The Remote Show
This week it was our pleasure to talk to Field Marketing Extraordinaire, Design Evangelist and long time remote worker -- Max Lind! Max has extensive experience in design and creative work for some incredible teams. We discuss his career path from working in a design agency to becoming a senior business development specialist at Dribbble and his current role as Manager of Field Marketing at Abstract.
Max had some great tips on working remotely, career advice for people wanting to get into the industry and much much more. Max is truly a gem, and we're happy we get to share his insights with you!
Check out Abstract.com and follow them on twitter at @abstract for the latest on what they're up to! It's worth it, trust us. Also follow Max on twitter: @maxlind for some high quality gifs and updates on his work with Abstract
Matt H: Hello everyone, my name is Matt Hollingsworth and welcome to another episode of The Remote Show where we discuss everything to do with remote work from the people who know it best. Thanks so much for listening. The Remote Show is brought to you as always by We Work Remotely, the largest community of remote workers in the world. With over 220,000 unique users per month We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire. My guest on today's show is Max Lind. Max works at Abstract as the manager of field marketing. Abstract is a design workflow platform built by designers for designers and provides one place for design teams diversion, manage and collaborate on design files. Abstract is trusted by some of the world's leading brands, including Lyft, Spotify, Salesforce, and many more. For more information visit abstract.com. Max, thanks so much for being on the show.
Max Lind: [00:00:54] Hey, thank you for having me.
Matt H: [00:00:55] We're really excited to talk to you. Why don't we start with sort of your background, how you
[00:01:00] got into the design space and then we'll work towards what you're doing now.
Max Lind: [00:01:03] Sure, yeah. So I was born and raised in Iowa and I followed my older, more talented brother into the design world. So my background is in design, that's why I went to school for. Worked for product companies and did a few agency based roles in Iowa for a while. And then kind of slowly but surely transitioned into marketing and salesy roles. And a lot of that too was just, I still had a love for hands on design work, but just kind of had some random opportunities come my way. I'm a big believer in chasing down folks and opportunities via phone or email or what have you. So I famously, or at least I coined it as famously sent an email to Andrew Wilkinson when he bought Designer News back in the day that turned into some contract work and that then turned into a full time role, and kind of transitioned again from the design side to more of a community marketing role. And a lot of that too ended up being things that would have certainly comfortable doing, but
[00:02:00] also transitioning into some roles that I was somewhat new to as well. So from there, ended up slowly but surely getting into more salesy roles when Designer News and Dribble merged. I ended up doing all the online ad sales for them, kind of headed up the charge there in terms of just monetization strategy for Dribble as a whole. Online, jobs board, sponsorship sales for events, kind of all over the board. So, I pretty quickly like got away from the hands on design world but pretty much obviously stayed within the grander design community. And obviously fast forward today, I'm still in the design world, but obviously just kind of on the flip side of things now instead of selling sponsorships in the design world, I'm seeking them as the field marketing manager within Abstract.
Matt H: [00:02:47] Nice. And so just for the listener, you and I met sort of in the process of me coming on to help out with the Designer News as well. So, we did work together for a little bit-
Max Lind: [00:02:58] Yeah.
Matt H: [00:02:59] As well
[00:03:00] and then you went off to Abstract. So you said you're based in Iowa, are you in Des Moines or outside of Des Moines?
Max Lind: [00:03:06] Correct. Yup, Des Moines, Iowa.
Matt H: [00:03:07] Nice. Okay, cool. Have you found that, that area has sort of seen a bit of an increase in the amount of people that are involved in tech or what is it the tech scene like in Des Moines, Iowa?
Max Lind: [00:03:18] It's interesting, you know, there's, especially in Des Moines, there's definitely a financial tech scene, especially between banking and insurance there's a lot of headquarters here. Wells Fargo, Nationwide, Wellmark, so there's like an interesting blend of, again, like the fintech scene especially. You know, between Des Moines and Omaha, Nebraska for those familiar with the Midwest, I think it's dubbed Silicon Prairie where's this kind of like our own little version of what's going on in Silicon Valley. But, so there's definitely a tech scene in some sense and to that same extent, there's definitely a design scene as well. It's a little different just because of obviously the nature of the businesses that exist here in Des Moines, but it's interesting. You know I joke with a lot of folks that I
[00:04:00] talk to, you know, we're working remotely that I live and work in Iowa and half the time they think I was Idaho or on the other half of time they've driven through or visited in some sense. So yeah, it's a sneaky large tech and you know, kind of booming scene for those folks that are obviously looking for a new random place to move to especially.
Matt H: [00:04:19] Yeah, I'm guessing that has seen an increase as a result of the ability to go remote. A lot of these design and tech companies, a lot of people are choosing to go live in a place that doesn't necessarily cost million of dollars to buy a home and so it makes a lot of sense. And I'm sure that, that'll continue to be the case and we are probably seeing firsthand where remote workers are moving in and then all of the associated co-working spaces and communities that'll pop up in these places that don't necessarily scream tech innovation, which I think is, it's moving towards that for sure.
Max Lind: [00:04:54] Yeah, exactly. And you know, I would say the city does a good job too of supporting both local
[00:05:00] organizations that are obviously trying to kind of take hold of, I don't want to say resurgence. There's certainly always been a tech scene of some sort here, but kind of like this next wave of, you know, I hate to use the word entrepreneurial spirit, but you know, there's a lot of opportunities today that exists that wouldn't have even, you know, two, three years ago simply because of tools and services. And to your point, obviously the ability to work remote for massive global companies from Des Moines, Iowa, right in the middle of the country.
Matt H: [00:05:25] Yeah. How long have you been in Des Moines for? Did you grow up there?
Max Lind: [00:05:29] No. So I grew up about a couple of hours away from Des Moines, so I've been here in Des Moines for three, a little over three years now. Like I said, I kind of bounced around Iowa, went to school in Iowa. So I've kind of been here most of my life and then especially as of late, the last couple of roles that I've been in have also given me the opportunity again, not working remote. So, getting a chance to work with folks all over the country and the globe really, but then also have gotten a chance to do some traveling as well, which has been pretty nice. You know, obviously one of the things that, and maybe this is getting a little
[00:06:00] ahead of the things here, but you know, working remote sometimes can be a tad lonely.
Matt H: [00:06:04] Right.
Max Lind: [00:06:05] Getting a chance to obviously travel and do some things in the events space especially has been really great for the sake of, you know, obviously literally my growth and my career, but also in my network of folks and friends that I've met along the way.
Matt H: [00:06:15] Right. So you mentioned there that you were on the road a little bit, and I know that Abstract obviously is a remote friendly company. Is the whole team remote or they have an office that you can go to if you want to kind of idea. How does that work with Abstract?
Max Lind: [00:06:31] Yeah, so actually there's about, I think it's about 60% of the team is remote and then the other 40% is in San Francisco. So we do have an office in San Francisco. So we're not a fully remote team, but we're very much a remote friendly team. You know, even some of those folks that work in San Francisco don't always go to the office just based on what's going on in their schedules and their days. So yeah, we have a home base, so to speak. Abstract has a, you know, work from anywhere policy for lack of a better term.
Matt H: [00:06:57] Right. And that's also something that
[00:07:00] I think is going to continue on as well and continue to be more popular. Which I think is really cool, and I think it offers a little bit of the best of both worlds to people that would like to go to an office and then maybe be around people more, and others that prefer to stay home.
Max Lind: [00:07:13] Yeah. Yeah. And you know, for us especially to, it gives us a chance to, well, like even more recently our entire marketing team went out to the San Francisco office to have our little onsite for a few days to just hush out a bunch of plans for Q1 and Q2 and it gives us kind of a home base to all go to when need be. But then it also gives the entire company a home base to host events or to take part in the mega tech and design scene that already exist in San Francisco. So to your point, like the best of both worlds that it very much is.
Matt H: [00:07:43] Yeah. Cool. So can you go into a bit of detail about your role with Abstract and give listeners a sense of what Abstract is up to and just how things are going and what the future may hold?
Max Lind: [00:07:54] Yeah, yeah. So my role is mostly focused on the event side of things. And I say
[00:08:00] that kind of broadly because you know, we're actively trying to get the Abstract brand out there, get our product in front of obviously design teams. So you know, we're obviously sponsoring a lot of conferences that could be big, small, everything between, we know we're always looking for designing meetups to sponsor, workshops, festivals, you name it. Like any broad event that kind of exists in the design space, we're more or less looking at sponsoring. So my role is really to kind of do the full service work there in the event space. That means you know, everything from researching where we should be all the way to negotiating contracts, to doing the legwork to deal with all the sponsorship takeaways and making sure our team gets there safely with travel logistics and basically everything in between. And then the other part of my role too is kind of in what I would call like a partnerships community kind of base. Most of these event organizers also have kind of what I would call like you know, satellite projects in some sense. Actually in some sense they're conference actually might be, you know, a new project for them. You know, maybe they have an actual product that they sell to folks
[00:09:00] on the side but maybe they have a conference, and they also subsequently have a podcast, and they also subsequently have online ads of some sort. So, I actually worked pretty close with our marketing team to kind of be the glue in some sense, or the connector of dots to make sure that what we're doing on the event side in the physical real world also matches up with what we're trying to do in the digital space.
Matt H: [00:09:22] That's really cool. I think that's probably going to be, especially in the design space, but more generally speaking in tech where the business development style of job leans towards moving forward as people are less inclined to pursue just regular, you know, banner ads kind of style, sponsorship opportunities. People want to get more involved in the community, and they want to put faces to names in the way of physical events and they want to just be more of a value add style of partnership rather than just a banner ad on a site kind of idea. And maybe, correct me if I'm wrong there, but it seems like you know, the good companies in a lot of these areas are
[00:10:00] moving in that direction, which is more of a value add kind of community style business development approach.
Max Lind: [00:10:05] Yeah, and you know, I'm sure there's a lot of folks that are in a similar mindset to us, but ultimately at the end of the day, what we're trying to do, especially on the event side, but then with those other satellite kind of projects as well is truly trying to form partnerships and collaborate with other like minded folks on co-marketing partnerships of some set to tell our story, why Abstract matters, why you need it, why version control matters, why designers should actually rethink their current workflow. It's a lot easier said than done certainly, probably till you brought that point. You know, it's much more so important to us to build those relationships rather than just have a transactional relationship or, "Hey, we want to pay x amount for x amount of clicks and then just be done with it." Because at the end of the day, what really works for us and what has been really successful is our current customers kind of tell them they're very specific stories about how they use Abstract and why it matters, and how they've grown their teams internally using Abstract. It
[00:11:00] makes a big difference in the long run.
Matt H: [00:11:01] Yeah. How long has Abstract been around for?
Max Lind: [00:11:06] In some form or another, roughly about three years. I would probably need to double check the timeframe there.
Matt H: [00:11:11] Right.
Max Lind: [00:11:11] But came out of Beta a little over a year ago, essentially.
Matt H: [00:11:14] Oh, wow, so it's relatively new.
Max Lind: [00:11:16] Yeah, right.
Matt H: [00:11:16] Cool. I've seen you guys have the reputation, and the community seems to be growing. Is that the case and what's exciting on the horizon for Abstract?
Max Lind: [00:11:24] Yeah. Abstract currently only supports sketch files, which is incredibly great. We've worked with sketch obviously pretty closely to not only build the product but then on feature marketing and co-marketing partnerships. And in fact we're actually going to be in South by Southwest next week and doing kind of a co-marketing event with the folks at Sketch.
Matt H: [00:11:41] Oh, nice.
Max Lind: [00:11:42] It's probably the most exciting thing for a lot of folks that are either non-Sketch users or those users that kind of use a couple of different products is we're working on support for additional file formats. So we don't think Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, if you think of Abstract as like the tool belt, then
[00:12:00] the tools within that belt are all the design tools that a designer might use. So we don't necessarily care, you know, what you use. We just want you to ultimately use Abstract and kind of be the Switzerland of the design file world, if that makes sense.
Matt H: [00:12:12] No, totally. That does make sense, and you know, to a non-designer that actually puts a lot of things together, so that's great. So I wanted to talk to you a little bit about your experience. You've had quite a long time of working remotely, and you have a pretty unique perspective because you've been able to work in some high profile, high performing companies. And I'd love to get your sense of what good remote work leadership looks like in your experience.
Max Lind: [00:12:36] Yeah, yeah. You know, it's interesting over the course of, I don't know, five, six years, however long it's been that I've kind of been in the remote role. Common issues obviously come up, you know, difference in time zones, trying to schedule meetings. You know, like, I feel like you're always going to spend a little extra time kind of with those small things that maybe you wouldn't run into as much as compared to if you were in an office.
[00:13:00] In terms of things that I've noticed that have worked really well, just trusting the folks that you hired can get the jobs and the tasks done that you hired them for. And I know that kind of sounds silly to say, especially in a remote role. You know like, everybody doesn't like the micromanager that looks over your shoulder and kind of likes to click the mouse for you so to speak. But ultimately when it comes down to it, the ability to like just kind of have this line, faith and trust in the employees that you hired to do the job that you hired is really important. And I also think you know, the ability to write short, concise emails or project updates or status updates or whatever it may be is extremely important just because again, you know, a lot of times hopping on the phone or tapping somebody on the shoulder and you know, wanting to bug them about a project that you're working on just is a little bit harder. But being able to kind of again, write those really short concise project updates to then communicate back to the team about either what status it's at or what needs to be done, those things are like extremely important. I would even say, I've kind
[00:14:00] of tweeted about this a couple of different times in the past, but more than half of your adult working life is, you know, sending and receiving emails, disseminating information and then accurately organizing everything thereafter. Again, that kind of sounds silly, but like in a remote world, that's like 90% of your job. So like if you can't do that very good, it's something that you would certainly would have to work on. And I know that maybe sound simple to some people, but it definitely is not.
Matt H: [00:14:23] Yeah, it might sound simple to somebody who maybe doesn't have any experience or as much experience as you working remotely, but I can attest to that concept as well, that good writing, clear and concise writing is so, so important. And I often hear that over communicating is a good thing. That might be the case for some, but I think for me, and it sounds like for you as well, it's about not necessarily the amount of communication but how you're communicating, and the clarity of your writing, and the way that you communicate as well. So no, I think that makes a lot of sense.
Max Lind: [00:14:56] Yeah. And you know, the other interesting thing there too is on our
[00:15:00] team we of course have, you know, weekly marketing meetings and one on ones and those probably more common meetings that a lot of folks have regardless if you work remote or not. But kind of to that same point when you get the opportunity to have those meetings, again, being able to in a short concise way dictate either you know, what you need or what you need help with or where you're at with certain projects. I get it, it's funny because it's almost like the scope of how much time yet you actually have to work on things, it's just so different. And I know that sounds a little odd to think about, but back to your point like, until you sort of get in a role where it's not as common to be able to go walk to a different aisle of computers and tap somebody on the shoulder and ask them, "Hey, can I bug you for 15 minutes about XYZ?" You still can do that to some extent, but it's just the scope of like what you can do with that time is just so much different.
Matt H: [00:15:46] Yeah, and I also think that there's a balance that needs to be recognized between communicating effectively in work related matters, and also being able to just talk to somebody. Maybe that's not about work necessarily, but just to have a
[00:16:00] conversation that is about getting to know that person and being an effective teammate, and creating that culture I guess is my point. It sounds like your team does some events and get togethers, which I know is important to some remote companies and you touched on a little bit there, but how does Abstract deal with some of the issues that come up with remote work like you mentioned and how do they cultivate that sense of culture and community within the team?
Max Lind: [00:16:24] Well, for the folks that are in our San Francisco office, they definitely get a chance to do still monthly happy hours and random things during the holidays like you might see in most offices. Well like most teams, you know, we use Slack for the majority of our communication. So you know, there's a myriad of channels to keep up with what's going on, obviously on the project side, but then also kind of more so on the casual side, keeping up with literally what's going on at the office or what TV shows people are watching and music people like. There's definitely opportunities to share what's going on in some very specific niche of your world on Slack. But then our team also does two off-sites
[00:17:00] per year. In a couple of weeks here we're getting everybody together and going down to San Antonio for a week and you know, we'll do meetings and some team bonding things and just really get a chance to get everybody in one room so to speak and just kind of meet and greet and get to know each other and all that good stuff. You know, it's far as easy, "As it is nowadays to work in a remote culture and hire folks remotely," because you know, there's obviously some really great talent, especially in the Midwest, you know, as (inaudible) plug there.
Matt H: [00:17:27] Yeah I know, please.
Max Lind: [00:17:30] You know, obviously still getting that face to face time is extremely important obviously for the sake of just that, back to your broader point there about that human connection, you know, being able to find some common bond about, again, music everybody likes or movies everybody like, so are just, those small interactions that certainly go a long way.
Matt H: [00:17:48] Yeah. And I also think that having a situation like Abstract where they have a headquarters, you mentioned in San Francisco and then you have sort of a dispersed team outside of that, it's probably different in terms of the dynamics there because
[00:18:00] like you said, you have a team that's in San Francisco that's seeing each other pretty regularly and getting to know each other outside of work maybe a little bit more than the rest of the team. Has there been any issues in terms of disseminating information or any sort of problems that have arisen as a result of having both of those situations? Having the remote team as well as the local team at headquarters?
Max Lind: [00:18:21] No, I would say that there's been projects that certainly didn't go exactly as we had planned. I would say regardless of the folks that are, you know, working in the San Francisco office or those working remote, we also do a good job about making sure that everybody kind of feels on equal grounds in some sense. You know, even the smallest things like, let's say we have a meeting with three people that are in San Francisco and three people that are not in San Francisco. A lot of times those folks in San Francisco will all get on their individual computers so then we can see them individually just to give some sense of like, hey, like it's not all of us in one room while everybody else is off on their own. Back to your point on, you know, just disseminating information
[00:19:00] and when maybe things hadn't gone quite as we had planned, you know, I feel like we do a really good job about more broadly communicating. And again, obviously a lot of that probably comes back down to that point of the ability to write. I feel like a lot of the folks at Abstract fit the bill there, but I feel like Abstract as a company does a really good job about realistic expectations on what the projects are. You know, building a project plan and doing project kickoffs, especially on projects that are, you know, big in scope, multiple months. Maybe there's just a lot of assets or there's a lot of departments that are going to be involved and then as the projects go on, the responsible party can obviously make adjustments as need be. But then let's just say that a project didn't exactly go according to plan once we got to the end. I also feel like Abstract does a really good job about taking some time to kind of pause and see what went wrong. Like what could we fix, what was out of our control? What were the things that we could have fixed early on in the project plan, but now we know for next time, you know it's not always easy, especially with a fast growing company with a million things going on to truly like pause and take time to
[00:20:00] make sure that either things are corrected and/or processes are fixed for the next time around.
Matt H: [00:20:05] Right. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And it's not something that I hear as often with people that I talk to about prioritizing, you know, a breakdown of how things went at the end of the product. Especially, like you said with a team that's moving so quickly and then there's a tendency, I think it probably doesn't go very well. Okay, well on to the next thing. Whereas you know, it's probably better, you're probably better off to really break it down to see where things went wrong and what went right, and then try to re-establish that going forward. One of the things that I wanted to ask you too, with your day to day, you can take this in a weekly schedule too. Is there anything that you would do in terms of process in your day or what does a day look like with you? And then my follow up question would be within your team, is there anything that your team doesn't miss on a weekly basis that you find very critical and what have you learned in terms of process?
Max Lind: [00:20:55] Sure. It's fairly cyclical and a lot of that just comes down to being in the
[00:21:00] event space, you know. We'll attend, you know, I think in Q1 there was 12 events that we attended. And when I say attended, obviously I, you know, we sponsored and maybe we had a booth and maybe we also spoke. So a lot of the to do's that I end up obviously working on, a lot of them are very similar across all those events with just some slight tweaks. You know, maybe we did have a booth at this one, but we didn't have it at this one. Or you know, maybe a sponsorship included, you know, a number of extras, you know, like blog posts or inclusion and emails or those sorts of things that I need to have some other folks on my marketing team help me with. But, so the reason I sort of say cyclical is like, you know, a lot of times once we sign up, you know, and officially sign the contract for a new event sponsorship, there'll be a list of to do's I need to work through, I need to share it with the team. You know, I need to start thinking about booking travel for our folks internally. So the nice thing about that is, you know, you can kind of create a playbook of sorts, but on the flip side, every event is different. And there's certainly not a lack of
[00:22:00] options to choose from these days. So, you know, yeah, it's interesting. And I've talked to a lot of folks more recently too, for as many events that we do I think those that aren't in the events space kind of forget that, you know, once an event comes, you're either ready for it or you're not ready for it.
Matt H: [00:22:14] Right.
Max Lind: [00:22:14] And that could be a good or bad thing. You can't, you know, there's no pushing back a project deadline or anything, you know, once the event is here, it's here. So, you know, for as cyclical as my job actually is, I feel like it's also, you know, kind of that idea of spinning plates, so to speak. You constantly have to kind of be on your toes and you know, if you do need to, you know, drop everything so to speak and focus all your attention on some other immediate need that popped up because, so you know, we shipped our entire booth presence to an event and it got stuck in customs, then you have to deal with that problem. So it's kind of an interesting balance. And I would say for as much as that might kind of sound stressful or that might kind of sound, you know, overwhelming to some folks, it's an interesting position to be in too just because I personally do like the challenge of like, "Hey, you got to kind of think on your toes, think fast." A lot of this again kind of goes
[00:23:00] back to my thought on the folks that Abstract obviously hired me to do a job and hopefully they trusted me to, you know, make quick decisions as need be for, you know, increasing budgets or you know, shifting as needed, if our booth presence did get stuck in customs. So again, for as much as it's cyclical in some sense it's also kind of a surprise in some sense just because again, things change and you got to adapt and roll with the punches so to speak.
Matt H: [00:23:23] Yeah, that probably keeps it interesting for you as well in a role that's pretty new for you. And it also sounds like, you know, there's not a whole lot of other people, and maybe I'm wrong here, but there's not a lot of people that are doing this in the same kind of situation as your end. So there is probably a lot of coming up with things on the spot and doing things that there isn't really a playbook for necessarily. So it sounds pretty interesting and engaging and certainly not boring.
Max Lind: [00:23:48] Yeah. Yeah. You know, and again, like, you know, my experience previously was on the salesy side, so, you know, I was actually like literally the one selling these sponsorships to folks. Now on the flip side, I'm seeking those.
[00:24:00] And it's interesting kind of having that full picture because I also can understand, you know, the heartache that they're feeling and dealing with. Literally they're trying to create this, you know, event from scratch and finding speakers and venues and all that good stuff. So it's been an interesting pivot for me, but also one I've been very excited about just because you know, things are changing fast, abstract is growing fast, but then that also means, you know, we have a lot of like lofty goals and interesting projects. And some of the things that we're wanting to work on that we haven't quite gotten to yet, they're coming down the pipeline around the roadmap, things that are just as exciting as, you know, what I'm doing now. And again, a little shameless self promotion here, but we're looking for a field marketing producer to obviously help with our events. You know, like just literally another person to do all the logistics, all the finer details with again, sponsorship takeaways and booking travel, and finding venues and making sure that, you know, really at the end of the day, and again, a lot of the folks that have jobs in the field marketing or event space will understand this. Like when it comes down to it, if the event comes,
[00:25:00] and it goes off without a hitch, and you can kind of just like sit back and be behind the scenes, like that's the ultimate win. Like, you know, if you were more or less able to enjoy the event and sit back and not have to worry about running around, like your hair is on fire, then at the end of the day, that's a win. So, yeah.
Matt H: [00:25:15] Cool. And that's actually a decent Segway into my next question here, which you sort of already answered, but, and I'm not sure how much you're involved in the hiring process for Abstract or your team, but is there some unique skill or is there's something specific that you look for with someone who's going to come on in a remote role that you potentially wouldn't have looked for otherwise. And again, you can take that in any way that you want. I'd be interested to hear what you look for, for somebody that's going to come on as a remote employee.
Max Lind: [00:25:46] Yeah. You know, some of this I certainly kind of touched on earlier a little bit, you know, even with our team, definitely the writing ability is a big one. This would be my first role that I'd be hiring for specifically at Abstract, you know, and again as our field marketing team
[00:26:00] grows, you know they'll certainly be more roles like there's that pop up that will be hiring for and folks that I'll be talking to in interviews and all that good stuff. But the ability to write is a big one. You know, juggling multiple projects and I know that probably sounds obvious, but juggling multiple projects in the sense of me knowing that I could just trust somebody to again make those decisions on the fly without having my approval or my broader teams approval. Really when it comes down to it, I would love to be able to give somebody a checklist of to do's, you know, obviously get them up to speed but give them a checklist of to do's and say I trust you to run with this. But I also trust you to ask me questions as needed and hopefully I'm providing enough information up front. But a lot of it just comes down to probably those two things is like literally just trusting in the people that you hired to do the job. And those people then trusting themselves to like be able to tackle all this stuff at once and knowing that like, hey, at the end of the day, even if you have a million things going on, everybody's human, there'll be another day you can, you know,
[00:27:00] push things off if need be, but also making sure to ask questions and get feedback and help if need be to.
Matt H: [00:27:05] Right. And this again Segway's nicely into my next question for you. So it does sound like you have a lot going on and especially with Abstract growing and things are moving along and it sounds quite busy. How do you maintain consistently healthy work life balance? And maybe it's not something that you've figured out. And certainly, I, you know, sometimes struggle with turning things off as well, but if there's anything that you've found that helps you with your work life balance in a remote role such as yours?
Max Lind: [00:27:33] Yeah, the events world and again, folks that work in the events world will understand this, you know, sometimes you kind of do need to be on call to some extent just because there's last minute deadlines to hit or you know, you're actually waiting on feedback from the shipping company. You'd like, just things that are going to come out. But more recently I've tried to do some time blocking to really force myself to not shift gears so quickly all the time. You know,
[00:28:00] it's really easy to jump from one thing to the other five minutes on this, 15 minutes on this, five minutes on this. But really like that doesn't, I feel like at the end of the day what if I jump back and forth too quickly like that, I don't actually make good positive progress. You know, maybe I made some progress, but even from my personal sake, I don't feel it. So I feel like this idea of trying to actually do some time blocking and set aside, you know, an hour a day where I'm literally only working on this project or maybe I'm only reviewing future events or I'm only going back and you know, making adjustments to the budget. I feel like, especially in this role at Abstract, but over the years, and you know, working in remote role's, I've slowly but surely kind of become, you know, I wouldn't say very organized, but very cognizant of organization if that makes more sense.
Matt H: [00:28:46] Right.
Max Lind: [00:28:46] And the idea of like, I truly like to make sure that my workload is organized because then that makes me feel better about where I'm at with my progress or making sure that my team is up to date with my progress. And that's probably another one of those small things in terms of like
[00:29:00] maintaining the consistent work life balance. It's like if I'm able to be realistic about like what I can accomplish and I'm organized at the same time, then that goes a long way to making sure that like I'm not feeling overwhelmed or stressed or yet, and everybody's going to have those times that come up. You know, you get some news about some project and you all of a sudden you get stressed, but it's, there's a quote to some extent about it being easy to overestimate what you can do in a short amount of time, but then underestimate what you can actually do over a long period of time. You know, being organized and being realistic about what you can accomplish. Then you pretty quickly realized that like, Hey, over the last I did accomplish a lot, you know, and got the strategy done and we knocked out three events and you know, we did hire that new person. And so I think at the end of the day trying to find that, I wouldn't even say like balance between work and life per se, but maybe finding that boundary between work and life. Everybody's always connected. You have your email right on your phone, but
[00:30:00] getting the understanding of when you can or can't turn it off is probably just as important as anything else.
Matt H: [00:30:05] Right. And for myself too, I know that, I'm not really able to, and again, unplug is the wrong word because it seems like we're always plugged into something. But really enjoy time not working when I know that I'm not completely organized in my work for the next day or whenever I return to it. So I think that's a really good point. Is there anything that you use, any tools that you use specifically to manage your workflow and keep things organized that people might not have heard of or something you would recommend?
Max Lind: [00:30:37] Yeah, I use this personally at Abstract but then also like on a personal level as well. But there's an app called Notion. Notion describes itself as the all in one workspace. I'm just literally reading off the website, but their tagline is write, plan, collaborate and get organized, Notion is all you need in one tool. And notion.so is the URL, but if you
[00:31:00] take a closer look you'll get a better sense of it. Taking a step back, obviously at Abstract we use the Google Suite of products and we also use Dropbox Paper and then we use Asana for project management. And like most companies, we're all over the place in terms of what tools and services we use. So that means some days I have that browser window that has a thousand tabs open because like I want to make sure that I don't lose that thing that if I did lose it, you know, and close that tab, then I have to search the paper database to figure out where the heck it is again.
Matt H: [00:31:26] Right.
Max Lind: [00:31:27] Well, Notion gives me a chance to like in some sense create like a home base or a link list of some sort. And you know, like I can say, "Hey, here's the most important marketing documents or events documents or budget documents." And when I said documents, it could be links to Dropbox Paper doc or a Google Sheet or a Google Drive doc or whatever it ends up being. I can kind of create a Notion page essentially is what they are, just a page of all these links and that kind of access with my like home base. So then instead of having, again that browser window that it has a
[00:32:00] thousand tabs that I'd never want to close because if I did I'll lose everything. I can just rely on Notion to be my like command central for those VIP links that I open all the time. And then at the same time, I personally use it as a quick and easy way to do my weekly to do's. So you know, I have Monday through Friday and then as things come up I'll quickly add up to do to that day. And then if I don't get it done in that day, then I'll move it to the next day. You know what, I'm very much a person that likes to still use a notebook and chicken scratch and jot things on the fly. So I've slowly but surely kind of transitioned into using Notion specifically to get this done, because you can sort of use this however you want, but ultimately, you know, it ends up being the place that you put all the stuff that you work on.
Matt H: [00:32:41] Right.
Max Lind: [00:32:42] Which at the end of the day, especially on a remote team, we're all over the board sometimes because you know, as things change and as our team grows, sometimes we're trying new tools and sometimes we're shifting gears a little bit. So kind of having that home base to know that these are the most important links that I work on all the time is extremely important and saves
[00:33:00] heck, 30 minutes to an hour per day probably.
Matt H: [00:33:03] Yeah. It's funny you mentioned Notion. I actually use Notion as well and I'm a big fan as well, so-
Max Lind: [00:33:07] Nice, nice.
Matt H: [00:33:08] Plug there for Notion.
Max Lind: [00:33:10] Yeah.
Matt H: [00:33:10] So Max, I know that your time is valuable here and I wanted to close it up here relatively soon. I got a couple of closing questions for you. One of them you answered just there, but I'll ask you anyways just in case you have something else to add. What is your favorite remote work tool or resource that everyone should know about? I'm going to caveat that with the no Notion and Abstract and Slack.
Max Lind: [00:33:34] Sure, sure. This might sound kind of funny, I feel like the other thing that I deal with a lot, obviously just dealing with sponsorships and vendors and all that good stuff. You know, I'm dealing with budgets all the time. I use a tool called Numi. Numi is just a calculator essentially. But the way it's structured Numi gives you a chance to kind of do calculations in plain text or in plain text English. So for instance, you know, if I just want
[00:34:00] to know percentage off of this price, I can type it out as 20% off $4,127 and it'll give me the answer. Now for South by Southwest for instance, you know, we're doing this big meetup party. There's all these ins and outs with vendors and goods and venue rental and all this good stuff. Well, I did all the calculations I needed in Numi, but then added the context of what all those calculations were actually for, you know, and I can copy and paste that and put it into a different document as needed. But Numi is a really simple way to use a calculator in a non calculator fashion, if that makes sense.
Matt H: [00:34:34] Cool. I should check that out cause my quick mental math is not quite up to snuff for what it used to be or whatever it was. All right, my last question here for you, what is your favorite unplugged activity? Yeah, and take that in whatever direction you want to.
Max Lind: [00:34:50] Yeah. Yeah. So my wife and I, we just had a baby six months ago.
Matt H: [00:34:54] Congrats.
Max Lind: [00:34:54] So obviously ... Thank you very much. Probably our favorite unplugged activity is trying to deal with Lucy.
Matt H: [00:34:59] Nice.
Max Lind: [00:34:59]
[00:35:00] But certainly beyond that we like to catch up on movies, or I like to play video games personally. But probably amongst everything that we certainly don't get to do as much, you know, with Lucy around, but we see a lot of live music. So like literally detaching from like all things electronics and just going to a show. And again, the nice thing about Des Moines, Iowa is it's a good stopping point for a lot of bands on the way to Chicago or Minneapolis or Kansas City. So you know, we could go to, you know, a show on a random Tuesday night and find a babysitter, and you know, see a band that we would literally never otherwise see just because they're stopping in Des Moines, and you know, we run into them at the pizza place next door to the venue after the show and just ultimately like my favorite unplugged activities is probably, yeah, is seeing live music still even with the new kiddo around.
Matt H: [00:35:48] Nice. Well Max, thank you so much for coming on The Remote Show. We really appreciate it. Is there anywhere that we should be sending people to get to see what you're up to or Abstract, where should people go?
Max Lind: [00:35:59]
[00:36:00] Sure. For Abstract folks specifically our URL is abstract.com. Definitely take a look at the blog. You know, we have a lot of cool things going on just to, you know, get a sense of the product as a whole. You know, on a personal level like many other people are probably in the same situation, I'm kind of redoing my personal website currently, but otherwise if people want to follow me on Twitter, I'm Max Lind. I don't tweet too often. You know, you get a random thing I think is funny or a song lyric, or probably a link to something that Apple did because I'm a lover of all things Apple. But that's probably the best way to keep up and you know, if folks are ever curious about Abstract or roles that Abstract or heck even, you know, want to follow up with questions about, you know, something that they heard on this podcast, I'm more than happy to answer. You know, shoot me a DM and I'm more than happy to dig in. You know, I feel like, you know, a long time ago in my career, the whole reason I got kind of going, you know where I've got to today is you know, took a chance and sent a random email. So
[00:37:00] I'm very much an advocate of making sure to respond to folks and encourage those to like send that random email to that random person that you might want to ask about some random thing, because it's important to you and heck, you never know it might be important to them.
Matt H: [00:37:13] Yeah, yeah, I can definitely second that. That's how I got my job too. So-
Max Lind: [00:37:16] Yeah, exactly.
Matt H: [00:37:16] If there's anybody out there that wants to reach out and take a stab then do it. Always do it because the worst that can happen is people will say no.
Max Lind: [00:37:23] Exactly. Yup.
Matt H: [00:37:24] All right man. Well thanks so much again, we really appreciate it and we'll talk soon.
Max Lind: [00:37:28] Thank you, sounds good.
Matt H: [00:37:29] I know. Thanks so much again for listening to the show. Be sure to check out weworkremotely.com for the latest remote jobs, and if you're looking to hire a remote worker, We Work Remotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so. As always, if you have someone that we should talk to or advice, or if you'd like to sponsor the show, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's email@example.com. Thanks so much for listening and I will talk to you next