The Remote Show

Show Notes:

Links to Raul's internet things:




Tyler Sellhorn (00:02):
Hello everyone, my name is Tyler Sellhorn 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.
Tyler Sellhorn (00:12):
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.
Tyler Sellhorn (00:24):
Today, we are joined by Raul Galera. Raul Galera is the chief advocate at ReferralCandy, an app that allows eCommerce brands to set up and run customer referral programs. While at ReferralCandy, Raul has helped build the leading platform for referral marketing with eCommerce brands. Founded over 10 years ago, ReferralCandy has helped over 30,000 brands leverage the power of word of mouth and turn their customer base into their marketing team. Raul has been leading ReferralCandy's partnership efforts for the past five years, working alongside marketing agencies, media and tech companies.
Tyler Sellhorn (00:56):
Welcome to The Remote Show, Raul. Tell us what you're doing. Give us a sense of what you're building there at ReferralCandy.
Raul Galera (01:02):
Absolutely. First of all, thanks for having me.
Raul Galera (01:05):
As you mentioned, I lead our partnership efforts here at ReferralCandy. ReferralCandy is an app that is used by eCommerce merchants, but also by eCommerce agencies. So that's my main focus here at the company, is to build an environment that's friendly for eCommerce agencies so they can leverage our tool for their clients. As a product, what we do is that we allow brands to basically turn their customer base into their marketing team, or into their sales team.
Raul Galera (01:32):
Yeah. It's a really great way for brands to retain existing customers while acquiring existing ones. That's what I've been doing for the past 10 years, and we've been able to help thousands of merchants do so.
Tyler Sellhorn (01:43):
Really cool, thank you for sharing about that. One of the things that I'm really interested to hear more about is just your story of becoming a successful remote worker. You've been working remote for a long time. I'm just curious, how did you become successful doing that?
Raul Galera (02:01):
I guess practice, really. I had the luck that my first job experience ever was remote, so actually my first internship that actually led me to my first job was fully remote. I've been able to experience it from the very beginning. I actually had a little bit of a break, in terms of working remotely. I worked for a company for a couple years, and I was working from an office. I actually wanted to try that, just to see what the office life was like and see what I was potentially missing on. That allowed me to also get a little bit of that transition, or I guess into learning on how to become a better remote worker.
Raul Galera (02:37):
Traditionally, the way most people approach remote working is that they start working from an office, and then they have to switch from that to a fully remote environment. I actually did the opposite way, I started working remotely, then I went into an office, then I realized it wasn't for me. And then, I continued working remotely, so that's what I've been doing for the past five years straight.
Raul Galera (02:56):
I think it's a little bit easier for somebody that has never had an office experience. And somebody that jumps into the workforce working remotely has probably an easier transition into becoming a good remote worker than somebody that has been working in an office that, at the end of the day, it's an environment that's built to become a really efficient place where people can get stuff done. So when you get people out of that environment, you get them to work from their own home, that it can get a little bit challenging.
Raul Galera (03:23):
Yeah. I think the fact that I started with that experience, it's probably one of the main things that have allowed me to become a good remote worker.
Tyler Sellhorn (03:30):
Awesome. One of the things I want to zoom in there is contrasting your experiences of working remotely and in office. My career path was that I used to be a school teacher, it doesn't get more co-located than that. Where we've got bells telling you to begin and end a mandatory meeting with the same people you didn't pick to be with, on the hour ever hour. It's definitely been a big shift for me to think about, "Okay, my work is no longer coupled to a location."
Tyler Sellhorn (04:01):
What are some of those mental models that you use to help you find where to be, and where things belong and how to do things well?
Raul Galera (04:09):
Yeah. I would say it's more like a realization of the nature of the work that I do and how asynchronous it is, and also how really location independent it can be. Obviously, there are lots of jobs out there, and you just mentioned one, a school teacher. I come from a family of teachers so I had to explain, I had this conversation a lot with my family when I started working remotely because they couldn't really wrap their head around that.
Raul Galera (04:35):
But for me, it was more of a realization of working remotely is really a no-brainer, again, for certain types of jobs. And especially in the tech industry. Most of the jobs can be done remotely. Again, one of the things that I realized, I come from a sales background and when I was working at an office, I was actually living abroad. I was in Chile, in Santiago. Santiago is a massive city and communication throughout the city is not great. If you want to move around the city, especially at certain times of the day, you're either going to get a packed subway or you're going to get a 45-minute to an hour taxi ride. Again, I come from a sales background so meeting clients that were located in the same city as I was, at some point, it was not even really worth it to drive 45 minutes or to get on a packed subway for a 15-minute meeting with a client, when the client was also happy to just have the meeting over Skype.
Raul Galera (05:23):
That was one of the things that I realized, if I'm having calls with a client that's located in the same city as I am and I'm just jumping on a quick Skype call to discuss something, and I'm doing the same thing for a client that's in Helsinki or in London, I could really be doing this from anywhere. It became this realization that a lot of the things that I do are, again, location independent but also they're asynchronous with my teammates, but also with clients.
Raul Galera (05:47):
So once you get into that mindset of, "I'm not just at an office to sit down in my chair and wait until five PM to leave," but instead, "I'm performing tasks and I'm trying to be productive, I'm making a good use of my time." That's probably the biggest eye opener that any potential remote worker can have, is that realization that they're not getting paid for time, they're getting period for performance. So once you start observing your job as a series of tasks that you're performing and your overall productivity, that's the main mindset that I think any remote worker might have. Or, I guess the bottom line of the remote working mindset.
Tyler Sellhorn (06:26):
Imagine that, making the work about the work. Raul, one of the things that you said right at the beginning of your comment there, I heard you saying the idea of synchronous versus asynchronous. When you think about that style of working, it really feels like as we are coming out of pandemic, we're being forced to spend a lot more time thinking about what is going to be the next step, or the next version of things. Now that we're not in forced work from home, but now it's really going to have an opportunity to experience that work from anywhere, 2019 style of remote working.
Tyler Sellhorn (07:05):
I'm wondering, could you talk some more about what you think about when you think about being intentional about what things are synchronous, what things are asynchronous? You were mentioning making phone calls, but then you were also talking about not making it about the time. Give us some more thoughts on that, because I'm so interested to hear everybody's thoughts around those things because that is such an active topic inside of our community.
Raul Galera (07:27):
Oh, absolutely. This is, I guess, based on my own experience but also our own company policy. We've always had the policy that it didn't really matter where you were working from, or when, or how long you were working, as long as you meet your targets and you're able to collaborate effectively with teammates and clients, and whoever it needs to be.
Raul Galera (07:50):
I think that it's a really interesting topic and I think a lot of companies are going to have to make a decision on that. But, I feel like companies that got this right before the pandemic and that were already organizing their work in a way that, again, was asynchronous, it was performance based, didn't really have a problem transitioning into a fully remote environment with COVID.
Raul Galera (08:09):
Just as a quick example on our company, we have a team that's located in Singapore, and again, most of them work from an office there. We also have a team in the Philippines and they all work from home. And then, there's a few other employees like myself, that are spread out across the world and work from different places. Myself, I spend about six months a year working from Spain, which actually helps me a lot in terms of timezone because I can spend my mornings working with Singapore, and then my afternoons I can have calls with the US, which is where most of my agencies and clients are.
Raul Galera (08:40):
But again, since we had this hybrid between people working from home, and also people working from an office and people working from different timezones as it was my case, we already had a little bit of foundation as a company on how to organize ourselves and organize our work that the moment that we had to, especially those who were in Singapore, had to move to a fully online environment and fully remote environment, we didn't really see any sort of downside from that because we already had the systems in place.
Raul Galera (09:07):
Again, I think it's more about if a company is relying a lot on having in-person meetings to get stuff done, again, a lot of discussions that need to happen in-person, that could easily be replaced by online conversations or there's tons of collaboration tools out there nowadays, obviously. But, as long as the company has those foundations right, in the sense that understanding that this is something that can be solved via email, this is something that can be solved with a ticket, this is something that can be solved in a quick Slack conversation, we don't really need to meet in-person. Being able to distinguish between those two environments is what's going to help companies become successful in a fully online environment.
Raul Galera (09:43):
Because one of the things that I think is going to happen in the next few years is that people who've never worked from home, and were forced to do it during the pandemic, I don't know what percentage, but a lot of them are going to realize that this is what they like, this is what they want to do from now on. So they're going to ask future hiring companies that they let them work from home, even if it's not 100%, but have some sort of hybrid between office and home. You know, I'll work from home most of the time, but I'll go to the office when needed. Only those companies that get those foundations right on how things operate inside the company will be able to hire qualified people that won't be interested in coming to an office five days a week.
Tyler Sellhorn (10:18):
So many things I want to get into, more there that you just said. You opened up a few threads for us. But, I'd like to zoom in on that last piece, where you're talking about how do you know when a company is serious about working remotely. I guess, maybe a better question is how does ReferralCandy communicate to candidates we're serious about this remote work thing?
Raul Galera (10:39):
Yeah. Okay, that's a really good question. The way that we have approached it, and again as I mentioned earlier, is that we've always tried to have a remote friendly culture. Not necessarily remote first but remote friendly, in the sense that if somebody comes to join the company and they're located somewhere else, and they want to stay in that location but we think it's a really good candidate, that's okay. We can make it work and we have definitely been able to make it work.
Raul Galera (11:01):
Obviously, this includes having the right tools in place. Before we had Slack, we had HipChat many years ago. Tried to have processes, have everything documented, have public chats, everything. You have all that in place, which again, as I mentioned earlier, this has also allowed us to move our in-office team to fully remote at the beginning of the pandemic. And again, we didn't really have any sort of negative impact on how we typically work. In fact, a lot of our employees that used to be based at an office, now they love remote work and now they love the fact that they have a lot more flexibility, and that they can do a lot more with their time. I think that's one of the main benefits that people have realized as well, is how much time they have now that they don't have to commute.
Raul Galera (11:40):
Again, it's all really a matter of understanding that it's not about making sure that people are online, or people are responding to emails or messages quickly or anything like that, it's more about making sure that everybody knows what they need to get done and everybody knows what their targets are. I think that's what has definitely allowed us to be able to also hire effectively, by letting our candidates know that this is the culture we have in place. We trust you as a professional that you're going to get stuff done and that we're hiring you because you have a skillset that's going to be beneficial for everybody. But, we don't really need you to work at certain hours if those don't work for you. If nine to five is not great, you'd rather work until three in the morning and start in the evening, that's fine as long as you get your work done.
Raul Galera (12:25):
Again, it goes back to this mindset that I mentioned earlier, about companies understanding that they're not paying employees just for their time, they're paying them for their skillset.
Tyler Sellhorn (12:33):
All right. I'm going to pull back on a thread that you started earlier. You were discussing how you organize your day around the times of day that other people in your team are working, and managing timezones, and figuring out how to get some overlap for those moments when we do need to be synchronous. What are you thinking about when you think about how to manage timezones in a fully distributed organization?
Raul Galera (12:57):
Yeah, that's a really good question. It's all really a matter of trying to adjust it to the particular needs of each team.
Raul Galera (13:03):
Obviously, our customer support team is based in the Philippines, but since the majority of our customers are located in the US and Europe, they have to work in different shifts. So they have to organize that themselves, to figure it out, what times are working and obviously adjust their life to when they work. Again, that's a particular set up.
Raul Galera (13:20):
At least from my end, in terms of maybe having a little bit more flexibility in terms of when I work. I'm personally a morning person, so I like to get stuff done in the morning. The first two, three hours in the morning are the most productive for me, so that actually works really well with the fact that, again, most of my colleagues are based in Asia. So my mornings, when I'm in Spain, match with their afternoon so I have time to get on calls with them, or if I need to work on a particular project with somebody, I'm in the same timezone. And then, I usually take a break in the middle of the day because I usually have calls in the afternoon or in the evening, because that's when people in the US start waking up and starting their workday. So I take a little break, and then starting at three, four, five PM is when I have some calls again. That's typically how my day goes.
Raul Galera (14:04):
Again, it's really a matter of organizing that around what your work is like and what are the needs of your particular role. So again, if your clients are based in a different timezone, it's going to be difficult to avoid those timezones or avoid those times of the day in which your clients are awake and they're working, because they're probably going to need something from you. It's all a matter of being able to organize it, either by having different shifts or just by letting people know when you're available so somebody else can cover if it's needed. Again, I think it's really different depending on the role and the company, but at least in my particular case, that's how I typically handle it.
Tyler Sellhorn (14:37):
That's really, really great. I think that timezones are going to be one of those physical limitations, that the sun only shines on one half of the Earth at a time.
Raul Galera (14:48):
Tyler Sellhorn (14:49):
And at my day job at Hubstaff, we organize our customer-facing teams into timezone groups, just like you're talking about. That really is what has to happen if you're going to be able to serve those customers where they are.
Tyler Sellhorn (15:02):
Okay, so I want to transition and ask you a little bit more about your role as a partnerships person, and as an advocate for your organization. We're doing this work inside of the internet. We're speaking to one another, completely disconnected physically but we are connected here together digitally. When you think about showing up, when you think about presenting opportunity in a digital environment, what are the things that you try to say are the ways to be attractive as a person, personal branding, or as a company, or inside of a relationship? What are the things that you've seen be successful in terms of communicating, "I'm here to help you. I'm here to be a resource." What are the things that you do to say those sorts of things?
Raul Galera (15:54):
I would say the bottom line of that is to be present. And again, being present online, it's a little bit different from when you're present at a physical event. Or before the pandemic obviously, I used to go to a lot of different conferences and meetups, meet people in person. Obviously, that has changed a little bit after the pandemic. But, I think it's all a matter of being present, and being aware of other people and letting people know that you are available if they need any sort of help.
Raul Galera (16:19):
The way I personally do this is by hanging out where people that I work with hang out as well. There's a lot of communities out there, in terms of either partnerships or eCommerce, where I like to be present, I like to be active. I used to also be active on Twitter and join the conversation there. Even this podcast in particular, I consider myself part of the remote work community.
Tyler Sellhorn (16:39):
You've showed up.
Raul Galera (16:40):
Exactly. Yeah, I showed up.
Tyler Sellhorn (16:42):
Raul Galera (16:43):
Good morning, everyone. I showed up. That's exactly the point, to be where the conversation is. Obviously, right now all the conversations are happening online and it's really not that difficult to connect with somebody that's on the other side of the world. And again, things have gotten a lot easier for people like us that work remotely.
Raul Galera (16:58):
That's actually one thing that I hear a lot from my colleagues at ReferralCandy that used to work from an office, is that they now feel closer to me because they now experience things that I used to experience when I was the only one remote. If I was joining a meeting with a marketing team and everybody was in the same meeting room, and I was a voice talking through a computer not talking through a speaker, I wasn't really there in the same way that my colleagues were. But now that we're all in the same Zoom call, I've actually heard that comment several times from different people, that they feel closer to me and more in line. They understand the challenges, I guess, that all remote workers have been experiencing for the past few years.
Raul Galera (17:37):
But again, there's definitely lots of different places that you can hang out where people that you are supposed to be connecting with are also hanging out and being present. Even sometimes just touching base with somebody via email, that works extremely well. People really appreciate that. I guess it's a combination of different things, but it's all a matter of being where you're supposed to be.
Tyler Sellhorn (17:59):
Yeah. Yeah. That encouragement to show up in all the different ways, I take that to heart. I know for myself, when I've started working remotely, I took the opportunity to join meetups in places that were not necessarily in my town, but they were near enough for me to travel to. It's both and, isn't it? It's both and, it's not either or. It's not all remote or totally in office. It's always been some version of hybrid. But now, we're being forced in this post-pandemic moment to be much more intentional as an entire working community. To say, "Okay, what are we going to choose to do? What is serving us well? What isn't serving us well?" And then, making decisions based on that. That's really cool.
Raul Galera (18:41):
Yeah. It's also going to make us appreciate our time a lot more, in the sense that ... I used to go to Singapore once a year to meet the team, stay there for about a week or so. That time maybe wasn't super productive in terms of getting stuff done, but it was really great in terms of hanging out with people that I typically work with and have face time. I think we're really going to appreciate that in the next coming months, as the pandemic hopefully goes away, that we're going probably start having meetups again. Lots of companies, I'm sure, will start having company retreats and company trips, and stuff like that. People are going to appreciate that a lot more than they used to, especially those teams that used to be in-office.
Raul Galera (19:18):
Because before it was like, "Well, I'm traveling with the same people that I already see every day, so we're working just from a different place." But now it's more like, "Oh, I get to see them in-person again." We're going to appreciate that a lot more, that face time. And as we continue with this hybrid between remote work and occasional meetups, those meetups and those reunions are going to be much more successful than they were before, I'm sure.
Tyler Sellhorn (19:39):
I for one am totally anticipating the next time that I get to meet up with colleagues at a retreat ... I'm thinking of all these people that maybe have gotten hired in a remote environment and not been able to travel to see anybody in their team, let alone a manager or the team that they work closely with. Yeah, I'm imagining those reunions, those meetings, those in-person backslaps or elbow touches, whichever we're at at that point, I think it's going to be really, really exciting for us to be together. It's not either or. Really, let's not paint either version of things as an ultimatum. It's a spectrum that we can all find out what works best for each team and how they work best.
Tyler Sellhorn (20:25):
Okay. I want to give you a chance to conclude our talk today, and I want to go super high level. I want you to do some compare and contrast. I'm wanting you to say to yourself, "Okay, when I think about remote work in 2019, these are the things that I think about. And then, when I think about remote work during 2020, these are the things that stand out to me." And then, I want you to zoom out even further, and look on the horizon and say to us, what's 2022? Can you give us a rundown of how you think things were, how things are, and how they might be?
Raul Galera (21:07):
Yeah. By the way, thanks for the question because I was actually thinking about the answer as you were going through 2019, 2020, and then now potentially 2022. I was actually seeing myself in each one of those years.
Raul Galera (21:20):
2019, that was probably the year that I traveled the most. I went to probably 11, 12 countries in that year. It was great in the sense that I could bring my work with me, I could just bring my laptop, and whenever I had wifi I could work. That also had some challenges, and that's probably the main thing that I see myself because I was having ... Again, because I was pretty much the only remote person in my marketing department, so a lot of the meetings if there was some sort of interconnection issue or whatever it was, I remember how painful that was for me in the sense of being the only one that's remote, and being the one that's dragging the meetings sometimes. Or, having people wait for me because whatever connection or from whatever café I was working from decided to stop working at that particular time. I do remember the struggle, that's definitely the con. The pros where that I could travel and I could see a lot of different places, and that was really cool.
Raul Galera (22:12):
Now 2020, I see remote work as a privilege and that's something I've said to many people. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was really scared about what was going to happen overall, not necessarily on the hospitality, and bars and restaurants, and all those industries which I really suffer for those people. But also, in general I had a little bit of a negative expectation about that. So I saw the fact that I could work remotely, I saw that as a privilege. Especially, for example my girlfriend, she used to work in the travel industry and so of course, that didn't really go very well last year. The fact that I could still work from home, I saw that as an absolute privilege.
Raul Galera (22:51):
And now, looking at 2021 and especially 2022, I am seeing remote work as the norm, as becoming the new standard. Probably not fully remote, probably not the digital nomad type of setup that maybe I was having in 2019, but most people will have some sort of remote work base and they're going to experience remote work more often. And, they're also going to be better at it in the sense that, in 2020, you were basically sending people to work from their couch. Obviously, when it was the third day they had to open their laptop from the couch and their back was hurting they were like, "Yeah, this is not working." Yeah, of course it's not working. That's not supposed to work like that, you're not supposed to work in that particular setup. But by 2021 and obviously 2022, people will be able to also adapt their homes or whatever workspace they're using, to have a more comfortable work setup.
Raul Galera (23:39):
So I believe that remote work is going to become the norm, probably in different shapes for each company and for each employee. But, I see a lot of companies, especially in the tech industry, having some sort of baseline of remote work for all employees. I'm fairly positive of that.
Tyler Sellhorn (23:56):
Well, thank you so much for sharing those items. I really appreciate you sharing things here with us today. We covered a lot of ground and learned a lot about how to be a successful remote worker.
Tyler Sellhorn (24:07):
But, I want to give you a chance to share with people where they can find you and your things on the internet, and stay connected.
Raul Galera (24:14):
Absolutely. Best way to find me is my email, that's raulg, so R-A-U-L-G, @referralcandy.com. If you want to start a conversation on marketing, or eCommerce, or remote work that's the place to find me. I'll be really happy to chat with anybody.
Tyler Sellhorn (24:29):
Well, fantastic. Thank you so much again for appearing on The Remote Show and we'll see you on the flip side.
Raul Galera (24:35):
Thank you so much.
Tyler Sellhorn (24:39):
Thanks so much again for listening to the show, and 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. 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 [email protected]. That's [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time. 

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