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Why Working Remotely is Key for Your Business Success with Chris Bruno

Chris is the founder and CEO of Social Ink. He has been in sales and marketing for nearly two decades and has established Gibraltar’s first online television channel, and helped it achieve 80K plus views a month within his first year. In 2016, Chris made the bold and progressive move to transform Social Ink into a decentralized agency, working completely remotely.

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succesful remote business owner

Luis:
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to another episode of The DistantJob Podcast, a podcast about building
and leading awesome remote teams. I am your host Luis. And with me today, I have Chris Bruno. Chris is
the founder and CEO of Social Ink. He has been in sales and marketing for nearly two decades and as
established Gibraltar’s first ever online television channel, and helped it achieve 80K plus views a month
within his first year. In 2016, Chris made the bold and progressive move to transform Social Ink into a
decentralized agency, working completely remotely. Chris, welcome to the show

Chris Bruno:
Luis, thank you very much for having me.

Luis:
It’s my pleasure. I want to dig right into the big question. 2016, you turn your business into a
decentralized company. How did you know that COVID was coming?

Chris Bruno:
So it was the crisis before COVID for me that made me change. But it was actually just after the Brexit
referendum in the UK and after the results came out pretty much within, I’d say about 10 days, our
company saw, I’d say probably about an 80% decrease in monthly revenue. We had companies that
already had signed contracts, companies that were in the process of signing contracts and everyone was
just in panic mode.

Chris Bruno:
And at the time we had an office space, we were working at a WeWork in Liverpool street in the heart of
London’s financial center and it was a really painful time. And part of me had to make some very hard
decisions. Part of me had to sort of get rid of people, have to make personal decisions as to where I was
going to be living at the time I was renting a room in a house in North London, and I basically found
myself having to retreat for a while for the business and for my own safety.

Chris Bruno:
And as part of that, basically I ended up looking at everything that we spent money on. And one of the
biggest contributors to that was actually the office space. Having office space, whether it be shared
office space or even things like WeWork where people think you can rent a desk, it’s really cheap. Things
start to add up pretty quickly. And one of the things that happened during that time is that I realized
that actually everything I did or 95% of everything I did, I did pretty much on my own looking at a
computer screen.
Chris Bruno:
And pretty much everyone that worked with me did exactly the same thing. So the majority of the time
we weren’t actually engaged all of us working together on something or doing something together. We
were all just doing our own thing that made part of a bigger project. So it got me thinking of the idea of,
well actually, do I need to do this from an office? And if I wasn’t going to do it from an office, where
could I do it from? And that started what I then started doing in 2017, which was enjoying my life a lot.

Luis:
Nice. The life enjoyment part. We’ll get back to that. But it really is I don’t talk enough in the show about
that. So I do want to go back to that, but I’m looking at the picture of… You described the crisis, right?
Brexit brought with it the crisis that hit many companies, many hard, yours is no exception. And I’m
thinking change is really hard even in the best of times. So it was probably a bit of a bumpy road. What
were the biggest challenges? What was the thing that really tested your ability to lead and manage your
company and how did you surpass it?

Chris Bruno:
So for us, the biggest challenge I’d say at the time was everyone was in scared frozen mode. And we’ve
seen that again this year with COVID in the very early stages when people don’t know what’s happening
when there’s a change happening, but you’re not sure how it’s going to affect you, everyone goes into
panic mode. And for us as a digital marketing agency, one of the first things that people cut out is any
kind of additional expense outside of the core internal costs that they have as a business.

Chris Bruno:
So for us, understanding that, realizing what people were doing and how they were reacting and
changing our own strategy to kind of combat that. What we ended up doing was we spent a lot of time
creating content to help educate people, to help try and convince people not to stay frozen because
albeit that Brexit was going to be a huge thing at the time, we also knew that it wasn’t going to be
something that was going to affect us on the same day.

Chris Bruno:
We didn’t vote to leave and then we left on the same day and that was it, it was crisis. So it was really
people’s perceptions. And it reminded me of just how fragile we all actually can be. So having clients
that had signed contracts, for example, say to you, “We don’t care, we need to get out of this. You can
take us to court if you want to.” And us sitting there as a small agency going, “Well, we’re not going to
take you to court, but you need to understand can we not make this happen in a different way?”

Chris Bruno:
That was really, really challenging. And it took about, I’d say it probably took from June till about
October and by October new people that we were talking to, new ways that we were connecting with
people started to actually encourage people to just get back in touch with us, to start working again, to
realize that actually the craziness has actually subsided a bit and it’s going to be a long drawn out
process to find out where we’re actually headed.

Chris Bruno:
And then things started to come back and funnily enough, by, I think it was about February, 2017, we
were doing more monthly revenue than we were in May, 2016 before the vote had happened. So it was
a hard six, seven months. But yeah, it was well worth it from all points of view. And again, it started the
2017 side of it, which allowed me to have freedom to pretty much work from anywhere, which was a
huge, huge eye-opener.

Luis:
I think it’s worth pointing out the value of you keeping a cool head, because that was my impression of
Brexit as well. Everyone was screaming as if the sky was falling and I was more like… And while I was
telling my friends and the people who were running business and the people who were working in the
UK were saying, okay. So it’s a controversial decision. A lot of people are angry. A lot of people are
disappointed, but I’m pretty sure that the world isn’t going to end tomorrow, that whatever happens it’s
not going to be as good as some people believe and it’s not going to be as bad as most people believe.
The world will keep on spinning. Right, and it seems to have.

Chris Bruno:
Absolutely. We’re here more than four years later and we haven’t actually left the EU properly yet,
right?

Luis:
Yeah, exactly. These things take time and I’m pretty sure that I will personally be saddened the day they
leave the EU, but it’s not my decision. I love Britain. I love going to London. We were talking about that
before off. So I will personally be saddened. But at the end of the day, I know it was never my choice to
make. But I hope everything will turn out for the best because I do like the people, I do the people, I do
like the country. I think that the UK has a big part to play when it comes to remote work. Right? There’s
a lot of talent there and that talent now there might be geographical restrictions, but guess what? The
internet is free. And that’s part of what I think that’s remote. That’s why I was thinking you’re worried
about Brexit that I was telling people maybe it’s time to consider remote work, which is what you did.

Chris Bruno:
Absolutely. I think, again, it’s one of those things that some people really appreciate it and other people
really don’t like it. So we’re quite open and honest about it the fact that we all work in different parts of
the world. Last year in fact we did 30 days of life. So every day one of the members of the team would
go live. And I think we ended up covering, it was ridiculous, but I think we ended up covering three
different countries during the course of those 30 days, just because of where people were.

Chris Bruno:
I think I was at a racetrack one day. One of the guys did one from a canoe one day, it was just insane,
but it was so nice because again, it gives us an opportunity to showcase who we are a little bit more
about the people who are behind the company, but more importantly as well, we want to be really open
about this because I don’t want to work with any company that says to me, I have to be in their office
once a week for a meeting.

Chris Bruno:
I never want to work with anybody like that ever again, basically. And it was eye opening to see that
we’ve actually had some really good response where some people are like I love the fact that you guys
are remote. And we’ve also had the complete opposite, which is if you don’t have offices, we’ve never
worked with you. And I was like that, why not? And they sort of said to me what, we want to be able to
come to see where you work. And I was like that, why? What benefit does that bring? I could spend a
million pound on offices and still do rubbish work, but actually what difference does it make to you? As
long as the work is good and it makes results, it gets results for you. Surely that speaks volumes more
than anything else. So it’s been actually a really good natural selection way of finding new clients and
people sort of either love the fact that we’re remote or they don’t, in which case happy. We don’t have
to deal with people that aren’t our kind of people.

Luis:
Yeah. I think it’s a matter of perception and also a matter of consistency of deliver. I want to take the
chance to ask you about how we can perceive different types of remote workers. So usually when I talk
about remote workers and what DistantJob does as a hiring agency is finding full-time remote people,
people who have their own work setup, and they work from the place that they have set up and maybe
it’s in their home. Now it’s in their home. But before COVID, it could be on a coworking space, an office
walk or something like that. Or even people that like you what it looks like you do. You program very
well and you go and you travel and you find a house at the place where you are traveling to and you set
up a nice place to work.

Luis:
Right? I think that a lot of companies that are opposed to remote work, they have the picture of the
digital nomad, which is the person sitting at the beach, working with the laptop, probably with an
unreliable internet connection, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Right. Now, I know that you mentioned
the guy who was doing the live stream from the canoe and that’s great, but I’m pretty sure that most of
your people actually have a good workspace where they can reliably work. And the canoe stuff is more
of something that happens as a part of, “Hey, let’s do something cool for the team, right?”

Chris Bruno:
Yeah. I mean, so what’s interesting. Right? So when we call remote work is the idea that we don’t need
to be in an office. So the majority of the team, in fact, all of us now, even including myself we basically
have homes and we happen to work out of our homes.

Chris Bruno:
So proper office space and having that ability to work is fantastic. But also it brings the freedom that
comes from not having to waste two hours a day, every morning, traveling to an office and two hours a
day to travel back home. We have an ability to work throughout the day and also to have that flexibility.
One of the team needs to go do something during the day, I don’t care. Right? I’m not looking to have
people in front of their computers Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00.

Chris Bruno:
I’m looking to work with amazing people who can get stuff done and make stuff happen. That’s what’s
interesting. So if somebody wants to work late into the night and deliver something by tomorrow
morning makes no difference than if they get up at 5:00 AM to do it before 9:00 AM, it’s up to how
people want to work.

Chris Bruno:
So I think that there’s an important element there. And to be fair, I’ll put my hand up. I hate the term
digital nomad, but I was referred to as that in 2017 because that’s what I did. I literally had a bag on my
back. I had my laptop and everything in it. And I basically just went from country to country, to country.
And I had a great time whilst also continuing to build the business. But again, it’s a very different thing.

Chris Bruno:
I’d still have to work eight hours a day. It just so happened that I do an eight hour Workday in a hotel or
a house that I’d rented you mentioned with WiFi on and get stuff done. And then it would just be great
because the weekends were spent on a tropical beach rather than spending it in your hometown, for
example. So it was a lot of fun, but it’s not for everyone. And it’s not also, I don’t think it’s a sustainable
thing or at least it wasn’t for me to be able to do that for a long time.

Luis:
Some discipline is definitely required. What most people picture, the people who give the digital normal
term, the bad reputation. And I think it’s somewhat earned because a lot of people do this is really the
people that say, I’m going to work a bit here in this cafe. And I’m going to work a bit there at the beach,
et cetera. And their workweek is apartment workation, right. But you to build your company, you have
to sit down and focus regardless of where you were. So there’s a difference there, right? You might be
technically a digital nomad, but you were actually, as you point out, doing the eight hours focused work
day, and that’s a very important distinction.

Chris Bruno:
Absolutely. I met a lot of people traveling. So both in Southeast Asia, central America, and a lot of the
people that want to be digital nomads are “working” on a project and they have some savings and
they’re enjoying their life. And they’re possibly not remembering that actually to build a company or
maybe they don’t know to build a company takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. I don’t know anyone
who’s been successful, who did it by working two hours a day and built something huge that did
remarkably well, it just doesn’t exist.

Chris Bruno:
So I think people get distracted by the fancy bits. I used to enjoy it because it meant the weekends, or
even depending on the time difference, you had certain sections of the day that were for you, that you
could enjoy the same as you would anywhere else. And then you’d have your work in core hours where
you’d get stuff done.

Chris Bruno:
But again, it’s the ability to not have to be somewhere that I think is nice about remote working. So it
doesn’t mean that you have to go traveling and continuously move from country to country, but it
means that you don’t also have to get on the train every morning and go to an office place where you
don’t really want to be and lose two hours of your day commuting and have to buy an expensive lunch
from Pret’s or whatever it is for eight quid just because you wanted a salad. All of those little things
actually make a huge difference to how you feel every day. And I think that’s something that people
have learned massively this year. We’ve just been lucky that we’ve been doing it pretty much solidly for
the last four years.

Luis:
Yeah. So I wanted to talk a bit about expectations and surprises. So when you went remote in 2016,
what were some things that you taught were going to happen that didn’t. And the opposite what were
some things that you weren’t expecting that actually surprised you positively or negatively?

Chris Bruno:
So I really didn’t know what to expect. Right. I just kind of upstakes left, grabbed my laptop and then just
sort of hope for the best. As the world kind of around me was sort of crumbling, Brexit was affecting
people’s decision-making process. So I really had no idea. What I do remember is one day-

Luis:
I like that your response to Brexit was basically screw you, I’m going home.

Chris Bruno:
Yeah, absolutely. But it was really kind of, to be honest it was a very scary time as well. Because it wasn’t
so much about going remote. It was more a case about, we got to the point where literally we had to get
rid of all the team, we had to get rid of the offices. And at that point you kind of find yourself back to a
one man agency going, “Crap, what do I do next?” And I can remember having a call with the accountant
at one point in her saying, “Look, just it’s time to just close. Just let it go. It’s okay. You wouldn’t be the
first person. Just let it go. Move on. You can start again when all this craziness sort of comes back to
normality.”

Chris Bruno:
I sat down and I was like, “Well, I’m not doing that because I’m remarkably hard-headed and a bit
stubborn. So I’ll wait for somebody to close me down before I choose to close down.” But basically I
didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t really planned out anything. It wasn’t a strategic decision to go
remote. It was just a case of, I found myself remote with a laptop.

Chris Bruno:
And during those sort of three months, I think it was August, September, October, I never worked as
many hours in my life before or since I don’t think I literally would spend every waking moment on my
laptop and I didn’t have client work to do. We only had, I think two clients that stayed with us at the
time, we were really bad shape financially. We were running out of cash for everything. I still managed
to just sit there and pretty much every waking hour was spent on platforms like Quora, helping people
out, giving people answers to how they could do things on social media, Facebook, advertising, digital
marketing strategy.

Chris Bruno:
I started running webinars for free. Anyone who wants to join come along. We started increasing our
social media output and I just spent hours, days, just continuously creating this content. And what was
really interesting about it is as the world then suddenly kind of came back to its senses and started
realizing that okay, this Brexit stuff is great, but it’s going to take at least two years. At that point, people
saw us everywhere. Even actually during that time, we started a Facebook group called All About Digital
Marketing, which then went on to inspire our podcasts that we started last year, the group is still there
today. It has over a thousand people, I think coming close to a thousand people, sorry. All of those
things were the biggest surprise to me because I just kept giving and giving and suddenly we started to
get the response and suddenly by October time, people were coming to us to say, “Hey, can you help
me with X? Can I pay you to do Y?” And that was the huge turning point that really kind of shocked me.

Luis:
Yeah. So obviously this podcast is about remote work, not marketing, but as director of marketing
myself, I really appreciate you sharing that because I do feel validated in my approach. My approach to
marketing as forever been what I like to call internally, karma marketing, meaning that you just keep on
providing value and providing value. And then you just hope that… Well, you don’t hope, you know that
eventually the value that you provide if it’s honest and good and useful to people, it will result in good
things.

Luis:
So I do think that a karma approach to marketing is something that I personally enjoy a lot and it’s my
favorite thing to do. And I’m really glad, I’m really happy to see that it does work out well for you
because it’s an amazing story from actually knowing that the company was in danger and bouncing back
just based on providing value. Congratulations, that’s absolutely beautiful.

Chris Bruno:
Thank you very much. And I like the karma marketing as a phrase. I think that’s awesome. So I’ll
probably steal that. Thank you, Luis.

Luis:
Sure. Feel free to steal it. Maybe one day it will come back and be good for me, so.

Chris Bruno:
Absolutely. It’ll be the title of your book.

Luis:
Maybe, let’s see. Okay. So why don’t you take me through your day a bit, managing your team? What
does your day look like? What does your week look like if you have a more or less consistent week?

Chris Bruno:
So I don’t have the most consistent of weeks, I won’t lie. I’m pretty much all over the place, but the
majority of our time is spent creating content. We work for various companies all over the globe and we
help to create all sorts for social media, for blogs, for everything else. But everyone in our team has a
specific role. Everyone has a specific task set and we all break up the work that we need to do.

Chris Bruno:
So pretty much every day starts with WhatsApp going ballistic. We’ve tried everything, we’ve used
Facebook. What was it called? I can’t even now, Facebook’s workplace I think it was called, we’ve tried
Slack. We’ve used various different platforms. We even tried Microsoft Teams because of one client.
And we actually found out that the most easy of all the easiest platform and the one that was just the
quickest was WhatsApp.

Chris Bruno:
So we do all of our communication internally through WhatsApp for ourselves and also with certain
clients. And basically the day pretty much starts with where are we at? What are we up to? Does
everyone know what we’re working on? But the biggest thing that helps us to actually kind of track
everything is the way that we project manage all the work that we’re doing. And this is something that’s
really important to us. It’s the Kanban approach of everyone taking responsibility for their own actions
and what they need to be doing so that as it happens, it’s getting pushed through that process.

Chris Bruno:
So from my point of view I’ll record one to two podcasts a week. As soon as those are done, they get
thrown into the system that then gets passed on to somebody else who will then create the social media
graphics and the social media quotes and the social media short videos, all of that stuff.

Chris Bruno:
And everything kind of has a process. And it’s something that we learned pretty quickly in 2017 when I
took on the first person that came on to join us. And basically it had to be processed. It had to be a
system that was in place to allow people to be able to get on, but to know what they needed to do, to
know what was expected of them and to make sure that that process never stops. It’s like a big engine,
right? As soon as there’s one cog that stops working, everything stops working and then the clients
realize that it’s not working and then everything’s a problem. So we realized that really quickly and by
doing it that way, we also realized that we could take the pressure off people. Nothing we do really is
ever time sensitive down to we need it today.

Chris Bruno:
It happens very rarely. Everyone says they want stuff for today, but when we’re working with clients,
we’re always working to two weeks ahead. So we’ve got content ready for two weeks in advance. So it
means that everything that we’re working on this week won’t actually be released to the public until
sort of week commencing 15th, 16th, of September, whenever it is, 14th of September. So that kind of
took away all the pressure from all of us and allowed everyone to be able to work with that freedom,
with that flexibility that we know that this needs to be done by the end of this week. But we also know
that we’ve always got that leeway if anything needs to be done because it’s actually for a two weeks
ahead of the game kind of a plan.

Luis:
Makes absolute sense. So maybe I missed it, but what tool do you use to manage your Kanban?

Chris Bruno:
Kanban we’ve also tried all of them over the years, so we love trying out the systems. So we used to use
Asana very much so. And recently about two months we moved over to Notion. So I don’t know if you’ve
had a chance to try Notion yet, but-

Luis:
I have, but I admit I didn’t try it very hard. It felt very complex to set up.

Chris Bruno:
Yeah. So it feels really complex. And then once you kind of get into the swing of it, you realize how
powerful it is because it allows you to build sections and then throw in a Kanban within that section and
then have swipe files within that and then have a database within the same page. And suddenly
everything is pulling a referencing into another page to show you where you’re at.

Chris Bruno:
So it’s just a hugely powerful tool that we’ve really enjoyed using so far. You can still set it up to just be a
really basic Kanban or you can start making it hugely complex and have your Kanbans linked to other
databases, which linked to other swipe files, which makes it remarkably more powerful and interesting
than anything else we’ve used up until now.

Luis:
Interesting. Interesting. Okay. I’ll look into that. I’m a Trello person myself, that’s what I mostly use for
my projects forever, doing DistantJob particularly we use Basecamp just because that’s where the whole
company operates. So did you want me to ask something?

Chris Bruno:
I was just going to say so as an agency, because we work with lots of clients, we’ve used Basecamp quite
a bit, with another client we’ve had to use Microsoft Teams. And I think actually all of these systems are
pretty good. The number one issue with any of them is whether or not people buy into it and whether
or not people invest in it. So if anyone who’s listening is working remotely or is trying to build a remote
team, the number one key for us is everything goes through Notion. That’s the number one rule. If
you’ve updated a document, I don’t care if you sent it to me. I don’t care if you tagged me in it. I don’t
care if it’s on Google Drive or a Word document or anything else, but if it’s not where it should be on the
project management software, then it’s as if it has never happened. I think that’s the really key thing for
people in terms of those tools, whether it’s as simple as Trello or as complex as Notion, you just have to
get that buy-in.

Luis:
I agree. That’s what we call single source of truth. I would also say this is my personal when picking a
tool, the buy-in is super important as you mentioned, but I also like to consider overhead in the team,
right? I want my team to spend the biggest amount of time possible creating and doing their job and the
least amount of time possible documenting tasks, right?

Luis:
To me that’s a big deal, that’s a big deal as well. So I think I tend to choose tools where the input process
is as streamlined as possible.

Chris Bruno:
That’s a very good point. And again, we’re lucky in one way because we get to try all of them because
invariably clients will force us to use their system. And we’ve had real issues with stuff Airtable years
ago, which was just so overly complex for what we were working on. And again, I think all of these
systems, once they’re set up and once they’re running, again, there’s always a little bit of teething pains
and getting used to it that’s involved.

Chris Bruno:
But if everyone buys into it, no matter which software it is, you’re usually end up finding that it works
out. And actually even if it does take up 10, 15 minutes of your day, it’s well worth it for everyone else to
know where we’re at as well.

Luis:
Got it. A while ago we touched quality of life and how you were loving your working while traveling life.
Now, not that that’s possible right now, but for a couple of years it was the reality. And look, I want you
to drill a bit down into that, into the benefits that going remote had for you personally, as a leader of a
company, because it’s very easy to talk about the freelancer that has a great life traveling, or the
freelance writer, or the social media marketer, et cetera, that they travel and they do the job, et cetera.
But you’re building a company, building a business is tough, I know, I’ve tried, it’s on high at this right
now because it’s really, really hard. And frankly, I’m surprised that you manage to do it in eight hours a
day.

Luis:
The people I know that have succeeded usually tell stories of 12 to 16 hours a day. So congrats to you.
How was the transition like? When did you feel that you were in a stable place when it comes to the
company? How did you manage to find the discipline and organize yourself to rebuild the business really
remotely in this eight hours a day. And then how you start to taper it out leading to the life that you
have now?

Chris Bruno:
So I think what’s really important to remember, I say eight hours a day as a rough estimation. There are
days where you have to put in a hell of a lot more. And then there are days where you kind of have to
take some downtime otherwise you go crazy. But also I think what’s different is for me in 2016, 2017,
when I started traveling and when the company went remote, we were already at eight years old as a
business. And unfortunately even throughout all that, having four or five months without income or
with very limited income is a really, really big challenge as so many businesses have felt this year as well.
No matter how big you are or how much money you might have or how much money you might
generate as revenue, the reality is most businesses are two to three months away from bankruptcy, if
there’s zero income.

Chris Bruno:
So from my side of it, it wasn’t so much building the business, it was rebuilding it, which is important to
kind of state because we did have a reputation. We did have previous clients and people that we’d
worked with. We had an established presence and all of those parts of it, which are very important. But I
think the key thing when it comes to this is that building a business you said, is hard. If you’re starting
from zero and you decide to get a backpack and go live in Southeast Asia for six months whilst building
it, you’ve got to be committed to what you do. I was already committed. I’d spent eight years of my life
building a business, which I then nearly lost. And there was nothing that would stop me from making
that happen. So I didn’t rebuild it whilst traveling. I rebuilt it really hard work, basically working 14, 15
hour days before that.

Chris Bruno:
And then by the time I hit December, 2016, we were back to normal cashflow. By the time it was
January, 2017, I decided I was out, I was going to spend a year traveling. And I think I ended up in 22
different countries over the course of that year. And I had a fantastic time, but I think it always comes
down to that, your why, whether or not you’re really committed and you really believe in to what you’re
doing, and also whether or not you’re willing to do absolutely everything, right? Because it’s very easy
when you have a hard patch or when you go through something difficult to just sort of go right, this isn’t
going to work.

Chris Bruno:
And having that conversation with my accountant saying to me, “It’s time to close the business, you can
start again next year or do something else or whatever else.” And me saying, “No, I’m not going to do
that.” And having that gut feeling of, I think I can bring this back. I know what I’d like to do. I know how I
want to do it. I’ve done it for long enough to know that these things don’t always stay there. To give you
a fun story, I actually started my business in September, 2008. So I think it was my first on my second
week of having set up the business.

Luis:
That’s was a good year for world economy as I recall.

Chris Bruno:
Exactly. So I was two weeks in I think, and I was starting my office and I had a little TV up on the wall
with the Sky News on and I watched Lehmann Brothers go under and we started the worst financial
crisis since the last one, before the one that came after that and then the one after that. So what’s
interesting is that it’s very easy to just sort of go I’m out. This is getting hard. It’s not making as much
money as I wanted it to. I’m going to stop and I’m going to go back and get a job.

Chris Bruno:
For me I was really driven by the fact that I’d had some pretty bad bosses before I started working for
myself. And I basically vowed that I never wanted to become one of those people, but also that I’d never
worked for one of them ever again.

Chris Bruno:
So I really didn’t have a choice other than to make this work. And I really didn’t want to go back. In 2016,
the thoughts of getting a job was as much of a driver to me that kept me going and also realizing that I
could build something that would be completely different for the people that ended up working with
me.

Chris Bruno:
So I’m sure it’s not always easy guys, if you’re listening, I apologize. I know I’m not always the easiest
person to work for, but I do try my best to give everyone the freedom, the ability to live a life, where
they want to go traveling, go traveling. I don’t care. The work is what comes first. Having happy clients is
what really counts. And ultimately at the end of the day, how everyone chooses then to spend their
time and live their lives, that’s up to them. And I want to help support that as much as I can.

Luis:
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s an awesome way to put it. So if you were going to give advice to people
who are planning on starting their own business and want to do it while traveling the world, what advice
would you give them? What are the things they need to focus on? What are the discipline that they
need to have, et cetera.

Chris Bruno:
So if they’re going to be traveling during the whole time, the first thing they’re going to need to do is
invest to have extra people. You physically can’t do it. Whilst you’re traveling you’ll have times where
you are in black spots, or you’ll have times where you’re in terrible internet connection. If you’re on your
own and you’re building the business from scratch, it’s a real challenge to make sure that you’re
available to your one or two clients at the beginning, especially. So that’s a real problem. And that can
be as simple as having a virtual assistant that can help you with the day-to-day or even just the
communication. You also have issues with time zones. So be prepared, I can remember being in Panama
at the end of 2017. And literally having to wake up in the middle of the night like half past three in the
morning so that I could jump on a call because it was with Europe and Asia for a client. And I didn’t have
a choice, I had to be on that call.

Chris Bruno:
So all of these things, you’ve got to be really committed to be okay with. I can’t go out drinking and have
a fun time. I can’t go out and do much. I need to get to bed failure early. I need to wake up in the middle
of the night, do an hours conference call, then try and get a couple of hours sleep, then catch up on the
time difference. It makes things challenging, right? So that part of it, and the second thing that I would
say, don’t travel all the time, go somewhere new, find somewhere awesome, rent a house, stay there
for three months, because you’ll build a routine again. And whether we want it or not and all the digital
nomads that I’ve met, very few of them have made stellar, stellar incomes, a few have, but very few of
them have by continuously moving.

Chris Bruno:
You can go, you can go live somewhere else, you can enjoy the benefits of being in Thailand with
beaches and everything else, but get yourself somewhere to sit, to stay, to work, to eat, to be able to
live a semi-normal life that will allow you to then actually get that work done and get those hours in.

Luis:
Awesome, great advice. So let’s move on to some rapid fire questions. The questions are rapid fire, but
the answers don’t need to be, feel free to expand as much, or as little as you would like. Let’s talk about
your virtual office. What browser tabs do you always have open? Let’s say right now, what are the apps
that you start your day with?

Chris Bruno:
God, you can’t ask me this. What do I currently got open? I’ve got WhatsApp straight away because
that’s what we do will the communication, I’ve got Plannable, which is a great tool actually for
scheduling social media content and what we use to get approvals from clients as well as then actually
publish the content. I’ve got one, two, three articles that are in Google Drive, which our content has
been written by one of our guys and that needs to be checked before it goes over to a client. Right now
I’m looking at vidIQ. I’ll be completely honest with you, which is a YouTube keyword tracking software
system that I’m looking at at the moment. And that’s what I’ve currently got open. But the reality is that
it’s WhatsApp, Plannable, Notion, which has an app, which is open all the time. And then basically
currently Zoom a lot because it just sits there open all the time as well. And Google Drive, we live off
Google Drive as a company with everyone being remote. It’s the number one way to make sure that
everyone can see what’s happening and where we’re at with stuff.

Luis:
Nice. Good. So if you had 100 euros to spend with each person working for you, what would you give
them? And you can’t give the money and you can’t pick for each person. You can’t give vouchers, that’s
cheating, that’s giving them the money, you need to buy in bulk. Could be app, could be software, could
be experiences, could be something physical, up to you, but you need to pick the same thing for
everyone.

Chris Bruno:
So I think most of the team would want wine.

Luis:
I never had that answer but I will take it.

Chris Bruno:
But if it came down to any kind of tools, there’s two things that I think everyone should have, especially
if you’re working remotely or anything else. If you work off a laptop Roost as a stand, I don’t know if
you’ve ever heard of a Roost stand, R-O-O-S-T, phenomenal piece of kit. I’ve had mine since 2016. It
goes everywhere with me and the portable keyboard and mouse, Bluetooth, keyboard, and mouse.
Those three things, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can set yourself up and you can
work properly.

Luis:
Nice. What about you, what purchase have you made in the last six months to a year that has made your
work life easier or more balanced or productive?

Chris Bruno:
That’s a tough question. You can see here, so I’ve actually had to make quite a few purchases in the last
six months. I found myself on lockdown completely away from all my usual kits. So I only had my laptop
with me. So I’ve purchased a microphone where they proper little windshields to try and get rid of the
echo. Very important for me for when I do videos or recordings for podcasts. And the second thing was
that I didn’t even hesitate that I bought a 27 inch monitor, which has sat next to me because goddam
finding yourself without a big monitor has been very, very hard for a while.

Luis:
Oh yeah, absolutely. I work from my laptop, but I have connected as a second screen an old gaming
television. So I actually have a television. It’s a window. Right.

Chris Bruno:
Perfect.

Luis:
It’s like a window. It’s great. All the articles are in huge type and stuff like that. So it’s good device. So
what about books? What book or books do you often give?

Chris Bruno:
Oh, that’s the Tim Ferriss of questions, it’s so hard.

Luis:
I love that.

Chris Bruno:
It’s a great question. So Start with Why by Simon Sinek is one of my favorites. We give it to clients.
We’ve given it to people that we work with. We’ve given it to quite a few people over the years, not just
me personally, but most recently the book that I gifted out was Matthew Walker, Why we Sleep, which I
is something that’s really important, especially when people are working remotely or traveling at the
same time or building their own business, whichever one. We often neglect sleep. And that book really
opened my eyes earlier this year as to just how important that really is. So I’d highly recommend both of
those books.

Luis:
Super interesting. I’ve been tempted to grab that book just because I feel like… I work remotely so I
choose my waking hours. I have no problem yet I never seem to be able to get enough rest. So I’m
actually super interested in going through that book.

Chris Bruno:
It was an eye opener. You’ll enjoy it. And it gives you a couple of things to think about.

Luis:
I hope it’s more of I closer.

Chris Bruno:
I think he does actually say that he hopes you fall asleep whilst you read it. I didn’t, I couldn’t put the
thing down, but yeah, it’s a good book.

Luis:
Okay. All right. Last question. This one has a bit of a largest setup, so bear with me. Let’s say that you are
hosting a dinner and attending the dinner are the top executives for most tech companies around the
world. We’re talking about CEOs, CTOs, hiring managers, policy makers, et cetera. The theme of the
night is remote work and the future of work. And the twist is that you are hosting the dinner in a
Chinese restaurant. So you as the host get to pick the message that goes inside the fortune cookie that
the people will open during their meal. What is the fortune cookie message for these people?

Chris Bruno:
There’s no going back now.

Luis:
Okay. Good message. And we’re done. Thank you for being such a cool guest. I loved the conversation.
Thank you for the awesome fortune cookie question. I think that really hits the nail on it. Now, if people
want to continue the conversation with you or people want to learn more about what you do, about
your company, et cetera, what you have coming up, where can they find it?

Chris Bruno:
Yeah. So you can find me on all the social media channels as just Chris Bruno. And if not, you can check
out the company’s website, which is www.socialink I-N-K.co. And we put our favorite thing, we’re pretty
open and we talk a lot. So we do a lot of video content and a lot of blog articles, podcasts, et cetera. But
Luis thank you so much for having me on the show.

Luis:
It was my pleasure. I love that. So ladies and gentlemen, this has been Luis with The DistantJob Podcast,
a podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. And my guest was Chris Bruno, the
founder and CEO of Social Ink. See you next week.

Luis:
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.

Luis:
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 gets to have more listeners. Now, another thing that you
might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast, click on your favorite episodes, 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 episodes up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text
form.

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

More ways to listen:

Remote work has proven to be the best solution in times of crisis. Not only during COVID-19 teams were forced to work remotely, but also in other difficult situations.

During this episode, Chris Bruno shares how Brexit was the factor that drove him to start working remotely. In 2016, his 8-year-old business suffered significant consequences, and two key factors were the ones that enabled him to become the successful entrepreneur he is nowadays: Passion and remote work.

''It always comes down to your why, whether or not you're really committed, and you really believe in what you're doing, and also whether or not you're willing to do absolutely everything.'' Click To Tweet

Highlights:

  • Why remote work is the new norm (and should continue that way)
  • Tips to help business overcome crisis
  • Insights on being a digital nomad vs. a remote worker
  • Lessons he learned rebuilding his agency 100% remotely
  • The main challenges he overcame when decentralizing his agency
  • How to be a good virtual leader
  • Advice for digital nomads

 

Book Recommendations:

 

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you won’t miss all of the other interesting episodes that we have coming up in the next few weeks!