Managing Culturally Diverse Remote Teams Successfully, with Dr. Steve Day

Gabriela Molina

Dr. Steve Day is the co-founder of Systems and Outsourcing Limited and the creator of the systems for outsourcing implementation program. He’s a retired medical doctor who helps small-to-medium owners, businesses, and entrepreneurs free their time using systems and outsourcing. 

 

Dr. Steve Day

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Luis:

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leaving awesome remote teams. I am your host, Luis, and my guest today is Dr. Steve Day. Steve is the co-founder of Systems and Outsourcing Limited and creator of the systems for outsourcing implementation program. He’s a retired medical doctor who helps small-to-medium owners, businesses and entrepreneurs free their time using systems and outsourcing. Dr. Steve, it’s awesome to have you on the show. I’m looking forward to hearing about how your career shift came about, and specifically about the whole outsourcing and working with, let’s say… I was looking at your profile, looking at your history. It seems that it has a lot to do… There was some enlightenment when you realized how useful VAs were, right? And that obviously ties with the remote work thing. So, I guess that’s the place where I want to start, right? How did this shift in career came about? How did you get your first brush with the concept of outsourcing, and how does that tie with remote work?

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah, thanks very much and pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me on the show. So, I bore people with a long history of how I got here, but a very quick history will be helpful, I think, to put things into context. And that is that in 2015, I immigrated from the UK to Sweden. I’ve got UK based business and I decided at the time I was working as a doctor and I quit. And that’s basically because I moved and I didn’t want to continue working as a doctor in a foreign country, and simple as that really. And by moving away though, and this is the key, I had to suddenly rethink how I was going to run my business, how I was going to actually manage everything basically from a laptop, so to speak, even though I live at home. I have a home office, but as I was doing things remotely. And it took a while for me to figure that out.

Dr. Steve Day:

And one of the things you mentioned in your intro was that virtual systems played a role in that. And suddenly, I think when I started thinking about where I was delegating work and how I was going to man the roles in my company, it certainly became irrelevant to me of the location that person was, because I wasn’t going to be there anyway. And so that opened my eyes to a whole nother way of working and to many thousands of hours and many tens, and probably into hundreds of thousands, actually no, definitely into hundreds of thousands of pounds of wages in trial and error of figuring out how to effectively get other people to do my work without my involvement to a high standard has been my life’s work for the past six years. And I got a background before medicine in computing, so systems analysis and design is one of my majors, and database design.

Dr. Steve Day:

So, I’m a bit of a geek. I love apps. I love technology. I love automation and this idea of combining all of these things to help business owners to figure out how to work remotely, how to leverage the global work workforce, how to find people who are passionate about working still. And often, when we put jobs out into when the UK or whatever, and putting the lower level jobs out, for example, it’s hard to fill them. And when you do, those people often, they’re not passionate. They’re not motivated and they don’t stick around. And I wanted to change that. I wanted to be able to make a difference in the world as well. So, offering the chance for people in other countries to gain meaningful and lasting employment is also been a driving factor. So, it’s all those things really, to make this into the perfect storm for me. I’m doing something I love to do.

Dr. Steve Day:

I feel like I’m making a real difference. I’m helping hundreds of business owners to stop failing, to stop feeling guilty for missing out on family life by giving them the means and the tools and the knowledge and expertise and the access to people. That means they don’t have to work themselves into an early grave. So, I feel I’m very lucky, and I feel blessed to be able to share this stuff with people that I just find incredibly fascinating and rewarding to do. And now I get the chance to come onto podcast like this and hopefully talk about it and help other people on that journey, whether you are a startup, one person band, or you’ve got a company with 50, a hundred employees, there’s massive room for improvement on delegation and management and cost reduction when you are looking at a global workforce. So, that’s what I like to help people with.

Luis:

Yeah. All right. So, that sounds awesome. There’s a lot of things that I can pick up. I want to start by talking about some of the parallels, right? Because I see a lot of myself actually, in your story. As listeners to the show, as usual, regular listeners to the show, now I used to be a dental surgeon now, I did not stop that because I moved to another country. I stopped because I felt that I wanted to do more good at the greater scale that I could than by helping people one at one. And one of the major reasons was exactly as you said, looking at the job market, the global job market, and figuring out how to make a difference, helping people find jobs that suited them better and that they let them afford a better quality of living. That’s the whole purpose of DistantJob, right? The whole purpose of DistantJob, specifically, we niche in developers, right?

Luis:

We do developers, but specifically we find developers in lower costs of living countries, jobs in countries that pay better, so it’s a win-win for both parts. So, that was actually the Genesis, so I completely understand where you’re coming from. It is incredibly satisfactory. A lot of satisfaction comes from helping these people create a better life, and also helping businesses have access to talent that’s really motivated. And you talked about the motivation bit, and I want to ask you why you think that is, because that actually puzzled me for a bit. It just feels that it’s harder in some countries to find people that really love their jobs. So, let’s say in my case, I’m in marketing, in my case, social media managers, right? I find that I’ve worked with very expensive people that do social media marketing as if they were working, I don’t know, as if they were working in the graveyard. They just don’t seem to have any joy on it. It’s the thing that they need to do, they need to hit these goals to get their paycheck and go home and watch Netflix or something, right?

Luis:

And then I get people, let’s say from Argentina, that she’s probably listening to this now, right? My current social media manager, she just takes such joy in her work. That even motivates me. I love talking to her and hearing what she’s up to and what she’s doing. So, why do you think there’s this differential? Where do you think this comes from?

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah, it’s a really good question, and one that, again, yeah, like you say, it puzzles you, but I wonder if it actually really does, if I’m very honest and think… Okay, so if I’m going out to the UK and looking for somebody to work… And for me, I have to hold my hands up that I haven’t actually employed anyone from the UK in many of the positions that I now have in employment now. I have worked in the UK as an NHS doctor for a number of years, and before that I had very small employment in a UK company, but that was about 25 years ago. But I do get, from speaking with my clients, who a lot of them have UK employees, and that’s where I’m getting my evidence and invert comments from, in that people seem to, at that lower level of employment, not be interested in professional development and in continuing to improve and to perform above what’s expected.

Dr. Steve Day:

And I think the reason is, I think, quite obvious when you think about it, but maybe wrong, in my opinion anyway, is that those people that are motivated and good at professional development and are looking to achieve more do, and therefore the people left at that lower end… And it’s not just about the low end employment here, because like you said, hey, social media manager, for example, is definitely not a low end, low paid role, but I’m just thinking here, if we’re looking at the 20 to 25 to 30,000 pound bracket in the UK, so admin assistance or that whole assistant bracket really, whatever department you’re in. And those sorts of roles could be communications management, guest services, customer there, that sort of role. I think that a lot of people that are good get promoted or they move on and they don’t stick around.

Dr. Steve Day:

And then so we flip it around and look into, say the Philippines is my big source of employment, it’s by no means that these people are not motivated, and quite the opposite. They desperately want opportunities, but what I’ve found is most of our staff that we hire, when I go and use job boards and things and had them, if I ask them what they used to do, most of them have been stuck in BPO companies earning little bit less than what what we pay, but just about enough to make a living and pay the bills and have a very mediocre quality of life, but they’ve been working nine hours a day or eight, nine hours a day in the same role with no opportunities, with a toxic working environment. And so you then give them opportunity to work in something that they can see a future in, that you’re giving them opportunities. It doesn’t actually… They’re just massively happy to have an invert comms, proper job, and they’re really, really excited about that and the fact they can see that they could earn more.

Dr. Steve Day:

And so, I don’t know. Is it just a money thing? Is it because it’s easier in some countries to not have a job or to stay that level or it’s harder to fire people? And I guess the other thing actually, just interestingly, is the people that we employ say in the Philippines, they’re under contract. They’re not under sort of employment law. They don’t because they often work as contractors. And so I guess then it’s easier, if you wanted to, it’s easier for us to let someone go, so maybe they have to just try that a little bit harder to stay. Whereas if you’re in the country like the UK, if you’ve got somebody who’s basically just about doing their job and just about making it by, they can sort of just slide and along in their role for many, many years. It’s very hard to do anything about that, and you can’t force somebody to be motivated, but it’s difficult to fire somebody unless you’ve got good reason. So, I think there’s maybe factors in there that…

Dr. Steve Day:

And these are just ideas and observations, so please don’t hate me or hit me for saying any of this stuff. It’s just having

Luis:

No, no, no, no. Look, the point is to have a discussion and to learn, right? I can tell you from my experience, I think that the first part of the equation makes sense, the opportunity part and the getting a job, et cetera. I’m not so sure about the whole contractual part, because I have the experience from DistantJob where we’re talking about developers here, so retention matters and they have a lot of other job offers. So while we do work with contractors, we make sure that the contracts are incredibly beneficial to the developers, right? Many of our contractors have as many or more benefits as a fully, completely employed person.

Dr. Steve Day:

Just to say, same here, and I massively advocate that, holiday pay, sick pay, opportunities for growth. We give paternity, maternity leave. All those sorts of things is what we teach and we advocate. So, please. Yeah, I totally agree that. I’m really happy to you say that.

Luis:

Yeah. So, we’re in sync there. At some point, I think it’s a bit of a failure in education. I mean, I feel that, at least in Portugal, that’s my experience. I don’t know it’s in the UK. Kind of get the sense that work is like school. You’re trained from a young age to stay on your lane, to do that repetitive thing over and over again, and that’s it. And that’s not the mentality of growth. It’s a mentality of filling checklists and passing checkpoints. So, when I stopped, and I didn’t stop immediately, I did a half off, when I started winding down my medical practice and I started in my other life, my marketing, I started as a content writer, and at the time, I was earning 2 cents on the word, so that was a massive pay downgrade compared to what I was doing as a doctor.

Luis:

But the point is that I knew that was just the beginning, that I was going to scale up from that, right? And I feel that a lot of people don’t have that perspective, don’t have that notion. It’s not that they’re lazy, right? I tend to believe the best of people. I tend to believe in people’s potential. I just don’t think that most people realize that they can, as an adult, as someone that got out of school, that there’s still opportunity for growth and for building skills that are highly valuable. And I do work with a couple of people from the UK, content writers, and they obviously they charge UK prices, and it’s a pleasure working with them versus some less expensive UK writers, because while they know what they’re worth and they built a career that was based on becoming better and better writers and improving the value for their work. So, I do feel that there’s something about the educational part that gets into that.

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah, totally agree. And I think that there’s a big difference between if we talk about what the situation is and why people, for example, when they look for employment now are either motivation or not and at that level, but if you go further back, I think that’s really where we’re going now with this, is the reasons why people have the mindset that they do when they start work. And that’s sort looking into education, into development, growing up, for example, about opportunities that are made available to them about how their parents talk about work and about all these things, the education level of people around them and the people they have to inspire them and to motivate them, and all these factors will come into this. So, I think the reasons why people in certain countries get to that point. And so when they are in employment at that level, I think they’re very far reaching, quite difficult to pin down and probably quite controversial, in some ways as well, talking about them.

Dr. Steve Day:

But I think the result of that is really what I’m sort of seeing now when I speak to people, whatever. And that is that if you have roles in your company and you are struggling to find people who really want to be there and do that work, and like you said, all the things you’ve talked about before, and you just get frustrated by that, then open your eyes if you’re not already looking. And I’m sure most of the people, if not all the listeners of this podcast are, but those it’s just realizing that the global workforce is massive. And even if it was just a numbers game, even if everything was equal and every person in the whole world, there’s the same percentage of people at each level or every motivation or whatever, just the fact that you’re now tapping into billions more than you have in your home country, surely you’ve got more chance of finding good people.

Dr. Steve Day:

But then obviously when you talk about things we’re discussing here, then it skews it more in the favor of actually, you can find brilliant people, brilliant people who desperately appreciate the work they’re given and will go out of their way to keep their jobs and to exceed expectations and stick around for long term.

Luis:

Yeah. It’s very funny, very serendipitous that we are having this conversation, because I was interviewed just last week, and one of the questions that I was asked was, what do I think was be important to improve the future of work? And that’s an interesting question. I think that work would be massively improved if everyone that was working really loved their job, right? So, that’s why I really felt that it was interesting to pick at this thread. And then the other thing that I was asked, following up on that, which is a question that I’ll forward to you now, is, when you’re interviewing, or even before they interview, when you’re sourcing, when you’re looking for, what are some things that you do to identify if someone loves their work or not?

Dr. Steve Day:

So, we have what we call the Hiring system, and it’s how we basically whittle down many, many applicants as quickly as possible. So, bigger corporations will have something similar to this in their HR department, I’m sure. But for smaller companies and where I really came from, and a lot of the companies that we still help, they don’t have HR departments. It’s often just the business owner or maybe a couple of employees and they’re trying to grow their team and scale. And so this is where this has come from. And some of the things we do in there are, first of all, we ask them questions up front, which are automatically eliminated or get people through. And I guess this is a roundabout way to answer your question question, but we ask people to grade themselves on the type of roles that they’re going to be doing.

Dr. Steve Day:

And then if the people don’t grade them at a level which we accept, they go. It’s just one of the many the elimination questions. Because if people, at that very initial stage, they’re applying for a job, if they aren’t massively motivated about it, if they don’t actually believe they are good at it, or you can word it, if you’re not looking for experience, if you’re happy to train somebody up, then you can word questions. Literally just ask them. Do you enjoy this type of work? Or, have you worked in this type of job before? Why do you think you’d be good at this type of job? And just give them questions that allow them to self-select. That simple thing means that we don’t bother taking anyone to any other interview point that doesn’t already believe that they will enjoy the work they’re going to be doing.

Dr. Steve Day:

And then there’s other things. So, we publish our values in part of our recruitment. We want people to sign up with our values, because one of those values for us is about professional development, and that’s a massive thing for us. So, we can actually relate that back when we get to the interview and ask them about the values that we publish and why they think they’re in line with them. And then specifically in the interview stage, oh, okay, back and forth, we have a stage, which is a test of some description. And the test, we try to get something that is very much in line with the work, as much as we can so that you can see if somebody is able to, in a short space of time, produce something of quality or with a high attention detail or whatever they’re doing. And again, we advertised for a graphic design manager position some time ago, and we created a task, which was a… They took a brand and we gave them a few, with selling Coca-Cola Pepsi, big ones, so they knew we weren’t getting work for free.

Dr. Steve Day:

We said, “Look, we want you to rebrand this for a different audience. And I can’t remember exactly the details of this, quite some time ago. And the difference in the people’s ability and willingness to just do that, their passion through. It was night and day. People doing it to try and get a job, people who absolutely love what they do. And it was just like, okay, they’re off. They’re out there in… Let’s take this select few to the final interviews, and that’s it. So, those are some of the things we’re doing in the interview, just asking people what type of work… What have you done already in this type of work? It’s simple stuff. And if their eyes don’t light up, they don’t see that as an opportunity to talk about their stuff positively then…

Dr. Steve Day:

But that’s a final stage. I don’t want to get people to interview that aren’t passionate. So, it there’s these hurdles that we put people through along the way. And at each stage, it’s just asking little things, or that big thing for the graphic designer. Because it’s such a graphical thing, we wanted to see some evidence of… I don’t want to see their portfolio. I want to see what they can do with this particular thing that we are… At the time, we were doing rebranding, so that’s sort of what we got them to put their mind to. So, yeah, those are some things that we do.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s actually… I can see a lot of that right in my process as well. But it seems like, well, to your credit, as someone that’s in systems, it seems that you’ve systematized it quite a lot. I’m a big fan of education. I’m a big fan of asking people, how are they improving and learning their craft? I like them to tell me about books, mentors, YouTube channels, whatever, courses that they do, and see the light in their eyes, as you say, right? Their eyes light up. Yeah, so that’s-

Dr. Steve Day:

No, I agree. Similar question. “Who inspires you?” is one when I quite like asking.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good one. That brings me to… Well, you started the interview saying that a lot of your hiring happens in the Philippines. So, that kind of question, I’m usually a bit low to ask, just because of the cultural differences, but there might be some very interesting people in Asia that I’m not aware of, and if they don’t give me the answer of a Western guru, marketing guru or something, I don’t want to immediately dismiss it off hand because… So, I guess that shifts the conversation to the cultural aspect, right? I’ve worked with people from all over the world from South America, Argentina, Brazil, et cetera, to the Ukraine, all the way to India, and India is also a bit of south Asia. So, that’s where I am least experienced, right?

Luis:

And the reality is that all of these people bring their own things, their own cultures to the board, right? And usually, what eventually… To me, the ideal case scenario is that those cultures take a back step to the company culture, but it takes a while, right? So, if you have… Let’s say in the pyramid, if you have the company culture up top, and then the very diversified cultures to the bottom, you get the benefits of unity and diversity at the same time, but it is something that I find that is always challenging to juggle. So, what challenges did you have dealing with the typical work culture in the Philippines? What adjustments did you have to make, and what adjustments did you have to ask your employees to make?

Dr. Steve Day:

Good question. So, we’ve got staff currently in the Philippines, South Africa, and in Pakistan, and we previously employed people from a couple different countries in Eastern Europe and from Finland, and also from South America for a short period of time as well, from Brazil and [inaudible 00:23:31]. One appointment didn’t go well, but that’s no judgment on anyone else from South America, but from Brazil. And I realized actually afterwards, mental notes. We should compare notes on hiring from South America, and hiring from East Asia as well.

Luis:

I’d love to.

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, back to your question. So, I think the biggest difference is for me is it would probably just… People from the Philippines are often not the most forthcoming with ideas, typically. This is sweeping generalizations here, so forgive me, because there are obviously exceptions to every rule, whatever.

Luis:

Cultures are like that, right?

Dr. Steve Day:

So, getting good ideas from people in the early days was difficult, and getting to contribute to meetings and to be more vocal and to participate rather than just do what they’re told. And so that was a challenge, and it’s one that we just had to be aware of. And also, that also came through that interview. So, interviewing people, what you’d expect, say if you were interviewing someone in the UK, what they would be on an interview, speaking in their first language with a similar culture, they’d be much more vocal, much more confident in general, whereas in Philippines, much more submissive, much less forthcoming about them, less… What’s the word I’m looking for? And not really showing off, not really selling their best sometimes. And actually, just to be able to actually pull out of people. And we actually found the development of our recruit right hiring system was because we found that if we just went straight to interview, we found it really difficult to find people. Not only is it a huge time drain, looking at CVs was often difficult as well, and all these reasons why we created it.

Dr. Steve Day:

But what we found was, by developing this system, it allowed people to grow in confidence. And by the time they got to a live interview, they already felt they knew a bit about us. They felt more comfortable. And I’ve had better performance in those live interviews because there’d been a warming up. We’ve been like, “Hey, well done. You’ve read we’re on that,” just complimenting people on the way through. So, that definitely helped. So, other things are, yeah, just being very conscious that… Honesty is a huge thing in the Philippines. And I know you could say that about everywhere, but it’s one of those things, if you say something that could potentially undermine that or make them think that you think they’re being dishonest about something, for example, the way you would question about, “Oh, this task took you quite a long time to do. Maybe we could discuss that,” or “It’s taking you a lot longer than I expected you to do this piece of work,” whatever that sort of thing.

Dr. Steve Day:

You’ve got to be really careful that you don’t think that they’re trying to, that they don’t think you’re… They’re trying to rip you off. And so being really mindful about how you question people’s work, how you approach subjects like that, but I guess also being direct with people as well. It’s not a culture, from my experience, where people are very direct, and you have to be… If you want to be direct, that’s fine, but you need to tread carefully until you gain trust. So ,we put a lot of work into building what we call our used to be called our virtual assistant management tool. Now, it’s just called our staff management toolkit. And that a huge amount of that was because of the challenges we faced with managing people from the Philippines, because we realized we needed to put a lot of work up front with trust.

Dr. Steve Day:

And obviously, that works in any culture, but it really was necessary there. And so how we structured meetings, when we had the meetings, how we give feedback, basically the amount of support they get in the early days about type of work they get, how quickly we give them work, how we pilot work onto their desk, so to speak, it’s not overwhelming. All these things, which are absolutely gold for any employment were totally necessary there. So, building trust early, developing that, and giving people a platform to talk, build, and again, getting people to gain confidence before they get into interview as well helped and bring them on board, and just being mindful of those cultural differences, like you said, but around, say for example, about honesty as well were probably the main thing. Yeah.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Of course. So, thank you for your insights. That makes a lot of sense, and that I definitely got something out of it, and I’m sure that the listeners will have. The point is exactly that. We need to talk about cultural differences because they exist. That’s not to mean that there’s a problem with different cultures. Every people on the face planet has their own blind spots and their own strengths, right? So, that’s the point. I see that in Asian cultures in particularly, as you point out, and the development of trust is a point of that. It’s very hard for employees from those cultures to tell you no, right? And I found the more I work in a leadership position, the more I appreciate people telling me no, because I don’t know everything, and sometimes it’s great to have someone that’s working under you that says, “I think there is a better alternative,” or “I think that’s not going to work out,” or even just, “I have other things on my plate. I can’t possibly get that done by that deadline.”

Luis:

And there’s a bit of this in the west as well. Some people, they have that overworking badge of honor, that, “I don’t say no, I do everything I can,” but definitely I see that more prevalent in Asian culture. So, how do you go about building the kind of trust that can work over that?

Dr. Steve Day:

That pushback or that ability to challenge authority is definitely something that I think we work on every day in the company. And because I see that, whether it’s purely cultural, because people from the Philippines, or maybe it’s a hierarchical positional thing anyway, I don’t have any direct contrast to… I guess I do to South Africa, same challenges sometimes. And from Pakistan, same something else, going to age now. But I think this inability to question authority isn’t purely in Asia, but it’s definitely stronger there. And I think the way we deal with that is to constantly challenge the fact we weren’t challenged. And so every opportunity, and I’m just trying to think of a good example today, because if somebody comes and does something and they spend hours and hours doing something, you ask them, “Why did you spend so long doing that?” And said, “Because you told me to, because you said this…”

Dr. Steve Day:

I said, “Yeah, but when you did it, did it not make sense that this may be that I’d made a mistake, that maybe I didn’t know what I was talking about, that maybe you are the one in the midst, you are the trenches doing the work that actually, at some point you would’ve thought that maybe there’s a better way, quick way, a fast way of doing this.”

Luis:

And that’s very important, by the way. Just forgive me for interrupting, but the taking ownership of your own failings as the leader, as the person who hands the work-

Dr. Steve Day:

Totally.

Luis:

For a long time, a lot of my conversations with my Asian employees were, “Hey, I’m sorry, I screwed up. I didn’t give you the best directions.” Right? I should have said… I should have asked you for your opinion, or I should have asked you to estimate better, or I should have asked you not to do this in a specific way, but to do it in a way that you feel the most efficient. So, at a certain level, it’s a language game, but it’s also a bit of a humility check.

Dr. Steve Day:

Totally. I think that one of the things that… We always just say blame myself first, because I’m a systems guy. And in medicine, I had a committee called the lessons learned committee that was all about improving patient safety. And we did that to improvement of systems, not through our improvement of people, because people will fail. People will forget. People will make mistakes. They’ll be too tired, they’ll just be rubbish, whatever. But systems are there to protect the norm, to protect the status quo, and to actually be able to be improved. And so you can improve a system by directly influencing it, whereas improving people is something much more subtle and more difficult that we have touched on before. And so one of the things that we teach our students, our clients is that if something goes wrong, blame yourself first, but it can be about language, but how you say something.

Dr. Steve Day:

And I think there is that point you think, “Really? Can you just not use a bit of common sense and just push back?” So, there is a bit of that, and you just think, do I have to spell everything out to you? And that also comes in, but again, that’s just development and about bringing people up to a level where they can have that conversation and that confidence. But if you can get the bones of the… If you can actually systemize, this probably a bit strange, but systemize some of that culture within the company and to show that empower is what I’m looking for, to empower your staff, to have the confidence, to push back, to say, “This is what we expect of you. And actually, if you don’t, that’s when you’ll be blamed, not when you do,” or it’s like… We ask all our employees to read Seth Godin, Poke the Box, which if you haven’t read it, great book. And that’s all about-

Luis:

Quick read too.

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah. And exactly, yeah. It’s a tiny little book. Great, great read. And that book is all about taking chances. Having a go, pushing, being that one that stands out in the company, not being the one that hides it under the radar and just of gets on day to day, because those people don’t ever make anything happen in the world. And I want my employees to be a bit like that… I want them to… Not a bit, I want them to be that. I want them to actually to do more, whatever level they’re in, but that comes from. And maybe this is because I’ve worked extensively with people from the Philippines, a huge part of that for me, is giving them the confidence to push back and the confidence to say no.

Dr. Steve Day:

So, that’s where I think that, yeah. The biggest difference for me is that comes from, I talked about before, about our management tool toolkit and about just the way we delegate and our systems approach and the policies that we have. It’s all really around this and about trying to elevate our staff to just think more than just do. And so, yeah.

Luis:

All right. So, now let’s talk for a moment about the other side of trust, which is a question that, forgive me, you’ve probably heard this question or people talk like this a million times, but I automatically know. Let’s say if I go to one of my doctor friends, and they’re busy, they’re swamped, they’re probably living not the healthiest life because of all the work. And if I tell them, you could apply one tent of your earnings to hiring a virtual assistant in the Philippines that will handle all the mundane details of your life through the internet, and it’ll save you a lot of time and massively improve your quality of life. And they’ll be happy doing it too. I know that the number one, the first objection I’ll hear is, “Luis, are you crazy? I’m going to give my credit card number to someone in the Philippines really? Are you out of your mind?” So, what do you usually answer to this?

Dr. Steve Day:

So, I guess it depends on the type of tasks that you want people to do and the level of data protection that needs to be in place for the type of information you’re passing over. So, there isn’t one answer fits under this sort of problem, because ultimately, if it’s your own personal data, that’s up to you. If it’s someone else’s data, it’s a big different game and you have to be careful with that, but there are simple things and means and ways you can put things in place to protect you and your clients. And if you happen to be a doctor and you’ve got patient information, I’d be very careful. But if it’s just general customer, client information emails, and names and phone numbers and stuff, then there are enough things to do very easily to protect those people.

Dr. Steve Day:

But going back just your example of the credit card here, I think it’s a fun one to do and really easy one to fix, is that say if I wanted to get my staff and they do have access to be able to buy stuff, and there’s lots of little things you can do to protect yourself. So, for example, we have a Amazon account, which is set up with purely for the company use. And I load that with Amazon gift cards, and therefore my liability is capped at whatever has been loaded on there. Similarly with PayPal, we have a prepaid card, credit card, which is loaded, and then that is used to set up a PayPal account.

Dr. Steve Day:

So, therefore PayPal, the amount of money that can be spent ever on that account is limited the amount on the card. We have a Revolut account, for example, for our banking, which allows us to cap the amount of spending and also just authorize every single transaction or at a certain level. There’s lots of different ways and means you can put things into place just to minimize your exposure to risk when it comes to finances. If you, for example, want someone to help you with your bookkeeping, they don’t need access to your banks, you just give them access to your zero accounts, or your QuickBooks or whatever it is the tool that you use in your country, the accounting software, they can have a user level set up. So, they can basically access your bank statements, do your bookkeeping without actually having to ever get anything near your bank accounts.

Dr. Steve Day:

And so, again, you can remove or have different levels of removal from the source that fear, whatever it is, whether it’s your bank details or whether it’s your credit cards or customer information or whatever, and just using the right apps. So, for that doctor example, then they probably wouldn’t have business grade cloud storage with Microsoft 365 or Google workspace business. And it’s just making that switch for 10 quid a month, bang, you’ve certainly got whole nother level of security involved. And so it’s knowing which apps to use in the right way and actually then to share information or to share access and just doing it in a sensible. There’s apps that last pass as well, which is absolute game changer for just convenience of sharing.

Dr. Steve Day:

But people get a bit I think with need, stuff like that, and they think it’s safe. And it’s not… As a technical guy yourself, you’ll probably know that if you share a password via something like LastPass, which is a password or a login sharing, then if you know what you’re doing, you can just view that password very easily. So, with that little warning aside, they’re brilliant for convenience, and there’s all these little things you can do that make actually working remotely, the working online, as safe as if you were in the office next to somebody, and probably safer because you think about it more, and because you’re conscious of the fact there is this risk. You put more things in place to ensure that risk never actually… Permease never actually comes true. Whereas if someone’s in the office with you’ve probably got us post-it notes on the desk with the passwords written on it for your logins, for your main accounts and stuff, because you think, “Oh, it’s in the office. It doesn’t matter.”

Dr. Steve Day:

I mean, the risk of that is far greater than most of the things you’ll ever do online. So, the sensible approach. This is the bread and butter of what we teach in our foundation level. It’s like, how do you get from that mindset of fear, fear, fear to this is easy? And getting people set up and ready such to start working online. This is what we do. I love talk talking about it could do for hours, but I know we don’t have hours, but so just being sensible, knowing what’s available and using the right apps in the right ways is the way we get around it.

Luis:

Of course. Of course. Okay, so thank you for the detailed explanation. That makes absolute sense, everything that you said. Now, we do… The conversation carried me in such a way that I kind of lost track of time. I do want to be respectful of your time, and let’s maybe wind down the conversation with a bit of rapid fire questions. Now, the questions are rapid fire, but the answers don’t need to be. Please expand as much as you’d like. And the first such question is if you had, let’s say 100 euros to spend, I’m saying heroes because I have no idea of the current exchange rate for Swedish.

Dr. Steve Day:

Fair enough.

Luis:

So, if you add 100 euros to spend with each person in your team, what would you give them? And you need to buy in bulk, right? You can’t ask them each what they need. You can’t give them the money in nor a gift card or something equivalent. What do you think everyone could benefit?

Dr. Steve Day:

Wow, that’s a good question.

Luis:

Could be anything, tool, app, software.

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah, anything new or anything they’ve already got. Let me think. Okay, so some of the useful things, a second monitor, probably one of the most useful things I think you could give your general stuff for productivity.

Luis:

Okay. How has that been a game changer for you.

Dr. Steve Day:

In today’s, if you work remotely, you work on a computer, simple as that. And therefore the ability to be able to have two monitors, or in my case, I’ve got two very big monitors, so I can actually have sort of [inaudible 00:40:27] four monitors, and many of us do. And it allows you to be able to work in one app and transfer information over and just without actually constantly flicking between the two. And if I work on my laptop, my levels of product, the speed of work goes down dramatically because I’m constantly closing and moving. And I’ve got a terrible memory, so I can’t remember. If I have something open on one page and I move to another page, it’s gone. So, I then around with little windows in the corners and trying to read it all. Whereas two monitors, bang. You’ve just got it there, crack on my stuff. I’m not an advocate of multitasking. I think it’s a complete myth, but I am an advocate of having different things open when you’re working on a project, so that’s why.

Luis:

Yeah, I definitely like this, and I feel that a bunch of guests have recommended that. And I always say that I always thought it was overrated until I actually did it. And it was just… You don’t really realize how much of a difference it makes until it actually happens.

Dr. Steve Day:

Exactly.

Luis:

So, yeah, that’s the situation. Okay. So, why about yourself? I mean, excluding the monitor, excluding the second monitor, what is the purchase that you made for yourself that most improved your work life or whatever metric, your productivity, whatever metric matters to you?

Dr. Steve Day:

Oh, good question. It would have to be on personal development, and I would say the best purchase, slightly more than a hundred dollars, but the… Sorry, I actually couldn’t remember the guy’s name. Donald Miller. That’s his name. Donald Miller Business Made Simple Course. The books are all under hundred dollars, so there you are. I have all the books, but the course, it takes it to an next level. And it’s about… And this is no… I’m not affiliated with them, but it’s a brilliant course, about $200 a month, a year. Sorry, 200 a year, $200 a year, and it covers pretty much the whole of business leadership and marketing and using his story brand philosophy. And I think it’s something that I bought maybe three years ago, and I dabbled and then dipped into it. And I go and went back to it then a year later, and I got something else of a value from it.

Dr. Steve Day:

And I’ve gone back to again just recently, and that’s then, as a result, ended rereading most of his books and really just refocused our whole mission and our whole purpose. And I think that’s something. We’re six years in as a business now, and it was about the right time to do that. And I think that the value that you get within that program, if you’re thinking of a one off purchase that we actually… I recommend you get access to your team as well. It’s just one of those things. It’s just sort of sensible guy, good ideas, structure in a way that makes sense to me. So yeah, definitely worth it.

Luis:

Nice. We’re going to have that in the show notes then. Can you repeat the name, please?

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah. Business Made Simple by Donald Miller.

Luis:

Okay. Nice. That’s a great recommendation. Thank you so much. I’m actually a fan of online courses, right? I didn’t used to be. I used to have a lot of trouble getting through them, because there wasn’t the pressure of going to an actual real life course.

Dr. Steve Day:

Totally.

Luis:

Right? So, I tended to put it off, but I managed to get some mind tricks to discipline myself. And since then, it’s been game changer. So, thank you for the recommendation.

Dr. Steve Day:

the books first, I’ll always say, because that’ll inspire you to go and do the course, because the courses are… I agree with you. It’s difficult to do courses on your own. A new thing I did was that we… I went a couple of masterminds, and one of them, we just did it together. So, we basically went on the course and did it every week and we went through all the different stages together of… This was particularly the story brand course. And we’re just doing that again now. So, that’s my one recommendation. And I’m sure many of lessons do that, but buddy up with somebody who’s in a similar boat and just basically go through the course, whatever it is, at the same time and – .

Luis:

All right. So, you talked about his books. Are there any books that you usually give to fellow entrepreneurs, for fellow business people?

Dr. Steve Day:

I mentioned Poke the Box earlier, but I don’t give that often to… I’ve never given that, in fact, to an entrepreneur. I was given it by one of my mentors, and I’ve never actually passed it on, which I probably should. One Stage, I recommend it for marketing, or just for people getting ideas and stuff. I did recommend Russell [inaudible 00:44:34] and stuff because I think it really made sense to me that stage. More recently, and I’ve actually forgotten his name, but there’s a guy called… The guy who wrote the book Million Dollar Deals. And his name is Alex, and I will tell you in two seconds. It’s Alex Hormozi. And his books. I’ve only read the first one, and I’m literally just finishing it now, so I’ve not even finished it officially, about a chapter from the end, two chapters from the end.

Dr. Steve Day:

And that book has really brought together a lot of the stuff that I’ve learned over the past six years about sales and marketing into something that’s really focused, and I think it’s presented in a niobous way that just makes sense. And the title of the book put me off. I was actually recommended it some time ago, and it sat on my audible digital shelf for a long time. And I’m a just in time learner kind of guy, so I only read stuff when I’m at that point in my business or my life when I want to know something, and then I’ll go all in. So, at the moment I’m going back all into my marketing and sales, and so this is where it up that I just give it a go. And I’m glad I did, because he seems like a very…

Dr. Steve Day:

He’s incredibly successful. I’ll let you read as go and find out and dig up about him Alex Hormozi, but he is incredibly, incredibly successful in what he does. And now he gives away all of his training for free with the… The model is, you earn 3 million a year in your company, and then we’ll talk and I’ll think about investing in your company.

Luis:

Nice.

Dr. Steve Day:

So, he’s basically… If he can get you to that point, then he is interested in being a business partner, so I quite like that. So, all his training are free for that reason, so good guy.

Luis:

Nice. Can you repeat the name of the book, please?

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah. Alex Hormozi, and it’s Million Dollar Offers.

Luis:

Million Dollar Offers. Got it.

Dr. Steve Day:

Oh, my apologies. Yeah, Million Dollar Offers.

Luis:

Thank you so much. That seems like an awesome recommendation. I completely agree with you. The thing is that you can read a lot of books about a lot of subjects that you think you need, but if you don’t have the chance to practice the things there, you’re going to lose them very quickly. So, I think that your approach is the right one. It certainly works for me, the learning when you need it, right? It feels like, oh, I should have learned this before, but the reality is that I wouldn’t be able to learn it before because I wouldn’t be able to put it in practice, or I wouldn’t feel the need to put it in practice. So, it’s that kind of mental shift, that it’s not a slacker and leave everything for last minute, is that I’m actually… To learn, I need to be able to apply it, to have the need to apply it, right?

Luis:

So, yeah. Okay. So, just to finish up, I have a final question. This one has a little bit more of a longer setup, so please bear with me. Let’s say that we reached the point in many countries, I know we are not there yet, but we’ve reached the point to get a lot of people in a dinner together. So, you’re hosting one such dinner and in attendance are going to be the top executives, the decision makers from tech companies from all over the world, and the topic of the night is remote work and the future of work. So, the twist is that the dinner happens in a Chinese restaurant, and as the host, you get to choose the message that goes inside the fortune cookie. So, what is your fortune cookie message?

Dr. Steve Day:

What a question. Okay. Provide lasting and meaningful employment for people who deserve it.

Luis:

That’s good. That’s good. Provide lasting and meaningful employment for people that deserve it. Is that your company’s motto?

Dr. Steve Day:

It’s part of our mission statement. Yeah.

Luis:

Great. All right. So, thank you so much. That was lovely. Now, finally, and again, this is going over time. I apologize, but I was really engaged. I mean, I tried to be engaged in every interview, but sometimes I get so engaged that I lose track of time. Apologies. My bad. But before you go, please tell people where can they find you? Where can they continue the conversation? And where can they learn more about you and the services your company provides?

Dr. Steve Day:

Yeah, of course. So, I’ll mention two things. So, we are on a podcast. So, obviously, the listeners probably like podcasts. So, we have our own podcast. So, I have my own podcast. So, Systemize Your Success. So, Systemize Your Success, but with the Z systemized. And obviously, you can find that on all your favorite podcast things. And then our website is www.systemsandoutsourcing.com. And on there, you’ll find more about what we do and how we get in touch and find out more.

Luis:

All right. Well, Steve, it was an absolute pleasure having you. Thank you so much for being a part of the show.

Dr. Steve Day:

Thank you having me. Thank you.

Luis:

And thank you for listening, dear listeners. It was a pleasure having you in the DistantJob podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams see you next week.

Luis:

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 there’s 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.

Luis:

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 with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who we need, and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate 40% faster than the industry standard. And with that, I bid you a deal. See you next week on the next episode of DistantJob podcast.

One of the biggest benefits of building and managing a remote company is having access to the world´s best talent. You´re hiring borders, and the talent pool expands. However, despite all the benefits, remote teams also have challenges that, as a leader, you need to learn how to tackle. For example, cultural diversity.

Cultural diversity brings a lot to the table in remote teams, from creativity and innovation to tolerance and open-mindedness. During this podcast, Dr. Steve Day shares how he tackled cultural differences in his remote team and why it matters to understand the culture of the employees you work with.

Highlights:

  • How he realized the importance of virtual systems and automation to delegate and manage remote teams successfully
  • What drives employees to be motivated and invested in a company? 
  • Insights about motivation and remote employees 
  • Why passion is a key element when hiring remote employees
  • Tackling cultural differences in remote teams

Book Recommendations:

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