life skill that also builds with that.

Luis Magalhaes: True. So is it usually bullet points or is it more show and tell?

Ken Weary: We really prefer the show and tell. And we do have some guidelines posted on internally on our confluence page where we talk through how to prepare for demo. As the name applies demo, we want to see a demonstration. If you shipped something, if you did something new, if you fixed a bug, if you launched a new marketing campaign, show it to us. And so it is a constant, all right this team’s on, marketing you’re up. And they’re sharing their screen, showing a couple of things. And sometimes it is just slides because it’s screenshots of art or what have you. Other times it is the actual function of engineering showing, look at this new functionality we just launched.

Luis Magalhaes: Absolutely. So again, because I really want this podcast to have actionable advice for people. People really understand the process are done on a micro level, so they can either adopt or adapt. So let’s take for example my case this week as the director of marketing in DistantJob. I’ve had meetings with my key people. I’ve helped them define what the week will look like. And I’ve been basically recording podcasts with my guests. So this is what I’ve done, have I shipped anything this week? I really struggle in understanding what is shipping from a leadership perspective. Certainly I helped people sculpt their work and I helped people take decisions. But did I ship something? I don’t know. What do you consider shipping for yourself? You’re the VPO, right? You’re certainly not crafting codes, you’re certainly not making marketing materials. Your shipping is decisions, right? So how do you show and tell?

Ken Weary: Yeah, so I’m a big believer that it’s not what I do, it’s what the team does. I enabled the team and so it’s really what operations will profile on a weekly basis is anything such as, to your point, there is some aspects of roteness. One of the aspects of repetition within ops is there are recruitment. Cool. How many people applied this week and were processed? How many job offers went out? We consider that shipping value. We have completed a recruitment process for this number of people. But we also talk about our meetup such as, hey everybody, this has been solidified. We’re really, really close to announcing the specific location of where our next meetup is going to be in December and telling the team, we’ve signed this contract, here’s where it’s going to be, here to show you information about the property and so you can get your travel booked for our next meetup.

Other things we’re really close to finishing a major tax hurdle that we have to accomplish. And so paying taxes, unfortunately that is shipping. There’s a lot of grinding that goes into that. So other things are cross marketing. So what is our marketing profile? They will profile a new pieces that they’ve just launched on the blog. In your case, you did a lot of recording, but maybe you released a podcast. So, cool. We released this podcast this week and we’ve seen it really take off. Marketing also sometimes show, “Hey, here’s two blog posts we did and we did an AB test on the title guess which one won.” And so it’s a real demo. Here’s the two, which one? And people will vote in Zoom and then boom, here’s your answer. So it’s a way to encourage interaction as well.

Luis Magalhaes: So thank you for taking the time to actually answer these questions with such detail because that’s really what I was looking for. It’s super interesting. I want to zoom in a bit, in your week and I’m specifically talking about your day and your week because you’ve out;ined before, how does the general week work life is structured at Hotjar, the meetings and et cetera in Monday to the demoing on Friday. But what about yourself? How does your day look like? Or do you even have a typical day?

Ken Weary: I definitely have a typical day and it’s filled with a lot of randomness. So it is different aspects that may pop up about and that’s a mixture of tactical of, “Oh, this, this just came up from a people ops perspective we need to get this tackled.” Or this legal escalation is just happened. There’s a variety of different things and you never know what’s going to come up in any given week. At the end of the day we refer back to our core values of obsessing over our users. So we want to fulfill their needs and and building trust with transparency with our team. So we definitely balance those out and that’s where the the randomness comes in that always has to be filled. But just like everybody else and I sign up for different aspects in my sprint.

And so when I’m not dealing with randomness or supporting the team, I’m also working on my commitments for the week. One of the things that we do across Hotjar, some people do it better than others and I’m pretty darn strict about it, which is we aspire to have meeting free Wednesday. And so Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week because I get so much stuff done. I really focus in on my core work and hit my flow state. And yesterday I spent a lot of time for instance, working on forecasting for 2020, both from a financial and recruitment perspective. And a lot of other teams try to do the same thing on Wednesdays as well.

Luis Magalhaes: Nice. I usually touch about hiring, but actually I’m just going to skip the part because DistantJob is a recruitment company. We like to talk about hiring, but Hotjar is so public about their hiring process and it’s an excellent hiring process that I think I can just refer refer people to a link that I will leave in the show notes. And that will be that because you guys have a great hiring process, you screen for values, you do task project, it’s really great.

So instead I want to go back to your digital nomad lifestyle. As a leader digital nomad, certainly you’ve had challenges while traveling around the world. Tell me the story of the lesson that you learned the hard way.

Ken Weary: Cool. Happy to, just before we jump out of that, thanks for the kudos about our hiring process. We are hiring. So check us out. careers.hotjar.com we’re hiring across every department and growing rapidly. So please consider us, had to put that plug in. Different aspects of lessons learned. So it was a variety of ones, both personal and professional. Number one on a professional one, I would say BYOR, bring your own router. Wherever you’re at I guarantee you can’t guarantee your internet. And so I always look for what are the ways I can do to up my game on the internet. And one of the things I travel with is my own router. I plug it in to wherever I’m at. If it’s an Airbnb, I plug it into their router and I piggyback on it. And so it keeps my security defaults intact. It gives me the best range. It’s a mesh router that includes two other satellites. And so I’m able to expand it further in a secure manner. So I definitely recommend that.

Luis Magalhaes: What is the specific brand?

Ken Weary: Eero, E-E-R-O. I believe it’s only available in the US but Google also has a really awesome mesh network router system that works in a very similar way.

Luis Magalhaes: Nice.

Ken Weary: That’s not enough. Because what happens if the incoming signal to begin with is crap? So got to always plan for contingencies and I travel with an unlocked phone. I always buy local SIM cards, pop the local SIM card in and have backup mobile connection from there. So definitely look to hunt out and LTE wherever possible. A lot of countries have really cheap data plans that you can get on a month by month basis. And so generally take advantage of that.

Luis Magalhaes: Oh yeah, certainly. That’s certainly a very … I actually wish more remote workers would do this. I had someone working under me in marketing for awhile that she had trouble with their home internet and she actually went to our service provider and bought a portable internet pod that was 5G and worked wonderfully. So that’s really great.

Ken Weary: At the end of the day the internet is my lifeblood. It’s the way I make money and so I have to make sure I’m reliable on that. It’s a prerequisite for my job and it’s a prerequisite for anybody at Hotjar. So don’t take it for granted. Before we did this house set in Scotland because it’s remote, I was concerned about it. So my wife before confirming the house sit, asked the host to do a speed test and send us a screenshot. We wanted to know is it reliable because there’s not a lot in this village. There’s no coworking spaces for me to go to.

So don’t take it for granted. I would say that’s number one lesson learned. And number two on the personal side is don’t believe everything you read on the news about the safety or lack thereof of a particular area. So we do a lot of research and planning and again, it’s something we love. So, there’s a lot of Americans that are scared to go to Egypt right now or Morocco. And we just spent two and a half months in Morocco, a month in Egypt. And Albania, Albania, we spent a lot of time in 2018. And a lot of people, just because you don’t know about it or the stigma or the press, every country has it’s source points and bad parts of town. And sometimes the press exaggerates that, sometimes they’re spot on. I would say do your research and come to your own conclusions don’t believe one headline.

Luis Magalhaes: Stuff that doesn’t happen, doesn’t make the news, right? Only stuff that does happen makes the news.

Ken Weary: That’s right.

Luis Magalhaes: That’s why it’s called the news. So yeah, absolutely. And I would add to that, when traveling use common sense.

Ken Weary: Absolutely.

Luis Magalhaes: Use common sense. Portugal is notably crime free, it’s probably one of the safest countries in Europe yet if make it a point to go visit Lisbon’s worst neighborhood and I rent the Ferrari and I leave the Ferrari in the street in luck, guess what? They’re going to steal my car. It’s like apply common sense some sometimes that should go without saying, but it needs saying more often than not. So I know that Hotjar has budgets for their employees and you actually give quite a very good actually amount of stuff to your employees. But if you personally had like 100 dollars or euros to spend with each person working for you, what would you give them? And you can say a router because you already said that pretty much.

Ken Weary: So there are two things. What I would do and what we’ve done in the past is give them choice, not to say everybody gets this cool gadget or this upgraded phone or whatever it may be. We give people choice because with people living in different environments, in different walks of life and different types of diversity backgrounds, interests, needs, they’re going to want to spend that 100 bucks or euros in a different way. So number one, give them flexibility and freedom, but that doesn’t mean give them a 100 bucks flat out with with any commitments. What we do when we do something like this or bonus or celebration is we don’t just give them money because it’s really easy to say, cool there’s 100 bucks. That was cool. I’m glad I got it. And I have no idea where I spent it on because it just one in my pocket.

Luis Magalhaes: Probably grocery.

Ken Weary: Yeah. And so what we do is when we do something like this, we have a catch. We have a contingent aspect. Here is 100 euros for you to spend on, we usually theme it. You’re like a night out in the town or relaxation and recovery or a health and fitness and wellbeing. And so we theme it and we tell people you have to spend it on this theme and you have to post an article about it in our internal forums, we use a tool called Discourse and you have to share about it. And so as soon as you share and maybe you spent 50 bucks on a night out we don’t care. You’re going to get to 100 bucks. We’re not trying to do this. It is a bonus that you get to spend in this theme the way, but you have to share it with the company. If you don’t share it, you don’t get the bonus.

And so it’s a way for us to also build that community back into it. So you say, “Oh wow, look, look what Sally did. That’s amazing. I want to do that. I got to plan to ask her about that.”

Luis Magalhaes: Sounds great. So let’s talk about books for a moment. What book or books have you gifted the most?

Ken Weary: Definitely would be Purple Cow by Seth Godin. So if you haven’t read it, it’s a short read, I highly recommended it. It is an older book it’s probably, I don’t know-

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, it’s one of his first, right?

Ken Weary: Yeah. And it’s about the idea of just being remarkable. Nobody’s going to remember you unless you’re remarkable. Nobody’s going to remember a cow unless it’s purple. And so it’s about the idea of purple cow recognizing how to build a remarkable story and product. So I would say without a doubt that would be the number one book and recommendation I would offer up.

Luis Magalhaes: So I want to be respectful of your time, we’re reaching the hour mark. I have one final question before we say our goodbyes and that has a bit of a setup. So please bear with me. Let’s say that you are hosting a dinner for the top execs in leadership in Silicon Valley. That dinner is going to be set in a Chinese restaurant and there is going to be a round table about the future of work and remote work. Since you are the host, you choose what goes inside the Chinese fortune cookie. So what are these people going to read in their fortunes?

Ken Weary: That is a very unique question.

Luis Magalhaes: I worked hard on it.

Ken Weary: So I reference one of Hotjar’s values of building trust with transparency. And it’s one of the things that I really, really have embraced and loved and respected about what the founders at Hotjar put together is a very transparent environment. And so I’m a huge believer that in order to really let people grow and which empowers your business to grow is to share and be transparent and be open throughout your company and the company benefits greatly because of it. But more importantly, each individual benefits greatly because of it. So not pointing the piece of what I would put in there, but it would definitely be themed around transparency and importance of it.

Luis Magalhaes: Alright, that looks great. So Ken, thank you so much for being so generous with your time. If our listeners want to continue the conversation with you, where can they reach you? And apart from the hiring, if there’s anything that you would like to point out about Hotjar to our listeners, where can they go?

Ken Weary: Definitely. I’m not too big on the socials. LinkedIn is probably the best way from a professional standpoint. I am open to the odd ball emails that do come in from time to time at [email protected]. More importantly, if you want to learn more about Hotjar definitely check us out on our website, hotjar.com. And for all the career sections, you can link it straight from our homepage at careers.hotjar.com. And you’ll find out more about our culture and definitely about our openings.

Luis Magalhaes: So thank you so much, Ken it was a pleasure and the see each other around.

Ken Weary: Sounds great.

Luis Magalhaes: Let me know when you’re next in Portugal.

Ken Weary: I’ll take you up on that.

Luis Magalhaes: All right.

Ken Weary: Cheers.

Luis Magalhaes: Cheers. 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 this conversations that are a joy to have for me and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to have more listeners.

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

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

Ken and Luis take a deep dive into the singularities of a remote work lifestyle such as job hunting processes, dealing with expectations from people who don’t do remote work and some tools for remote teams. 

Ken also shares his story about how he decided to quit the corporate life to work remotely and travel the world.

Listen for some advice to motivate your remote team and a few tactics Hotjar uses to build team engagement with a fully remote staff, as well as strategies to improve and complete processes.

Expect good tips for all digital nomads out there, from not taking the internet for granted and always BYORing (Bring Your Own Router) to doing your research before picking your next destination.


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