Running Metrics-Driven Remote Teams with Liam Martin | DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency

Running Metrics-Driven Remote Teams with Liam Martin

Luis Magalhaes

Today’s guest is Liam Martin, the co-founder and CMO of, and co-organizer of – the largest conference on building remote teams. After working with remote employees for over 10 years, Liam regularly speaks about how to build and manage top-performing, metric-driven remote teams.

Liam Martin

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Luis Magalhaes:    Hello, ladies and gentlemen, this is Luis, here with DistantJob Podcast. This a podcast about building and leading remote teams to win. And DistantJob is your gateway into remote hiring so basically what DistantJob does is we work with you to create a hiring plan that matches your requirements and follows your hiring processes. And then we search and set up everything so that you can meet the best people in the world wanting to work remote with your company, and we actually do it more or less 40% faster than the industry standard.

Luis Magalhaes:    We also handle, fully handle payments and HR and what every perks you want to give them. So basically this is a full one package remote employee solution that we are offering. So if you’re feeling relucent into getting into the remote employment arena, we will help you take care of everything and since we’re talking remote, who better to talk remote with than my guest today, Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor, and Running Remote the world’s biggest remote work conference.

Luis Magalhaes:    He’s a speaker. He’s a YouTuber. Am I allowed to say your YouTuber, Liam? You have a lot of-

Liam Martin:    Sure.

Luis Magalhaes:    YouTube videos.

Liam Martin:    I mean it’s an experiment at this point but sure, yeah, why don’t we say that?

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s great. YouTuber than. Liam has written in and been quoted on more publications and across more mediums, then I enumerate, right now. But in essence, all your work, let’s say revolves about remote work. All your companies facilitate remote work. So first of thank you very much, that’s nice.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. No. Thanks for having me and you actually hit the nail on the head. Our mission statement is we want to impower people to work wherever they want, whenever they want. So that could be a piece of software or that could be a conference or that could be a YouTube channel, it really doesn’t matter, as long as it serves that main mission.

Luis Magalhaes:    A lot of people do that just by providing education. That’s what, I mean DistantJob is a different thing but me, what I’m doing here is really providing education. What a lot of my guest do is providing education but you’re actually providing tools.

Liam Martin:    Yes.

Luis Magalhaes:    You’re actually providing tools for people to be able to remote work and so tell me a bit about that experience? I’ve seen your story before but you might want to share it very brief with our listeners about the story that lead you to realize that there was a place in the market for employers to use a tool like what you provided.

Liam Martin:    Sure. So Time Doctor, we kind of call Time Doctor the Trojan horse of remote work. So what we usually do is and for people that are probably listening to this podcast, they’re in the head space of well, I like remote work, I might be already hiring remote workers or my team might be a remote first company.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And if you’re in that head space, you’re unfortunately not in the majority, you’re approximately 2% of the US workforce, give or take, and what we want to do is approach the other 98%. So when we ask Fortune 1000, Fortune 500 companies what are their concerns with regards to remote work, the number one concern that they have is how do I know what they’re doing? How do I make sure I know what they’re doing? And there’s plenty of ways that you can actually solve that, we just have one of those ways of measuring that and basically we actually recognized about 10, 15 years ago, there are three major variables that we needed to solve, communication, payments, and a way to figure out whether or not the work was being done.

Liam Martin:    So the payments platform, I mean we’ve made huge strides on that. You’ve got TranferWise, you’ve got Payoneer, you’ve got, even PayPal has expanded out and is quite a useful tool at this point.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    The communication components, you’ve got Slack now, you’ve got Zoom, which we’re on right now. I mean I’m in Playa Del Carmen Mexico, I’m actually visiting all of the Silena’s out here, which are a network of co-living spaces for remote workers, just that we be another complete podcast. But there’s the communication part of it being handled and then third component is how do you actually convince a Fortune 1000, that work is being done.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    So we did Time Doctor, it was originally a productivity tool and then we recognized that it would be a lot more useful and lot more profitable deploying that for remote teams and we had always been a remote team so we saw that as a natural extension. Eight years later we’ve got hundreds of thousands of customers all over the planet that use our software to be able to very clearly communicate exactly how much work was done and then secondarily to be able to measure their own personal productivity to make sure that more productive in what they’re doing.

Luis Magalhaes:    And so I really want to start right by drilling into that. Because I talk with a lot of clients who have the same worries, I mean DistantJob deals with … We deal with companies that already do remote but we also deal with a lot of people that are at entry level, they want to start tapping into the global work market but the global talent market, I should say and they want to do so with full-time employees. But they have those kinds of fears. And some people have tried it, they’ve started with freelancer and then they actually entered an agreement with the freelancer and the freelancer became a full-time employee and they have this sense that there’s a missing piece because they can’t see the people working in the office so they need to track it somewhat.

Liam Martin:    Yep.

Luis Magalhaes:    Then when we talk about software like Time Doctor, people’s immediate reaction is like, they kind of step away, it’s like oh, that feels like spying on people and on the other hand when I talked to people who use Time Doctor, we use your product they say like it’s the best thing ever because the conversation shifts from there’s someone spying on me to there’s actually … This tool actually lets me get a better idea of where I’m being wasteful and where I’m being productive and so I can actually improve my productivity. Because it likes the video game thing, right, once you see your stats, you start getting the pleasant feeling of how can I improve the stats, it starts becoming a bit of game thing even.

Luis Magalhaes:    So how do you bridge that gap? How do you bridge the gap between people thinking this is big brother, to this is the best thing ever, I’m loving this?

Liam Martin:    It is probably, you’ve hit the nail on the head as the core barrier towards our tool being adopted to a much wider audience so we recognized very earlier on when we spoke to employers, every employer on planet Earth would like to deploy this type of tool to get extra granularity on employment data. However, there is a social cost in basically deploying that tool and that’s the barrier that we’ve … Most of our marketing now is actually focused on showing people the differences and showing how to onboard employees properly into a tool like this.

Liam Martin:    So the way that we’ve basically stopped that is number one, the tool is voluntary, in the sense that you have to actively click to start tracking a task. So right now, I’m on the podcast project and my task is podcast with Luis.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    Right. So at the end of the day, I can go back into my podcast project, it has all of my other podcast, and I can start to measure how long did this podcast take. I believe Vaishali reached out to you. She has an attached task to figure out how much time she’s spent on the front end, so I can actually monetize and figure out the price, the cost of each podcast that I’m doing. [crosstalk 00:08:29].

Luis Magalhaes:    Vaishali, I have to say, as marketing director of DistantJob, I am impressed by Vaishali, she just keeps in touch with me constantly. That is really great marketing people that you have congratulations.

Liam Martin:    Oh, yeah. I mean that’s another thing.

Luis Magalhaes:    She lives in my inbox.

Liam Martin:    That’s another big thing that we’ve been very aggressive with is making sure that we have the right processes in place.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    To be able to train people and make them, not just have them good at their jobs but like how can you become even better. Basically my feeling is if you already have an amazing employee.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    That’s great but the real variable, you should measure is growth. So Vaishali’s very good at her job but she could always get better. How do you move up into the right? And I do this same thing. So we have that as a core group component of our company culture, which is how do we communicate improvement aggressively and continuously so that one kind of sits up their morals. I mean she just started that job, probably six months ago. It’s been pretty amazing to see her growth from where she was to where she is right now.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. I mean this was the one that clicked, but I mean she’s been getting … Over the last six months, I guess she every now and then and very frequently I get her on my inbox telling me about an article that you published or someway that maybe we could connect and etcetera. And you know, it never happened, things never meshed before, but you only need to have it happen once and what I see a lot of people that I work with in marketing, and I see working in other companies, they try once, and it doesn’t happen and their like, okay, let’s forget this, this isn’t working.

Luis Magalhaes:    But the magic of always following up, keeping at it, if they recognize that a relationship has value, they work until the stars are aligned for that relationship to happen. That’s powerful and that’s really good work, very great. Congratulations on your department there.

Liam Martin:    And you can also just very easily quantify that by I can guarantee you, if I looked in BuzzStream right now, which is our social CRM that we use.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    We can see all of the communication that Viashali has had with you and if someone needed to pick up on that communication they could come in, read all those previous exchanges and then figure out okay, how can Viashali introduce me properly or how can I just come in directly and communicate with you and build that context, cause for marketing purposes, I mean it’s all about context, in my opinion. There’s so many-

Luis Magalhaes:    Absolutely.

Liam Martin:    In marketing as well, I get 40 or 50 emails a week from people saying, hey, I really loved your insert thing here. I have this other thing that I think that you should promote.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And I mean I get dozens of those every month.

Luis Magalhaes:    Exactly.

Liam Martin:    And what we can do instead, the approach that we take is, hi, my name is Vaishali, and I really like what you’re doing and I think that it’s very interesting and what I would like to do is work on some type of partnership with you. I don’t necessarily know what that is right now but I know that your company is moving in the right direction, as our company we have the same generalized mission statement so therefore, how could we work together and let’s just build a relationship now and then maybe six, 12, 18 months down the road we could work on something. And generally that works. It just requires more work.

Luis Magalhaes:    You hit the nail on the head because it’s personal. It’s establishing a relationship where the other approach is just mechanically pitching. I feel that as a person on the other side, instead of feeling that I’m in a mailing list. So that’s definitely important. So you make a big deal, and you’ve written about this before, about recognizing team and employee achievement so how do you go about doing that in Time Doctor? How is that … What is the celebration of team performance that way?

Liam Martin:    Well, we have very specific KPIs that we craft depending upon the employee, we call them compass metrics. So we only measure one, there are other people that measure multiple ones, but we kind of say, like what’s the compass metric that has all of the other metrics below it. So like for me, that’s how much money we make. Actually, sorry.

Luis Magalhaes:    Good metric,

Liam Martin:    Yeah. It’s a good metric but technically what we actually measure on Time Doctor side is how many hours attract on the platform.

Luis Magalhaes:    Okay.

Liam Martin:    Because that actually is a precursor to revenue. So if we see that hours’ tracked starting to slow down, we’ll actually see turn happen a month later or a higher rate of turn. But then if we see hours going up we know in a month, hey, you know what, we’re gonna see a boast in revenue.

Luis Magalhaes:    Cool.

Liam Martin:    It’s a very good way for us to measure that but then even like, the marketing team, which I can probably kind of nail down. We have a metric called cumulative domain authority, so we use a tool called HREPS, which basically has a measure from zero to 100, 100 being the most important website, zero being a very unimportant website, and the team, and I have no idea what your site has as a domain authority.

Liam Martin:    But Vaishali would get however many points of domain you have, and it would be added to her cumulative domain authority for a month and then at the end of that month we would basically back all that up, and it’s a really great way to not only if you told people to go out and get back links from me, if I were an employee, I would just get you the easiest back links that I could, which are from very small insignificant websites.

Liam Martin:    In comparison, having niche websites like yours, that are very specifically connected to what we’re doing or big websites like Salesforce, I know Salesforce cause I saw it yesterday, we got … It was DA86 link, but it requires a lot of work, but it probably actually requires the same amount of work as a whole bunch of DA20 links put together so that’s why we use the cumulative for. And then at the end of that basically we give people cash prices. The best way for us to be able to do it, is hey, great job, and they’re not that much but to be honest with you it’s also just kind of we create cash prices so people pay attention.

Luis Magalhaes:    But that’s good. But I like it. Look I’ve heard all the gamut of suggestions, throw a party, give them a badge, do a team meeting and point out their achievements. I personally, Luis likes cash. I enjoy cash, cash is cool. Cash is cool. You know, it’s nice.

Liam Martin:    That’s true.

Luis Magalhaes:    So nothing wrong with choosing that to motivate people. There are lots of ways to motivate people and cash certainly is one of them. Back to the metrics and to the tracking, the tracking thing, that’s the core of your product. So I happen to know the answer of this because I signed up for a trial account because I wanted to have an idea of what I was talking about when I was talking with you. So I know how this works but one of my previous guests, a very big marketer, he was CMO at Unito, he was CMO at [inaudible 00:16:19], Trevor Longino, he was one of my first guest. And he once pointed out to me that sometimes work happens off laptop, sometimes work happens off phone, sometimes he’s doing his best marketing work, while he’s out on a walk.

Luis Magalhaes:    This goes a bit counter to tracking to what’s happening on computer now, I know that you predicted this because you can insert time spent on task manually so not all of your task have to be on phone or on computer but this brings us the situation of actually employee trust. There it’s the honor system when people are imputing time so how would you say that the tool helps build trust with the employees so that then when you see that they insert the task that’s not controllable by software, that you can feel like that, oh, yeah, okay, yeah, this makes a lot of sense, this person clearly spent time on this, and it was time well spent?

Liam Martin:    Yeah. I know it’s been quite interesting for me over the last two months looking at co-working spaces because I’ve been traveling through the Silena network, which are co-living spaces, and I’m blown away by how many people have their laptop and then they have an iPad next to them playing Netflix or playing YouTube videos continuously.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. That’s [inaudible 00:17:39].

Liam Martin:    And I didn’t recognize that actually deep done. So here’s the real kind of reasoning behind that, Time Doctor doesn’t measure all work, Time Doctor measures work primarily done on a computer and you’re absolutely right, work does happen outside of the computer environment and we try as much as possible to be able to adapt to that and add that into the workday, however, what we really use the tool for, at least now internally inside of our company, is we use it to be able to optimize for productivity.

Liam Martin:    So we can … So Vaishali, let’s pick on her again, okay, what is her cumulative domain authority applied to her per hour work.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And then we just measure that and we say, oh, it looks like for every hour that Vaishali works, she generates 22 domain authority points, right. And then someone else puts in the same amount of work and generates four cumulative domain authority points so what’s the differentiator between those two? Why is Vaishali outperforming someone [inaudible 00:18:54], that is … And sometimes actually what happens is people will be working way more and they’ll be getting the same results. I can think of a couple of people off the top of my head that are incredibly hard workers but incredibly inefficient.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And what we try to do is actually get rid of the inefficiencies because at the end of the day for us we actually don’t care how long someone works, we care that they get the work done as efficiently as humanly possible and that they’re very happy. So a lot of these people that … In essences what we basically have is a … We have about a 30 hour work week, that we personally have inside of our company and that’s on computer time so that generally is probably gonna work out to a 40 hour work week in the office world. When you see … We’re talking about bathroom breaks and hanging out and having lunch and all that kind of stuff but we generally try to go up 30 hours and inside of those 30 hours we basically try to measure how much are we getting done, how efficient are you in your time, and how can we help you become more efficient at what you’re doing.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    So the motoring component, I completely understand where that comes from and it can absolutely be used that way as a tool. We kind of see it as dynamite, it can be used for good or for evil but I think once people get past the oh, wow, okay, we know that they’re actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing, then the employee personally can use as a productivity tool to make them better at their jobs.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So that’s half of the story, that’s the metrics side of the story, that’s the work done and productivity but it differs from occupation from occupation, but you know that marketing as metrics driven as you are even as a marketer, a big component of marketing is also creativity and intuition. And obviously, the metrics are … You build the tool to get the metrics down pat but how do you manage for creativity and intuition? How do you judge your team when it comes to creativity and intuition and how do you help your team bloom this [inaudible 00:21:17]?

Liam Martin:    So I would probably say at least at this point, there’s no way to measure it quantifiable and it’s really problematic actually because we initially deployed a metric where we ask managers to start to measure how good an employee was and they didn’t get it right at all. So we had the quantitative measures that we knew were correct like, how much money you make in sales force.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yes.

Liam Martin:    Right. Cause that’s an outcome variable that we can collect through our API and then.

Luis Magalhaes:    Of course.

Liam Martin:    How good is this manager or sorry, how good is this employee from the manager’s perspective and the variation was like, 30 to 40% variation. It’s [crosstalk 00:22:01] crazy. I mean it’s almost as … I mean it’s a little bit better than flipping a coin.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yes.

Liam Martin:    Basically. So we realized that a lot of managers don’t even really understand who is good inside of company and we actually kind of developed a little bit of metric, which inside of our machine learning stuff, which is the butt kissing algorithm so.

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s a good name.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. So a manager who really likes an employee.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    Will say that they’re good at their job when they might be the polar opposite.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And you probably know these people that are really social and fun and they chat with everybody and maybe they come up with really good ideas. And those people are needed inside of a company, they’re absolutely critical. People that come with the really good ideas. However, they may not execute. So for me as an example, I pretty good at coming up with ideas, I’m not very good at executing the details out. So what we essence do is number one, I stay disciplined to the process and measuring what I’m doing so I’ll think an example for maybe about an hour a day.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    Approximately and I will be doing something in that thought process, I might be listening to an audiobook on business. I might be having an conversation with another marketing person, whatever it might be but that really … I try to stay disciplined and pull that into my Time Doctor as well. But you’re absolutely right, it does fall out on the mix. I wish I could give you a better way to kind of nail this because [inaudible 00:23:46] we can’t measure creativity basically.

Luis Magalhaes:    Let’s not even talk about the fact that you recognize that it’s very hard to measure as a leader of a team and you want your people to be created, right. Obviously, you want them to be creative, you want them to use their intuition, how do you promote that kind of thinking? How do you help? How do you facilitate your people in being greater? Because this is something that I think a lot. I’m also head of marketing so this is something that I would like to have your opinion of because I struggle with it.

Liam Martin:    I feel to me it’s a 8020, what I mean by that is, I think that probably the people that … I don’t know if you can train that. I think you can probably sharpen it and go through like, I use critical thinking as my main lens for how I approach an idea, so the big critical component that I look at is, I approach and idea, I figure out what assumptions I have inside of that idea and then I try to break those down until I’ve come to a conclusion. And that process usually takes … I mean, it can takes months in some cases but the conference, as an example, Running Remote.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    Which was very successful, or we thought … It became a lot more successful that what we had anticipated basically. We thought if we get 100 people in a room we’d be super excited, and we ended up getting over 250, almost 300 people.

Luis Magalhaes:    Wow.

Liam Martin:    In a room our first year. And these were the average company size was 106 people so we’re talking-

Luis Magalhaes:    So much for remote people being introverts, right. Give them a chance to get all in a room.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. I know, exactly. So the main assumption that we had inside of this conference was why are there no other conferences on remote work, on building remote teams? There are pretty much no other conferences on that, and we thought to ourselves, okay, that’s an interesting insight. Why are there … There are a lot of digital no man conferences and can name off 12 off the top of my head, that I know that exist that are successful. So there’s always digital no man conferences but there’s no, in essence remote HR conference. Why is there a disconnect there? And then we had to basically study that assumption because we thought to ourselves it’s either one or two possibilities.

Liam Martin:    A, there isn’t bing enough market someone tried, and we actually did look at two companies that tried and failed or B, it’s just an untapped market and this is a new opportunity, and it’s an opportunity for us to be able to build an entirely new component to the space and thankfully it was B. But like we cut $100,000 check, without knowing the end point of that assumption. So that’s my creative process, building out those assumptions and all of those little branches and then trying to figure out okay, well, you know what, we’re exposed here, we could lose 100 grand and then I look at the best, worst case scenario. Best case scenario, we make money, and we have successful conference, worst case scenario, I lose $100,000. Am I prepared to lose a $100,000.

Luis Magalhaes:    Well-

Liam Martin:    Yes. Okay.

Luis Magalhaes:    [inaudible 00:27:09].

Liam Martin:    Check the mark. That’s my process and I think that I try to teach that as a methodology to everyone that works underneath me.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    But some people get it and some people don’t. And there are some people that don’t work in that way but they’re very useful in other ways so, like I’m not a very good finisher. If you wanted me to kind of figure out all the details like trying to change a website and move a couple pixels around because it doesn’t look good.

Luis Magalhaes:    Oh, yeah. I get it.

Liam Martin:    I’d crack my head against the wall. That’s horrible.

Luis Magalhaes:    [crosstalk 00:27:43]. When it gets to that kind of minutia, my brain just turns off, I completely understand. So I really like something that I heard about your management, which you said that you value decision, even if there the wrong decisions. You want people to come with decisions, and I felt a lot of empathy for that because what I usually say to the people that work for me, to my marketing team is that I’d rather you come to me asking for forgiveness than asking for permission. That’s what I usually tell them.

Luis Magalhaes:    And so I would like you to expand a bit, why is … What is your thought process behind this mentality, that you wanted people to decide and if they’re wrong, they’re wrong, that’s okay, the important thing that they do the decision instead of waiting for you to do the decision?

Liam Martin:    I think that number one, I just believe that just intrinsically so if I was building an on premise company, I would have the same philosophy as well. By the way, this is the new terminology I’m trying to push out on the world. In office, that’s called an on premise.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    Because on premise is crappy.

Luis Magalhaes:    There you go.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. So if I was building an on premise company, I’d probably have that mindset, that same mindset but it’s so much more important in a remote company. Because when someone is on the other side of the planet, like Igor, who is the GM of the conference, he works out of Bali, so we get maybe one to two hours of overlap time per day. He needs to make primarily all of his own decisions, 90% of the decisions have to be his and he can’t come back to me and wait for me to make a decision unless it’s absolutely critical. And in reality my other feeling is any decision, pretty much any decision to be reversed within 24 hours.

Liam Martin:    So if you have … If you say, hey, we’re going to move the conference to San Francisco, I’ve made the decision and we all disagree. Well, you know what, even if you sent out an email, you can probably roll that back and you can probably solve that, stop that problem from happening. So for me it’s a speed issue and the other kind of secondarily connected issue is most of the time the person that is closest to the problem usually has the best assessment of the decision to make and that’s usually not me as the manager of managers.

Liam Martin:    Now, like that was a manger ah ha that I had, which was and I had to adjust to it, is I’m not just managing frontline employees anymore, I’m managing managers more than managing frontline employees. And so from that perspective you really have to have a let’s say fair attitude and in essence my job at this point is simply course correction. Saying, let’s set the goal, here’s the goal, I feel that you are good enough to be able to hit that target. Do you agree? Yes. All right. Let’s meet weekly about how to hit that target and break it down but week by week. And then if we’re falling behind, maybe implement course corrections to be able to try to solve that problem.

Luis Magalhaes:    Wow. Okay. So that answer just opened up a variety of different directions that I can go. Lets me think for a second. So this brings to mind and I believe it was interview that I read where you were being interviewed, where you mentioned that you had a hard time making the transition for entrepreneur to executive so essentially from doing …To delegating what you just spoke about now. So when you were going through that transition and you knew that you were having trouble but you also knew that you had to do it, what was your inner monologue like? What was the self talk? What did the self talk sound like?

Liam Martin:    It was actually pretty negative, to be honest with you because I had a lot of guilt connected to me no longer participating in team activities. So I would sit down with … I had my marketing meeting yesterday, I sit down with all of the guys that run different departments inside of marketing and we delegated tasks to everyone for what everyone’s gonna work on as a focus over the next week with their teams. And I did not do anything, there was no task assigned to me and that brought on a sense of guilt because I’m not part of the team, the teamwork component isn’t there, I am your boss and I am telling you to do things and you need to go and do them and it doesn’t matter that I’m not doing anything. My job is to tell you what to do. And inside of that, I felt very guilty.

Luis Magalhaes:    They just didn’t feel you were competent enough for any task, right.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. I mean, I think it was just a-

Luis Magalhaes:    That’s what’s happened with me anyway, they just say, oh, Luis will just screw it up, I’ll do it. I’ll do it.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. I think I realized at this point that it’s okay to feel guilty and it’s okay to be able to let yourself be the delegator as opposed to the person that is actively doing the work. And sometimes people will be pretty emotional about that, they’ll say hey, I really need some help on this and sometimes you have to kind of step back for moment and say, hey, you know what, you want to just take over the project but you can’t do that. You have to let them succeed and you have to be the person that’s course correcting as opposed to the person that’s actually jumping and piloting.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. So I think I have an easier time of it because I can usually see that the people … I’ve been fortunate enough to hire people that will do a better job than me anyway, so I’ve been fortunate in that. But in your case, I’m pretty sure that there are somethings that you could recognize that you would be doing better than that person but you still had to hold back just because of what you just said. So how did you manage that [inaudible 00:34:15]? How did you make peace with the fact that those people were going to initially at least perform worse than you?

Liam Martin:    I realized that you’re … Again you’re not the captain of the ship, you’re the admiral, and you’re supposed to run the fleet and then you have different captains so then you … Even if you got to train captains, you got to make sure that they’re getting to point in which they can really succeed. And there is an onboarding period that sucks. There are decisions that people make, that are just really bad. And you kind of have to just, number one ground them and say, hey, this was a bad decision. You actually are doing the right things, but you’re doing them the wrong way. Meaning, you’re taking action of things, you took action on this thing, it didn’t succeed and that’s okay.

Liam Martin:    But what we need to do is figure out how to fix it. And more specifically you need to figure out how to fix, and I’m here to help you talk it through. So I can give you an example of-

Luis Magalhaes:    Please do.

Liam Martin:    One … So going back to writing remote, we had five months to be able to kind of between cutting a check and people showing up at the event.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    So it was really fast turnaround time, and we kind of just had Igor, who was essence running the entire thing so Igor was … He did not have that much experience in web development. So I told him, hey, you know what, we’ll just throw together a website, we’ll just throw one up. And he said, we’ll this is gonna cost like $20,000 and we’ve got bring in the design team and product team and all this kind of stuff to be able to put together a website. And I said, we don’t have that time, we don’t have those resources. We’re just gonna throw something up tomorrow. That blew his mind, in terms of what we could do so I … And he kind of just said, it’s not possible.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    So I said, okay, and I think maybe three hours I literally didn’t even go to our main AWS server cause it was gonna take too long. I fired up a GoDaddy server, I bought the domain name. I bought a template, a conference template for WordPress, threw it up, put in the copy and then said the website sucks. And then I was like now, that’s one example Igor, you understand that it’s now possible, you’re gonna learn how to do WordPress development. And three months later, now he knows how to do WordPress development.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. Well, I’m so glad, I’m not the only one that pull stuff like that. Thanks for that.

Liam Martin:    Well, I think it ones of those things that you have to kind of recognize to be people fast.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    Fast is my preferred speed. I’d rather have fast and crappy.

Luis Magalhaes:    Absolutely.

Liam Martin:    Than slow and great.

Luis Magalhaes:    Absolutely.

Liam Martin:    Because you can always turn crappy into great.

Luis Magalhaes:    How do you sell that to people because I always meet resistance whenever I try to … I agree 100%, I want to see something, doesn’t matter if it’s … It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible we can make something terrible, less terrible, you know. But we need to see the whole picture to see if it’s going to work. How do you sell that to people?

Liam Martin:    I think you just basically, the great thing about being a boss is you just tell them. You just say, this is what we’re doing. This is the direction that we’re going. Here’s the amount of time that we have. Here’s the amount of resources that we have. We can’t do what you want to do but we can do this and we can test that assumption. And we also … So one of the piece of required reading is two pieces actually, is Zero to One by Peter Thiel.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    For the theoretical framework and then Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

Luis Magalhaes:    I can only recommend the first one, I’ve read it, it’s a beautiful book and the second one I actually on my reading list. So I will have links to both of those in the show notes. Actually since you started, let’s talk a bit about learning besides those two, which are the books that you’ve learned the most from? And this may be managing remote teams, that’s would be great but also just general marketing or building a company. I mean you’re a co-founder after all so.

Liam Martin:    Sure. Well, I mean, I’ve been seeing probably a great intro, and most probably most people that are listening to this podcast might not be in that list, but the Basecamp guys put together Remote, that’s a really good onboarding book just to kind of show you what it’s about and why it exists and where it’s going. And then I would probably say one book I’ve read recently, which has been great for management has been, Kim Scott’s Radical Candor. That book has been very useful for me to develop my … I had made the … I’m the type of problematic manager, where someone will bring me bad work and I will say, oh, Luis, okay, well, there’s some good points to this and then I just well, in essence fix it myself and then try to move it forward. When those people are let go from the [crosstalk 00:39:47].

Luis Magalhaes:    On you when your four year shows her first drawing or something and you’re like, this is beautiful.

Liam Martin:    Right. You encourage them but radical candor basically it’s tenet is you need to be radically candid with feedback and you need to say the negative components first so even if someone did a fantastic job so if someone doing a 10 out of 10, tell them how they can get to 11.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And if someone doing a one show them how they can get to five, which is the general … Let’s say a five, is what’s generally acceptable. You can say, oh, well you did a seven, great job, that’s a wrong mindset, that’s not the radical candid mindset. The radical candid mindset is you get to seven, great job, here’s how you can get to eight. And that’s by … And then you continuously pushing that team up that upward direction that you want them to be and it also gives you a very good framework on how to communicate that without being a dick.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. And that’s an important point because when people just hear the title, radical candor, they think that it’s an excuse to be an asshole, it is most certainly is not. It is not.

Liam Martin:    Right.

Luis Magalhaes:    So anyway, so since we are still on learning, and you’ve mentioned before, I believe this was in one of your LinkedIn pieces, that a good bit of what you’ve learned when managing the company comes from a network of mentors. You point out that you have mentors in several places, in several areas, people that are like here’s a head of few people that are like months ahead of you. So for someone who works remotely, for someone that doesn’t really have the physicality but still wants to have this network of leaders that they tap into that they communicate with, it is essentially mentors at a distance. How did you go by creating this network and how would advise other upcoming leaders to do the same?

Liam Martin:    I would … What we say, one of the best things you can do is get into online masterminds and don’t pay for them. I actually am … That’s probably maybe a little bit counter intuitive to other people’s advice, there is a time and place to pay for things like that but I genuinely feel that the people that are going to charge you for that kind of stuff are really not there to help you.

Luis Magalhaes:    I agree.

Liam Martin:    With a few possible people that I’ve used actually, we have a coach who we formally pay a pretty significant amount of money to be able to coach us but that guy has a framework, it’s profession and he has a very long track record of success. But the way that we started our relationship was completely free, us asking questions, him responding saying, hey, here are the solutions to those problems, it was actually us that asked to be able to be brought in formally.

Luis Magalhaes:    I see.

Liam Martin:    So masterminds are great. I’m doing one this afternoon at 2:00 P.M. and I-

Luis Magalhaes:    How could … What can people learn more about masterminds?

Liam Martin:    I think you really can just kind of, you can go on Facebook groups, you can even just sort of chat with other people say, hey, we’re all like minded individuals that are working on the same thing. So we’re all like minded people inside of a group, we should really all just come together and discuss how we can all move our mutual businesses forward, that’s a really good place to start with, where you might find some more interesting people that might be really useful to be able to continue on with.

Liam Martin:    And I would also suggest that you kind of like taste and sample a lot of these people because I would probably say for every 10 people that I talk to that I think are going to be a possible mentor maybe one of them actually ends up being someone that I would like to pursue deeper and then I would say out of every 10 people that I would like to pursue as a deeper mentor relationship and [inaudible 00:44:15] relationship, maybe only one actually had the time to give it to me.

Liam Martin:    So it’s a long process but once you find that network of people and I would probably say, surround yourself with maybe a dozen people, it will completely change the way that you work because a lot of business … Business really can’t be taught in schools, it has to be taught through mentorship. So you need those people in place, it’s education.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. So the only thing that I would add to that because this is a question that’s so often asked is, have a conversation. You don’t get to someone and just ask them point blank, will you be mentor? Will you mentor me? That could work, like one out of 100 times but in most cases people it’s like, what’s in it for me? I mean, you’re basically asking me for free work. Now, if you have a conversation with people, and you do your homework, you’re actually interested in what they have done and learning how they did it, they will be very happy to talk about how they did stuff.

Liam Martin:    Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I think that people who are really …. People who are good people generally really want to be able to help out other people inside of their network.

Luis Magalhaes:    Exactly.

Liam Martin:    And if they don’t, they’re probably not very good people.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. But you also need to come up with a bit of your work then, it’s not just … I can’t just go to … I can’t get to you point blank on LinkedIn connected to you and say, Liam, teach me marketing. No.

Liam Martin:    I would tell them … Here’s what I would do, I would give you … I would test you.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    I would say, okay, go read Zero to One and Lean Startup and tell me what you thought. Write up a one pager for each.

Luis Magalhaes:    See you are very generous, just doing that, I think is immense generosity.

Liam Martin:    95% won’t do it.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. Well.

Liam Martin:    95% will not do it, guaranteed. So that’s a really good filtering process for me.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah. Well, that’s … So if you want Liam to mentor you, everyone that’s listening, prepare your LinkedIn inbox [crosstalk 00:46:36].

Liam Martin:    You’ll have to your homework.

Luis Magalhaes:    You have to do … All right, so I want to be respectful of your time, we’re going on almost an hour so I really well, obviously, I want to talk a bit about Running Remote especially, I think that we covered Time Doctor pretty well but before that I do have put you to the question that is asked to everyone. And this requires a bit of a setup. So you are hosting a dinner where there will be a round table about remote work and the future of work, your guests are the top CTO’s and technology executes from Silicon Valley and you’re hosting at Chinese restaurant, since you are the host, you will decide what comes inside the fortune cookies. What is your fortune cookie message Liam?

Liam Martin:    For the people at the dinner.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yes.

Liam Martin:    Geez. What’s the fortune cookie. You’re about to revolutionize your companies with remote work. That’s probably what I would put in those fortune cookies because then they would be able to say like, oh, wow, okay, we’re actually gonna do it because I think that’s what I’m really passionate about. I’m kind of just … I mean-

Luis Magalhaes:    You’re doomed.

Liam Martin:    We’re running an NGO, and we’re really empowered about that mission statement and everything that me do is focused through that, so I’m always trying to get people to go remote, and I personally believe, and you probably have this same perspective as well, I think it will be a strong minority or the majority of remote work within the next … Or sorry of work within the next 20 years.

Luis Magalhaes:    Absolutely.

Liam Martin:    And people that are not adapted to that reality are going to be left behind. I think this a huge revolution towards the way people work. Probably one of the most influential one since the industrial revolution as it applies to work and for that … So in that case, I just think that you should be doing nothing else but preparing yourself for this eventuality.

Luis Magalhaes:    So that’s a very well thought message. So thank you for the fortune cookie message. But also I 100% agree, look I was in a completely different career, I mean my formal education is as a dental surgeon but I felt that this was something that needed to be done and there wasn’t enough people doing it so. So I jumped in a completely different area. And that’s fundamentally because I do believe that remote work will solve a lot of worlds problems. Not all of worlds problems but a very decent chunk of economic and life work balance issues can be solved by remote.

Liam Martin:    I can leave it with this, which is I just read the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation yearly letter, which is huge philanthropist, and he talked about the carbon footprint on planet Earth and I believe about 25% of this was connected to transportation and work related carbon footprint activities.

Luis Magalhaes:    Yeah.

Liam Martin:    And if we could cut 50% of that carbon out the atmosphere, we would reduce our carbon footprint by about 12 and half percent, which would actually allow us to hit our carbon goals that we’re suppose to have for I believe 2030 or something like this. We could do that right now, just everyone could basically just start working from home. Anyone that works from a computer, can work from home. And it’s absolutely possible it just requires the opportunity space, platforms like yours, software like ours to be able to make that reality.

Luis Magalhaes:    Absolutely. Absolutely. So good way to segue into tell us about … Again, feel free to tell us about Time Doctor again but we’ve already talked a lot. But especially about Running Remote, what’s up?

Liam Martin:    Yeah. I mean [crosstalk 00:50:45] if you are … If anyone is interested we run the biggest conference on remote work, as of last year and we’re gonna do bigger one this year and it is in Bali. It’s beautiful, beautiful Bali, and we have a ton of different speakers that are all experts in different categories of remote work. We have people that are very tactical and then we have people that are very theoretical and we’re gonna be touching on the entire gambit. So if you’re interested in building and scaling remote teams, this is probably the conference that you should definitely go to and this the … There’s no book on this yet because it’s too new so we have the conference first and then we’re hopeful that in five to 10 years, maybe I can prescribe a book to you but at this point, this is basically the best way to be able to bring all of those super smart people together and get them working together.

Luis Magalhaes:    Got it. Got it. I am … DistantJob will surely attend. So what about you, Liam, where can people continue this conversation with you?

Liam Martin:    Forget everything but YouTube. Come to, come and check me out there. I answer every single comment, I’ll help you-

Luis Magalhaes:    You answer YouTube comments.

Liam Martin:    I answer YouTube [crosstalk 00:52:08].

Luis Magalhaes:    Now, I know you are not sane.

Liam Martin:    I answer every single YouTube comment and I just think it’s such an unleveraged and underutilized social media platform and I … Instagram’s for photos, Facebook is over done, Twitter is just … There’s a lot of people there that just kind of are trolls. YouTube, I feel is a really nice platform to be able to interact with me so if you’re interested go to, I’ll be there.

Luis Magalhaes:    All right. So I will add that in the show notes as well as everything related to Time Doctor and Running Remote and yourself so thank you very much. Liam, it was an absolute pleasure, an absolute treat. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us and see you around I guess or see you in Bali maybe.

Liam Martin:    Yeah. See you in Bali. Thanks for having me.

Luis Magalhaes:    And that ladies and gentlemen was Liam Martin. Be sure to continue the conversation with Liam, means to do so will be in the show notes. As for this podcast, if you want to check out previous episodes of the podcast or subscribe to get the transcript, you can do so at And if you would like to support us then please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you happen to be listening, that helps a lot. Also share us in social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, it’s all good. We love it. We love it when you share our podcast. And we also love helping you build incredible remote teams so if you need to build one, give us a call. Remember when you need the best people, think differently, think global, think remote, think DistantJob. See you next week.

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

In this episode, we talk with Liam about a broad variety of topics. He lays out how focusing on metrics is a boon for productivity, and shares his thoughts on how to measure creativity and stay disciplined as an idea person. But for the aspiring leaders out there, it will also be of great interest to learn how he goes about building peer groups online, and why it’s a bad idea to pay for masterminds – at least initially.

Books Liam Recommends:

The Lean Startup —

Zero to One —

Radical Candor —

Remote —

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

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