Picking The Right Remote Team with Tom Libelt

Tom Libelt is the Co-Founder of We Create Online Courses, the Founder of WeMarketOnlineCourses.com and CEO of Libelty SEO. He’s produced his own documentary “Online Course Marketing That Works,” as he has plenty of experience in sales. He’s also very passionate about rap and audio engineering. 

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Luis Magalhaes: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Distant Job Podcast. This is Luis,  your host as usual, in this podcast that’s all about building and leading remote teams. Remote teams, not just any remote teams, remote teams that perform incredibly. And today with me, I have Tom Libelt. My introduction of Tom could be the length of my arm, but I will try to make it brief. Tom is the co-founder of We Create Online Courses. He is the founder of smart brand marketing. He has had coffee shops, he’s had a career as a musician. He’s filmed documentaries, a documentary in fact that’s probably relevant to listeners of this podcast because it’s about building your business that allows you to live on the go. He helps people build online courses. I think that’s the thing, your major deal now, right Tom?

Tom Libelt: It’s marketing online courses, majorly now. We stepped away from the creation just because I don’t like babysitting people much. So we haven’t done that as much, but marketing is where we’re at.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay. All right. So this is quite the career, and you’re a young guy, you’re just started. Where do you get the energy for all of this?

Tom Libelt: Oh no, that’s a good question. I feel like I’m not doing anything, but then every single year I feel like, wow. When I look back, I’m like, “I’ve pushed myself again.” But you know, on a daily basis it doesn’t seem like it. And maybe it’s because I’ve had some real crazy jobs before, like sales jobs where I had to run around for Brooklyn or Queens all day long in the rain or snow, and hit 60/70 businesses in a day. That tires you out. So compared to stuff like that, it seems like when I do things, I’m like, “I’m not really doing much.” I get into my groove, I’ll bang out five, six tasks in a day, talk to my team and I’m done. It doesn’t feel like I’m doing that much. And most of the creative stuff comes from me being bored too, like the business is doing too well. You’ve probably seen that right? When a business does too well, things are kind of boring because the same things keep working, and then you just need to do something else.

Luis Magalhaes: So how does that transition happen? Do you find someone to delegate the business to while you go and build the next business? How do you train them? How does that conversation go in your mind?

Tom Libelt: So I’ve been pretty good at creating systems. And I’ve learned from day one that if you make any money, hire someone out to help. And often you’ll find is that if you hire too many people, you become the bottleneck, because you’re now busy scheduling everyone. So my thing now was like, okay, hire two, three people and quickly get someone to oversee them. So someone to do the schedules, manage them and things like that. And someone I can just talk about the bigger picture things. So put a couple people in place, a manager, and as long as you have systems, and systems should be things that make you money. That’s the only thing that matters.

So if you’re tracking your business properly and you see for example that LinkedIn articles bring you sales, write more LinkedIn articles. Well not yourself for the most part, just get someone else to help. Maybe you can write the main ideas, but have someone else flesh it out. Those things just, it seems to work. It seems to work for me.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay. So the really interesting thing about your career is that you’ve made the documentary about being location independent. You are currently in beautiful Thailand, and you expect to go somewhere else in six months, or four months or something like that right?

Tom Libelt: Yeah.

Luis Magalhaes: And that’s a beautiful lifestyle, but it’s usually not a lifestyle that’s associated with leaders, with people who manage other people, who people build business. It’s usually associated with the employee that carries their laptop around and does their work wherever and travels around the world. But the bosses usually have an office. So what’s the difference between you and those people that employ digital nomads, but are stuck in the office themselves?

Tom Libelt: Well I think you just opened a big can of worms, my friend. You just opened a big can of … Okay, so I’m not sure who your audience exactly is and how they’re going to react to what I’m about to say. But anyways, you opened this, so let’s go in. Okay, so the documentary was made because I went to enough digital nomad conferences. I was invited to them, because my friends were running them and things like that, and I thought they were complete nonsense. One day I remember I was in Germany and I was hanging out with my friends. They were speaking and one of them is like, “Oh, you should go see my talk and then let me know how it goes.” So I go in, sit down and there’s this older gentleman, this older German … I think he was German. I don’t know, but I’m watching the whole thing. I’m like, okay, cool speech.

And then I looked at him, I was like, “What did you get out of that?” And I seen his note. He just put his note to me, it’s like, “Be yourself.” And I’m like, “Dude, you’re almost 50 years old. You needed to come to a conference to figure out how to be yourself. Like seriously? This is what’s happening here?” So the documentary was, okay, let’s show some realities. So I spoke to a lot of my friends who are building successful businesses in leadership roles, and they actually went over what it’s really like trying to build your business on the go. You spoke about employees being digital nomads. I hate digital nomad employees. I just hate them, and I don’t know anyone else making money who doesn’t. Look, they don’t like working. They’re lazy, they want to move around and they want to be authentic, which means they just do whatever they want. Worst employees ever. Like you actually want the employees who stick in one place.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, that’s definitely my experience. I’m all for remote work, this is a podcast about remote work, but remote work for us is actually people who enjoy the ability to work from home or from their favorite coworking space, because it affords them to live in a place that they like. But actually stick to that place, develop roots, develop connections, have a stable working life.

Tom Libelt: Yeah. So with me moving around, I don’t move around like a nomad. I have a couple of places I like. Like for example, I have a property in the states and I have my favorite apartment in Warsaw, and a place I like to go in Thailand. I’ll move between those two. I’ll do like US for four months, Thailand for six months. And every two years I go to Warsaw. And then once in a while I’ll look for a new place because a lot of my friends will be like, “Hey, there’s like 30 of us in Mexico City. Have you ever been?” I’m like, “No.” So I’ll move for two or three months. So I don’t move fast. It’s more like following the seasons. And remote work is great. I don’t need people to be around me all the time.

So my team is mostly remote, but if I had my manager and my coder saying, “Hey Tom, I’m becoming a digital nomad, I’m going to start moving around.” I’d be like, “You’re fired. That’s not what I hired you for. I don’t mind you being at home. I don’t mind you working however many hours you want, as long as work gets done, but stop with the nonsense.” I’ve met enough digital nomads, broke digital nomads, around Thailand where I’m like, “I don’t want these guys around me.” And I tried to hire one before, even though all my friends said not to. And it was a disaster. A lot of talk. A lot of like, “I need $2,000 a month to survive.” I’m like, “Yeah, but you have no skills and you’re lazy.”

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, and you’re living in Thailand. What the hell are you going to do with $2,000? Buy a palace?

Tom Libelt: No, it’s not even … It’s like, okay fine. 2000 maybe for good employees, sure.

Luis Magalhaes: No, no absolutely, whatever works, but that’s the thing. You should get paid by the value you create, not just form a number that you take off your hat.

Tom Libelt: Yeah, but I think the number was like, that’s how much this person needed to have an apartment, enjoy the nightlife, enjoy, do visa runs, like for all this stuff. But I’m like, “But you have zero skills. Zero skills. And anything I try to get you to do, it’s all about like touchy feely.” Like oh, we had a meeting with some persons to maybe organize a conference. And she came in dressed like she just woke up. The other day, we had a meeting and she would come up like some guy’s clothes on. And I’m like, “What are you doing?” She’s like, “Oh, I was by the waterfall and forgot that we’re working today.” I’m like, “Seriously?” But I’ve met enough digital nomads where I just, I would tell you if you’re a business owner, if someone says, “I’m a digital nomad and I’ll work for you and do all this stuff,” just say no. Say no to drugs and say no to digital nomads.

Luis Magalhaes: I like that. I like that advice. Amen brother. We help Distant Job do recruitment, and we advise people on the same. We try to promote remote work, but digital nomad, we have more or less the same experience as you. But again, as you pointed out, you are not a digital nomad. You’re someone who actually built their business and you do the seasonal thing. What does that feel like in the leadership role? I mean, how many direct reports do you have right now?

Tom Libelt: What do you mean?

Luis Magalhaes: People that report to you? You said that when you build a business, you’re ready to move on. You find someone that reports directly to you to manage the people working in that business.

Tom Libelt: So I have three. I have three right now. Three people in those roles. And look the main thing with the moving around is, right now in Asia, it’s conference season. So maybe five conferences around the area, probably more, but five big ones that I know of. So I would rather hang around, live in one place for a couple months, hit up a conference or two, see all the meetups and network and build my business. Then when the conference season goes to the States, which is usually the fall, we’re thinking traffic and conversions, we’re thinking funnel hacking, whatever else comes up. But there’s a lot of them around that little time. And then you have the late spring to summer where things go to Europe like the web summit. You think, about 30,000 people in Lisbon. Just these big things.

Luis Magalhaes: If you’re going to be there, ping me because drinks are on me.

Tom Libelt: Okay, will do. I actually might because we’re planning on doing what the girlfriend doing that exact season, around spring by the States, and then summer around Europe. But you see, I’m going kind of with the seasons and the conferences. So I sit in one spot and I network just where the action is. But yeah, I’m not really moving around just that I’ll be three, four months in one spot, and then … So I’m living like, it’s like rich people lived back in the days. When you read the books, right?

Wait, what’d you read? They always moved, and I actually remember some Wall Street guys, they did that. They had their property in the Hamptons, they worked in New York, and then they had another property in Florida for the winter times. And some of them moved all of their stuff from the Hamptons to Florida, once a year, back and forth. And others actually duplicated every single thing. So I remember this one guy, everything he bought was two. One gets shipped to the Hamptons, one gets shipped … So this is not a new thing that we’re doing. I just don’t have [crosstalk 00:12:34]-

Luis Magalhaes: He didn’t move, he just changed the scenery on the windows.

Tom Libelt: Just changed the scenery, right. Yeah, so it’s basically that. It’s a change of scenery you would say. I do have some properties, so I’m not a complete … But I do like to change the scenery. I like being where the action is. I don’t like being on planes too much or traveling all the time, because I am building a business all the time, I’m working. So I do need to be in one place. I like going to a gym. I actually hate this digital nomad part of life where you get to a new city, I got to find a new gym, a new grocery store, a new this and that. I don’t like it. I like my routines.

Luis Magalhaes: Interesting. How do you manage? So you have a property in the States, you have a property in Thailand. You go to Warsaw, but do you have property there as well?

Tom Libelt: No, no. I have my favorite apartment. So in Thailand also, I have a couple places where I just go and I like to live. The US is the only place I trust enough to get properties.

Luis Magalhaes: Got it, got it, got it. So how do you handle that? For people that are in the position to do the same? What have you learned? What is some advice about managing whatever you own in the States while you’re off? I assume you have someone to look after that you have arrangements, stuff like that.

Tom Libelt: Yeah. Yeah, so I have all that in place. All my properties are under a trust, and I have people looking over those. In Thailand I have a storage place where all my stuff gets held for the year. When I get here, I just call this lady that’s got a car that I rent from her and a bike, and she just gives me a pickup. I get the stuff, move into the new apartment. Within two days I’m set up. Before I leave, same thing. She gives me a truck, I put the stuff back and it’s done. In Warsaw, my cousin has a storage place, so I have some stuff in there. I just move in, get it from her and same thing. Easy set up.

Luis Magalhaes: Nice. Yeah, easy to set up. Seems like it. So regarding those three people that you manage that are your direct reports, what’s your management of those people like? Take me through your typical day, or you typical week if you prefer.

Tom Libelt: My management is very hands off. We figure out what we need to work on, different projects, we figured out the different KPIs and everyone starts going to work. So for example, if we’re looking at traffic and looking at my podcast episodes and things like that, we’ll be like, “Okay, well we need to get better guests.” So we need to start looking for those. We need to reach out to more people on the other side, like yourself, to get me on more podcasts. So I’ll have someone actually working both those ends, looking for guests, looking to book me, create content, do some advertising to get our content out. So we’ll look at those KPIs. For our projects, we’ll look when it’s going to get done. Is it a marketing job? Is it the coding job?

And we put people in their roles and just have them work, and then the overseers make sure everyone works. That’s the main thing, someone with a whip. Making sure everyone’s working, because I don’t know about you, but with the remote workers, sometimes you don’t know if they’re going to wake up on the left or right side of the bed. Am I working today or am I just acting like the Internet’s not working?

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, yeah, so that’s actually a concern that a lot of people have. And I’m glad you touched it. So what does that overseer protocol look like? How do you guys [inaudible 00:16:03] people to oversee?

Tom Libelt: So what I like doing is like hiring people that live around the manager. So I’ll give you an example of one manager. She has a coder, a graphic designer and some people underneath her, and she lives in Davao, Philippines. She lives in the same city as they do. So she can easily text and message them. They’re in the same time zone, call them, and if that doesn’t work, she’s got their addresses.

Luis Magalhaes: Nice, knock on their door.

Tom Libelt: She goes and hits them all … She’ll start banging on doors. She knows the girlfriends, she knows the family. The one thing I like doing too is once in a while I like to give them money. So the manager can take everyone out, the other people, their families, girlfriends, boyfriends, whoever, to just enjoy and have like a team type of activity. And they get to know each other. Even though I’m not around, they still do, and it gives her that closeness. If the worker’s not working, maybe she’ll call the girlfriend like, “Hey, what’s happening with this guy?” Someone’s going to push them to work.

Luis Magalhaes: Hey there, it’s Luis. Welcome to the intermission of the Distant Job 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 is 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 in 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.

Tom Libelt: So it’s being in at one region. So it’s very similar to a regular company. And this is why I say you don’t want these people moving around. You want your workers to be in one place. It’s a much easier deal to kind of control the environment. And if this one’s going to Thailand, this one’s going to Vietnam, this one’s in Bali. “Oh, sorry boss, I’m traveling. Sorry, boss, the SIM card didn’t work.” I can just imagine the excuses.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, yeah, definitely, definitely. Again, that’s the reason to advise people to move away from digital nomads and more into a full time remote employee.

Tom Libelt: Yeah, and look, and the remote employee model works. And I’ve known it worked for about 10/15 years. I remember when I was living in New York and Jet Blue back then, I don’t know about them now, but back then, became one of the best companies I’ve flown on. I just loved Jet Blue for a while. And the main thing I liked about them was their customer service. Well, come to find out, Jet Blue was smart. They fired all the people in New York and they gave these jobs to single moms that could work from home.

Luis Magalhaes: And they’re super happy to work from home.

Tom Libelt: Not only were they super happy, but they were just so grateful that someone one, appreciated them. Two, let them do a job where they can still be around their kids all the time. And three, paid them reasonably well, and the company did awesome. I don’t know what happened after that, but it was remote work. And once again, they didn’t look for digital nomads, they looked for people who stayed put.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, we at Distant Job, we call that the mother load. It really is this untapped pool of incredibly motivated, incredible competent workers that really appreciate having a full time remote job, for sure.

Tom Libelt: Yeah, and you got to think, sometimes someone that you would never be able to afford regularly, you would be if you get them in that way. There’s accountants, lawyers, super smart ladies. They would love to do a simpler job if they can just stay home until they get back in their career.

Luis Magalhaes: Absolutely.

Tom Libelt: Yeah, it’s a great pool of workers, and I wish people were talking about them more than digital nomads, because I’m like, “Ugh.”

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, I get that. I get that. That’s something that we try to push often. And actually, I’m trying to get more mothers on the podcast because that’s definitely still an untapped pool. But what brought this to the mothers? You were talking about …

Tom Libelt: Well, we were talking about controlling teams and accountability and stuff, and I just thought that this is … That was a seed that was planted in my head a long, long time ago before I started my own remote team. As I remember, Jet Blue made one of the smartest decisions in their business by doing that. So I’m like, well, I will take their lead. And I want to remote team too. I want them in one place though, because I can’t just find single mothers. I wouldn’t even know where to look, but I still want that same environment.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, and I would second your idea that even when your employees are remote, it’s a really good idea to have regional managers. That’s something that we do as well in Distant Job, and realistically we don’t necessarily do it in the same city, but we always have a manager in the country where our employees reside, and they’re in the same time zone. They can easily connect through local networks. It’s just much less of a pain. Everything works much nicer, plus it helps a bit with the cultural barrier. As much as we try to be global citizens, as much as we try to internationalize ourself, there’s always something to be said about being managed by someone of your own culture.

Tom Libelt: Well, yeah, and you shouldn’t underestimate culture too. And I’ve had enough experiences where I don’t anymore. I’m like, “Look, I just don’t know what I don’t know.” We all look at the world from different filters, and it’s sometimes they’re so different that you might be saying the same thing, but understanding two different things. It’s often better, yeah, to keep cultures separate when it comes to that.

Luis Magalhaes: All right, so I mean obviously you don’t want to hire digital nomads. I got that. But apart from that, knowing that the people you’ll be working with are going to be remote, what do you look for when hiring them? What kind of skills or talents or past experiences do you most value?

Tom Libelt: I’m looking for some skills, but I’m also looking for personality. And we have a test that we give to each worker, each potential worker, and depends on how they pass. We kind of look what their personality is, but it’s more based on that.

Luis Magalhaes: Right, is it an actual personality tests like Big Five or Myers Briggs?

Tom Libelt: It’s a different one. It was more built towards finding the right workers. So it’s very leaning towards how people will think on the job. And it’s an interesting test too. I don’t have it in front of me. I don’t remember the name of it, but I’ve taken it a couple of times trying to cheat the test, and it never worked.

Luis Magalhaes: They caught onto you?

Tom Libelt: Yeah, so it kind of came out with the same answers. And I’m like, this is good, and that’s when I started giving it to my employees because I’m like, “Okay, I’ve always been good at cheating, on tests and if I can’t cheat on this one, it’s pretty good. It’s good enough.” Yeah. The other thing I do is I make sure that every new employee speaks to someone that will be in the same role as them, at least one or two people. One will gauge them for skills. One will gauge them for personality, just how they will like working with them. Then they speak with the manager, just to make sure that they understand the expectations. And everyone’s on board, they have a five minute chat with me, pretty much to see if I can get them to say something stupid. That’s really what it’s for. See what I’ll say, be like, “You know, you’re pretty much hired. So let’s just shoot the shit a little bit. Let’s just see.” And I’ll say a couple things and just see how they respond. So it’s very close to entrapment. It’s very, very close to that.

Luis Magalhaes: What’s the expectation? If they say something stupid, is that like, “Okay, this seals the deal, you’re in?” Or is it the opposite?

Tom Libelt: It’s usually the opposite, but the thing is, it just depends on what they say. Sometimes I’ll say, This person is something. They’re going to be great, but we just need to watch them carefully because they’re a piece of work.” But you know, sometimes I’ll be like, you know, “Okay, this is where some truths just shine through,” either big ego or something else where we’re just like, “This could cause a problem.”

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, I was thinking more about people that are disagreeable to come-

Tom Libelt: No, that’s fine. That’s fine. I don’t care about that. They can disagree with me too. It’s fine. I like some pushback, as long as it’s from a smart person. You know, things, which would be like a big red flag is like, “Oh man, I hated all my bosses. How about you?”

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to be your new boss. Chances are … I once heard this on a podcast, I don’t remember what podcasts, but if you walk out of your home and the first person you meet is unpleasant to you, that’s on them. If everyone you meet is unpleasant to you that day, well then guess what’s the common denominator?

Tom Libelt: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Stuff like that. So it’s like they said, if you find them a person that you like, depends if you’re a girl or whatever. If you find them and they have no close friends at all and they gossip about everyone and talk badly about everyone. Well, what do you think that’s going to be like? So you kind of look for just those patterns. Yeah, things like that is what we look for.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay. So, so we’ve been at this for 30 minutes. I want to be respectful of your time. It’s later there, but I want to go a bit through a bit more personal stuff. So you’ve had an incredibly varied career. I mean sales, marketing, building online course as coffee shops, music, part of a band, you know. First in radio. Your band was first on a Polish radio for a while, right?

Tom Libelt: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think we had three or four hits at one point. Yeah, it was good. That was good stuff, man.

Luis Magalhaes: That’s an impressive trajectory. Two lessons. What’s the best lesson that you learned from this trajectory? And what was the hardest lesson?

Tom Libelt: Well, the hardest lesson was that I was always a dabbler. It’s kind of like a gift and a curse, because I know my personality now, and I know that I do like to build things and then systemize them and build new things. But your main focus, and I kind of learned this from myself, should be the same. Right? So you should kind of keep things very focused. So don’t move from one industry to the next. It’s like, “Okay, if we’re working with courses, we can do a course creation, we can do course marketing, we can do optimizing, but we’re still kind of focusing on that one niche.” It’s much easier to build momentum, then if you switch industries. You don’t want to be that guy that has 10 years of experience, but it’s not really, it’s like three years of three experience. You know what I mean?

Like someone starts from gets on a new bus and they get off on the third stop because the other bus looks better. Then they get on a different bus, you know, just can’t stay on the same bus. That helps. And biggest lesson is just follow through until the end on as many things as you can. That’s why all of these accomplishments happen because I did release the albums. I did finish the documentary. I did make sure we got on the radio. I did make sure I almost got a record deal before I moved on. I just figured out I didn’t want it at the time, but I finished what I start. And I think that’s what makes people like, “Wow, you’ve made so many things,” because most people just don’t finish. Like when I look at college graduates, I know that they don’t know anything. I’ve been through college. They don’t know a thing. All college shows is that you can finish something and complete something.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, that’s something. But I agree. I agree that it’s … I remember how much I knew when once I finished college. Not a lot.

Tom Libelt: Well we think we know a lot, but the truth is we don’t. And after a while you just kind of like, “Yeah, you finished college. Sure, you know everything.” Yeah. It was a different world of academics back then. When you find too, and especially in Poland, it’s funny, we had all these … When communism was going on, it’s when my parents left, we had all these intellectuals and smart people picking what we could watch and listen to on TV and radio. And they had no skills. Once capitalism came, they all had lost their jobs and my cleaning lady was actually the person that used to pick what was going to be played on the radio before.

Luis Magalhaes: Oh wow.

Tom Libelt: Yeah, so it was great, and I hated this stuff being played on the radio. So I was like, yeah, go clean the kitchen now.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay. So if you could buy a bulk gift for all the people working with you and let’s say that at the cost of 100 Euro per person, no need to go crazy here, what would you buy? Can be a tool, can be an experience, can be whatever you want. A gift for all your employees.

Tom Libelt: I would probably get them all a couple books, depending on what they’re going through. Because I always try to grow my team as much as I can so that they’re just better. And I will do what I do now. I give them money to just enjoy time with their families. I will often do that. I will just say, “Okay, here’s some money. Go on a little trip or go have a great dinner or something and just send me the invoices and I’ll pay them.” Just enjoy your life.

Luis Magalhaes: Awesome. Awesome. So any stand out books that you enjoy giving?

Tom Libelt: Like I said, it really depends on the what place in their life they’re in. But for people listening to this podcast, probably How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis I think. That’s pretty much the only book you need.

Luis Magalhaes: Really?

Tom Libelt: How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis. Yeah, I think that’s the name. Let me just double check. And probably-

Luis Magalhaes: I’ve read the Napoleon Hill one. That has a similar title.

Tom Libelt: Yeah, but this a real book. Yeah, not like that. That one is like a lot of fluff. Yeah, that’s the one. How to Get Rich. And maybe Cashvertising. Cashvertising is just pretty much how to sell anything online.

Luis Magalhaes: Got it. Okay, so good advice for the listeners. What about you? What purchase has made your work life easier or more productive in the past year?

Tom Libelt: What purchase? Let me think what I have. Well I do always carry an external monitor.

Luis Magalhaes: Like on your backpack?

Tom Libelt: Well, in my suitcase. I don’t have just a back … I carry actual suitcases, but I always carry a real workspace with me. And that helps. I hate looking at the laptop screen.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay, interesting. Interesting. So final question. Got a bit of a setup for this one. So let’s say that you’re hosting a dinner for the execs of major Silicon Valley technology companies doing a round table about remote work and the future of work. You’re hosting it at the Chinese restaurant. So at the end of the meal, they get Chinese fortune cookies and you get to pick the message that’s inside. What’s the message?

Tom Libelt: Oh man. Silicon Valley guys and remote work. That’s actually a tough one you know, because they’re all pretty much getting investment, and the best tell, you can usually find only in those cities and with the investments because that’s where everyone goes.

Luis Magalhaes: It doesn’t have to be Silicon Valley by the way. I was going more for tech companies and Silicon Valley is known for it, but it really is about people dabbling in internet technology, building programs, software, et cetera.

Tom Libelt: Well, so the thing is keep overhead low. And that’s what remote work does. One of the bad things about the coffee shop was all the overhead. We had employees, but we also had this place we have to pay for, the insurance for the place. So when you permanence unemployment, it’s just so many things. And then you have remote workers, that’s really keep the, overhead low and especially if you’re a Silicon Valley guy that just got funded and you’re looking at your burn rate. The main thing is the lower the overhead, the longer you have of a runway. So remote work is where it’s at. And that’s why all these coworking spaces are popping up too. It’s because people don’t want to keep the overhead low. So yeah, that’s what I would tell them, increase your runway. Keep overhead low, wise one.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay, add the last one there, I like it, I like it. One last question because I can’t resist. What the hell makes someone who doesn’t even enjoy coffee, open a coffee shop.

Tom Libelt: Oh, that was such an impulsive buy. I was in between when some of my career and whatever else was happening, and I flew to a couple different cities in the US looking for businesses and I found this coffee shop twice the size of Starbucks. I’m like, “This is cool.”

Luis Magalhaes: Nice.

Tom Libelt: But it was more of like a [crosstalk 00:35:56] environment. Well no, I bought just one, one too many. I just realized how much work it is to handle food and beverages, things that basically spoil on top of having a building and all this stuff. So I had a record store before, a record and clothing store that I ran with a few friends back when I was in high school and college, and it was different. It was easy, it was fun.

Luis Magalhaes: Records don’t spoil?

Tom Libelt: But the thing is there was no spoilage.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, exactly.

Tom Libelt: But one with the coffee shop too, and then we had to make better coffee. So I took people for training. Then they said, “You drink this, you taste this.” I’m like, “Oh I hate it,” because I don’t drink coffee. I just don’t like the taste. I was like, ‘This doesn’t make any sense at all.” So I moved on from that after like a year.

Luis Magalhaes: Fair enough, fair enough. So if the people listening to this podcast want to continue the conversation, or if they’re interested in your business, if they’re interested in becoming clients, where can they hear from you? Where can they talk to you? Where can they find what you’re up to?

Tom Libelt: Well, if you just want to listen to me do these type of conversations, then Smart Brand Marketing, there’s a podcast and we have a lot of fun chats on there too.

Luis Magalhaes: I’ll have a link to it in the [crosstalk 00:37:16].

Tom Libelt: If you need marketing or things like that, Smart Brand Marketing also is a good place. But if you have an online course, we do marketing at wemarketonlinecourses.com, that’s our main focus. But yeah, it’s easy to find me.

Luis Magalhaes: Okay. Tom, it was an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.

Tom Libelt: Thank you for having me.

Luis Magalhaes: See you around.

Tom Libelt: Yup, take care.

Luis Magalhaes: And come to Web Summit. Drinks are on me, for real.

Tom Libelt: I remember that. I remember that. So I’ll hold you to it if I come down.

Luis Magalhaes: In text from. And of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just 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 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 ado. See you next week on the next episode of the Distant Job Podcast.

More ways to listen:

Tom Libelt shares the importance of finding people with a good personality when choosing your team.

In this episode, our guest Tom Libelt shares his experience creating systems that have allowed him to lead several enterprises simultaneously. Tom and Luis talk about the pros of recruiting full-time remote employees vs hiring digital nomad employees. For Tom, who is more a seasonal traveler, the key to leading so many projects at the same time is getting a manager who supervises his staff, which he likes to keep tight placing quality over quantity. 

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