The Remote Show

Show Notes:

Our guest on this week's show is David Peterson! We're very excited to share this conversation with the community. David is an entrepreneur and experienced manager with a long history of working remotely for a variety of technology companies large and small. His energy and passion for learning is truly inspiring! Please enjoy.

David’s first foray into remote work was working for a company called Versata, where he was a global operations manager. David then went on to a number of other managerial roles in the software space, before starting his own consulting firm called The Mega Agency and software company called Hubackup. He also is a Product and Marketing Lead for OntheGoSystems, is pursuing a PHD in Global Business and is working on his own podcast.

My favourite part of the conversation was learning about David’s experience and his view that success can be achieved by jumping in, taking responsibilities for outcomes, and finding ways to be valuable. David has more energy than most, but the principles he talks about can be applied to anyone.

David’s book he recommends everyone read: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

Check out David at: imdavidpeterson.com and on Twitter at @imdavidpeterson

Also check out themega.agency and www.hubackup.com


Matt: Hello everyone. My name is Matt Hollingsworth, and welcome to another episode of the Remote Show where we discuss everything to do with the remote work with the people who know it best. Thanks so much for listening. The Remote Show is brought to you by We Work Remotely, the largest community of remote workers in the world with over 220000 units users per month. We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire.

Matt: My guest on today's show is David Peterson. David is a serial entrepreneur and business person with over a decade of experience working remotely for many different organizations. David's first foray into remote work was when he was a global operations manager for Versata and a since held many executive roles in software and technology businesses large and small. He now runs a consulting firm called The Mega Agency and is working on other side projects such as Hub Backup, a data storage software tool for HubSpot users. Check out, ImDavidPeterson.com for more information about his work.

Matt: David, thanks for coming on the podcast. We really appreciate it.

David: Matt, thanks for having me.

Matt: No problem. So I think a good place to start, and this is where I tend to start with my guests, is how you got your start and I guess we can go back as far as you want to, but just how did your career start and we'll go from there?

David: Sure. So an entrepreneur from Israel took a gamble on me thirteen years ago when I first started college, I attended Johnson and Wales in providence and was involved in their entrepreneurship program. And one of the mentors there who happened to graduate from Johnson and Wales a decades before, pretty much just took a liking to me and he was running a couple different businesses in Rhode Island and pretty much said that I reminded him of himself when he was younger when getting into business, and we just had energy, we clicked and you know, he pretty much took me under his wing.

Matt: Nice. So what were you doing when you first started there? Was it sort of you came on for a specific reason or?

David: So we were building a technology company to help fortune 500s manage their properties. So his experience was in nothing too sexy, he provided property management services to companies in New England. He ended up building the largest sweeping company, so he had mechanical sweeping trucks that I would go and sweep properties and he wanted to pretty much take his vision nationwide and in order to do that and support 500s, right? Thousands of properties, you need software and technology. So back in 2008 he decided that we would pretty much build a business around that. So we launched a company called National Maintenance Systems. I was the second person he brought on board at 18 years old. Right? I had no real business experience. No really honestly life experience. I was just starting my first year in college and trying to balance work and college at the same time. And I guess life too, if you want to throw that in there.

David: And we pretty much just hit the road running, building a technology company to manage properties all across the Us, so really, really interesting. We partnered with another large company in Chicago that ended up becoming Chicago's first Unicorn about a year ago called SMS Assist. And our first client was Family Dollar, a multimillion dollar contract. We signed with them to manage, of all things snowplowing. So we built a giant solution to do that, hired contractors all across the US and it was a really interesting, fun twelve months. I pretty much learned everything from A to Z in the ecosystem of what is business. Right?

Matt: Fascinating. What was your day to day and what was your role within that first company? Was just sort of managing a bunch of different things, did you have a lot of different hats or what'd that look like?

David: Yeah, I wore probably five or six different hats. So internally we had a call center, so my first job was pretty much building that call center, hiring, we call them CSR's, so customer service reps that we're going to help interact with not only the client sort of locations that store managers at the properties across the US, but also our vendors. So we had sort of two sides of the house, a group of people that just dealt with the clients directly, dealt with their complaints, helped resolve them, and then the other side of the house that dealt with the contractors, so we handled the billing, the invoicing, and all of that good stuff related to the contractors that were actually out there performing the work. Within the first 30 days that's pretty much what I was tasked with doing, finding people that wanted to come work for us join the startup.

David: After that I sort of moved into sales and marketing. About six months in from the business starting, we pretty much decided that, hey, now we have a large client, we have a base of foundation for this business, let's expand it. So the owner pretty much tasked me then with coming up with sales strategies. We started attending all these large property management conferences all around the US, so I was pretty much thrown in the middle of that, in some ways became the face of the business because it was myself and the founder of the business traveling to these conferences and trade shows, pitching our technology solution and platform to all these different fortune 500 companies. Again, had a whole host of things that I was responsible for, my plate was full. I found myself working 16 to 18 hour days while going to college at the same time.

Matt: Wow, that's crazy.

David: Did quite a bit.

Matt: Yeah, that's crazy. My question for this would be sort of add, and this is something I hear sometimes with people starting out their careers, is that they found somebody that was a mentor that they were able to sort of join forces with, or be a part of their business journey. How did you get your foot in the door with this person? What was it about him that made you take the leap with him initially?

David: He was just raw, meaning that he didn't covet anything. He was just, you know, hey look, this is what life is all about. This is what it entails. It's not pretty, it's not something for everybody. The weak don't survive, if you want to own your own business, right? If you want to be an entrepreneur, it takes a lot of hard work. It's grueling. I think he sort of instilled some pretty important values in me at a very crucial stage in my life, to be honest with you.

David: What life experiences does an 18 year old have? And he just again, took me under his wing and he pretty much showed me what business was all about. He showed me the ropes and said, "Look, this is what it takes. You know, if you're not willing to put in the work, get out of entrepreneurship, it's not for you. You know, you don't want to own a business. You're probably never going to go down that path." And I've watched him work and it took a lot of that real world experience and held onto it. Right? I think that very few people are afforded that opportunity to really see what business is all about. Not in a coveted way. Right?

David: I've seen mentors and people that sort of sugarcoat things and say, yeah, everybody can be an entrepreneur. You know, we're living in this time now where everybody should be involved in entrepreneurship, but it's really not for the faint of heart. Right? Very few succeed, there's a lot of failure. There's ups and downs on a regular basis. And I was able to again, witness that firsthand and it just gave me an inside perspective on what people who run businesses handle and do on a daily basis. And I just said, this is for me, I want to get involved, I want to have a business someday. And he was a great person to just learn from because he didn't sugar coat anything. That's what I really appreciated, honestly most.

Matt: Yeah. And you mentioned you were doing some sales and marketing and that was kind of maybe the second stage of your career there. What would you say, and maybe this is a difficult question to answer, but what would you say is the most important skill or attribute you would have to get really good at in order to excel in a role like yours with that startup? Is there one sort of takeaway from your experience there that you can maybe pass along or is that a hard question to answer?

David: I don't think it's a hard question to answer to be honest with you. I think I sort of alluded to it a little bit. I think you have to be very thick skinned, I think honestly, if you can't develop thick skin, meaning you can't take criticism, you can't take feedback and use it constructively, you probably don't want to do anything that involves entrepreneurship. You probably don't want to start a business. You are better off getting into a system, right? Being an employee in a company that has structure that you can just follow, right? I feel like 99% of the population fits into that category and it's just the way it is. It's the way the world works, the way the world has always worked, and I don't think it's ever going to change. So I think you just need to have very thick skin. And I would say that that's something that I was able to develop from a very early age just because the individual that I sort of was mentored by, he didn't shield me from anything. He allowed me to get dirty, he allowed me to fall. He allowed me to get myself back up and just go back out and do it again.

David: I would say again, developing thick skin, number one. Learning how to never give up, number two, be repetitive, be aggressive, you know, and just attack whatever goal it is that is put in front of you. Eventually, you know, maybe 10 years down the road you'll have cracked the nut, right? You've achieved the goal.

Matt: Right.

David: But I would say just being very, very aggressive, being very persistent in life. And I think that ties directly to sales and marketing. Right? If you're not persistent, you're probably not going to bring food home and put it on the table.

Matt: Yeah. That's probably the key I think is persistence, but it makes sense and I think that there's probably a lot of the skills get boiled down to what you're saying, which is persistence and being thick skinned, that's probably one of the main important attributes, you know, for anybody who wants to get into entrepreneurship or start a business, learn how to be persistent and just learn how to take feedback and criticism with a grain of salt and utilize it to your advantage if there's something you can gain from it. If not, just let it go and that's it.

David: You're right. Yeah. I think turning that into criticism is in itself a positive thing. I mean, the criticism is great as long as it's presented in such a way that you can take something away from that and apply. People underestimate the value of criticism.

Matt: They do, your critiqued when you start school, right? Education from from day one, you're critiqued, you're always going to be critiqued and I think the ones that are really successful, again, are the ones that are able to take that criticism and utilize it successfully, turn it into something positive. Right? Apply it to whatever it is you're doing and improve that. Right? I'm actually still working on a doctorate degree myself, so I'm near and dear to criticism. A lot of my work still comes back with feedback and I have to take it and apply it, so I'm very used to it. It's something that happens on a daily basis for me, regularly for me, I should say.

David: Wow. So early on you were working in sales and marketing. How did that experience in that job wrap up for you and what was the next step in your career and maybe talk a little bit about that transition?

Matt: Sure. So I ended up getting sick, nothing to do with the business. I developed adult asthma about my third year working for the company and I pretty much just took a leave of absence to get healthy, like a six month to seven month sabbatical basically. Without health, your job doesn't matter, and your career, your goals and dreams that don't matter. So yeah, I had a really bad bout of asthma, had to get treated for that. And this is where the remote transition sort of happened for me. I was looking for something entrepreneurial during that period of time while I was getting myself better and I came across a company online, they're now known as Upwork, but Odesk. I was just on there looking for freelance work. I was like, hey, I have some entrepreneurial experience. I can apply that to, you know, a business businesses. I can help people. I'd like to consult. I think it would be something, you know, fun and interesting.

Matt: So I then met somebody from Joel Lamont's company Trilogy Software. They were looking for somebody to come on and help them with operations and their mergers and acquisitions, sort of business. He had a company called Versata under Trilogy that was the acquisition arm. And he was buying failing enterprise software companies and bringing them into a system he developed to return them back to profitability. So I came across the hiring manager, we met, they liked my drive, attitude and they were like, yeah, we think you're a perfect candidate to work remote. Have you ever worked remote before? And I was like, "Nope, but I know how to stay motivated. I know how to get work done, you know, I would love to do it at my own pace, at my own leisure." I pretty much just wowed them. They tried me out for like a week, pretty much just like a test or a trial and they were like, "Yep, you're the man for the job, you know, you're a great candidate." They made me an offer and I started working for them in late 2011.

David: Wow. So this is pretty early on I guess in the remote work phenomenon, I guess somewhere around that time was sort of when a lot of you guys, companies were starting to go fully remote or at least try it out. What was the experience like for you? Had the company been working remotely for some time and how did they sort of instill a lot of this stuff to you?

Matt: Sure. So as far as I know, Trilogy and Versata and a lot of the subsidiary companies that he had acquired were working remote probably six or seven years before me.

David: Oh Wow.

Matt: They'd embrace the remote sort of culture very early on and I think that they deserve a lot of credit. I don't think they get a lot of credit. Right? A lot of people don't really know who Trilogy is. Very few people know who Joel Lamont is. At least nowadays, he remains very coveted. Right? He's, you know, an introvert Forbes' just covered him again because he just made the Forbes billionaire list again after being off it for over a decade. The dot com boom pretty much kicked him off the list and he just went to building his empire underground. And I think maybe 2004 or five is when they started working remotely because he had a development center in India, or a couple of them in India, and he wanted to just reduce overhead, reduce all of his expenses. He didn't want to have office space, didn't want to be responsible for doing all that good stuff.

Matt: So pretty much what happened was they decided to, I guess just embrace the remote culture and it pretty much just spread amongst all of his companies. So when he had acquired a new company, there was a bit of a learning curve. He told all the people that you know, "Okay we acquired your company and we're not going to have an office anymore. We're going to slowly reduce the, I guess real estate footprint that we have and pretty much bring you guys on board to this entire remote sort of system or platform that we've developed for all of our employees." And that had been going on again, maybe six or seven years, maybe longer before I came on board. So when I joined in 2011 they had a well oiled machine remotely, you know, from onboarding all the way through working for them and you know, tracking your progress, your performance, dealing with other coworkers, employees, customers, utilize a lot of the modern technologies that we use today.

Matt: We used Skype back then, blue jeans to do a lot of different communication and good stuff like that. So again, I think the experience working remotely with them was pretty seamless. And I think a lot of companies, you know, could potentially model, even today model or learn from what they've done. I know that I've taken a lot of what I gained and learned there and I apply it in my own sort of daily life working remotely again because I've been remote now going on almost nine years. So you know, there's a lot to take away from there, a lot to take away from them. A lot that can be taken away from, you know, the different processes and systems and operations that they have in place to run their business.

David: So what was, again, this is a larger question than I think we can pick apart as the recording goes on here, but what was the initial sort of onboarding process for their companies that they applied to you when you came on? Was it sort of, this is how remote workers work, this is how your time is tracked and go do that or was it more self directed and what works best for you?

Matt: I would say a bit of a hybrid model. Initially I was hired through Odesk, so Trilogy software, Versata again in all of his sort of subsidiaries. It were the largest employer on Odesk back in 2011, and maybe a couple of years prior to that, they were literally the largest employer on that platform.

David: Wow.

Matt: and after the merger happened between Odesk and Elance, where they now became Upwork, Trilogy as a company made a business decision to end their relationship with them and pretty much they created their own platform called crossover, which we can get into it a little bit down the line here, but we use Odesk initially, so they tracked our time through their platform. But I think the real measurement in my opinion was on the productivity of the employee. Right? They tracked whether or not you were working, you know from the set hours that were defined.

Matt: So if you worked nine to five, you work nine to five for example, your time tracker had to match up, to make sure that you know that you were working those hours. But my team, my group, we were measured on productivity. We were measured on whether we were hitting the goals or targets that had been set for us. So as I mentioned, I worked in their merger and acquisition arm initially, and I was responsible for helping reduce acquisition costs. So I was pretty much cutting down a lot of the bad debt that we acquired in these acquisitions. Right? I was negotiating all kinds of different things. I was getting us out of leases. I was getting out of software leases that we had licenses, we didn't need a lot of the software that a lot of these companies had. I was getting us out of equipment leases, you name it. I was trying to help negotiate down the debt to just help with the restructuring of these companies that we acquired into our sort of system, our ecosystem.

Matt: And we were literally measured on a dollar figure, right? I had to save the company millions of dollars on an annual basis, and that was it. That was my goal. They didn't care how I got it done. I just had to get it done. So again, I think that it was a bit of a hybrid model because again, they wanted to make sure I was working the hours I said I was going to be working, but at the end of the day they wanted to make sure that I was saving them money and achieving the goal that had been set at the onset of, you know, me being hired.

David: What I hear often nowadays is companies are prioritizing actually the output and what you're being tracked and what your goals are, and if you're meeting those goals and it's less about the time. Did you find that that was a shift within the company itself towards just being less concerned with the hours worked and more concerned with the output, or was that still concern of the company?

Matt: I mean, I think even today there are companies still concerned about the hours that you work. If you take a look at crossover, for example, they ...

Speaker 1: People concerned about the hours that you work. If you take a look at Crossover, for example, they built their own proprietary platform that operated similar to the Upwork, oDesk-Elance time tracker that captures activity on your computer. So they monitor how long you spend in an email browser versus a word processing program versus how many times you're on Skype. Literally track keystrokes and mouse clicks. It's a little invasive, but that's Upwork, oDesk and all those other platforms do. They still do that. I've worked for other remote businesses and I've seen the opposite again, where they prioritize your productivity and how you get it done. You know which manner, how much time you get it done. Doesn't matter. But I would say that Crossover and Trilogy, they still put a focus on the amount of time you spent. For whatever reason, they have their own philosophy that they're pushing right now that they believe in deep work and learning from the way you spend your time.

Speaker 1: Supposedly you can improve your productivity by understanding what it is you spend your time on, which I get, I understand. But in my sort of the latter stages of my sort of remote career, I sort of subscribed to getting stuff done on my own time and getting it done in a manner that's consistent with the way that I work. So if I'm delivering a result in a quicker amount of time, then 40 hours a week, I would think that I still want to get paid the same amount of money. But there's all sorts of arguments for it and against it, but I do believe that output outweighs anything else to be honest with you. As long as it's quality output.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I suppose it's really just about coming up with a way that you can measure that quality output and having those deliverables be agreed upon and understood beforehand and having that be the concern rather than amount of time being spent doing that thing and making sure that your objectives are the real objectives and they're thought through and thoughtful. And everybody agrees to it. That's maybe where the focus should be more so than it is.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I think so. I would definitely agree with that. I think that most goals and objectives can be tied to a dollar amount in most cases. There are some instances where things get a little ambiguous, unclear, but for the most part you can tie somebody's productivity and output to a dollar figure and attribute it to your bottom or top line. Wherever the dollar figure needs to go in your p and l, your accounting. I do think that again, productivity outweighs tracking somebody's time. Again, I find in my own sort of day to day life that there are times when I can get things done in a couple of hours, but I've been given a blanket of time to get it done and to me the measurement is irrelevant in many cases now. If you can get it done, get it done properly, get it done in a manner that's consistent with the quality expected in a quicker time then you shouldn't be penalized for it.

Speaker 1: Or you shouldn't necessarily be rewarded for it either. You just should be able to get the job done. And that's it. And I think that's why we sort of see this dynamic shift now from I think employees to freelancers. That's a whole nother topic of discussion. But I think that's sort of why we're seeing that shift in companies hiring sort of remote workers, but categorizing them as freelancers. And I think that's why we're seeing this revolution right now in work in general, just because companies want people that are dedicated and just going to produce results. And I think that's really what it comes down to at the end of the day.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I want to go back to your time at the Joseph Liemandt's company because I was able to find some stuff about him and his companies, but I really wasn't able to find out a lot. So I'd be curious to hear some more about your experience. What was your favorite part about your position at that company and what was your day to day like there?

Speaker 1: Sure. So I mean I stayed with Trilogy for quite a while. I was there from 2011 until the end of 2016. I started out, as I mentioned in M and A. Then I moved into leading global operations for a partnership program that we had. So we acquired four pieces of software that were divested from this software company called Progress Software in Boston, Mass. Publicly traded software company. Very, very large company that still exists today. They had four pieces of legacy software that they were just getting rid of. I guess they didn't fit into their longterm vision, longterm plan. So lo and behold, we acquired the four pieces of software and spun them up into a brand new company called Aurea. I would say that my time at Aurea was probably my favorite. It was more entrepreneurial than Versata. It was completely brand new.

Speaker 1: I had a blank slate to pretty much do whatever it is that I wanted. I developed pretty much the business plan for the company, developed our playbook. I led a great group of partners around the world that sold to Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies. It was very entrepreneurial. And I was led by another entrepreneur who happened to have created one of the pieces of software that we bought. He was the original CTO of a piece of software called Sonic. And he came over in the acquisition from Progress. He'd worked for them, but he came over because he was like our encyclopedia for all the pieces of software we bought. He knew all the customers. He knew all of our global partners and I reported directly to him at Aurea and he pretty much, again, similar to my first mentor, [inaudible 00:20:45] Hub. His name is Hub Vandervoort. He lives to love my energy. He's like, man, you're a really energetic young kid, you're intelligent and let's make this happen. Let's grow this business.

Speaker 1: So he tasked me with running operations for, we called it our indirect channel. So all of the customers that we sold to outside of North America were in that channel. So I had responsibility over probably 13 to 1400 customers and a group of 75 partners who resold our software around the world. Again, another really sort of big monumentous sort of task just dropped in my lap and I was ready for the challenge. So that was probably my favorite part of working in the Trilogy group. I was given a blank slate to do whatever I saw fit. Use my experience, use my knowledge, intelligence, and pretty much craft and mold a business as I saw fit. The experience was priceless for me.

Speaker 2: Hmm. When you were finished working at Joseph Liemandt's, what were you looking to do next?

Speaker 1: So I literally wanted to follow along the sort of entrepreneurial path. At that point, I'd worked for a couple of really great entrepreneurs, had worked for some really great technology executives. The other sort of person that I worked for, for a short stint of time, short period of time, was a guy by the name of Andy Tryba. Him and Joe Liemandt are really close. Andy led strategy at Intel for almost 15 years. He was in the Obama White House. He advised... He was on one of the technology advisory councils. Him and Joe were the ones who launched the ride sharing company that I talked about RideAustin. So they came together and then pretty much built this really interesting symbiotic relationship. They jive together and now they're building a whole bunch of different companies. Andy runs Crossover, which is a competitor to Upwork, oDesk.

Speaker 1: That's pretty much how he manages all of the employees all around the world. And that's their platform that they launched. So I've had the entrepreneurial bug for a long period of time almost maybe 20 years. People in my family have had businesses. We've been in the automotive industries. My family has had car dealerships for going on maybe 60 or 70 years now. So the entrepreneurial blood runs strong, runs through my veins and today I sort of find myself chasing a number of different ventures. I'm still looking for different opportunities. I like to work with startups. I'm in the process of launching a company right now called Hubackup. It's a company that is providing backups to HubSpot customers. So HubSpot doesn't necessarily provide disaster recovery data recovery services. And there is nobody out there today that does that, so I'm in the process right now of building the software with a team and we're going to attack that market because it doesn't exist in the ecosystem of sort of HubSpot partners, so pretty much just came to me.

Speaker 1: One day I was playing around in HubSpot and I was like, if my data gets corrupted, somebody messes with it, I lose it, I'm in trouble and that's pretty much how the sort of Hub backup idea came about. On a day to day basis, I also run a company called the Mega Agency. And it's not to be confused with, there's a photography company out there called the Mega Agency. We often get confused with them. Kim Dotcom has a storage company called the Mega. We're not them either and we provide consulting services to small businesses and large businesses alike. Everything from building mobile applications, web applications. We design websites. We do a sort of remote consulting. We're getting into that sort of space right now where we're going to provide some packages to companies that want to get into the remote space, outlines, sort of business plans for working remotely, hiring tips, strategies, all that good stuff.

Speaker 2: Yeah, and we'll link to all that as well in the show notes. So anybody who's interested in taking a look should definitely do so and best of luck in that area. I think that's a really interesting space to be in especially as people and as companies go remote and start to dabble in that space. It's going to get more and more interesting. So I think that's a great place to be. One of the things I wanted to ask you, because you've been able to work in so many different remote companies, just in companies in general, what is the major pain point that people forget about that you see often? Is there one thing that you have come across in companies whether remote or not, that you think everybody should be aware of that it could be easily solved or just isn't really thought about? Just because I know you've worked at so many different companies, so I'd be curious to hear about that.

Speaker 1: Sure. I think communication is probably one of the big areas that a lot of companies fail miserably at and I'm not just talking about sending an email out to employees. You know sending out newsletters. I'm talking about real one-on-one communication with employees and I would say that that was something that sort of plagued my experience working in the workspace with Trilogy and those sort of group of companies. Our communication was very lackadaisical and it was very little one on one communication with the leadership team. One on one communication with my direct boss. I would say that I was even... I'm guilty of it as well. I didn't have a lot of one on one communication with my subordinates because we were all just buried in our work.

Speaker 1: We were just so focused on whatever it is that we were working on at the time. We made no time for that communication. I would say even prior to that when I worked for, the first startup company that I ever joined in my life, our communication was terrible as well. And even being in a physical office, we still didn't communicate as well as we probably should have. I think that companies do a really bad job today on providing feedback with their employees. There are so many companies out there that tout that we're a great place to work. We provide feedback and all that good stuff. But when it really comes down to it, a lot of startup companies get lost in their work and I think a lot of employees would appreciate more than an email, more than a newsletter updating on the company.

Speaker 1: I think they would appreciate some one on one time with their superiors, and if not the leadership team one on one, a group chat with the entire company just to keep everybody up to speed. And maybe even give out praise. Praise some select employees. Praise the ones that are helping the businesses grow. I just think again, that companies are terrible with communication. I think that's something that I'm really going to work on in my own sort of personal journey as well. I think that communication is key and if you fail there, you're going to falter. Your business is going to falter and it's just not going to be a good thing.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So what pieces of information should be communicated on a regular basis, and how would you go about doing that? Is it a matter of the feedback going up the chain, and if so, is it anonymous? I'd love to pick apart sort of, what do you think is important there in terms of the communication?

Speaker 1: Yeah. No, I don't think it should be anonymous. I think the transparency is very important. I think that employees should know where they stand in a company. I mean, if you know you're not performing, let's not beat around the bush. You know you're not performing, your superiors know you're not performing. It's not that hard for the leadership team to see that you're not performing. So that's number one. I think that again, the feedback needs to be transparent. Everybody needs to know where they stand in the company. We talked earlier about having thick skin and criticism. I think employees need that too. I think you need to be able to take the feedback that you're given and do something with it constructively. If not, you probably shouldn't be doing anything. You should really reevaluate your life situation and get that in order first and foremost.

Speaker 1: But I think that you should be able to take feedback and criticism and utilize it positively to impact whatever it is you're working on. In terms of how I think the feedback should work, there's a number of different ways. There are platforms that exist today where you can rank people's performance. You can rank different criteria for the work that they're performing based on the department they're working in, based on a project. For example, sales for example, I noticed a lot of sales companies and teams, they set financial goals for the team. Then they set individual metrics for their team members. I think you should get feedback on how you're performing. Let's say you crushed a quota, for example, you were 50% above your targets. You should know that. The team should know that and I think it should just be monitored in a way and communicated in a way that's transparent.

Speaker 1: So the entire team knows where everybody stands individually and they know where the team stands as a whole. You can do it a number of different ways. You can do it using Google docs, you can use spreadsheets, you can use a whole bunch of these different platforms that exist today to track that sort of data and communicate it with your team. I just think number one is I think the effort needs to be there to communicate first and foremost. Communicate something that is valuable and useful to your employees and give them something that they can use and learn and grow from. Give them feedback that's constructive. Give them criticism that's constructive. Tell them to take it and turn it into something. Tell them to use that.

Speaker 2: So there's a couple of things that you mentioned there. One is the thick skin part of it and I would be curious to hear if you were part of the hiring process for any of the companies that you worked in. How would you look for somebody who is thick skinned that could use those things that you mentioned? Whereas to take criticism and be able to apply it and is there anything that you would look for or questions you would ask to be able to assess that attribute?

Speaker 1: I mean, I think there are a few different things. First of all, you want to see if somebody can listen first. I noticed that people get very defensive when they hear criticism. So I think it's pretty easy to see when somebody doesn't take criticism well. I think there are questions you can ask them. You can ask them directly about criticism. You can ask them, how do you feel about that? How do you feel if somebody attacks you? What do you do? And then you can sort of take that response and make your own assumptions, make your own inferences. For example, we interviewed somebody. We asked them if they felt like criticism was warranted, necessary. And they had told us that they didn't like criticism. They felt like they were being singled out. They felt like they were being attacked. And we immediately made the assumption that that person probably wasn't going to be a good fit culturally for us because they're automatically telling us that they already felt like they were being singled out. We're just asking you hypothetically.

Speaker 1: So it told us that they'd probably been criticized before and didn't know how to handle it. And this guy seemed to get a little defensive when we were asking that. So I think you can frame some really simple questions around criticism and right off the rip, if you're good at hiring people, you should be able to make those assumptions and inferences as to whether or not the person's going to be able to take criticism well in your organization. We've done role playing, asked candidates to again act out a hypothetical scenario with us and see how it plays out. I tend to find that the ones that get animated and again, really defensive and don't know how to handle criticism as people that we probably can't work with or people that need to be developed a little bit more. They need to experience life a little bit more because I think the most important thing with dealing with criticism first and foremost is being able to listen.

Speaker 1: And we noticed people, again, getting... Attacking, getting very defensive, and we're trying to make a point in a statement. The most important thing, taking criticism is being able to take it. That's number one. If you can't take it, you're going to have a tough time dealing with criticism, I think, in any other aspect of your life. Again, warranted or not, whether criticism's warranted or not.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Yeah. It's true. It's so funny with the listening piece because it's something that's so clear. When somebody is a bad listener, you have to be very deliberate in your attempts to get better at listening. At least for myself, I had to understand, hey, maybe I'm not a very good listener, and I had to reflect a little bit on that. And then maybe, and then you sort of apply that and work towards being a better listener. But it's hard. It's a hard skill to happen. There's people in my life that I can single out as being great listeners. They're so nice to talk to because they're good listeners, and I think it's a very underrated skill. So I think you're right. One thing that I wanted to ask you as well, was when you are assessing a company and you've worked in a few, so I think- PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:32:04]

Matt: When you are assessing a company, and you've worked at a few so I think you may have some insight here, what makes a company somewhere where you want to work? Is there specific things that you look for in working with people or businesses in general that you think to yourself this is really important to me? They need to have this characteristic or this attribute for me to want to be involved? David Peterson: So if we're talking start ups, I'll make it pretty general. I like to understand a company's history. I like to understand who founded it, sort of what the principles were that the business was founded on. What the short and long term goals and objectives are. I think nowadays you can pretty much find a lot of that information publicly, right? A lot of companies are very forthcoming with what it is they want to achieve with their business, what their forward looking goals are. David Peterson: I like to work in companies that are, I wouldn't necessarily say progressive, but companies that are just all about utilizing technology, that are cutting edge, that are trying to solve problems that are unique. I like, at least now in my life, I like companies that are doing sort of innovative things, right? So I'm interested in the electric car movement. I think that's a really interesting sort of problem that a ton of companies are trying to solve. I think that renewable energy is huge. I'm looking at solar tech now, maybe even medicine down the road too. I know that medicine is evolving probably every single second that we're alive here. It's changing, the technology is changing in the medical space. David Peterson: In terms of companies in the more general sense, again I just look for companies that have defined goals and sort of purpose, right? If you're just a company for the sake of being a company it doesn't interest me. I would say that there are particular industries. Again, I mentioned a couple that I sort of like but I'm not opposed to diverse companies. If somebody came to me and said hey, I have a really interesting proposition in sort of coal and mining for example, right? A whole bunch of people would be throwing up red flags and say oh coal is bad and all this other crazy stuff. David Peterson: But I would say, "Listen, let me take an objective look at it. If they have something that meshes with my own personal philosophy, my inner being, it may be something that I'd be interested in. I'd like to take a look at what the founders are all about, what the goals are, what the objectives of the company are. And again, if it meshes with me, I'd like to take a look at it." But again, I think everybody has to pretty much follow their own inner compass when it comes to working for a company. David Peterson: For me, I'm really big on the founders. I'd like to, again, know what they embody, know what they're all about. For me it all comes down to the founders and sort of the principles of the company and the purpose that the company exists.

Matt: Interesting. Do you find that the founders themselves are, because you mentioned a few sort of industries that are cutting edge and big problems that we're all having to face. Are those predominantly mission driven companies? Do you find that that's what really makes a successful founder is a mission that they are working towards for the betterment of the community more generally? Is that something that's important? David Peterson: Yeah. 100% yeah. 100% mission driven. For me, again, it's all mission driven. If you don't have a clear and concise objective or a path or a dream you're trying to achieve, I mean I think you just exist for the sake of existing. That doesn't mesh with my inner compass, right, my true north for example.

Matt: Yeah. We're getting close to our closing questions here David, and you've been so generous with your time. I really appreciate it. You mentioned you're doing a PhD and it sort of seems like this is kind of the grand arc of your working life is just continuing to learn. Could you go into a little bit about what sort of got you interested in whatever you're doing your PhD on? I'd love to learn a little bit about you're up to there. David Peterson: Yeah, sure. I've been in sort of higher education for the last decade now. I finished my masters in 2014. I took about a one year hiatus and then started in mid-2015. I pretty much just figured that I wanted to get to sort of the pinnacle of I guess my education, right, and what better than getting a doctorate, right? Getting your PhD. My PhD is in global business, which is broad, but I'm focusing on basically global sustainability and global economics. I'm focusing a lot of basically sustainability of business in other parts of the world. David Peterson: I'm looking at countries that are sort of burgeoning countries. I'm studying how capitalism is playing an impact on their GDP, on their, I guess the growth of their own respective countries. I'm taking a look at a lot of third world countries so there are countries in Africa right now that are really embracing technology. There are tons of companies that are emerging there across a whole host of industries. I'm pretty much just taking a look at them and seeing how technology plays a role in the growth and rise of these countries that are now establishing themselves.

Matt: Was the goal of doing that level of education to apply it to either a business or something in your work life? Or is that just a pure interest on your side? David Peterson: It's part both. So later on down the road I'd like to teach, I'd like to give back at some point. Not any time soon but towards the end of my life, so the end of my career. I'm probably going to teach at university somewhere so I think that was part of the reason. The other reason was personal. I just wanted to get the degree to be able to do it, right? You really don't go any higher than that. After you've got your doctorate, your PhD, that's pretty much it. That was the personal goal of mine to go as far as I could go educationally. On a crazy note too, I might start law school in the fall too. I took the LSAT [crosstalk 00:37:14]

Matt: Oh my god. David Peterson: ... The law school admissions test. I can't get enough. I don't think I can get enough learning, enough education. I think that my personal philosophy is that you never stop learning, right?

Matt: Yeah, that's amazing. You must have, well that's an amazing energy level [crosstalk 00:37:29]. David Peterson: Ton of energy, ton of time, yes sir.

Matt: One question I like to ask my guests is, and I think this is particularly interesting in your case, what does your day look like? Is there a routine that you have? Or is it sort of, it sounds like you're a busy man, is there a specific thing that you do every day or what does that look like? David Peterson: My days aren't necessarily as structured as I'd like them to be. I typically wake up in the morning ... I'm not a morning person. I tend to find myself working late into the evenings which is scientifically probably not good. Medically people would say it's not good, but I typically find myself up until four or five in the morning.

Matt: Holy cow. David Peterson: And I'll sleep until like 8 o'clock. I sleep like on three or four hours a day. My days start between 8 and 9 am, sometimes a little bit earlier depending on whether I have any early meetings or calls I need to prepare for. The majority of my day is literally just spent working. I'm on the phone conducting research. I'm getting into pod casting now so I'm going to have to carve out some time in my day somewhere to start working on pod casting. I try to get outside. Again, working from home affords a greater level of flexibility than if you had to report to an office for example. So I go outside, we walk. I try to keep physically active as well. Working from home you can get stuck, you can just get sucked into your work and that's it, so I try to spend an hour or two outside. David Peterson: I have a fairly large property that I live on. We have like three or four acres so we just started building a outdoor entertainment area, a patio that we grill on now instead of, our sitting area for the summer now since the weather's getting nicer. I'm probably going to start working outside more, to be honest with you. I think it's an awesome thing to be out in nature and work right? I mean still connected to technology. I've got to try to limit my technology use but it's just so hard. I'm just so connected to my work and you know sort of my own personal inner mission, right? I'm on go time all the time.

Matt: Yeah, it sounds like it. I have a couple more closing questions for you. And like I said, we really appreciate your coming on the show. Again, you're one of those people where I think the amount of energy that you have is inspiring and I hope it's inspired some of our listeners. We'll definitely send them to where you are online so that they can take a look and know what you're up to.

Matt: My first closing question here is what leadership practice or skill do you think is most important? David Peterson: Empowering your employees at the top of the list of, again, leadership traits in terms of importance, right? Again, it's the least practiced by business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, and business leaders. People need to be empowered. I think you get the best work out of people when you give them the power to either be successful or mess up. I think it's important to have trust in your employees. It becomes readily apparent really quickly who's going to succeed and who's not. So I would say again, empowering your employees is at the top of my list. It's something that I'm going to be focusing on for the rest of this year. And it's something that I'm going to continue to probably preach through my podcasts and any public speaking engagements that I start getting involved in, in the coming months.

Matt: Yeah, that's a really good one. It's something that I've heard every once in a while but I think it's really undervalued is giving people responsibility and allowing them to meet your high expectations. Just giving them the freedom to do that. Because I think most people when given the responsibility mostly exceed expectations if you give them the opportunity to do so. I think that's a great one. David Peterson: Yeah, no, totally.

Matt: My next question here is a unique one and it's one of my favorites because I just am a big reader myself. I you could force everyone to read one book what would it be and why? David Peterson: Yeah, sure. So I've read most of the entrepreneurial books that exist. This is an older one by Napoleon Hill. I don't know if you're involved in entrepreneurship start ups. You've probably read it but Think and Grow Rich. There's a quote that I like to share with people all the time. What he said was that the starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results. Just a small fire makes a small amount of heat. So if you apply that to your life, to an objective you have, a project, a business. You shouldn't necessarily fail, right, you're more apt to succeed if you just are very aggressive in pursuing whatever it is, again, that you're trying to achieve. He said it best. Desire is, again, the starting point for all achievement. If I didn't have the desire to build a business, if I didn't have the desire to continue my education, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. David Peterson: I think that people need to focus on themselves and they need to focus on what makes them happy. Again, he coined it many many many years ago, follow your passion. Go after it and go after it vigorously.

Matt: Yeah, that's a good one. I'm sure most of our listeners have heard of it at least but I do think it's not one that you should overlook. I've read it myself and it's a great. Yeah, give it a shot. The title I think leads people to not pick it up in the first place but I do recommend that you do so because it's a good one.

Matt: My last question here before I let you go here, David, is what is the best advice you've ever been given? David Peterson: Yeah, so I was given this advice at a very very young age. My paternal grandfather pretty much told me that I should chase my dreams no matter what. He told me that if I truly believed in a cause, or something greater than myself, I should pursue it at all costs. He told me never ever give up on yourself or the dream, or dreams for that matter. He pretty much just told me that I should never give up. He told me that I could achieve anything that I put my mind to, you know, and as long as I went about it in a smart manner. If I was methodical, if I had a plan, I was more apt to succeed. David Peterson: But again, I think that this is very important. I think that people should just chase their dreams no matter what. If you want to make something happen you have the power to do it. If you believe that it should exist, if you believe that it should be you, if you believe that you should have whatever. If you want materialistic things you can get them. If you want to go to school and be a lawyer, you can go to school and do that. If you want to be a doctor you can go ahead and do it. You just have to believe in yourself and take action and just make it happen.

Matt: Yeah, you're definitely, I think you're a good representation of that thought. That's really inspiring. David, thanks again so much, for coming to the show. We really appreciate it. Where should we be sending people so that they can learn more about you and what you do? David Peterson: I'm on social media, everybody can look it up. Most of my user names are at I'm David Peterson. My website is imdavidpeterson.com, and then the company website is just themega.agency, so not dot com, it's just themega.agency. We have the dot agency domain sort of tag that we use so pretty straight forward. But every else on the internet it's at I'm David Peterson, pretty simple. There are tons of David Peterson's out there but nobody coined or nobody captured or honed in on I'm David Peterson so pretty simple to find me.

Matt: Well David, thanks again so much for coming to the show, super inspiring. I think you definitely inspired me to go after things. I really appreciate you coming on so thank you so much. David Peterson: Yeah. Thanks. I really appreciate you guys having me. This is the first podcast I've actually been on so clearly I'm interested in it. I'm obviously going to try and do more. I was happy to share what I could in the period of time that we had. There's tons of things that we could talk about, but again, just want everybody know that they should, again, chase their dreams. Never give up and just go after whatever passion you have. That's really it. That's how I wake up on a daily basis. I just wake up and seize the day, as cliched as it may sound.

Matt: Yeah. Not that's good. I think the message is just get after it. You have no excuse, no reason not to. So yeah, that's a good message, and hopefully we can have you on again. Because I think there's a lot of other stuff we could talk about. So maybe a part two coming up at a later date but we'll keep people posted. David, again, thank you so much, and we'll talk to you again soon. David Peterson: Great, thanks Matt.

Matt: Thanks so much again for listening to the show. Be sure to check out weworkremotely.com, the latest remote jobs. And if you're looking to hire and you're a remote worker, We Work Remotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so. As always if you have someone we should talk to, any advice you have, or if you'd like to advertise on the podcast, please reach out to us at podcast at weworkremotely.com. That's podcast at weworkremotely.com. Thanks so much again for listening and we'll talk to you next time.

← Back