The Remote Show







Show Notes:

My guest on today's show is Mesh Lakhani. Mesh is a New York based investor, content creator and host of Talk Money - a story based podcast that makes business, finance and investing simple and entertaining. With this new environment, we thought it would be a good time to change up the kinds of conversations we have, and I'm really glad we did.

Mesh brings a fresh perspective here on the Remote Show. Unlike managers and remote workers we've talked to, Mesh focuses mostly on business education by way of storytelling, journalistic inquiry and content creation. It was particularly interesting diving into what Mesh believes New York could look like in five years post Covid19, and what remote work means from the perspective of an investor, rather than an operator.

This is a bit different from our typical conversations, and I'm hoping you enjoy this perspective on technology, remote work and business. If you have any suggestions, or feedback -- reach out to us at podcast@weworkremotely.com!

Follow Mesh on Twitter @meshlakhani and visit his podcast page to learn more about Talk Money. I personally recommend Mesh's content to everyone wanting to learn more about personal finance, business and investing.  The shows are informative and entertaining, trust us!


Please enjoy our conversation! If you like the show, please remember, review, subscribe and tell a friend! We'd really appreciate it. 


Transcript:

Matt Hollingsworth (00:00):

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 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 220,000 unique users per month, We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire. My guest on today's show is Mesh Lakhani. Mesh is a New York based investor, content creator and host of Talk Money, a story of different podcast that makes business, finance and investing simple, relatable and entertaining. With this new environment, we thought it would be a good time to change up the kinds of conversations we have and I'm really glad we did. Mesh brings a fresh perspective on remote work in New York, investing in storytelling and much more. Follow Mesh on Twitter @meshlakhani and visit thetalkmoney.com to learn more about his podcast and the content. It's highly recommended. Mesh, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. Man, I really appreciate it.

Mesh Lakhani (01:01):

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. I'm excited to be here.

Matt Hollingsworth (01:05):

All right. We've got a few different areas we can go down here and I'm excited to get into it with you. The first question I always like to ask though, is what is the thing you're most proud of that you've done over the past 12 months?

Mesh Lakhani (01:16):

Matt, that's a really good question. And I think the thing I'm proud of over the last 12 months is we just put out an episode, a narrative podcast for my show, Talk Money on systemic racism from an economic lens focusing on black business owners and the reason why I'm so proud of it is that for the last two years, I've been trying to reach a certain level of quality when it comes to narrative podcasting. I really wanted to put out something the same quality as an NPR, New York Times.
Mesh Lakhani (01:50):

And it took me a couple of years to get there and I'm really happy that it came with that episode because we started working on it after the protest started and we spent about three months on it and we interviewed four interviews probably put 60 hours of work into it and it came out pretty great. I'm very proud of that. I can say with the other things I've done, I'm like, it's okay or it could be better, this one I feel like I really hit it hard. I have a great team who... My editor did a fantastic job but yes, the most proud I've been of something in the last 12 months.

Matt Hollingsworth (02:25):

That's great. It's such a good answer. And for those listeners, I think it's a really important thing for people to go to and listen to, think about and we will link to that, of course, in the show notes afterwards and through our social media as well as and quick as... I've listened to it and it's great. And I think it's really important. So kudos to you. I was hoping you would go into that and give us an opportunity to talk about it but really, really important stuff.

Mesh Lakhani (02:48):

Yeah. No, thank you. And I'd love to chat about it in terms of the process of working with everyone from a distance and everything was online and everything was I mean, very, very specific to this podcast and how you do something of a high quality without seeing anyone in person.

Matt Hollingsworth (03:08):

Yeah, no, totally. We'll get into that, I'm sure. But before we do, I'd love for the listener to get a sense of where did you get your start? You've got an interesting background. So where would you like to start and if you give your bio where you typically started and go from there.

Mesh Lakhani (03:23):

I typically started back in 2008. My family was a family fund. My family had moved here. My dad had a successful exit and moved to the US in 2006. And he started investing his own money in the stock market right before the crash happened. And the 2008 recession, the markets crashed in a way that we'd never seen before. Even in comparison to what happened in the pandemic, it was just two completely different experiences. Like I've been through, I guess, two cycles, one lasting, what would be considered like maybe a month and the other one lasting a couple years. And that was my first experience with investing which is my career, learning how to invest in companies or public companies when things were going completely South and the housing crisis and the banking crisis and it was a really interesting time to learn. So that was back in 2008 and since then have broadened my investing career investing in early stage equity with technology companies, both as an individual.

Mesh Lakhani (04:27):

I'm an LP in quite a few funds, a small LP, I don't want to say that we're writing these massive checks but I've had the ability and the privilege to be a part of a lot of these great funds and emerging managers and learning from them in multiple sectors. And started a fund of my own with my partner, Rennick Palley called Mark 2. And that was about five years ago. And that started out as a credit fund. So we were actually essentially lending companies money in the Fintech space and that transitioned more into a debt and equity hybrid when we realized that to really have upside, you want to have ownership in companies. And I'm now more of an advisor role to Mark 2 and Rennick runs that ship now and he's taking it to a whole new level and I mean, I'm really proud of that as well. Now I just do some personal investing and I'm 100% focused on building content.

Matt Hollingsworth (05:20):

Great. Yeah. The content side is an interesting thing that I've been able to go through that you've been able to create especially, it seems like this has been mostly... Is it over the past year you've been mostly focused on the content side or how long has it been for you now?

Mesh Lakhani (05:33):

Yeah, I think that would be right. I think it's been a year since I really dived into it. I started mapping this out two summers ago. Two summers ago, I sat there in an office, our Mark 2 office and I thought to myself like, do I want to be in investing full time or do I want to build educational content for the public when it comes to business, money and finance. And I had an idea that there's a lot of noise out there, there's not enough curation out there, there's not enough storytelling and entertainment when it comes to teaching business and finance, it seems to just have gotten lost amongst content marketing and ads and companies trying to acquire you as customers and like so much noise. And I really decided, okay, I'm going to go into this and launched a podcast last November. So not that long ago but have started thinking out a much larger content play but that was just a start of it was just putting a podcast together.

Matt Hollingsworth (06:27):

Right. Yeah. One of the things that I was really excited to talk to you about because my side interest, if you could call it that, is finance and investing as well. And so that's selfishly one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you but also I think given the context of COVID and most of our listeners will notice right away, this is a different lane we typically operate in when it comes to conversations we've had in the show. And we are actually starting at, this is the second season of the show now as well. So I figured that this would be an interesting conversation given the environment.

Matt Hollingsworth (06:59):

So I'd love to start, well, just on the sort of the personal finance piece of it. And again, this conversation and your content is timely I think and it's needed because like you said, finance content and investing content seems to revolve around trying to convince you of something. And from what I've seen out there, it's just not very helpful. There's just not a lot of content that's really, truly helpful. And I think that is where you've done a good job of filling the niche. So from a personal finance side, what got you interested in that? Is it just the lack of content out there that was helpful or is it something that you wanted to get into for any particular reason or is it just interesting?

Mesh Lakhani (07:39):

Yeah. I think it's a couple of things. I think when you sit on the investment side and you're just looking at the amount of content that's being created as a user acquisition tool, you become a little numb to it. Like what are people's motivations here? And you look at like the user, the customer and you know that they're essentially being vulnerable and you potentially might be taking advantage of whatever ignorance they may have if they have any. And I do believe that there's a lot of amazing people that have built trust and they've built like really good personal finance products out there. Like if you look at the individual personalities, like Ramit Sethi or like Dave Ramsey but it's almost like they've built these like cult followings. People that are like diehard to their style and whatnot. And I just really started looking around.

Mesh Lakhani (08:27):

And when I was talking to friends and everyone just seems to still be kind of confused or they just don't know where to start and they're overwhelmed because there's a lot of noise. And rather than being like an individual and saying like, I'm Dave Ramsey, this is my way of doing this or I'm Ramit and this is my book and follow these methods, which I think are actually really great, I would actually prefer to curate. I would like to help explain these things in simple terms, curate the types of people that we talk to and then repurpose everything from an interview into multiple forms of like easily digestible content where I want to build trust with an audience because you trust me and then I want you to trust me on picking the people that I think we should talk to and hearing more like stories so that it's more relatable and so that you can trust those people as well.

Mesh Lakhani (09:17):

And so I'm taking a bit of a more... I don't know how to describe it. It's not like a... Because this is a very much an individual creator style way of doing things versus like a scalable company, I really want you to trust my ability to find and pick the right topics, find and pick the right ways to explain those topics and find the right people to explain those topics. And then I will just guide you through that process.

Matt Hollingsworth (09:43):

Right. Yeah. And it seems like a lot of this stuff that's out there doesn't package the message in a way that's interesting. There's a real lack of delivering advice that's not dry. And I think you're doing a good job of telling stories and making it so that it's actually something that people can relate to in a real way. So it's a really interesting thing. And so I have first hand experience with some level of the advice giving when it comes to the personal finance. I used to work at a major Canadian bank as a... And I'm air quoting this but financial advisor. And I can speak to a bit about what the incentives are for people that are in that position and it's not an advisory role at all. It's a sales role. So as long as you know that going into it and that's one of the reasons why I got out of it because the advice that was given, I didn't think was unbiased and actually that helpful. So it's interesting space.

Mesh Lakhani (10:33):

That's a really good point because I think it's something that we forget that it is a sales role. And you could be at a Bank of America here and have a private wealth manager if you have, again, that type of privilege or even one of those smaller accounts and they're only going to recommend you things that they can sell to you. And even if they wanted to recommend you something else they can't. And because of that, they don't expose themselves to other things. They're not out there looking for other things. And I don't think it's as simple as like a wealth front is all encompassing this because wealth front is also trying to sell you something. Yes, maybe they're giving you a portfolio of Vanguard Index Funds but then they're going to try to sell you on these other products and get you a mortgage or get you whatever a savings account.

Mesh Lakhani (11:19):

And this is where it becomes a bit tricky. And my thing is more, I think people should learn the tools they need to make the best decision. So if they want to do that, that's great. But the truth is that in today's world, whether you're saving for XYZ or you're putting money away for school and putting money away for a house or for a family and you're interested in investing in real estate and the stock market and startups and Bitcoin and maybe a small business, there's just no tool that you can go that's going to help you put a portfolio together. You have to really learn all those different avenues and I think exposing you to different voices to help you think that way is my goal, right? And the goal is to give you the tools, teach you the tools and help you just recognize a few things whether it's risk assessment or how to allocate properly. Those are the things that I want to get across to people. And I think you can do that through storytelling.

Matt Hollingsworth (12:16):

Yeah, totally. And the storytelling thing is hard to get right as well. So you're doing two very difficult things in one. So I'm looking forward to the future of the podcast and the content you create.

Mesh Lakhani (12:26):

Well, thank you and congratulations on your season two.

Matt Hollingsworth (12:30):

Thank you. I thought you were going to congratulate me for not working at a Canadian bank anymore.

Mesh Lakhani (12:34):

Well, you're past that. We don't to remind you of that.

Matt Hollingsworth (12:37):

All right. Right. Of course. Yeah. And taking a different track now, obviously this is a remote specific podcast and I think it allows me now to at least be more general with the conversations I have because remote work is now everywhere and it's not necessarily talking about tools and practices and tips and management and all the things that we've talked about before as much anymore, we can really talk about whatever we want because ultimately everybody has now been exposed to at least personally or have heard of remote work. So from the perspective of storytelling you obviously are now having to touch base with lots of different people all over the world or at least in the US, what is the last three months for you outside of the content and the actual specifics of the content that you're creating? What has changed for you both personally and professionally as a result of this remote work trend?

Mesh Lakhani (13:25):

Honestly, if anything, I feel like I have more access to people because everyone is at home and they have the ability to get on a phone or get on an interview or hop on text message or whatever it may be. I think I have a lot more time granted. I know there's a lot of people out there that are doing back-to-back zoom calls, I don't and I'm not doing in-person meetings. And I live in New York city like just saving on time to go outside and going from place to place. I just end up being on my laptop more and I'm more productive. And especially with people that are accessible around me because I know they're not really going anywhere either. So in that sense, it's been more productive, I would say.

Matt Hollingsworth (14:08):

Right. Because you obviously still have connections in the finance and investing world whether it's your own company or just your network, what is the environment of finance in New York been like over the past three months? Can you speak to that at all?

Mesh Lakhani (14:24):

I mean, I have friends who work in private equity and on Wall Street and on venture capital or whatever it is and nothing seems to have really changed except they're not in an office, except for my cousin who works at Goldman for example. So like he essentially didn't really leave Goldman. They just came and set up a computer setup and a trading platform for him in his own home and now he's back at work like a few times a week. So I think depending on the type of institution that you're at, if they have the infrastructure to be like, hey, you can come in once or twice, come on in. So whether they're going to Wall Street or they're going to Connecticut, there is still access but it's very minimal. It's like they're not there every day at all.

Mesh Lakhani (15:06):

If anything, they probably prefer it than being stuck at home but everybody else I know that we're in like small to medium sized office are gone. They're all working remotely. I don't know where they are. Some are in their homes wherever that may be and some like a lot of people I know have gone out of New York at least for the summer and they've returned for a few weeks and they're planning on leaving again for the fall. And so I think people are just taking this opportunity if they can work completely from home just to go somewhere else until they really can figure out whether they want to be in New York for the long term.

Matt Hollingsworth (15:40):

Right. Yeah. New York in general and this is going to be a difficult question to answer I'm sure but how does this change your opinion on where New York is in five years? Do you think this really is a trend that's going to have a long standing effect on New York as a city and the culture that's there?

Mesh Lakhani (15:58):

Yeah. No, that's a great question. It's a very fitting question given a lot of the commentary that's going around and all teachers piece on New York is dead forever or whatever. And then Seinfeld coming in and telling them to go shove it. And then Fred Wilson writing a great piece on why he thinks New York will last. And the way I feel here is that... I was gone for three months. I went to Florida for three months. I was lucky enough to be able to go do that. And we came back and been back here for a month and I have a lot of friends in small business.

Mesh Lakhani (16:32):

So I have a lot of friends who work in hospitality and it is interesting. It is interesting to see the city. It's not as terrible as people think. There is some life here. It's definitely not as much life. It's definitely dirtier. It's definitely like, I was just walking down the street and this guy was assaulting this guy in his car, at least from the outside. But like something that you normally would be like, okay, this guy's like trying to smash this guy's window in and no one's doing anything.

Matt Hollingsworth (16:59):

Yeah.

Mesh Lakhani (17:00):

But it's not like, okay, that's going to happen, you're going to get some grittiness back. And I think the winner's going to be the real testing part where we're going to see whether small business can last because the issue here is not only like you can't be inside and serve people, the issue is really more of the cost of doing business. Rents are really high and landlords are not lowering the rents. And from what I understand, they're not lowering them rents because they're not really incentivized to lower the rents. They can take tax breaks and write it off if they actually have zero tenants. So if they have no tenant, they can write it off and they can sit on it versus lowering the rent for the tenant. And I actually just heard this from a very good friend of mine who's a restaurant tour. And like that is more of a leadership thing when people are like blaming the landlords. Well, the landlords need to be incentivized to incentivize small businesses to be in there.

Mesh Lakhani (17:51):

And so we'll see what happens with commercial rents and small business. And we'll see what happens with people, right? Because the residential rents are coming down. We've already seen them come down and I think we'll see them come down even more in the winter. And if anything, I think that inspires people who couldn't afford living in New York city before to maybe come here a year from now, for next spring and next summer. And maybe that sparks up something again. So I think in the next five years, I absolutely believe in the argument that there's a 're-imagined' New York city. It's going to be different and that's okay. And we'll see where it goes because there's definitely a lot of folks here. For all the people that are leaving, there are people here that refuse to leave and I do believe that eventually there'll be some people that will come back.

Matt Hollingsworth (18:39):

Yeah. I've been to New York but I've never lived in a major city. And I do imagine there's some sense of we're all in this together. We love New York city or whatever city you're in and let's get through this together. I hope that that's the case as there's a sense of coming together and we'll get through this. And like you said, that in five years it might be different but it's still New York, it's just in a different form. So I'm hoping that that's the case.

Mesh Lakhani (19:00):

Yeah. And the reality is like right now it is too expensive to live here if you don't have to be here. Regardless of whether you think about New York or you think that people are abandoning New York, the reality is it's too expensive to live here based on the fact that you're able to work from home. And if you don't have to work here, if you have to work from home, why are you paying these crazy rents? Or even just getting from one part of the city to another part of the city an Uber will cost you like $40 or 20 to $40 and you don't really want to take the subway because it feels unsafe.

Mesh Lakhani (19:32):

And so, I mean, I think it comes down to that assessment for people like, well, I could live in another city, I could live in another town, I don't really need New York because if my friends aren't there or my family members have left too, what does it mean to me? I think those are real arguments. So I think the point is you can't look at it in the next six months to a year, maybe even two years but I think you're right, like five years from now, I do believe it will survive. What it'll look like is unclear.

Matt Hollingsworth (19:58):

Yeah. And I've heard the argument too or the suggestion that because I'm sure as you're aware in our world there's this sense of everybody's going to go remote, offices are going to be completely gone. There's that argument and I think that that's probably true for some companies in some stages but I do think that there's a benefit to having an office in some cases. And I don't think that offices as a concept will go away but I think that there's going to be a shift towards flexibility. And I don't think that that shift causes as much of a groundswell or change in major cities as maybe people are expecting. I think that there's again, using the example of New York, New York is still going to be the city it is but maybe there are a lot of employees that will be able to work from home in New York and then be able to go to an office or a share working space if they want to.

Mesh Lakhani (20:49):

I think you're absolutely right. I think that the level of vacancies, it's going to have to come down to some correction in price. If there's a correction in price both on the commercial side and the residential side, why wouldn't you want to be here? In the sense of like, there's a reason the city has attracted so many people and we're not even just talking about like attracting like the finance people and the tech people to stay and work here, it's you're going to get like why New York is New York. It's not just finance and tech people. If anything, it's been a lot of other types of cultural factors. You have theater, you have film, you have fashion, you have arts, you have hospitality and hopefully the lower prices when they come... And again like I said, in residential we're already seeing it. You can get good deals right now and hopefully you can get even better deals in the winter.

Mesh Lakhani (21:37):

If the commercial rates come down, it becomes interesting. It becomes an interesting thing to see what scene you could be part of in New York. Like if you just think about like... For me, it's like you think about like, those are the people that enjoyed Studio 54 and like if watch rent the play there was this grittiness and alphabet city and with arts and music, where did all that go? It became very expensive for people to live here. And so can that come back and does that create an entirely new experience that people want to have here?

Matt Hollingsworth (22:08):

Yeah. It's a fun rabbit hole to go down to because nobody really knows but I think that there are more positives. If you can draw positives and I don't want to diminish the experience of people that are going through rough times but I hope that there are some positives that come out of this experience. And if it means people are leaving New York or major cities that have a lot of character and going elsewhere and maybe that's a good realization for them to know about that they are only living in New York because of their jobs. And maybe that means that they're moving for the right reasons and New York becomes better as a result of that.

Mesh Lakhani (22:39):

Exactly. I think you're absolutely right and better for them and better for the folks that couldn't afford to live in New York and now can and have always wanted to experience it. So that becomes interesting.

Matt Hollingsworth (22:49):

Yeah. So I wanted to talk to you a bit about the investing side. I know that you've been able to invest as an LP or in your own fund as well to some startups and different companies in New York and I think in the US as well more broadly, have you thought about remote work in the sense of whether it's a liability or a strength for companies as a potential investment opportunity? Is that something that you think about?

Mesh Lakhani (23:13):

And that's actually a really good question. I've thought about it in the sense of like what could be the potential cost of operating a company. Does remote work allow for the cost of salary to go down because people have chosen not to live in the city and that's what was basically making up for a lot of the high salaries in places like San Francisco and New York, obviously competition is part of it but it's also the cost of living. And so does the costs go down? And in that sense, I don't necessarily think less money is going to be raised because it seems to be a complete shit show out there in terms of money being thrown around. There's just an abundance of capital and there's a lot of smart people out there starting companies. And so it doesn't mean, does your runway go longer? Can you be more efficient with your capital?

Mesh Lakhani (24:00):

I think that's kind of interesting and also like what opportunities... And I mean, in the sense of like companies leaving San Francisco and potentially setting up shops elsewhere, do you become more cost efficient? And because you've just opened up like some avenues for breathing room, what can you do with that? And does that actually create a larger job market? I think that's interesting. That's how I would personally think about it from an investment standpoint but then also like from an investment standpoint, what other tools are being created when you think of like potential investments, whether that's platforms are doing more things for creators and then platforms are building more infrastructure for teams. And I mean, I wouldn't be sitting here and like betting like 100%. I wouldn't invest in like, this is a whole fund dedicated to remote work but I do think that it should be of interest to a lot of investors.

Matt Hollingsworth (24:52):

Yeah. And to your last point there, I've seen funds specifically to do with remote companies and remote companies only. So as you can imagine the niches are all filled when it comes to deploying capital.

Mesh Lakhani (25:04):

It is. I mean, there's a fucking niche for everything now and everyone is trying to find their groove. And understandably so, I mean, I can't speak and when it comes to investing in like remote teams or tools that remote teams need, it's hard for me to give any type of insight just because I've never ran a team at a company that needs these types of products, right? I mean, for me, I have a small team of like five people and like Slack does the trick. We use Slack, we use Notion, we use all the cool things right now and could things be easier and could there be less friction? Yeah, for sure. But I'm sure, I don't know whether that's a completely new company or someone just creates like an update somewhere or we create some type of process. So I think, is it a balance of, do we need another product or do we just need to have more processes in place to make things easier?

Matt Hollingsworth (25:58):

Yeah, I know it's the longstanding question of smaller companies that are working remotely. I mean, there's not really one good answer from my experience of having talked to a lot of people in that sort of environment, it depends on the person. It depends on their strengths and when it comes to communication and where they feel most comfortable, how they work and all that kind of stuff. So it's still company and person specific, it's hard a question to answer.

Mesh Lakhani (26:21):

Yeah. I mean, it's kind of the same thing as like, why do you bring a consultant on or this person is head of HR or this person's head of community building, are we going to need more people that are in charge of like, hey, like I need you to just kind of organize me please. I know, for example, we use Notion and we use Slack for... Both on the content creation side, how we do everything from our interviews to scripting and whatnot, to all the we're building a paid content platform and there's a lot more backend that goes into that.

Mesh Lakhani (26:54):

And I'll tell you this, I've seen people who build beautiful Notion pages. That is not what I do well and I would actually sit there and say like, I would pay someone to come and just organize this in a really good way. So it makes me think of like, this is not necessarily like something investible but if there's opportunities for people to develop... If I was a kid right now taking a gap here or I was looking for a new job, I guess, social media, you want to develop an experience there but like I would be using the hell out of all these tools and telling people to pay me to get it organized for whether it's a small business up into a bigger company.

Matt Hollingsworth (27:30):

Yeah. No, I think that's a really interesting perspective. I know that because there's most people now that are getting into technology that I've worked in this environment for a while. So my bubble at least to the people that I talked to are very much aware of the pitfalls and things to look out for when it comes to organization and that sort of thing. So for somebody who's now looking at getting into the job market that maybe so tired of technology and isn't versed in these tools, having some sort of course or something like that, where it's like, this is how to use all these tools effectively into one process and this is what a process should look like and what the end goal should be, I think is a really interesting and valuable thing to look into.

Mesh Lakhani (28:08):

100%. Because we know that there's like courses on the specific platform but I think the reality is that there's multi platforms. Everyone is using multi-platforms, right? And courses on just making people more efficient with that, I mean, it's the same thing as you think about back in the day, you had a secretary or an assistant who is doing the emails or doing the spreadsheets, making the PowerPoint and it's just the equivalent. It's just updated except for the fact now that like any kid could potentially be doing this. And I think that to me is what's exciting about things being so remote is that a lot of this is like, you have to show a bit of your grind and grit online in ways that before maybe it was more of like a personal experience and now it's more like, just do a couple things, show people that you can do something and get it done.

Mesh Lakhani (29:00):

And I think people are more open and you can do everything in lifetime. Like you can send someone like, "Hey, check this out. This is how I would organize your thing. Check out what I made for you." Or something like that. And I think that's exciting for young folks out there and not even young folks, anybody who's just good with this stuff.

Matt Hollingsworth (29:15):

Yeah. That's a move I really like because I get asked a lot, what can I do to make myself more employable or how do I get a hiring manager's attention? And it's always something I recommend, which is take something from either their website or their product or content or something that's involved in the company and redo it for them. And then to say, "Hey, here you go. This is what I did and this is what I can do and take it if you want to. And if not, that's totally fine." But that initiative is awesome.

Mesh Lakhani (29:40):

Totally.

Matt Hollingsworth (29:42):

Yeah. We had somebody who did that with us actually recently for video content and I loved it and we actually weren't looking for anybody to do that for us but I had to stop myself from hiring this person because I really wanted to but even though we didn't need it at all but I really liked that initiative. So definitely something you would recommend.

Mesh Lakhani (30:02):

Yeah. It's cool. I mean, it's cool to think like... I just turned 36 and if I was giving advice to anyone who is my age and whether even high school or early college or even right after college, just get really, really good at a couple of these things, right? I don't even know what that would have been back then. Everyone at that point was like, you have to be good at models on spreadsheets, right now you got like all these freaking tools and I can't imagine everyone's an expert in them and you need them, right? Because otherwise, how the hell are these tools scaling? If you're not good at using them eventually, someone has to teach you how to use them properly. They can't go through like every single tutorial or maybe you can but someone's got to do it and they're going to teach somebody else or they're just going to run that whole part of the operation of the company or for whoever they want to do that for. So I do think that there's a lot of cool opportunities like that for folks.

Matt Hollingsworth (30:57):

Yeah, totally. So the reason I asked that original question about the investing side and how you see remote work is because I've had a lot of conversations with founders and CEOs and people that I typically align with when it comes to the value of working on a distributed team and what that does for your company. But I haven't come across or haven't been able to talk to anybody that disagrees with me about what remote work means for companies because I've heard the narrative of whether it's a VC or a CEO who sees remote work as too risky or is worried about their... There's a career risk component that's involved in having somebody in the office because that's always been the norm and you don't want to disrupt things. And often I think that's VC pressure or I've even heard that it's easier to exit a company, easier to sell a company if there's an office which I don't know if that's true or not but it doesn't seem really logical to me. But I was just wondering if there was from an investment standpoint a counter argument to the benefits of remote work.

Mesh Lakhani (31:54):

You mean if I was to disagree with the whole movement towards remote work?

Matt Hollingsworth (31:58):

Yeah. If you're looking at it from an investment standpoint, what would be the downside for you if there you're looking at a remote team that you want to invest in?

Mesh Lakhani (32:05):

Yeah. I mean, I've been reading a lot of these and speaking with founders about simply like the experience of efficiency when it comes to being able to be with people in person. And it's one of those things where like someone says and you're like, "Whoa, I don't know. Like that's a very personable thing." I don't think that's actually the case. I think as humans, as like a species, we kind of thrive on interaction and interact. It's like the same thing as like having a motive... You're sitting with someone and they're giving you a motivational talk or getting you riled up. And there's something about that or you walk into somebody and you share some idea and you go back and forth really quickly. I do think some things will be lost.

Mesh Lakhani (32:46):

And I do believe that we're actually not meant to be separated like this. We are herds. There is some sense of like 'herd mentality' the way we move. And there is a leader and there's a leader of a pack. And I think that has benefits to being in closeness. I would say that those who have succeeded at remote work are generally probably more extroverted and thrive in that environment. That doesn't mean that everyone's going to thrive in that environment. And so I wonder what ends up getting lost. So I would say that if there's a team out there that says like listen. And intelligently, there's definitely teams out there like, don't leave the fucking office because we don't know what to do when you're all at home. That's different. I think the balance is like, we can set up remote work but we can also have you here and we have both, what do you prefer?

Mesh Lakhani (33:34):

I think companies that offer that, I think one, it can be used as a recruiting tool and I think that it potentially puts them in a better place for success over let's say a competitor. And I say that because I think a lot of people actually miss being in an office and they miss seeing people or they have a certain way of going about business and doing things that's just really hard to do online. It's kind of the same thing like Goldman Sachs, for example, these people are not dumb. The reason why they're incentivizing you to come to the office for free lunch is clearly there's something that benefits them over their competition. You know what I'm saying? Their job is to make like that extra penny.

Mesh Lakhani (34:12):

And so I wonder for those who decide to make that first like, I would say that jumping to remote work, so 2021 or 2022, I do think that was a bit like... I don't know if you actually had to say that, I think you could have just said like, "Listen, this is the option. We might change this if things get better. But we want to know that we are in favor of your health and we're in favor in protecting you." But I think in tech especially there are extreme cases. So I wonder who finds the balance in that? I don't know if that's a helpful answer but-

Matt Hollingsworth (34:41):

No, it's interesting. Again, I've heard so many different answers to similar kinds of questions because some companies, I was able to talk to somebody from Automattic who runs the WordPress site and they have a very specific opinion and view on what remote work is and they are fully distributed and they're remote native however you want to talk to about just remote first companies at least and they prioritize people working remotely. And then you get companies that are forced to do so as a result of COVID or they are now realizing that they can. And then they're sort of putting their toe in the water, so to speak, when it comes remote work and allowed to go to work from home. And so there's a couple of interesting components of that.

Matt Hollingsworth (35:15):

I think with the partial remote teams and the hybrid model, I think that there are more downsides and this is just my opinion when it comes to that because then you get a sense of office culture and a very different or differentiated remote culture. And I think it's harder to develop a remote culture than it is to do so in office. So I wonder if there is a disconnect between those two, those workers and then workers that are remote feel more alienated and it's just difficult for them to feel more part of the company. And I wonder how that plays out with companies that are bigger and how does that affect the culture and do you go one way or the other or do you go half? And now with COVID I think it's really difficult.

Mesh Lakhani (35:56):

Well, yeah. I mean, I think it becomes a part of culture. Like what type of culture do you want to be at? And do you want to be in the office or do you not? And do you not like the idea of having that type of balance? I think when you look out, yes, software's eating the world and there's more tech companies popping up and they're thriving right now but there are plenty of companies that don't work in that way, they're not like product teams and engineering teams that really thrive or really understand how to work in the setting. I think there's plenty of companies out there that are just like, I don't know how to do this. I really just can't like... If anything is the opposite, I can't be by myself. I need to be in-person.

Mesh Lakhani (36:35):

And I don't know. Yeah. I think you're absolutely right. It's not like just a simple balance like, come to work or don't come to work. I do think it's like, you have to look at personalities too, right? During COVID in New York, New York cases are I believe knock on wood at the lowest right now and we're at the end of August. There's still people that won't leave their house. There are people that won't leave their house. They get really pissed when they see people without a mask walking outside even though there's nobody around them. And then there's people that are comfortable walking outside with a mask and eating outside. And then there's people that are comfortable hanging out with people inside in their small groups.

Mesh Lakhani (37:12):

And I think like... I don't want to get political about this, I absolutely believe in masks. And I absolutely believe in keeping people safe and keeping the cases down but I do think that they're generally people in extreme camps and I think personality wise, I think that would apply to the work environment as well, where it's like, there's absolutely no way that you can open up office scanner and this is not possible to. I'd be fine actually being in office right now. It wouldn't be a big deal. So I'd be curious to what leadership does there.

Matt Hollingsworth (37:43):

Yeah. No, I think that's the interesting question over the next well, a year, I guess and also with the isolation component of it now, I wonder what the longterm effects are of remote work when people associate all of the negativity and anxiety that comes along with our current situation with the idea of remote work. I have heard and I mentioned before where it's like, COVID remote work is not remote work. It's very specific to the environment that we're in. And so I wonder if that's going to be a longterm, there's going to be a backlash against it because they're like, "Well, no, I don't want to feel what I felt when I had over this last three months or four months. And I want to get back to the office because I don't want to feel that ever again." Kind of idea.

Mesh Lakhani (38:25):

Yeah. No, totally. I mean, the argument that makes sense to me is kind of more of the you don't need like a headquarters in New York where everyone is either in New York or not in New York. It could be potentially where you like... Again, I don't have the experience to talk intelligently about this but in my head it's like you have these hubs, you have a New York hub, you have like a outside of New York hub and then another outside of New York hub and those teams are working remotely when you look at the entire company but at least they get to stay in the place that they want to stay in. They don't have to like move to a big city or maybe they actually want to stay somewhere where they can go outside and go hiking and be in a small town and be able to afford a house.

Mesh Lakhani (39:04):

And I do like the idea, what excites me about this when there is a balance that's struck is the balance of where you can live. I've always hated the fact that someone's like, "Hey, do you want to work for this company?" "Yeah." "Will you move to San Francisco?" "Is that a deal breaker?" "Yes." Well, that sucks versus having the ability to live where you want to live and it's okay that you visit every once in a while.

Mesh Lakhani (39:28):

And so that's more my interest for people in general because I think that being forced to live somewhere, it's kind of part of why, if you think about real estate prices, New York is the head of finance and San Francisco is the head of tech. There's a reason why the prices went up so high because certain people become successful and they have to buy properties there. And the ones that still have to come and work there and they work at a third of the salary also want to buy properties there but they're way too expensive. This doesn't make sense. We have to find some type of balance there and maybe this is where we find it.

Matt Hollingsworth (39:56):

Yeah, I hope that's true. And I also think if anything, this will help us or help some people that have realized that they don't have to commute. Like just the simple idea of commuting now where it's like, I never did but I know friends of mine that have spent at least three hours, four hours of their day in their car. And now maybe there's this opportunity for people that are having the flexibility to be like, I want to do a hobby or I want to spend more time with my family or I want to... Who knows? Whatever it is, maybe have a healthier lifestyle or whatever. And I hope that the data is allowed to more people. And if anything, I think that's a really good positive thing.

Mesh Lakhani (40:33):

100% agree with that. I think the ability to be able to come home and spend time with your family and like not be exhausted from the travel or even you saving that extra hour, an hour and a half, whatever it may be. No, totally. And I think that work life balance thing. I think, look, I mean, if you have the ability to spend time with your family and be somewhere beautiful and have space in your house and not feel like you gave up an arm and a leg for it, I think you've won and provided that you're happy at your job and they're happy with you if that's what you want in life.

Matt Hollingsworth (41:06):

Yeah. I hope that there's more people that are realizing that they don't have to, their life isn't work and there's more to it than that. If that's what they want, I hope that's accessible.

Mesh Lakhani (41:13):

Yes.

Matt Hollingsworth (41:16):

So I know we're almost running up onto time here Mesh and I appreciate you taking the time. Just before we wrap up, I wanted to talk a little bit about what it's been like for you. It seems to me that a lot of this stuff that you do now and a lot of the most interesting stories you're telling has a lot to do with just journalism and coming up with a really interesting story, getting to know people to the extent that they want to open up and talk about their experience. And what has it been like for you? Is that something that you have recently been enjoying or what is that especially over the last four months, how has that been for you?

Mesh Lakhani (41:45):

It's been amazing. It's been an incredible experience and I'll relate it back to investing in the sense of I've been exposed to people that I'd never would have been exposed to before. And funny enough since I started this podcast, I've made like three or four investments, mostly LP investments because there's a lot of people out there that are really, really great individual investors and that's what their job is. And that's not the time I have right now and therefore, I believe like being an investor in emerging managers right now is like also something that you have to be somewhat decent at and that one has exposed me to some amazing people that I know that I'm like, at least I know that they're getting into the companies that I wish I would be getting into. And at the same time, if we're just talking on the tech side, it's exposed me to everything from like real estate.

Mesh Lakhani (42:32):

I did an interview where I really, really learned about residential real estate as rental income. It's something that I never thought about before because I lived in New York and I lived in Washington, D. C. I just never thought about that because I was like, well, if you want a piece of rental income, it's going to cost you like half a million bucks. You're like, no, it doesn't have to, it could cost 80,000, right? And so my world has been exposed on the investment side so much but in general, I've just been exposed to so many incredible humans like people who've shared their story with me, people who've been able to be vulnerable with me and talk to me in like, I honestly wouldn't want to be doing anything else. And I think my approach here is I do really believe like a journalistic approaches is important because look, they're really, really great at telling stories.

Mesh Lakhani (43:18):

My only counter to that is that I think a lot of business journalism is told by journalists and they're not told by investors. And I think if you have a good balance of journalism and like investor insight or business insight, you can make something really lethal from the standpoint of a customer where they're going to benefit by being engaged through stories but they're actually going to be educated by insights. And that's always been my problem with business narrative journalism. They're either selling you a subscription or they're selling you on a story. They don't really care about the actual like, when it comes to curating, what are we learning here? What are the insights here? And that's the void that I'm trying to fill. And I think a good example would be like Guy Raz has done an incredible job with How I Built This.

Mesh Lakhani (44:00):

It's a phenomenal show. It's opened up a whole new world of people understanding what businesses or entrepreneurs go through. The thing is it's very story focused. There's a lot of key insights that those people probably could have shared that we don't hear because it's not being asked from the mind of either an entrepreneur or an investor. And I do think that there's different questions there. So I basically spent... It's certainly a long winded answer. I spent two years essentially learning from really, really amazing editors and producers from podcasting who worked at like Planet Money, who worked at WNYC, who worked at Freakonomics and I just asked them constantly teach me to be a good interviewer, teach me to be a better thinker about scripts, teach me how to think about this from like a narrative point of view and then let me apply my own insights here.

Matt Hollingsworth (44:46):

Right. Yeah. No, it's always fascinating to me what niches can be carved out and like you said with the entrepreneurial mind, where that ends up going when it comes to storytelling and content. It seems like there's an obvious value that you've been able to unlock with the stories you're telling. And it's just so interesting to me that how there continues to be a gap in that space. So I will also ask you a question here that I'm selfishly going to ask and hopefully the audience will bear with me here but what have you learned makes a good podcast interviewer because obviously I have some room to improve but also just like from somebody who listens to a lot of podcasts and obviously you're involved in it, what do you think is most important when it comes to interviewing people?

Mesh Lakhani (45:28):

I would actually say Matt that you've done an incredible job of this because I'm not really used to being on the other side of the table hence why I think I'm talking so much because I'm like so excited to talk. You let the person answer the question, you give them the space and you don't interrupt them. And I think that, yes. Well, what about the Joe Rogan's of the world? I'm like that's his specialty. Joe Rogan's a conversationalist. That's why he's so good at but I think that a lot of interviews, like you hear people just speaking over the guests because they want to get their point of view and I think that what I hear in a lot of these...

Mesh Lakhani (46:01):

I just hear people who don't want to learn how to be an interviewer in the sense of like, this person has come on to talk about their point of view and you have to make sure that you ask them questions so that they can share that and your job is to help guide that for the audience. So your job is to help guide the interviewee. And so it's not only getting them to talk and getting them to open up, it's also trying to find the tip. The thing that you really want them to say, you just keep re-asking the question in a different way. And so you're guiding it. They don't know that they're saying these things but you know what you want to get out of them and you have to do that in a way that you're not interrupting them constantly.

Matt Hollingsworth (46:39):

Yeah. It's a difficult balance. I think at least from my experience it is one of my pet peeves when people interrupt in general but especially on podcasts because it's so clearly the not listening component of interviewing which I think is so important. You're here to talk to the person and get their sense. You're not there to tell them what you think. And it's not the point of the podcast and listeners already know what you think because you've been doing it for so long or whatever. They've heard your take on it. It's not nothing new but I think it's really important to get the other side and try and ask as many questions while listening as much as possible and as well as 
possible.

Mesh Lakhani (47:16):

Yeah. And I think there's a balance between having like a fun banter and conversation and stuff and I think we know when something is like... You'll see them in the comments, you'll see it on... Just go to like one of these YouTube interviews and you'll see in the comments like, stop interrupting him. You know what I mean? And I think part of it is that a lot of podcasters don't actually want to be interviewers, they just want to hear their own voice or they want to hear their own voice with the other person being there. And I think that's really more of a ego thing to be honest.

Matt Hollingsworth (47:47):

Yeah. True. Also audio quality too. It's pretty key and it's amazing how many people don't seem to get it. And we've made that mistake in the past. So I know there's probably people that are listening to it and they're saying to me like, we do want to talk. You need to get your shit together but we're trying.

Mesh Lakhani (48:04):

Well, I can hear it. What are you using right now for a mic?

Matt Hollingsworth (48:07):

We're using the blue... I can't remember what it's called. It's brand new. I don't know. I'm not really too familiar with it.

Mesh Lakhani (48:13):

Well, it sounds good. I mean, I can hear it on my end. And I plugged in my... I have this specifically for any computer. Over the computer, I have Audio-Technica ATR2100 which I can plug USB but I usually record remote onto my zoom with the Rode mic and I'll say this is like, I learned this from the editors and producers I worked with. They are so particular about audio quality. And I think that's why there's a difference between... And I think it's why the NPRs and the Public Radio and New York Times, et cetera, why are so far ahead is because everything they make, they make for the audience. The respect they have for the audience and everything from like making sure it's the right tape or making sure the script is right, making sure it's seamless, making sure the audio quality is really there. And I think anyone who wants to go into podcasting has to treat the audience with the same thing.

Mesh Lakhani (49:07):

I don't want to watch a movie that's been like recorded on a video camera in a movie theater. You know what I mean? I want to watch it on the IMAX screen. And I think it's like sometimes I'm still shocked at like some of these podcasts out there that have pretty massive listeners and they're still using a shitty mic. Go spend 200. At this point, you can afford a $200 mic, go do it or buy this $90 ATR2100 and just plug it in. It's going to sound way better. And a quick tip for remote podcasters. If your interviewee doesn't have a good mic, ask them while they're on their end on there... Because usually they're going to put their AirPods in and AirPods are terrible for recording.

Mesh Lakhani (49:46):

It's a terrible recording and you don't want the earbuds what you want them to do is actually, if they don't have an external mic especially if they're doing... Like we're using Zencastr, we have our headphones in, tell them to take their iPhone out or their Android device out, tell them to put the recording app or the voice volume app, tell them to press record and then hold it to their ear like they're talking on the phone and that's going to give you better quality audio than anything you could do over Wifi. That's what we do for all our episodes now, after we learned it.

Matt Hollingsworth (50:16):

Interesting. Wow. Okay. We'll include that in the show notes too. So if anybody's furiously writing this down, you don't have to just look at it on the show notes.

Mesh Lakhani (50:24):

Someone's like, what is this guy going on about?

Matt Hollingsworth (50:27):

No, there's definitely somebody out there that we just helped. I think it might be maybe a handful but there's somebody.

Mesh Lakhani (50:34):

Good.

Matt Hollingsworth (50:37):

Okay. Well, Mesh this has been awesome. Two more questions for you.

Mesh Lakhani (50:41):

Gently ask.

Matt Hollingsworth (50:42):

Well, actually I'll ask this one too because I'm not sure about the answer but I have a sense of where you're going to go with it. If you weren't involved in the... Well, there's number of things you're involved in but the investing side, the podcasting side and entrepreneurship in general, what do you think you'd be doing?

Mesh Lakhani (50:58):

Oh man. That's it. Okay. I think it would have to be probably something in hospitality but if I wasn't in investing or entrepreneurship or content creation or any of that crap, I don't know, something where I get to like take care of people. I really enjoy that. And I don't mean this in like I could do this because I don't have the book smarts or the discipline to do this but I think in another life I would have liked to have been like a nurse or something. I really enjoy taking care of people that I care about. And I have a huge, huge respect for nurses and we have some in our family and it's just something that I think that I would potentially enjoy. At least I say this from outside looking and I'm sure nurses are listening to me right now like, what are you talking about? But they're incredible people and I don't think they get enough attention for the work they do but it's something that I would potentially have loved to have done in another life.

Matt Hollingsworth (52:00):

Great answer. Yeah. We'll dedicate this one to all the nurses out there. Hopefully, there's a couple that listened to it and I agree, definitely one of those professions that is underlooked and probably underpaid and undervalued and hopefully in the last little while we've had more respect and put more thought into what these people do for us but still on and off. So kudos to all the nurses out there. So last question for you Mesh and then I'll let you go. It doesn't get any easier. What is the best advice you've ever been given?

Mesh Lakhani (52:31):

Oh man. There's so much great advice. I think the one that I would pay attention most to is really the don't rush to do things. Don't think that you need to make it overnight. Like you hear all these stories of these overnight successes and millionaires and these young kids killing it, that's fine. Money is only part of it and I think real growth comes in the time and the experience and you have no idea what you're capable of doing until years down.
Mesh Lakhani (53:04):

My dad actually would give me this advice. He'd say like when you're 30, you're going to realize that you're moving too fast and this and that. And I never really thought about it until I became 30 and realizing how much growth that we have as humans both in terms of not only forget work experience but like personal experience, personal growth, our relationships and how that makes us potentially better at our work and at what we want to do. So don't rush, think of everything in like five to 10 years and be okay with that. Have the patience and enjoy the ride, enjoy the growth to that point and then look forward to the next step.

Matt Hollingsworth (53:42):

Yeah. And that's great advice. I like that a lot and I just wanted to thank you actually. This was a great conversation and we went a different direction we'd normally do. And I think it really showed that we're going to do some more interesting things in the future and this was really valuable. So thank you so much. Where should we be sending people to know more about you and more about what you are doing and your website and things like that?

Mesh Lakhani (54:05):

Yeah. Everything that I'm doing now content related and everything you want to know about me is on my website, thetalkmoney.com, that's where you'll find the podcasts and you'll find a lot of the stuff that we're working on. And including like if you're interested in some of the investment background that I have. And then follow me on Twitter @meshlakhani. And I just want to say Matt one, this is actually a ton of fun. It's fun being on the other side. I really enjoyed this. It was a very different conversation and I really appreciate you taking a risk on me as a guest because I know I'm not your typical guest but I thank you for letting me be on and sharing me with your audience.

Matt Hollingsworth (54:47):

That's great. Thank you so much Mesh. Pleasure is all ours. And maybe there's a room for a number two here as we come out of COVID and hopefully we can talk about New York and what it looks like in a year from now, if we get there. So appreciate you coming on and we'll talk soon.

Mesh Lakhani (55:02):

Thank you man. Take care.

Matt Hollingsworth (55:04):

All right. Bye. Thanks so much again for listening to the show. Be sure to check out on 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 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@weworkremotely.com. That's podcast@weworkremotely.com. Thanks so much again for listening and we'll talk to you next time.



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