Tips to Effectively Manage Remote and Hybrid Teams, with Kalada Opuiyo

Kalada Opuiyo is the founder of Ibeify, a business that’s about technology consulting. He is also currently working as a staff engineer in LogicMonitor.

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Luis Magalhaes:

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to another episode of the DistantJob podcast. I am your host, Luis Magalhaes in this podcast that’s all about building and leading awesome remote teams. Today I have with me, Kalada-Opuiyo. Kalada is the founder of Ibeify, a business that’s about technology consulting. And we got in touch to the manager of a co working space project, Hutch. And is here to tell me how he runs his business remotely and how has remote work impacted his career and basically positively impacted this career. So Kalada, welcome to the show.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Hi, Luis. Thanks for having me today.

Luis Magalhaes:

It’s an absolute pleasure. So I want us to get straight to the point. It’s a remote world now. More people than ever have built businesses completely outside of offices over the past two years. So I want you to tell me a bit more about … As I put it to the listeners at the beginning just now when we started, how has this remote impacted your career, made it better? And allowed you to build your business.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So thank you, that’s a really awesome question. Remote work has been very impactful to my career. I started as an engineer with a company that had a hybrid work model, and I got my first taste of going into the office some of the days and working at home. And that really allowed me to expand my time, focusing on the job and on my skill sets. I had a lot of freedom to explore things outside of that. And then coming back into the work environment. As I transitioned to the role I’m in currently, one of the roles I’m in with LogicMonitor as a staff engineer … That’s my current role with them. I’ve been remote with them for about three years.

And I’m a staff engineer and I’ve had the opportunity to lead a team of other engineers on the direction of the infrastructure and all the cool things with DevOps concerning container orchestration. Now with my company Ibeify, we specialize in DevOps Services and container orchestration. And we do all of this from a remote environment. So we don’t interact with our clients face to face, everything is done through a zoom or through a video conferencing service. So remote has been a really wonderful part of my career, and it’s really been critical to my journey.

Luis Magalhaes:

Awesome. All right. So let’s talk a bit about those teams. What kind of sizes are we talking about? How many direct reports would you say you have?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So as an engineer with LogicMonitor, I have about six to seven engineers that I work closely with to drive the innovation forward with the particular size of the platform that we manage. And then in Ibeify consulting, I work with another engineer for deliverables. So the team sizes are a little bit different but we still manage to be impactful nonetheless.

Luis Magalhaes:

All right. So that’s interesting because I’d like to explore the difference in dynamics. So you mentioned that LogicMonitor is the hybrid situation, correct?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Well, LogicMonitor, I’m fully remote there. And in my past careers, I had a hybrid working model.

Luis Magalhaes:

Okay. So how did you feel about transitioning from hybrid to fully remote? Did you feel that fully remote is easier somehow? What are the advantages versus the disadvantages in your point of view?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I used to live on the east coast in Baltimore, Maryland. Then I got the opportunity with LogicMonitor, and that brought me out into Austin. And so when I started working for LogicMonitor, I did go into the office for a couple of months, but it was still a hybrid model because the team is geographically diverse. So we have engineers that are in California, we have engineers in New York and all over the country. And so my role in the few months that I began just transitioned into fully remote. And then fully remote, I think for me the main advantage was I can work whenever I want, however I want. And so I’m the kind of engineer that will solve a problem on a Saturday morning or at 2:00 AM, get inspired to work on a solution.

So for me, I love that ability. And I have a lot of flexibility with that role. With Ibeify, since it’s my own company and I’m always working on it, I find remote to be just the way I’d like to engage with clients. So the advantage for me is that I know that there are a wide number of people who work in this manner, and I can easily reach them at any time of the day, though we try to keep it within normal business hours. I think for me remote has really … I mean I love working remote. Being able to step away during the day to handle stuff, come back and then get going. And just knowing that I have teams and the support to work in this manner has just been really great for my career.

Luis Magalhaes:

What is the ratio of, let’s say asynchronous communication versus a synchronous communication? Because I definitely feel you when you say that sometimes my most productive time is at 2:00 AM when I get that eureka moment. And you get to coding. How does that look like in synchronizing with the team?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So in some teams that I work on, we have daily stand ups. So we’re in communication, constantly letting everybody know what you’re doing. And then there’s also Slack and these messaging services as a means of communicating. We’re always messaging in these messaging services, we’re always using them to communicate the progress of projects. And then with Ibeify, the work I do there, we have a similar pattern. We use messaging services, we use video conferencing when necessary. We collaborate to solve problems via Zoom or a video conferencing software. So yeah, the communication is always in this particular … I find it’s more of a need to know basis and then informing stakeholders when there are changes that impact a wide group of audiences.

Luis Magalhaes:

For yourself and I guess also for your team, what processes do you have in place? What systems or commitments do you have in place to ensure that you don’t get overly distracted? So in my own experience … And yes, Slack is the lifeblood of my teams. But there’s something to be said about the excess notifications. And if I want to do any real work, I usually put myself offline on Slack just so I’m not constantly distracted. So how do you manage that if you are so active on Slack? What are your strategies?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So I personally subscribe to only channels that I’m interested in and that pertain to my work. I also try to narrow the notifications to only myself when it’s off business hours. And I’ve been very fortunate, we have a filtered layer for communication internally as well as externally, so with our external clients to the team. So we manage the communication from that level. So it’s tiered. So it’s something that generally that we need to respond to as a group, it comes to those channels, and then if it filters off to myself based on the level of communication. It’s not everything that I find that I have to be involved in and so I just try to limit to where I can have the most impact with my expertise.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah. Okay. So that brings me to another point. As someone who also manages a team, but I do try to keep myself still in a creative space as a marketer and as a podcaster. I still try to come up with creative content, creative ideas, etc. And sometimes I struggle a bit with keeping the management separate from the creative part. What I see in myself is the tendency to have the managing thing overtake the whole of my day. And then I find it hard to have trouble to actually produce creative output, creative work. How do you deal with that? Because your job … Coding requires a really good mindspace, correct?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yes. So this is a really good question and I juggle this heavily. So a lot of my job is to be innovative, and then to lead direction. It’s a fine line. What I tend to do is have periods where I’m heavily focused on the innovative side, and then have periods where I’m heavily on the administrative side, and then the management side. So I try to structure my projects well in advance, and then if they’re well structured, the management side of itself is more automated. So the direction of where the projects go is easy to follow. And so during those periods of time when I’m just … I’ve laid out the structure of something, I use that period to focus on looking for the next thing to work on or doing something innovative.

So I’ll give you an example. In my work with LogicMonitor, I recently looked at a problem that we had with providing access to our developers. And that required me to write some code and the code I wrote, it took a moment to do so. And so it wasn’t something I was doing all day. I would spend half of my day on the administrative side answering questions, responding to people and then the remaining half of my day, I would use to code out the solution. And so I work in that manner sometimes to solve problems.

Luis Magalhaes:

Okay. So when you set up a project, it’s like front loading the administrative part.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Exactly.

Luis Magalhaes:

How do you try to automate? After you front load that administrated part, let’s say create the plan, what is the most effective way to communicate that to your team? And to make sure that people follow more or less that procedure. Obviously exceptions happen of course. And the best plans need alterations but in general, what does that process look like? Let’s say when you start the project week one, how do you communicate the goalposts to your team, the processes to your team?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So a well written proposal, and then I like to break everything up into task. I’m really big on task centric projects and the Agile methodology for deliverables. And so that’s the pattern I use with my teams. I’ve been very fortunate to work with engineers who are very skilled at what they do and require little direction. And so we spend time focusing on the task and then following up on the progress of the task throughout the projects.

Luis Magalhaes:

All right. What’s your experience with Agile? Were you always doing Agile or did you start with Agile when you started doing hybrid and remote?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So the beginning of my career, it’s always been in Agile environment. We work through two weeks sprints. And that I found is the most effective way to deliver software in iterable fashion, and solutions in an iterable fashion. A lot of teams I’ve worked with have moved in this manner and I’ve seen a lot of great progress. And so Agile’s just been the way to think about these things and processing.

Luis Magalhaes:

I’ve been in enough fights in social media to know that Agile doesn’t equal Scrum and vice versa. I’ve been schooled in the definitions, but I wanted … Because it’s so rare that I am able to talk with someone that’s literate in Agile, so I wanted your opinion about how do you think Scrum translates if at all into a remote setting. So I know that you do stand ups, but there’s something about the interconnected communication of an Agile setup that I personally feel … And maybe I’m thinking about but I personally feel that gets a bit tougher to do in remote.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Well if you have a good project manager to lead the direction of your projects, I think having Scrum is not as difficult to implement. Though I think the main thing I find with engineers and the Scrum methodology and having stand ups is the frequency of the stand ups. So some teams might move from say a daily stand up to a one week stand up, and then have touch basis in Slack and so forth to communicate any other issues or blockers. So I agree with you, and I think teams have been morphing the concept to be more suitable to their environments. But yeah, I see your point definitely.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah. So one of my concerns specifically about the stand up model, is that as we move timezones, a lot of people are making it the sink. But there’s something to be said, and again, maybe I’m wrong. You certainly have a lot more experienced with it than I do. But I do think that part of what makes it into a freer lesson cumbered discussion, is it’s being synchronous, it being live. I don’t know about you but I have my insecurities as everyone does. It’s harder to communicate my challenges and my blockers in writing than it is in an in-person call.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Okay. So for me, I actually prefer the written communication. And the reason why is because it’s a reference point. So I spent a lot of time searching Slack and JIRA for communications, for information from prior tasks to define how somebody solved the problem. So I like the written model. But to your point on the conversation side, so when you’re geographically diverse, it’s not possible to have a synchronous stand up. You’re going to have stand ups for each geographic location and then teams that can collaborate between geographic location, we’ll have to find a time to perform some type of stand up or meeting to figure out where everybody is. And I think that’s why the daily stand up in these particular scenarios isn’t really helpful, and maybe a weekly stand up might be the way to go. Like I said, it’s really interesting that these are the problems that we face in 2021 going into 2022 about dealing with teams that are geographically diverse, and figuring out how to effectively communicate with each other.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah, it’s challenging. Personally, I never want to go back to working in an office. That’s my personal preference but at the same time, even having this show about remote teams, I still think there are challenges. Some things are more challenging and it’s up to us to solve those challenges. So that’s part of the reason why I have this show. I don’t want to transmit the idea that everything is perfect with remote and if you go remote, all your problems will magically go away. There are definitely challenges to be solved.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah. I think one challenge employers face is accountability. Because when you have a fully remote staff, you’re essentially having people work on the trust system. We are expecting you to be doing your job, inducing results. I think when companies embrace remote, they’re saying that, we’re expecting the job to be done. We don’t necessarily care when you do it. In some instances … And there are some roles that require you to be available during a set period of time. But I think the accountability of if you’re actually doing the job, I think that’s really one of the biggest problems with working remote. It’s not for everybody because there are some people who just don’t work effectively without having support available to them type of conversation as you said. But I think as companies expand and grow and scale, it’s just going to be difficult to just isolate yourself to the in office in person. And I think it also limits your talent pool when you’re just focusing on one specific geographic location to hire.

Luis Magalhaes:

Oh, for sure.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah.

Luis Magalhaes:

It’s even more difficult when we’re focusing in providers. Let me give you an example. If you have a developer in your team and they’re working remotely, you can probably have a pretty good idea if their productivity is matching what’s expected of someone with their skill sets and their seniority. Same thing for me in terms of marketers. If I have a marketer in my team, there are certain metrics that I’m very comfortable evaluating based on deliverables. And then I understand if the person is doing a good job or not. But let’s say that I need to hire a developer, that I need to have a developer contractor to solve a problem for me.

Then it gets harder because I have no idea how to evaluate the developers productivity, unless I’m actually seeing them work. So that really goes into the trust system. I don’t know if it would be the same thing if you had some marketing person working for you. At the end of the day, I think that the crucial part is to track the deliverables. But tracking the deliverables still requires you to have an idea of what deliverables are expectable within the next time frame, which for example, when it comes to coding, I really don’t have that dedication.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So an interesting thing about the current remote workforce … I think employers embracing the remote workforce model have to have a decent amount of documentation on their processes, at least to be able to say, we’ve given you the resources necessary to succeed and where we’re not seeing the output. You can have that conversation a little bit easier if you have resources in place. So I think that’s also our biggest challenge because one of the first thing that always goes out of date on a technical team is the documentation. And so just being able to keep that up, I think is going to be a huge part of being successful as a remote team.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah. How do you feel about asking for estimations? Because one of the things that I always try to do is say, look, this is what I need. Now, I’m not going to give you an arbitrary deadline, you tell me how much you think it will take. And then that’s why I’m going to hold you accountable with a margin of error. Obviously, I know that it’s hard to the hour or to the day or etc. But ballpark. This is what I’ve been doing and it feels reasonable for me. You tell me how what do you think you can achieve in this period, with these resources.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I think estimations are healthy. I think they are good ways of assessing how much time it would take somebody to do work. And also the skill level of the engineer or the person doing the task is going to come into play there. Because someone might think something will take them a week to do. And because of unforeseen bugs or just a lack of understanding on a particular problem, it extends out to another week or two. So I think estimations are really, really good. And there are things that I myself constantly have to give estimations for the amount of time it will take for work to be conducted and to set deadlines for end of year goals and so forth. So I think estimations for time is a really good thing to do and to use.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah, that’s actually something that I never fully understood when trying to look into the Agile way of doing things is estimations. I mean I understand estimations in terms of time but a lot of people do estimations in terms of effort. And I could never really understand how to properly quantify something in terms of effort.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah, that’s a difficult one. But for me, effort is how many times I’m hitting enter and getting the same result from my changes. I think with remote work, the beautiful thing about it is, as an individual, you can determine, again, how much time you want to invest at a particular moment into anything and then move on or take a break or just feel the freedom to just go do something else, come back and rethink your problem. I think that’s really, really good for … It’s really healthy part of remote working.

Luis Magalhaes:

Speaking of healthy, how do you feel that impacts health? Because some people argue that part of the problem with remote work is that there’s some work life fusion where work never really stops. Now, on one hand, I think it’s really neat that if I want to go and take a walk on the beach with my wife let’s say, I can stop work at 3:00 PM and do that. And then get home at 7:00 PM and resume work … And have a break for dinner and resume working after dinner. On some point, this really appeals to me but I can also see how it would mess some people’s lives up. Living inside the office. So I think that I can assume based on our conversation that that works for you. Have you seen any of your teams struggle with that sort of thing?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I’ve seen people struggle with the freedom and not be productive because of the freedom. That has been more of the issue. Most people I’ve worked with … From an engineering perspective, being remote in my mind is the ultimate playground, because you never stop working but you’re a lifelong learner. So being able to have access to constantly look and revise and work on things … In my mind, it works. Though I will say this, burnout is real. And so sometimes I need to take vacations and time off to disassociate myself with my work. And I always come back from those mini-sabbaticals to feeling great and rejuvenated and wanting to dive into the problems I had left. It’s all just a healthy balance for you, determining what works for you.

Some people are going to need to go into the office to see their colleagues every now and then. And then also … I don’t think we’ve touched on this but there are some work environments that actually sitting together in a room is actually beneficial. If you work in an environment where … In sales and so forth where you’re listening to the calls of your counterparts, there’s a benefit in being in the room with people. So I think having a mixed environment could be a solution. Partly remote and then having the flexibility to go into the office. I’ve heard of companies giving stipends for co working spaces when they don’t have offices in the particular city. There’s a lot of advantages to that, just sitting in a room and being able to have a conversation with people. But for me, I just enjoy the remote life. I’m actually in my home office.

Luis Magalhaes:

This is an audio program, people can’t see but you have a beautiful office.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Thank you, thank you. One of the things that encouraged me to work on my office and to make it somewhere I would actually like to go to every day to sit down and solve problems … Prior to this setup, I was just on my couch, laptop on my lap and just typing away. And I moved in I asked myself, what would it take for me to be comfortable in my space and I decided to invest in a nice workspace. So I think that’s also critical.

Luis Magalhaes:

That’s actually a really good point. To make a place where you enjoy going every day. That’s a really good point. I mean, your office looks wonderful. I love the colors, I love the lights, you have a canvas with a nice piece of art behind you. I can see how that is a really good stimulating place to be and it’s actually one of the nicest home offices I’ve ever seen. So congratulations.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Thank you very much.

Luis Magalhaes:

Maybe I’m getting too much scenes in the weeds, but I don’t often get engineers in the podcast. So it’s really nice to be able to pick your brain on some of these more process related things about Agile and whatnot. But let’s shift gears a bit because apart from that, there’s something that I also know a lot of listeners are interested in, which is building a fully remote business. I don’t know if it was planned like that or not but you did found your business amid the pandemic. I find that a lot of people did that. I don’t know what’s the story behind it, maybe you would like to tell us but the pandemic for all [inaudible] it did bring us a new wave of entrepreneurship that I found really fascinating. So care to tell us why you decided in the midst of a pandemic to start your own business? And what was the process like?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah. So I started Ibeify in September of last year. The reason I started Ibeify goes back a little bit further than that. I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and to just have the freedom and flexibility to determine my path. And working in IT, I build these skills that are marketable, that are impactful to companies. And so I wanted to take my career and take ownership of my future. And so that’s why I started at Ibeify. When I started the Ibeify, I had no idea what I was going to do. As far as set up, I knew I needed to get the basic business structure in place. And so I did that but then, what’s next? What other things do I need?

And so I also wanted to focus my attention on providing services in the public sector. And so that’s where I started to look at cohorts and opportunities to partner and learn more about how to structure my business and get assistance. And I found Hutch, which is a cohort for entrepreneurs that would like to provide technical services in the public space. And so I was selected to join that and they have been guiding me on my journey, starting my business. So it’s been really helpful with structuring, with figuring out how to market myself, with figuring out how to structure the internals of the operational components. I have a monthly meeting I do with the Hutch cohort. heart. And it’s just amazing. I learn so much, we have a lot of guests who appear and give great information. It’s it’s been been a very wonderful experience for me.

Luis Magalhaes:

So traditionally when you’re starting off as a small company, a two person company and looking to grow, traditionally what you do is you go to networking events or in your case to tech events. And you put yourself out there and you talk to people and none of this was possible in the past year. So I’m curious. I think that’s what most listeners are thinking about is how does this person start a business during a pandemic? How did they reach clients? How do they put themselves out there?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Well, social media. So LinkedIn, heavily contacting people who code. Hutch has helped as well to introduce me to business owners to network with. But it’s mainly been that just reaching out to people, introducing myself on social media, my services and see if we can find a common ground as far as working relationships. it’s been very difficult. I myself, am not really a big marketing public talking person. Truth be told, I would love to just being behind the scenes coding all day, but I realized that in order to grow a business, you can’t be in the dark, you have to be in the light. People need to see you and know you. And so that is something that I’m constantly working on. A part of what I have been working behind the scenes is to create content, to share on social media to generate more interest in my business.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah, well, that’s the good thing about podcasts. It feels that it’s just a job for us here.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah.

Luis Magalhaes:

No one’s listening in until later when this is published, and then some thousands of people … But don’t think about that right now.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Oh man, the pressure.

Luis Magalhaes:

I definitely feel you. So you mentioned that you’re working with another person. Is it a partner? Or is it an employee of yours? What’s the nature of that relationship?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Well, it’s just I provide consulting services to another IT company, and just working with an engineer from that particular company for deliverables.

Luis Magalhaes:

Okay, got it. So situation? What sorts of ways do you find to block the time to work there, and how you make that process happen completely online, fully online, the way you’re managing your company.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So we have set times during the days that we touch base. It’s a lot of meetings, a lot of Zoom communication when necessary, some of it is impromptu. That has just been how most of the communicators I’ve done have been on this particular environment. And Slack … Just the same tools we use on a daily.

Luis Magalhaes:

All right. So how did you feel that … Now that you’ve started, the company is over one year old. It had its birthday recently. Happy birthday, by the way.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Thank you.

Luis Magalhaes:

Based on this year, building a company fully online, what changed your mind the most? What were some suppositions that you came with one year ago that proved false? And from another angle, what were some discoveries, some learnings that surprised you?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Okay, so let me go with the discoveries, because they were more helpful to me. So one thing I discovered was that there is a pattern to advertising and sharing yourself on social media and your business. A lot of companies have a set structure for producing content. And so that was very eye opening, and how important it is to be known in the space. Another thing, there’s a lot of opportunities out here from a technical standpoint to help companies build their companies to help companies that already exist further their projects. And in the public sector as well, providing services to the government of the United States. There’s a lot of opportunities and I was surprised by how big this space was for the services that I provide.

One thing that I think that I didn’t really understand how critical it was, was the relationship building aspect of starting a business. It is really mainly the relationships that you foster with people. In the Hutch cohort, the CEO, fearless. He’s mentioned several times that it’s important that you find your tribe, and find a group of people who understand what you do, why you do it, and want to buy into you. So that’s been something that I’ve been working on and wrapping my head around the concept of who is my tribe? Who are those group of people that want to see myself and my company succeed? And how do I get in front of them to share my story?

I think that has been one of the most eye-opening things I’ve learned. Also, the amount of documentation, the amount of administrative things I need to be taken care of, I wasn’t prepared for it. It’s good stuff, but it’s just so much stuff to do. And how important branding is. I always had an idea branding was really important but I think in this year, it’s been more important and understanding how to brand myself and how to present myself to the world when I talk about my company and the services we offer. And so, yeah, those have been some of the insights I’ve gotten over this year.

Luis Magalhaes:

Let me pause you for a minute. And you can use that opportunity to gather your thoughts, because I actually wanted to comment on something that you said and I think it’s very important for the listeners to keep in mind. That’s about the tribe, about the network. People usually come to me asking because they want to start either a small marketing business or start as freelance marketers, and let’s say content marketing or social media marketing or something like that. And they always get stuck when it comes to getting clients. Now my advice is, look in your network. Ask your family, your friends, everyone has a 1000 people on Facebook, everyone has 100 people on LinkedIn. Ping those people. Tell them, “Hey, I’m offering this. Here’s what I’m doing right now, I’m starting a new thing. Would you have some work for me? Or do you know someone who might? And the reply again is, oh, I can’t do that. I can’t pitch myself to people I know. Well, if you can’t pitch yourself to people, you know, how are you going to pitch yourself to complete strangers?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah, pitching yourself is one of the most … For me, it was a difficult task. It is something I constantly work on. I think you’re right, you have to get comfortable pitching yourself to people you know so that you can get comfortable pitching to strangers. I’d actually prefer to pitch to strangers. For me I just put in the back of my mind, you don’t know me. I can mess up. And then I’d rather just tell you my story and keep – But I think in this environment, it’s the marketing yourself, being able to pitch yourself at a moment’s notice is pretty much critical to your business’s success. You never know who you’re going to have the opportunity to talk to.

Luis Magalhaes:

It’s good to remove the idea that all you need is a website and a form and then clients will start arriving. Having your website gives you zero business these days. No one is going to find your website and fill your form. Before that happens, you need at least a couple of years, if not more than a couple of years on the market. You need to have a brand out there, you need to have a social media because if you land on a website and there are no testimonials, you don’t know the person’s name, etc … Even after many years working, I found that the people that went to my website went through a referral, more than just by Googling and I had a decent SEO presence. I mean, if people looked for the things related to my business, I would likely appear in the first or second page of Google.

But the reality is that the websites don’t sell off themselves right now. You need to have a website obviously and you should have a form for people to contact it. But especially a young business, like one year, two years old, you need to get out there and pitch yourself. No way just having a place where random people can ask for your services, that won’t work.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah. That is the pretty much the number one thing I took away from this year is that you have to pitch yourself, it’s so critical. At least in, as you said in the beginning ofas you get known in the market.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yeah. So you talked about the things that you learned that you weren’t expecting. Do you have any expectation? Do you have any things that you were expecting that actually weren’t true?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

No. There was nothing particularly … So when I started my business, I had no real expectation. My main goal for the first few years was just to lay enough of a foundation to be able to talk to people about the services I’m offering. That was my real goal for the first year, to just be able to communicate, set up branding. And so there wasn’t anything particularly … As far as I’m going to get to this particular point or I think this process is going to be like this. I was very green to this journey. So I didn’t have any particular expectations that didn’t come true.

Luis Magalhaes:

All right. Well, that’s fair enough. So I want to transition to some more rapid fire questions. The questions are rapid fire, but the answers don’t need to be. Please feel free to elaborate as much as you’d like. So first, let’s talk about workspace. What does specifically your computer, your virtual workspace looks like? What are the tabs that are open by default on your browser? When you begin your day, what are the apps that you immediately open?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Slack, Gmail, or some mailing platform. There’s always a Google tab, JIRA, Confluence. Locally, my password manager, obviously so I can get around to stuff. So working on a VPN definitely.

Luis Magalhaes:

Any recommendations for password manager and VPN? I like to get specifics.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I use LastPass and I’ve used 1Password and they’re both pretty good. Actually, if you’re paying for it, probably get Password1. And that’s it. Oh, and VS Code. On all the machines I work on. I always have VS code open to review some code or something I’m writing or working on.

Luis Magalhaes:

Got it. So if you could spend 100 bucks with every person on your team, and you needed to buy the same thing for everyone, you can’t give them cash or a gift card cash equivalent, you need to buy … You said you had something like six, seven people, direct reports. You needed to buy six, seven things and give it to them. What would you give them? Could be software, could be hardware, could be an experience, anything you’d like.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Bluetooth headphones.

Luis Magalhaes:

Okay.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Bluetooth headphones. Either earbuds a nice pair of earbuds. Under $100. You probably won’t get noise canceling but at least you can get something that you can clearly communicate with people. So earbuds.

Luis Magalhaes:

And if we can splurge you’d go for the noise canceling.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah, definitely.

Luis Magalhaes:

Any favorite brands?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I actually really liked … They’re not noise canceling but I like the Beats Pro though more athletic headphones. These are a pair of Sony’s that I’m wearing right now and they’re really good. And I just got a pair of Bose noise canceling earbuds. Don’t ask me why I have multiple headphones-

Luis Magalhaes:

I know what it’s like. Sometimes. I’m not a one headphone kind of guy.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yeah. I have a pair of Bose earbuds that are noise canceling that I like.

Luis Magalhaes:

All right. Why about yourself? And no expense limit, what is the thing that you’ve bought in the past one year to six months that more improved your work life?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Okay. I bought a Canon digital camera and I got a Sigma lens with that. And I use that for all of my Zoom communications and my Zoom meetings and I get a lot of compliments on the clarity. So I think from investment into my workstation setup, I think that has been the most impactful.

Luis Magalhaes:

All right, fantastic. So let’s talk a bit about books. Do you enjoy giving books?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I haven’t given a book lately, but I definitely enjoy reading.

Luis Magalhaes:

Okay, so what are some books that have influenced you the most?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Midas World. That’s one that has … It’s a series of short stories about the future and potentially what the future could look like in a world of abundance. So that is-

Luis Magalhaes:

Could you repeat the title please?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Sure. Midas World.

Luis Magalhaes:

Midas World. As in King Midas?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Yes.

Luis Magalhaes:

Got it. Sounds interesting. Never heard of it, I’m going to check it out. Sounds like the kind of book that I dig.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

How to Make Friends and Influence People. I read that a long time ago. That’s been one I think has been really helpful. Native Son. That’s a book I have just grown to love over the years, just about the content and perspective, it’s something that we can relate to today. I can’t think of anything else off the top. I know there’s so many technical books that have been influential in my career. I’ve started to read a book right now called the Staff Engineer: Leadership beyond the management track. This was actually recommended to me. So this was actually recommended to me. And so I’ve been looking at that, and ways to improve my management skills.

Luis Magalhaes:

It’s a never ending quest. I do have to say that it’s probably one of the most recommended books on the show. We’re going on over 150 episodes is How to Make Friends and Influence People. It’s amazing. That book is what? It’s 70 years old by now. This is how you know that it’s timeless that even in the world of remote contexts … That book was written in an industrial age, about managing factory workers and doing business deals and it still holds up even in a remote age. So it really has this timeless quality for it. It’s a great recommendation. Thank you for bringing it back again. Native Son, I don’t know. Would you like to expand a little bit more about it and how it influenced you, I’d love to check it out.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Native Son, I read it a long time ago. The synopsis of the book, it’s a story about a black youth who lived in poverty in Chicago, and he’s accused of a crime and he has to deal with the system. And it goes through his interactions with the system. It’s a very old book, it was written in the 1940s. But the way he has to deal with the system and his interaction with the system is very prevalent till today.

Luis Magalhaes:

Nice. So I’ll include that in the recommendations as well. But those are good recommendations. At least I got two new books to read. So that’s a win for me. So final question. This one is a bit longer setup. Let’s say that we’re back at the point where we can very easily get all together to dinner. So you are hosting a dinner and you are inviting the leaders, the decision makers of the biggest tech companies in the world. The theme of discussion for the night is remote work and the future of work. So the twist is that you are hosting this dinner in a Chinese restaurant. So as the host, you get to pick what gets written inside the Chinese fortune cookies. So what will these people read once they crack open their fortune cookies?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Oh, this is a great question. What would they read? Let’s see. One fortune cookie going to be successes of virtue of determination. Another could be leadership without thought is thinkless.

Luis Magalhaes:

Oh, wow. That one was really cool.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

Let’s see, another one could be your goals are only as achievable as your effort. And everybody else will get a mixture of … Plan to be remote or plan to fail.

Luis Magalhaes:

Plan to be remote or plan to fail. Nice. Okay. I have to say you set a record because people are usually stumped with one and you just gave four like this. You have definitely set the record [inaudible]. Congratulations.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

I’m making up for our earlier conversation.

Luis Magalhaes:

No, it was actually great. And this actually brings us to the end of it, but I really enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much for being a guest on this show. Now it’s the time where I give you the floor to tell the listeners, how can they get in touch with you? How can they learn more about you? And about your business. And how can your business help them? So please.

Kalada-Opuiyo:

So I am on LinkedIn as Kalada-Opuiyo, K-A-L-A-D-A-O-P-U-I-Y-O. And you can find my company @Ibeify.io. That’s I-B-E-I-F-Y.io.

Luis Magalhaes:

Yep. I’ll include all those links in the show notes, of course. Anything else you’d like to close with?

Kalada-Opuiyo:

This has been a pleasure. Thank you for having me, Luis. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation about remote working.

Luis Magalhaes:

Well, the pleasure has been mine. It was an absolute blast having you. Thank you so much for coming. And thank you, ladies and gentlemen for listening to the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leading remote teams. I am your host, as usual, Luis Megalhaes. And my guest today was Kalada-Opuiyo. And we’ll see you again next week. 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 they’re a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners. Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to DistantJob.com/blog/podcast. Click on 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.

And of course if you need to find a great employee for your team 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 you 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 adieu. See you next week on the next episode of the DistantJob podcast.

 

More ways to listen:

Nowadays, one of the debates taking place in the business world is regarding what the best structure for teams is – If fully remote, a hybrid work model, or onsite. Some leaders defend the idea of office-centric culture; others strongly believe in remote work’s flexibility.

During this podcast episode, Kalada Opuiyo shares the truth behind working with both remote and hybrid teams. He has been working with both structures, and he recently launched his own fully remote business, where he has gained valuable lessons he shares in today’s episode.

Highlights:

  • Hybrid work models vs remote work models: Advantages and disadvantages
  • Key aspects to consider when managing remote teams
  • How to automate tasks and processes
  • Implementing Scrum in a remote setting
  • The benefits of using Agile in remote tech teams
  • Why is accountability one of the main challenges of managing remote teams
  • How to evaluate productivity in a remote team effectively
  • Insights about starting a business in the pandemic

Book Recommendations:

 

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