This week we were able to speak with Michelle Reid, the Head of Business Development at Z1 Digital. Z1 is a digital studio with expertise in transforming business ideas into incredible digital products. Michelle was a pleasure to speak to, and I think many of you out there in remote Business Development roles can learn a great deal from our conversation!
Z1 is a digital product studio with expertise in transforming business ideas into incredible digital products. They help founders and growing startups design and ship first iterations of a product to market, or polish the user experience of a V1 product ready for the next stage of growth.
Working from beautiful Vancouver BC, Canada, Michelle leads the business development side of things for Z1 while the rest of the team works from Spain. We were able to dive into what creating solid relationships for global clients looks like, the importance of company culture in a semi distributed team, and much more. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did!
Make sure to connect with Michelle on Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michereid/
Also, check out Z1 Digital to see the great work they have done, and follow them on social!
Michelle’s book she’d force everyone to read: Grit, by Angela Duckworth.
Thanks for listening!
Matt H: 00:00:06 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, entrepreneurship, business, technology, and much more. Thanks so much for listening.
Matt H: 00:00:18 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 higher.
Matt H: 00:00:29 My guest on today's show is Michelle Reed. Michelle is the head of business development at Z1, a digital product studio with expertise in transforming business ideas into incredible digital products. Z1 helps founders in growing start-ups design and ship first iterations of a product to market, or polish the user experience [inaudible 00:00:48] ready for the next stage of growth.
Matt H: 00:00:50 Michelle has lots of experience in growth and business development in agencies and start-ups. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter to follow what she's up to.
Matt H: 00:00:57 Michelle, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. We really appreciate it.
Michelle R: 00:01:00 Yes! My pleasure! Delighted to speak with you.
Matt H: 00:01:02 This is exciting for me, because you're the first person, I think, that we've talked to that's specifically in the business development area and working remotely. So ...
Michelle R: 00:01:09 Right.
Matt H: 00:01:09 Yeah. I'm excited about it.
Michelle R: 00:01:11 I'm a special kind of creature.
Matt H: 00:01:12 You are, indeed. First question is where are you working from, and for anybody that's visiting or would visit where you are now, what's something that they shouldn't miss if they go there?
Michelle R: 00:01:23 Oh, what a nice question. So, I'm speaking to you from Vancouver, Canada. I'm looking out in front of a park at the mountains. I love Vancouver. I'm not from here. I was born in Winnipeg, and grew up in northern Ontario, and went down to Toronto and left, out to the West Coast. I couldn't be happier. Although, I love the route that I took to get here.
Michelle R: 00:01:45 But Vancouver is a place where you can choose your own adventure. It's really a place where you need to go out and seek and find. Some things not to miss, the outdoors. I mean, it's a 20 minute drive to the base of any of the local mountains, from my front door. So, there's Summer activities, Winter activities. I'm always seeking music. We get great shows and entertainment here.
Michelle R: 00:02:08 Yeah. I think my favorite thing to do, not to miss, honestly, grab a bottle of Prosecco, get a city bike, and ride the sea wall. Sit and people watch on the beach. That's one of my favorite things to do with people who come here.
Matt H: 00:02:21 Nice. No, that's a good one.
Michelle R: 00:02:22 Yeah.
Matt H: 00:02:22 So, for people who don't know already ... I've mentioned it before, but I'm very close. We're over in Victoria. So, that's just a ferry ride away, for those that don't know the West Coast, Canada. But that's a great one. The sea wall is great. Anybody who loves the outdoors will love Vancouver or Victoria.
Michelle R: 00:02:37 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matt H: 00:02:38 So, I'm glad I asked that one to start. My usual next question here is how you got your start. What's your background? How you got to where you are, and then we'll talk a little bit about what you do now.
Matt H: 00:02:47 So, you mentioned you were in Toronto for a little bit. How did you get your start, in terms of your career, and what steps did you take to get to where you are?
Michelle R: 00:02:54 Well, I've had a long, varied road looking for new things. I think ... When does it really start? I mean, I'm the kind of person, after university I started just walking into places that I think I would be a good fit for and could add value. So, I started thinking I would be working in advertising, in a mix of like, psychology and creativity.
Michelle R: 00:03:15 So, I started taking marketing and sales roles. I worked in non-profit. I worked in the mining industry. But I think I started to get more direction, actually, when I moved to Victoria from Toronto. Trying to get started on the island was tough, especially with the 416 area code. Getting involved in connections and community. So, I ended up walking into a performance marketing agency that I had found online when searching for businesses in Victoria. It just happened to be what I thought would be like-minded people. It was a younger team, working in an industry that I didn't even know that well. Affiliate marketing.
Michelle R: 00:03:55 I spent five years there. I really walked in and said, "How can I add value? What do you want me to do?" I started in an account management role. I learned about E-commerce, and I also learned about people management.
Michelle R: 00:04:09 I think from there ... I mean, that was quite a run, five years, anywhere these days. Feels like an ancient amount of time. I mean, this was a business that it was the underside of internet marketing. Lots of money flowing through. It was a young industry and young people working in this industry. The business I worked for went through a bankruptcy, an acquisition. I mean, so many lessons to be learned about growth, restarting the politics, the legalities of it.
Michelle R: 00:04:35 But after my time in Victoria, I wanted more, in terms of professional networking and continued learning. So, I left and moved to Vancouver. Vancouver was an interesting blend of Toronto city life that I came from, but Victoria West Coast vibe that I was enjoying. In Vancouver, I was picked up by a recruiter who put me into another growing start-up that happened to be seated in an accelerator called Launch Academy, here in Vancouver. That really was a garden to bloom my career, just in terms of growth story, learning, how to be part of a community.
Michelle R: 00:05:14 I mean, it was a co-work shop. So, there were other entrepreneurs, founders, a lot of technical people, not necessarily sales people. So, it was interesting for me to, you know, walk by somebody's desk, or lend an ear, or take a look at something, but also learn from people around me who were not just working in a function, but building businesses. I got some of my hardest lessons ... kind of started at that moment in Vancouver.
Matt H: 00:05:41 Got you. So, you were in an accelerator. What was the thing ... You mentioned there was a few lessons that you could take out of that. What was the general, overarching thing that you pulled away from that experience, do you think, in terms of building business, that you've applied to where you are?
Michelle R: 00:05:54 It's not always a start-up, start from nothing and then rocket and fly. I had seen people around me at other little teams and companies, you know, pivoting, trying to test product market fit and not succeeding. Finding something that surprised them and their business going in a different direction.
Michelle R: 00:06:12 I mean, there's people now ... This must have been about eight years ago. There's people that I see, their businesses are flourishing. They're teams of 50, 60 people. They've got huge partners. I remember the time where it might have been, you know, [inaudible 00:06:26] people.
Michelle R: 00:06:26 My personal lesson though, the team that I was on had everything that I was looking for. You know, small team of about 20. There was talk of a round of investment hedges come in, and we were going to land and expand and take over the category that we were in. The reality is it went through an acquisition as well. There was a very short financial runway. Regardless of how much effort I put in, or what my performance was individually, the business ran out of cash. So, pulled everybody into a room and said, "This is the end. Thanks for everything."
Michelle R: 00:07:02 That particular scenario, I had never been exposed to before, especially coming off of five years in a business that went from 40 people to hundreds all over the world. I was coming off of a rocket ride that was, you know, not without its bumps, but it grew. It stayed and had longevity. I hadn't been exposed to the fact that not everything works. Just before there might be a cool team, a great leader, a nice office, it doesn't mean that a business is financially healthy, and that it has longevity. Things can turn quickly.
Michelle R: 00:07:34 I saw how, you know, you lose a good account and bank too many eggs in a basket around business, and suddenly it can just kind of fall apart and not be saved. I see that now more often, as I've grown and I work with other start-ups. It totally happens. I think I learned a lesson in agility, grit, perseverance, but also understanding that failure is not always directly tied to the effort that I put in. Sometimes there are environmental factors that you just simply can't control.
Matt H: 00:08:04 Yeah. Everybody probably goes through that at some point, in whatever business that you're in. I think it's pretty common to go through, whether you're in finance and you go through a recession, or if you're, you know, an entrepreneur and go through a failure. That sort of thing.
Matt H: 00:08:14 I think it's probably a good experience just to have under your belt, in order to apply that moving forward. I see now that there's a lot of people out there that haven't gone through that and therefore, you know, don't know what that feels like and haven't been able to take lessons away from it.
Michelle R: 00:08:29 Totally.
Matt H: 00:08:30 Do you find that that lesson has led you to either treat companies that you work with differently, or maybe scratch a little bit more under the surface when it comes to things like financial runway? Is there more like, different questions and different probes that you put out there, in terms of working with other companies and people?
Michelle R: 00:08:45 Oh, for sure. For sure. I mean, that particular opportunity, I had very few questions that I, personally, asked to qualify the opportunity. You know, I was new to the city. It sounded exciting. My answer to a lot of things, often time in my life, is yes. You know, give it a go and I'm open to opportunity and risk.
Michelle R: 00:09:03 But I did start ... and it wasn't immediate. But I did start to learn how to ask different kinds of questions around the health of the business. Ask more executive level questions. It is sensitive. You know? It's like going on a first date with somebody if you're in an interview, and asking them like, about their ... How much money do they have in their bank account?
Michelle R: 00:09:25 So, I've learned those questions are important. I think it's important to think about, you know, the leader. How does the leader see growth? How does the leader think about runway? What's the support system around a business? Ask some financial questions that feel comfortable and not a bit rude, or too forward.
Michelle R: 00:09:44 But yeah. I think the answer is yes, for sure. I also learned a little bit about myself. Like, what do I qualify as an interesting opportunity. The other lesson in there was for me to also diversify my own passion so that if I do find myself in that situation again ... I think it stung. It hurt a lot, and it hurt my ego and my pride. From there, I actually pivoted. I picked myself back up. I went back into the start-up world.
Michelle R: 00:10:10 Funny, I started thinking more about music. Because it stung so much to lose that opportunity, and I had put so much of my own personal passion and energy into it that when it was taken away, I felt kind of robbed of the effort that I put in. So, I made a promise to myself to actually diversify my activities and my passions. As I went forward in business career, to also go forward with creative passions as well.
Matt H: 00:10:35 That's probably a great lesson for our listeners too, in talking about the start-up culture especially, because I think one of the issues, or one of the things that comes up often, when failure happens, which it inevitably will at some point in your career, in everybody's career, failure does happen, whether it's on a larger scale or a smaller one, to understand that business shouldn't be as personal as, I think, some people make it.
Matt H: 00:10:55 If you do make it personal, that failure is going to sting more than it otherwise would. It's not unusual for, you know, your work to become part of your identity, but I think where it becomes dangerous is, especially in start-ups that are a little more fragile and haven't proven themselves, when that becomes your entire identity is wrapped up, what you do for a living. Because it is inherently fragile. So, I think it's a great lesson.
Michelle R: 00:11:16 Totally. I also see ... There's another section of culture, in start-up life, that glorifies failure a little bit as well. I think about leaders like ... It's just simply a difference in taste, but Gary Vaynerchuk's content sometimes can be very, "I work myself to the bone and there's honor in that." There can be, for sure. But for me personally, I think I decided that it didn't feel good. It didn't feel good to work so hard and then lose a little bit of myself. Although, it was a great lesson.
Michelle R: 00:11:49 I think I decided to go a different direction, where failure is important as a means to get better. Failure doesn't necessarily have to be a badge or something to be glorified. That's just my own personal perspective.
Matt H: 00:12:03 Mm-hmm (affirmative). That hustle kind of culture, I think, is destructive in a lot of ways, but I also think that the fail fast mentality of early start-ups ... I think it's important to talk about what the downside of that mindset is, which like you said, is if you do fail, and you have a lot of your identity wrapped up in that, it can be pretty destructive.
Matt H: 00:12:19 So, maybe have that conversation with yourself early before you start these things, or before you get into a company like that, to be able to separate yourself from it. Yeah.
Michelle R: 00:12:27 Yeah. I don't know if you see this popping up in your life more often, but I am seeing the topic of mental health with early founders more around me. I don't know if I just have confirmation bias because it's exposed to me more often, but not just about business support and understanding functions, and do you have all of the people around you, but also having a support system around you if you are a founder, and understanding your own mental health, and having resources.
Michelle R: 00:12:56 I've got friends of mine who are far more advanced, who have built and sold businesses. I'm thinking of a particular individual who has another business that he is growing quite quickly, and he's got a new baby. Just him trying to balance the pressure from both a growing business and a growing family, he's been reaching out to seek regular support, just to make sure that his mind is strong. I think that's really respectable as well.
Matt H: 00:13:21 Yeah. I've asked myself that question before too, because I do see it come up more often. I think it's wonderful that founders are being more vocal about their struggles personally, or being in a position to encourage their employees to take time off if they need it, to be able to maintain a work-life balance, whatever that means to each individual.
Matt H: 00:13:41 I think it's partly to do with what kind of people that you surround yourself with too.
Matt H: 00:13:45 So, there's a bit of both, but I think the trend is towards that as being the healthier alternative, because I see companies, and I use this example quite often, is Basecamp, which we're big fans of. Listening to and reading Jason Fried and David ... I'm going to butcher his last name. I think it's Heinemeier Hansson? Anyways.
Matt H: 00:14:03 They're very vocal about the idea of being able to work eight hour day, and being able to turn off at the end of the day, and really having that as part of the way that they work, and the culture that they've created. So, people like that are being more vocal about it. I think that there's some traction there.
Matt H: 00:14:18 I also think too, companies that are around for a long time and have been successful, are probably ... One of the reasons they're successful is because they've been able to maintain a workforce that's happy working for them, which inevitably has that sort of culture baked within it. They've built that around them, and be able to use that and leverage that as a reason for them being successful.
Matt H: 00:14:38 So, yeah. I mean, a long winded way of saying, I think it's a bit of both. I think there are people out there that are still pushing that hustle culture and to work yourself into the ground, wear that as a badge of honor, but I do see a shift happening. I'm excited about it.
Michelle R: 00:14:52 Well, culture is interesting. It's an interesting topic. If you're in a group of people who all value that same type of hustle, there's no doubt that results will be achieved, for sure. I think looking at people like Gary, who push themselves, their story is that, "Hey, it works. If you do this, it works." That's true.
Michelle R: 00:15:11 When I, you know, kind of left this sort of early start-up spot, I moved into a larger enterprise in Vancouver, particularly that had a quite notable culture. So, Hootsuite, which still does today, and it's changed quite a bit since I've been there. But that culture is a little bit of hustle. For sure, people who are passionate. But I remember it was about being exposed to people who are also passionate in other areas.
Michelle R: 00:15:35 So, you'd have ... I remember walking through customer success rows and, you know, engineers rows, and at the same time, these are people who are musicians, and artists, and poets. That was such an interesting experience for a growing SaaS company that also was investing into the personal passions of others. If you put together a team of like-minded people who value the same things, naturally, interests and shared activities will emerge.
Michelle R: 00:16:03 Funny, because at this time, I'd mentioned I was getting more into music. There was, for sure, culture of music around at Hootsuite. I mean, there's a secret room in the parking lot that's full of musical instruments. So, to me, that was an interesting time to be back in a larger business. I was part of an experimental team that was there to validate a market fit with a new product that they had acquired. But interesting to see that you can have a mix, that it is about the hustle, it is about results, and at the same time, these are overachievers that also put the same kind of hustle into another area of their life.
Michelle R: 00:16:37 I loved that about my time at Hootsuite.
Matt H: 00:16:39 Yeah, that's a great one. That just comes down to, I think, leading by example, and going past just talking about the idea of having other passions, and having a work-life balance, and having something outside of work, but encouraging that, and promoting it, and if you're a leader, doing that yourself, and showing people that you do other things outside of work. I think a lot of people are involved in things like athletic pursuits. Like, you know, triathlons or whatever floats your boat, but just having that as ... and showing that, and encouraging it is important, I think.
Matt H: 00:17:05 But I also think too, like, it's a delicate balance. Because you don't want to have all of those things in-house, I don't think, because then it kind of promotes your work encroaching on your entire life, I think partly too. Do you have that sort of thought when you were you there, that you needed to separate it completely from work, or was that something you were comfortable doing within sort of the framework of Hootsuite itself?
Michelle R: 00:17:22 At Hootsuite, it was pretty easy. I mean, on a personal level, between sales calls I remember it was particularly frustrating. I'd go down in the music room and I'd jam for 20 minutes on the piano. That was my own personal thing.
Michelle R: 00:17:34 At the same time, there would be social Fridays and a twice annual event called the Hootenanny. That was hosted at the bar next door. That was an evening with everyone whose musical, get up on stage and do a little jam. I think Hootsuite, at the time, for sure, when you're on work hours you're present. You're there. You're working and you're focused. That was the culture and that was understood. So, that worked for me as well. So, I had opportunities outside of those hours to seek out those musical experiences.
Michelle R: 00:18:02 It was perfect for me at the time. So, no struggles.
Matt H: 00:18:05 Right. So, this might be actually a good segue, because I think a lot of the what you talked about there, what was positive about Hootsuite ... We can get into sort of where you went after that. But in terms of remote work, I think that's probably one of the issues that comes up, is that they don't have the same opportunities for things like jam sessions and collaborating outside of work, because you're working remotely so you're not seeing your coworkers all the time.
Matt H: 00:18:29 So, I'd love to get into a little bit about what you've been able to do, and promote and encourage within your remote work, as you do now, to cultivate the same kind of work experience and work culture that you experienced at Hootsuite. Or if that's just different entirely, then we can talk about that too.
Michelle R: 00:18:43 Yeah. Well, it was still a bit of a ... There was a few more steps to get to where I am now. So, I will say that time at Hootsuite, it would have been hard to imagine remote work life. I was in a leadership position, and so, I had a team that I had hired, that were ... Some of them, it was their first role out of university.
Michelle R: 00:19:01 So, part of my role was about being a cheerleader, and being present, and working alongside my team on the phone, and being heard. I recall, at the time ... Actually when I just got together with my man, with my partner at the time, he has a very flexible work style, and always has. He was talking about lifestyle architecture, and I just couldn't see a path forward. How does one work in a sales role, where there are expectations of being in office every day, and setting an example for others, who are also learning in their roles ... How could I possibly not be here?
Michelle R: 00:19:38 It's just simply my understanding of what a good opportunity is, what my strengths are, and then it's timing. So, after I left Hootsuite, I went to ... I spent some time in to a services business actually, that was working in sales force implementation services. So, it was a blend of selling services, project based work, but also I would run alongside the sales force reps. So, I went down to SFO and took their sales training. So, it was a blend of understanding the sales cycle of license, but also the sales cycle of a project and services.
Michelle R: 00:20:15 That particular company, Traction On Demand, they do amazing things with flexibility, and remote work, and that was the first time I had been exposed to the idea, you know, if you are heads down, writing statements, or work in contracts, or you need some time to be away from everyone, just take the day, let everyone know. It's not a day off, but it's like, a heads down day. I hadn't seen that work so well before. It's a large company. They have an amazing culture as well.
Michelle R: 00:20:42 That was the first time I had been exposed to that. I skipped over to another agency after that, that was building custom solutions. Now, this one is important because this turned out not to be a growth story for me, at this particular agency. The business went in a different style. Just a different direction of creating a lifestyle business. But when that ended, what happened is I had been kind of exposed to more, "Hey, you can work flexibly if you need to. There's an office here." I decided at the end of that to do more project based work. That switch, for me, in my brain, to go, "Hey, I'm not necessarily going to look for another full-time thing, another three year commitment. I'm going to look for smaller projects with different types of business that I can add value, and focus on outcome based work, even if it's shorter."
Michelle R: 00:21:32 That's really what opened the door for me, to understanding how to architect a lifestyle that is more flexible, because it was in the direction of results only work. I think that's one of the keys to being able to set up a remote work relationship.
Matt H: 00:21:48 What was the motivation for you to do that? Sort of, was it to find that lifestyle and to have that sort of balance, or was the motivation primarily to do and be involved in the results based work? Or was it maybe a bit of both?
Michelle R: 00:22:00 It was timing. It was everything. All of those things. I think it was partly, somewhat, frustration that I had jumped to a few, you know, enterprise opportunities that I really wanted to invest in my personal energy, and I really was hopeful that they would grow. It, you know, just didn't work out, or the business went in a different direction.
Michelle R: 00:22:22 So, I think, for me, it was a culmination of everything we've talked about so far. Understanding how to qualify an opportunity, how to qualify a business, how to know what value I add, and how to be okay with risk. Once I was kind of taking a step back, to be able to say, "I do this thing well. I help these businesses, and it's okay if we try them for a short term or a long term," and then layer them on top of each other. I had multiple opportunities going at the same time. I loved this idea of being at home, meeting with different people, going downtown to meet with different clients.
Michelle R: 00:22:59 So, I enjoyed the flexibility. I was open to the risk. I became really clear on what my value was, where I wanted to work, and then yeah, that last key is really stating what the outcome is at the end of a project, or an engagement. So, I guess it's a bit of a maturity too.
Matt H: 00:23:17 That probably comes in with just having the experience and knowing yourself, and be confident in the fact that you can make that work, and knowing that you could take that next step and be independent, and then be able to add value to the companies that you're working with.
Matt H: 00:23:28 Because I think working remotely does have ... Part of being successful in working remotely, I should say, is knowing that you can work independently and be an expert in whatever it is that you do, enough that you can work independently and be self-directed, and create results for whoever you're working for.
Matt H: 00:23:43 So, I think that's a good takeaway for our listeners as well.
Michelle R: 00:23:46 For sure, and getting clear on what success is, with those results, for every project that I really took on.
Matt H: 00:23:54 Was that the prior step before taking on this role with Z1, or was that farther down the line?
Michelle R: 00:23:58 It was. Yeah. So, after some of these opportunities ... Some of them, I was there for a year and a half, some for two. I would say every opportunity that I left, I tried to leave it better than I found it. Every leader that I worked for, we saw the value that I added and just knew that it was time for me to go do something else.
Michelle R: 00:24:13 So, no bad blood anywhere. But I was starting to take some heat from the marketplace. Comments like, "Why are you hopping around so much?" You know, "Are you a flight risk? Are you not able to find what you're looking for?" I did start to doubt myself, but I realized that's one way to see my story. The other side is the number of businesses I've had the opportunity to look inside of. The number of growth trajectories that I've been a part of. That, to me, adds up cumulatively to a really interesting story.
Michelle R: 00:24:44 So, when I embraced that story, as opposed to taking the feedback that perhaps I was too risky for a longterm employment, I started looking for people that would value that. That's when I started doing some consulting with early stage founders, who maybe were technical and didn't quite know how to approach a structured business development practice. I became a facilitator at an accelerator here in Vancouver, BC Tech, one of the BC Tech programs. All these smaller projects, I realized that there is value to be added, as long as I'm clear. People will value what I've seen and what I can offer.
Michelle R: 00:25:24 So, that was sort of where I ended up before Z1, saying, "I'm actually not open to a full time placement. I'm more open to defining how I can help and how I contribute on a shorter term base." I built out a whole spreadsheet for myself, and was tracking and forecasting, and that is when I came to meet, actually, Andrew Wilkinson, the founder of Tiny Capital.
Michelle R: 00:25:48 So, just through being open, meeting people, getting in the community through social media, I ended up connecting with Andrew. This opportunity surfaced, where Z1 was an agency that had been added to the portfolio to run alongside complimentary services and SaaS products that are already in that portfolio. There was an opportunity for a business development lead. Just based on everything that I had collected, the path that I walked, and the seeds that I'd laid, I had some things to add to this.
Michelle R: 00:26:19 So, we started as a short term, "Hey, let's see if it works. Get to know the teams." I am now full-time, permanent, because I've fallen in love with the team and I love what I do, and I really enjoy now committing to the longer term goals, and going deeper. I would say, you know, that's an interesting flip side to this coin. Project based work, it's easy to manage, you know, if you get a bunch of them in the row, it's lower risk. You also don't get the opportunity to go quite deep with the team in a mission. I do really love that as well.
Michelle R: 00:26:52 So, had the opportunity to do some shorter projects, add a little bit of value, bucket of hours to some businesses, but happy now to be fully invested in the Z1 mission.
Matt H: 00:27:01 Yeah. I'd be curious to talk a little bit about what you said before, which is that you got some feedback that your experience in going and seeing other businesses wasn't necessarily a positive one. Was that something you heard quite often?
Michelle R: 00:27:13 It, for sure, was a risk I had heard. I will say, I'm more of the type to walk into places, ask for time, as opposed to submitting a resume. I haven't done that a lot. But I did work through some recruiters in the interim when I was looking for new opportunities.
Michelle R: 00:27:33 So, you know, recruiters and people that were just looking at my CV, via the recruiter, that was the feedback. I understand someone who works in operations or HR, there is a cost to onboarding a new employee. There's an investment. So, if you work in ops and you're looking at metrics, like, What's the time to ramp, and what's the investment to ramp someone to where they're now producing at a certain level, I understand enterprises work on those targets.
Michelle R: 00:28:00 To me, or I guess looking at me, would be, "Well, what's the potential cost if we ramp her for six months and then she decides that she wants to go do another opportunity?" That was something that I had heard. At the same time, as I mentioned, that's simply somebody who's looking either for a different type of person, a different type of skillset, or is just misunderstanding the value that I could bring to the table, or maybe doesn't value that sort of, you know, sniper role. I'm more the individual, and I've had a lot of roles in the past where I come in, have a clear goal, get tactical, and the success in that might be that the role is no longer needed. I thrive in those kinds of roles.
Michelle R: 00:28:40 I just understand there's different companies where they are looking for Army, somebody who will participate in the mission and say, because over time that particular employee will become more profitable for the business. It's just a different lens, I suppose.
Matt H: 00:28:56 Yeah. It seems, to me, a little bit old fashioned when it comes to hiring people. Maybe this is still in start-ups that I haven't seen, or tech companies that I haven't been exposed to as much, but in the ones that I do follow and that I admire, they seem to not have that as much of a concern, with the idea that somebody might leave as a concern for not hiring them in the first place. It seems that, you know, people might be missing out on some great employees if that's the mentality that you're taking to hiring.
Matt H: 00:29:22 Because inevitably, like, as you said, you're not the outlier here, I don't think, when it comes to working within start-ups. I think people to do tend to bounce around, and you want somebody with a broader scope of experience, I think. So, bringing somebody on that has had different experiences and different work in different companies, and is willing to move on and try new things. I think that's an overwhelmingly positive thing, but maybe it's just a ...
Michelle R: 00:29:42 For sure.
Matt H: 00:29:43 Maybe it's just a different way of approaching it. I think that you're right when saying that the recruiter may have had something to do with that as well.
Michelle R: 00:29:51 Yeah. To polish your shine a bit, I think the butts in seats mentality is still around. If it is working then that's fantastic, for those particular businesses, that's wonderful.
Michelle R: 00:30:02 One of the things that I really love about Tiny and MetaLab, sister company to Z1, is that truly is not simply, "I know you're working when I see you here." There is an understanding of flexibility in the workplace and with one's own time. It's partly trust. You know, trust that I am mature enough to manage my own time.
Michelle R: 00:30:23 I will say though, when I started with Z1, where the team that I work with ... The majority of the team that I work with, I should say, were building this distributed workforce. So, I'm here in Vancouver, you know, parent company's in Victoria, and the majority of our delivery team and executive team is in a beautiful agency office in the south of Spain. So, initially, I didn't have a place to go but I had requested, through the Tiny family, if I could have a seat at the MetaLab office. Because there is value, to me, in my work style, to have a place to go at certain times, to be surrounded by like-minded people. I do find that helpful. I do find it helpful too, the ritual some days of getting up out of the house.
Michelle R: 00:31:03 Monday mornings are excellent for me to get on my bike, bike downtown, get in an office, and sort myself out. I do try, and keep those particular rituals. I see that at MetaLab as well. That some days the office is completely full. Some days it's nice and quiet. I love that it's built on this respect of the individual, trust and maturity, and an understanding that this is an environment of excellence, and most importantly, results. That's what, I think, really works for me as an independent worker.
Matt H: 00:31:36 Yeah. I totally agree. Having been part of the Tiny family for a few years now, that's not just them saying it. That's truly the way that the companies operate here. It's fun to be a part of, but like you said, you do need to be able to figure out a way that works best for you, as an individual, to be productive. For some people that's in an office, and other people, that's not necessarily the case.
Matt H: 00:31:54 So, I think it's, like you were saying before, where it comes down to just knowing yourself and being honest with yourself, and trusting the people around you to let you do your work. Because it's ... the one thing that I hear sometimes, from people, and I was talking to ... Actually, the first podcast episode, I was able to talk to Zack, CEO of Dribbble, I know he was saying, is what we often hear as remote workers and managers of remote teams, is that for people who don't necessarily know, or they don't necessarily trust the remote work phenomenon as being sustainable. What they'll say is, "How do I know my people are working? How do I know that they're being productive?"
Matt H: 00:32:31 He was saying, and Zack was saying, "Well, if you don't know that your people are being productive, then it's not them that has the problem. It's that you are not a good manager." [crosstalk 00:32:42] You should be able to figure out, based on what's being done, and based on the results that are being driven by this person, that if they're not productive working remotely.
Matt H: 00:32:50 So, it should be quite clear, and I think it just comes down to a fear of the unknown, for a lot of people who haven't had experience working remotely.
Michelle R: 00:32:58 I think I see the world similarly to you, where if I leader needs to see people in their seats to prove that people are working and that they believe in the mission, I suspect that that leader may not even believe in that mission himself.
Michelle R: 00:33:11 I think, what I have learned, you know, working with Z1, I cannot go and see them. We are nine hours apart, although when the heat wave ends in Spain I will definitely go and spend some time over there as well. But it was a little bit forced to say, "Okay, I'm way over here in a different time zone. How are we going to make this work?" Really, one of the reasons I loved this opportunity from the moment I met our leader, Hector, it was really clear that he values excellence and personal accountability. I think those are the foundation, for me, for making this work, because, for me, regardless of what role I am in, you're going to get the best from me because that's the type of person that I am.
Michelle R: 00:33:56 You know, when I'm working with clients, when I'm working with my team members, when I'm making music, I do my best because it feels good. What I love about days where I'm not going to go sit into my hot desk in Vancouver, because I have calls all day, and it's just easier to be in my home office, I have no guilt. I do remember feeling that guilt in previous roles, where even when it was okay to take a day to be heads down on my own, I would still feel, "Is anyone noticing that I'm not there?" Or, "Are there any questions that I'm not doing enough?" Those would be the days where I'd be more active on Slack, or more active on Chatter, to prove that I'm working.
Michelle R: 00:34:37 But I feel, looking back, that that's almost noise. I mean, that's not a result, just like, proving that I'm available. Now I work in a way where Hector completely knows that he can depend on me to deliver things, and I work very quickly and very focused. He knows that if he hasn't heard from me, or, you know, sometimes he's called me when I'm just walking out of a hair appointment, and it's nothing to ... It's nothing to hide. It's just simply that my life is blending and he trusts that I am here working in the best interest of the team. I'm committed to the mission. So, there's no worries that I took an hour out to do a personal activity.
Michelle R: 00:35:16 That underlying value of excellence and personal accountability, I think, it is what makes it work, at least for me and for the team that I'm with.
Matt H: 00:35:24 Yeah. To just sort of add on that, to be successful in working remotely, I think it requires the best of both parties. Because you're taking a lot of the fluff out of what it means to be a manager when you're not with the person. Right? So, it's quite easy, as a manager, to go walk over to somebody's desk to see if they're working. It's quite a bit more difficult to, as a manager, come up with real deliverables, real time frames, and put real trust into, and hiring the right people too, and put real trust into the individual that you hired to be able to do their job.
Matt H: 00:35:52 It just requires that you be better. That shouldn't be understated because it's really difficult to do that properly, and to be effective in that way. Again, as the employee, it just requires that you be effective in time management, which is, especially for me, you know, I'm probably not unusual, but being effective in your time management and being independent in how you spend your time is difficult. It's hard because it's easier to go into an office and sit there for eight hours and call it a day.
Matt H: 00:36:18 So, it just requires the best of both. When you have a culture and have an environment of excellence, and you're able to do that effectively, everybody's better for it, I think.
Michelle R: 00:36:27 Totally. It's not to say that we aren't intentional around tools and framework as well. I'm offering dedicated windows of availability to the team in Europe. I could be very flexible with my timing and take a call 6:00 in the morning, take a call end of day, you know, it's just that commitment to whatever is required for a great client experience and a great team experience, I'm open to it. I'm pretty active on Slack for both communicating status updates, but also at the same time, staying culturally relevant as well.
Michelle R: 00:37:00 You know, I imagine the team in Spain, they see each other almost all the time. They're flexible in that office as well, and there are some remote workers in and around Spain too, not everyone is in the office in Seville. But it's also about me kind of putting my hand up to say, "Hey, I'm here. I like these things. You know, this is the music I'm listening to today," and trying to also engage on a personal level, although we're, you know, we're kind of offset in our timing. I'll pick up and download the conversation from yesterday, "en Español," and catch up quickly in the morning, and, you know, make all my little comments.
Michelle R: 00:37:38 It's interesting because while I catch up in the morning with the European team, the rest of the time I'm kind of on North American time. I can either be heads down on my project or fully dedicated to North American clients in the afternoon. So, kind of understanding how to break up my day into particular people and particular tasks has been really helpful, some level of structure.
Matt H: 00:37:59 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Part of the piece ... And I mentioned I was so excited to talk to you because of the business development piece. So, I'd love to talk and get into a little bit about how business development and relationship building, and the sort of things that you're involved in on a daily basis, how that has been affected by you working remotely, and what you've done to sort of make sure that all the experiences that you've had prior to this has been able to apply to your work, and now being a remote worker.
Michelle R: 00:38:25 Sure.
Matt H: 00:38:25 So, I guess this is my way of saying, or asking, how do you be an effective relationship builder, being remote, and being on a semi-distributed team?
Michelle R: 00:38:35 I have learned how to communicate differently and ... I mean, the threat of working online, since those days in affiliate marketing, right away it was important to understand how to create a digital presence. That's been a theme all throughout my career. So, I've had different iterations of Twitter profiles that were kind of branded, or sort of a section around a persona, Facebook pages, and it's been an ongoing exploration on how to create a digital persona that reflects the work that I am doing.
Michelle R: 00:39:06 You know, I've been involved in typical SaaS sales, where you've got sales development representatives doing the outbound hunting. They set it up for an account executive. It's very, very much like a machine, an engine, different parts. Those are the teams, also, that I've been on that it can make sense, for sure, to be in and around a team, but that's like, dial, dial, message, template, template. Repetitive, over and over, and it's kind of like, jamming a message through.
Michelle R: 00:39:31 Now, working for a product company, I understand, you have a clear set of features and value that you're delivering, so your message can be quite tight. Whereas working in services, I'm really selling people, and I'm selling business outcomes, especially today with Z1, we're building totally custom digital product solutions based on, oftentimes, a founder's first idea. So, part of my sales, my business development, is giving a ... I'm the first line of defense to say, "Hey, what is it like to work with Z1?" I feel like I'm kind of the hostess to open that virtual door. "Welcome to our team." You get a sense of our culture, our work style, our empathy, our honesty from how I interact right from that first email, that first LinkedIn nudge, and trying to change and be thoughtful of the way I communicate that's not templated. You know?
Michelle R: 00:40:28 "Hi. I saw you do this. We do this. How's your calendar for 15 minutes?" I know that works for a lot of businesses. But for me, personally, because I have had to go through understanding how to share who I am over Slack, with a team that's in another country and English as their second language, how do I use language to be authentic? How do I communicate what's important to me as an individual? I'm not incredibly active on social media, in terms of evangelizing a mission, because I have learned, as I mentioned, how to kind of protect my own life and my own brand in other areas of my life. But when I'm reaching out on LinkedIn, I'm trying to think of, "What do I think you're interested in? What's the kind of language that I see this person using online? What do I think they're interested in? Could they potentially learn something from me? Could I learn from them?"
Michelle R: 00:41:20 I try and come to a place of authentic, "This is what I do. If you're interested, let's chat. If not, that is okay." I also know, working in business development, sometimes, you know, magic happens at the intersection of timing, preparation, and the right opportunity. So, for me, it's also shaped a hello, make a connection, but it might not be the right time, but that time might come around again. But I see other sales professionals who are more into the methodical engine. You know, first touch, second touch, third touch, fourth touch. I wonder if, in my previous life, that may have taken an opportunity off the table, just by leaving a bad taste in somebody's mouth.
Michelle R: 00:42:02 So, I think it's a constant ... I mean, it's a human thing. It's a human interaction, where sometimes the challenge is I may look like an email address, but I really am a person that's interested in delivering value, and learning, and seeking opportunities. So, I think it's an ever-changing ... I don't know if I have a perfect answer on how I do it. I think it's something I'm constantly thinking about. Am I sounding authentic when I'm trying to connect with people online?
Matt H: 00:42:31 Yeah. Yeah, that's such an important piece, I think. Not that I have any, really, experience as you do, but I do get quite a few emails and LinkedIn nudges when it comes to these sorts of things. It sometimes is amazing to me that the person obviously hasn't even looked at what I do. You know, or understood at least at all about the business. It's easy ... Again, for you people that are listening, it's an easy no, it's an easy dismissal, when people clearly haven't been thoughtful about the way that they're doing their outreach. It is sort of fascinating to know that people might be missing out on a lot of opportunity just because it's not being structured in a way that I think is intriguing.
Matt H: 00:43:12 So ... or anybody [crosstalk 00:43:13] thinks it's intriguing. Do you think that's changed at all, in your time working in the areas that you've worked in? Has it changed the way that people typically do these sorts of things, or is it just sort of two ways of going about it?
Michelle R: 00:43:27 I think the narrative changes. I see a lot of stuff online, on LinkedIn, you know, there's conversation threads. I'm sure you've seen them as well. People kind of shaming bad sales emails. I will reach out to those people and ask them not just about why did you hate this email, but how could that person have done it better. I'm not interested in shaming bad sales. It's hard. Outreach si very hard. Oftentimes, people who are in those roles, it could be their first or second role. They're doing what their leader has asked.
Michelle R: 00:43:58 So, if you think about the incentives in, you know, a SaaS sales role, they are both activity based, so, you need to make X calls a day, you need to have X conversations a week. And metrics are super important to me as well. Don't get me wrong. So, I absolutely am managing, you know, how many ... It all rolls up. You'll do X number of reach outs. There's a percentage of those that will convert to qualified conversations. A percentage of those will convert into qualified opportunities. I'm operating on averages of all those conversions through my pipeline. So, there is a math to it. If you reach out X times in the top of funnel, and you manage your quality of your conversations, you improve your targets, those conversion rates will go up or down.
Michelle R: 00:44:45 So, you can dial that funnel. But at the same time, it can't be purely ... I mean, some of those bad emails that you're getting, those individuals are incentivized, "I got to get my touches out this week." You know? "I got to get my activities up." Because sometimes they're financially incentivized as well. "If I make sure I hit this target, if I can just get them on the phone, I can call it, you know, a discover conversation, and I'll get my tick in the box." That can work too, and that has worked. I see a lot of templates in emails that are the same. But I do see a narrative about whether or not people are tired of that. They see a lot of those. People sniff through it easily as well.
Michelle R: 00:45:24 So, I think now I'm more aware of does somebody think that I sound salesy when I really want to truly connect with them? Being more cognizant of like, what's in it for them. I think that's ... That's starting to change a little bit more. So, when I'm reaching out to someone, I'm saying like, "Hey, I'm exploring people involved in ... " So, for example, "Today I'm very interested in exploring people involved in accelerators, in ventures, particularly in California. That's where I'm looking. I want to get involved in the community. I'm curious about this community. I'd love to connect with you to understand who are the mentors, and the leaders in this space."
Michelle R: 00:46:04 That's kind of what I open up with, and recently that's been helpful. People saying, "Yeah, I'm interested. Who can I connect you with, or how can I help? What are you curious about?" That's been more effective than saying something like, "Hi, my team builds digital product. We have designers and developers. I'd like to take a call to see if you'd get value in that." That, to me, I think people are starting to sniff through and go, "Why would I sit and listen to you?"
Michelle R: 00:46:30 Is that helpful? To kind of paint a picture of the two different, sort of ways that I lead in my conversation?
Matt H: 00:46:36 Yeah. Super helpful. Most of what I have, in my experience, is just from ignorance because I don't know what that typical process would look like in any company, really, because I haven't done it myself. So, it is good to know that those things are more metrics based, and I don't mean to shame people that are reaching out and doing the more generic template thing. It's just, in my experience, it's been less effective and less eye catching when it comes to having just non-personal emails being sent, because I know that just that's, you know, that's been my experience.
Matt H: 00:47:06 Yeah, super helpful. It sounds like it's ... More of your job has to do with sort of finding a good fit, as opposed to selling what Z1 does. Do you find that part of it is sort of making sure that the people that you work with are a good fit for your team too? Like, if you bring people to Z1 and, you know, it might not be a good fit, I'm sure that that's probably not the best outcome either. It seems like it's a bit of both. Try to sell your Z1 services, but also trying to understand that their product should be excited about working with you, because it would be, you know, an honor and an opportunity for them too.
Matt H: 00:47:40 So, I wonder how that is built, and how do you frame that, in terms of working with somebody? Does that make sense?
Michelle R: 00:47:46 Absolutely makes sense. Yes. So, when I'm speaking with someone for the first time, who may have come to us with a great idea, or I met them and I just, in my network, and I hear they're working on something, I'm evaluating them as a founder. I'm evaluating the product idea. How much product, market fit evaluation they've done. I'm evaluating whether it would be a great experience for them to work with our team, both ways. Is our team going to love them? Are they going to love our team?
Michelle R: 00:48:14 So, we are selling experiences in different ways. I mean, I know people often have ... I hear all the time, "I had a bad experience with an agency." That's a hard barrier to get over if that is what I'm selling. So, if I meet somebody for the first time, because I've seen lots of start-ups fail, not everyone's going to make it, our team wants to see a success as well. I think one of the fun stories that we're amplifying right now is a team, and a product, called LoftSmart that came to Z1 like, as part of AngelPad accelerator. They needed that first iteration of their product done, as they completed the project.
Michelle R: 00:48:52 Fast forward, they've completed their first Series A. Our team could not be more thrilled to say that we were there in that beginning and have continued to work with them over the past few years. So, that is something our team wants to find. So, when I'm speaking to somebody who has a new idea, you know, sometimes there's an idea that's like, kind of a long shot, but he or she has work ethic and ambition, and vision, and really believes in it, and understands who the customer is, and can really understand the market. That's a great fit for us to be the product partner, because we bring to the table that expertise in, "Okay, let's validate the user experience, and let's make something beautiful and prioritize features based on what users really need."
Michelle R: 00:49:39 At the same time, I'm looking at the business idea. I mean, I hear all kinds of stuff. It's one of the things that I love about my job. The opportunity to have conversations with people who have just ideas that they've toyed with, to people who have hired a freelance designer, and they have some wire frames pulled together, but they really need help getting to the next milestone. I hear all kinds of ideas. Some of them, right away, my inside voice is saying, "Do your really want to go and compete against Amazon? Like, is that the best place for you to start?"
Michelle R: 00:50:10 Then sometimes it's a wacky idea, but I really love the founder, and I think that here's something there. So, it's kind of a mix of those things. Then I really love that Hector, our leader, will give me the support to turn away from an opportunity that has financing, that has pedigree, but that I really did not enjoy speaking to that person. I don't want to bring a project back to my team that will be painful for everybody. So, I'm kind of aware of that, as the hostess at the front of the tour.
Matt H: 00:50:42 Yeah. Does that happen very often? I'd be curious if you've just talked to somebody that isn't a very good fit for the team. Is that something you see often?
Michelle R: 00:50:48 I don't see it often. I have seen it. There are different styles of working. There are people who have different expectations of, you know, working with freelancers. There's individuals that know exactly what they want to see and what they find, and they simply want a contractor to execute on their vision. That's great as well, but we have a different style where we think of ourselves more as a partner.
Michelle R: 00:51:15 So, we want to get involved with you in validating the business model, and we hope that you see value in our entire skillset, our strategy resources, not just our dev team. So, for those who are looking, really, for a dev shop, to say, "Hey, I just want to rent a developer for 100 hours, and I'm not looking to grow or participate with you in anything else," that might not be an awesome fit for us. Because we are looking for those growth stories as well. Is that kind of make sense?
Matt H: 00:51:42 Yeah. It does. My question there would be is that something that was deliberate for you, or for the team I should say, from the get go, or have you sort of found your niche within that scope and that framing towards your customers?
Michelle R: 00:51:58 It is deliberate. So, I would resource a product team. That's because of the experience that I've pulled together in other agency worlds, but also the Z1 team, having a more wholesome approach to product development as opposed to like, functions. We'll put it through some validation, then we'll put it through design, and then we'll put it through development.
Michelle R: 00:52:20 There's constantly some breaks. I've seen, in other worlds, where somebody may have a product idea, and they get a freelance designer to put some wire frames together, and then they'll hire a developer. Developers will translate and interpret those designs differently. So, the mock ups may end up looking differently in the final product. That founder may not be happy. Whereas, when we're resourcing a product team, it's quite agile where we have a convergence of all these resources, people who are validating in quick feedback loops with users in the market while designers are increasing fidelity of the screens they're creating.
Michelle R: 00:52:56 Then once the developers go through and engineer, code the screens that they have passed over from the design team, we then do another round. We call it like, QX. It's like, design quality assurance where the designers will come back around and just ensure that everything was interpreted correctly.
Michelle R: 00:53:13 So, those are the outcomes that our team is most proud of and really feel that we deliver the best value, if we can work in that faction as more of a product team, as opposed to sort of [inaudible 00:53:25] resources.
Matt H: 00:53:26 Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I'm sure that that in itself is another value add for people to get excited about Z1. So, you mentioned your one other project that you've worked on, or that Z1 has worked on. Do you have a favorite story that you've been involved in, when it comes to building a product, since you've been at Z1?
Michelle R: 00:53:43 I think ... favorites. I love the variety of what we're working on as I'm running through them. Everything that we've brought on since joining the Tiny family, end of last year, has been really high quality ideas and so varied. I think the stories that I love ... Okay, here's one.
Michelle R: 00:54:04 So, we've got a team of two. It's a married couple. You know, ex-Apple, I think it is, came from the Bay Area and uprooted their family. They moved out of the city. They offer workshops in data visualization. It's such a niche thing, but she, the core leader, she has developed an audience, and a following, and a clear message, and offers these high value workshops, and content, and a book. We're developing a community for people who read the book, [inaudible 00:54:39] go to the workshops, to try and extend the learning and the engagement, but also to facilitate connections.
Michelle R: 00:54:46 The reason I love this story is because it's that like, tech 2.0. You know? It's the people who were in San Francisco, living that like, high tech life, and decided to leave and to move on, and to found their own thing. I think they're traveling through Europe and they're going to meet the team in Spain next week, with their kids. I think, outside of the work ... The work is fantastic. I mean, we're delivering beautiful designs in a way to facilitate real connections with her audience. But I love this story of their persona, of this type of founder. I hope that we get to find more people like that.
Matt H: 00:55:24 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Do you find that the story itself is an important piece of ... I think I know the answer already, but is that something that is important to you when scoping out potential partners?
Michelle R: 00:55:38 I think so. For sure. People want to understand. I mean, they're evaluating risk. That's the biggest thing. What's the risk in your team? What is the risk in this particular project? Social credibility, for sure, is one of the levers that people pull when they're evaluating risk.
Michelle R: 00:55:52 So, people will ask for a design portfolio. Oftentimes, you're evaluating our design aesthetic, but it's truly the aesthetic of our clients. So, it's not always totally accurate. But at the same time, it's that story of success. So, when people are looking at a design portfolio, they're looking at what I would say in sales like, features and benefits. But if I'm telling them the story of how we helped them grow and achieve success, and when I put you on the phone with a reference call with somebody who says, "I just love this team. They truly understand us. They want above and beyond," I think that's the story that people want to hear. Because, again, it's selling experiences.
Michelle R: 00:56:29 So, if you hire a product partner or an agency, you're taking on risk. Am I going to look good? Is this project going to unfold the way I tell my boss that it's going to unfold? I think that story based selling is particularly important to me, but it, for sure, is part of the ethos of the Z1 team.
Matt H: 00:56:47 Yeah. As we talked about before too, start-ups and entrepreneurs take their business and take their ideas as such a personal part of them that choosing a product team and choosing a team to work with, when it comes to building out and putting it out there, is probably such a personal thing for them to do. So, meeting you for the first time and meeting the Z1 team, I'm sure is a big part of, and important to them, in terms of getting the product that's part of their identity out there to the world.
Michelle R: 00:57:12 Completely. I have a friend who is trying to understand if she wants to start a family or start a business, because they're kind of the same relationship and journey that you're about to embark on. So, do you want to start like, a business baby? It's challenging for people to think about outsourcing their baby to somebody else. That is the risk and that's why we're trying to bring more of a human element to it, that there's more risk in these early stages. All of us understand, from different perspectives.
Michelle R: 00:57:46 You know, I've worked in enterprise sales where a half million dollar contract is nothing to sneeze at, and there's no real risk, really cool. Really cool innovation arms that I have spoken with in large enterprises, in financial services, that have an operating budget of a million bucks a year simply to experiment. What a cool environment for them to be at, to know, "Hey, it doesn't matter the budget that I burn. Sometimes my metric is simply increasing users." That's such a different world than somebody who's pulled together $100,000 in angel investments to test something in market. I mean, this could be their name on the line and all the dollars that they have for a first go.
Michelle R: 00:58:27 We're very conscious of that. That's why we were trying to be focused on experience and then de-risk a project, not just working with us, but also the product outcomes.
Matt H: 00:58:36 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. That makes sense to me. I'm sure that's one of the reasons why you've been able to be so successful. So, I'm excited to see where Z1 goes, and we wish you all the best, obviously, as part of the Tiny family. But just in the fact that we want to see good people do great work and be successful.
Matt H: 00:58:52 I have a couple more closing questions for you. You've been so generous, so far, with your time, Michelle. We really appreciate it.
Matt H: 00:58:57 So, my first question for you is if you weren't involved in business development, or tech, or start-ups, what would you be doing?
Michelle R: 00:59:03 You know, my mom would probably completely laugh at this. I honestly would probably be a music teacher. The reason my mom would laugh at this is because I've had this long tormented relationship with music, where my mom was a classically trained pianist and piano teacher in our house. My dad was an organist, or still is, but he was doing it every Sunday. I turned away so hard from that. However, I think, and maybe it's not even off the table, I really love to teach. I mean, I'm teaching and facilitating content at accelerators, and I really have a passion for music.
Michelle R: 00:59:39 I think, if I didn't go into the business section, which right from, you know, grade nine when you're selecting your electives, I was going down this particular path. But I always wonder if I had gone to a more artistic high school and pursued the arts earlier, and developed a greater level of technical aptitude in that world, I probably would end up teaching that particular topic.
Michelle R: 01:00:03 So, I could see myself, maybe, in my older years when I retire to Galiano Island, just teaching kids piano or something.
Matt H: 01:00:11 That's a great dream. It's interesting. It's something that I hear quite often with people in this world, in the start-up and technology world, that music plays a big part in their lives because ... Obviously, I don't know why that's the case, but it seems like that creative people tend to have other outlets for their creativity, and music tends to be one of them.
Michelle R: 01:00:29 Well, there's the creative aspect, but there are similar places of the brain that are processing music and language as when you are spending half a day coding something. There's really cool content about like, brain scans when people are looking at different things, and how the areas of the brain in reading sheet music light up in the same way when you're digesting something quite technical.
Michelle R: 01:00:53 I mean, if you're reading sheet music, it really is understanding how to read and then rearrange complex code bases. It's all very math based. Improvising in music is all around intervals and arithmetic. So, there, for sure, is alignment with developers who are also quite musically inclined. It's the same brain functions. But at the same time, it's nice to use those brain functions in a very creative setting.
Matt H: 01:01:18 Yeah. No, definitely. Yeah, no, retiring to Galiano Island doesn't sound that bad. All right. So, my next question is if you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be and why?
Michelle R: 01:01:32 Yes. I think everyone should read the book Grit by Angela Duckworth. For ... I get value out of that for personal reasons, for parenting reasons, for business reasons, workplace culture reasons. She does sort of break it down in those categories, which I love. But essentially, the premise of Grit is the ability to persevere and why do some people end up being more successful than others. She has a few tenants to understand what grit is, why people have it.
Michelle R: 01:02:06 She's got a framework for how to create amazing habits. So, there's a lot that I take in trying to instill a grit and growth mindset into my son. He's eight-years-old and that's an interesting time for him to say, "I can't. I can't do it." So, I try, and instill elements of grit in my kid. I think that grit in a workplace will create sort of that culture where failure is an opportunity to learn.
Michelle R: 01:02:32 I see workplaces that value grit give ... They understand the difference between coaching and feedback. So, coaching is about taking criticism into an action plan for you to get better, whereas feedback, I always feel is just, "Here, I'm going to give you something that I observe and leave you with it." It doesn't help people progress. So, I've seen some excellent workplaces that have sort of the pillars of grit instilled, which tend to be super successful environments.
Michelle R: 01:03:01 So, I could go on and on about how I really, really, really love this particular book. She has a Ted Talk that's 15 minutes that kind of overviews it. So, that might be a good entry point for you to understand the concept.
Matt H: 01:03:15 Yeah. No, and we'll link to that, both of those, both the book and the YouTube video. The one that rings a bell, the one that sounds similar to that, is called Mindset by Carol Dweck, is the name of the author. Similar sort of idea. I've found that to be very valuable as well. So, if people are looking for books to read then maybe that one, those two, should be on the list. But really great ones there.
Matt H: 01:03:34 So, my last question before I let you go here, Michelle, is ... And you can take it any direction you want, but what is the best advice you've ever been given?
Michelle R: 01:03:40 For me, personally, the best line ... I can't recall if it's one person or if this line just continued to show up in my life, but I'll say this to myself sometimes and I'll say it to others. Do you want to be rich or do you want to be right? The reason that that has sat with me for so long is I had a personal challenge, as somebody who often is striving to ... for perfectionism. I've struggled with perfectionism in my early years. Somebody who is accustomed to overachieving, but also I'll see things that may or may not be right. I would have, you know, when I was younger, commented on them.
Michelle R: 01:04:18 That might not be what is in my best interest, even if it's right. So, it taught me ... I think what that is telling me behind it is when to submit my ego and myself to achieve a greater goal. So, do you want to be rich? I mean, it's not just financially driven, but it is about do you want to let someone know if they're being wrong, or do you want to find your way through it and just find success together?
Michelle R: 01:04:43 I think that is always with me in different aspects.
Matt H: 01:04:46 Yeah. That's a really good one. I haven't heard it put in that way, but yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It reminds me of the idea of, similar to what you're saying, but just do you want to be right or do you want to win? People, those who focus on the longterm objectives instead of just the immediate sense of being right, tend to be better off, and happier, mostly.
Michelle R: 01:05:08 Yeah. There's some people that even if you are right ... There are some people where if you are right and they are wrong, simply letting them know won't put you on that path to winning. I think it takes a maturity to identify when it is valuable to state when you know that you're right, and when to just let things lie and move forward towards your greater goal.
Matt H: 01:05:28 Yeah. That's a really, really good one. Well, Michelle, like I said, I really appreciate you coming on the show. Before we go, where would you like to send people? We should be sending them to Z1, but anywhere else that you'd like to send people?
Michelle R: 01:05:38 Please, yeah. Go check out more about our work and our team at Z1.digital. Come and connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to have a conversation with anybody.
Matt H: 01:05:47 All right. Thanks so much, again, Michelle, and this was probably one of my favorites. We've gone over time here, but really appreciate it. Hopefully we can maybe have you on again.
Michelle R: 01:05:54 Thank you so much.
Matt H: 01:05:56 All right, thanks. Bye.
Michelle R: 01:05:56 Bye.
Matt H: 01:05:58 Thanks so much, again, for listening to the show. Be sure to check out WeWorkRemotely.com for the latest remote jobs. If you're looking to hire a remote worker, We Work Remotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so.
Matt H: 01:06:09 As always, if you have someone that we should talk to, any advice you have, or if you'd like to advertise on the podcast, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's email@example.com. Thanks so much, again, for listening, and we'll talk to you next time.