The Remote Show

Show Notes:

In this episode we spoke to Rebecca Corliss, VP of Marketing for Owl Labs. Rebecca is incredibly positive and inspiring. Her experience as an early member of the Hubspot team, the evolution of her feelings toward working remotely, and her tips on finding and mentorship relationships made this episode an especially interesting one!

Rebecca's career has been shaped by jumping at opportunities that were presented to her. As an extrovert who get's their energy from being around co-workers, working remotely was somewhat of a shift, and it was interesting to talk through what that shift was like for her. For those who are extroverts and are concerned that working remotely will make them feel isolated and alone, Rebecca has some tips for you! It is certainly possible to thrive working remotely as an extrovert, and Rebecca is a wonderful example of that.

Owl Labs’ mission is to solve a problem we’ve all experienced: meetings suck, and they are especially painful for the remote people on the other side of the call.

Check out https://www.owllabs.com/ for more information about the Meeting owl tool. It truly is the next generation of hardware tools for remote workers.

Be sure to check out Rebecca on Twitter at: @repcor

Also, check out Rebecca's book she'd force everyone to read: Radical Candor, by Kim Scott

Thanks for listening!


 [00:00:00] Matt H: Hello everyone! My name is Matt Hollingsworth and welcome to another episode of the Remote show where we discuss everything to do with remote work with the people who know it best. Thanks so much for listening. The Remote Show is brought by We Work Remotely, the largest community ofremote workers in the world. With over 220,000 unit users per month We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire.

[00:00:27] My guest on today's show is Rebecca Corliss. Rebecca is the VP of Marketing at OWLLabs, the creator of the Meeting Owl. Prior to OWLLabs Rebecca was at HubSpot joining in 2008 when it was fewer than 45 employees. It was there where she developed a love for fostering and supporting culture. Today she speaks on all things remote work and leadership.

[00:00:47] OWLLabs' product, the Meeting Owl, is a 360 smart conferencing camera designed to give remote folks an experience that nearly feels like being in the room. If you're curious and want to learn more check out OWLLqabs.com.

[00:01:00] Rebecca, thanks for coming to the podcast. We really appreciate it.

[00:01:02] Rebecca: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure.

[00:01:05] Matt H: Really looking forward to chatting today. Why don't we startwith your role at OWLLabs and maybe a bit about your background and then we can kind of get into what OWLLabs is up to the product itself. What's your role at OWLLabs?

[00:01:18] Rebecca: Sure. I'm proud to be VP of Marketing here at OWLLabs.I absolutely love my role, love the world of marketing. I actually got my start in marketing at one of my first roles in early days at HubSpot which was really, really fantastic, where I got to literally watch the world of marketing evolve as we were building a product to support it's evolution. Nothing's better than that so I'm really proud of that.

[00:01:42] Matt H: Nice. Just to back up on that a little bit, I'm always curious as to how people get their start within tech itself. What about marketing spoke to you originally and how did you get that first role with HubSpot?

[00:01:53] Rebecca: Oh, that's a great question. It might surprise people. First, a fun fact about me, I'm a musician. I'm a singer and I actually started school studying music, believe it or not. Then a very wise advisor of mine asked me what I was going to go to Grad school for when I was in my, I think it was my first semester freshman year, which just blew my mind as a freshman. I said, "Why on earth are you asking me that?"

[00:02:19] He says, "Well there's no direct application to this degree so you might as well think about it now." Anyway, that was a very, very formative moment in which I thought, "Okay, if I'm not going to be a famous musician I'm going to go ahead and learn how to make musicians famous." That was my transition to PR and then later marketing where I originally met a mentor, very, very formative mentor of mine, Mike Volpe who was in the early days of HubSpot who, all I knew was I wanted to learn from him. So I had the opportunity to join HubSpot when it was a wee little startup of 45 folks. It wasa lot of luck, I have to admit, a lot of luck and really wanting that great learning opportunity and wanting to show everything I had to offer to get in the door. I'm giving you the short version of this story as you can imagaine, but it was a wild ride.

[00:03:14] Matt H: Yeah. How long were you at HubSpot for?

[00:03:16] Rebecca: Yeah, eight and a half years, which was amazing. It wasamazing to have that time and learn and go through so many different roles. It's also where I became really interested in culture, great cultures of organization, how cultures help make organizations really successful and support hiring and things like that. That's where that original interest came from that I think has inspired a lot of what I've done since then.

[00:03:41] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, and then there's a lot there that I want to pick apart as we go through the podcast because think that theculture piece is a big one, especially when we talk to people in a management role and I'm sure we'll get there. Before we do can you just go into a little bit about what OWLLabs has been up to and then the product itself. Then we can go from there, but I'd be curious to hear about that too.

[00:04:03] Rebecca: Yeah, sure. OWLLabs. I think the best way to describe our company OWLLabs and our product the Meeting Owl is to first put a picture in your mind of the last time you joined a meeting remotely where you were the one on the video far, far away and you were joining maybe a team of people who were all sitting together in a room and really thinking to how terrible that experience can be.

[00:04:27] It's frankly miserable. You may be laughing to yourself in this moment if you're listening. Usually it's a perspective where you might feel like a fly on the wall, like you're there observe them. You have to interpret what's going on nearly the whole time. It's hard to see, hard to hear. You get the picture. Anyway that is the core problem that OWLLabs is looking to solveright now, really making meetings inclusive for remote people no matter where you are and doing that with the hardware device called the Meeting Owl which actually goes in the center of the conference room table. So that's the first big change. It's not next to the TV and it uses intelligence to automatically focus on different people as they talk.

[00:05:04] So the result is an experience where you can actually see people really closely, see facial expressions, get the context that you're usually missing. It also has a full panorama of the room, the entire 360 of the room so you can actually see when people pop their head in the window, or the window! The door, probably not the window, although you'd see it, and really get that experience. Some of the best compliments we get are when someone says, "Oh, I nearly feel like I'm in the room." And that's our goal. That's a little bit about OWLLabs and the Meeting Owl in a nutshell.

[00:05:36] Matt H: One of the things that I hear quite often about the difficulties, because I like to get into a little bit about the problems that often come up with remote teams or distributed teams or the hybrid approach which falls in sort of the market that I think you are trying to get into which is having an office and then having some other people part of your team that are distributed that are around either in the area or around the world. One of the problems that I think comes up with that is just how do you maintain at a level of culture and communication and clarity with the people that are distributed versus the people that are actually in the office, because there just isn't that level of serendipity and there isn't that level of communication for those people that are away than there is for those people in the office. It seems like that's kind of the problem that you were looking to solve. Is that correct?

[00:06:23] Rebecca: Yeah, that's exactly right and we're finding that that's one of largest groups that are going, when you're thinking of different types of companies. I mean, sure you have fully remote companies which are amazing. You have fewer and fewer companies that are only co-located. That doesn't align with today's work place. I'm talking to you right now from my kitchen table because that's where I want to be right now and it's so typical for folks to either be fully remote joining a company or just a mix of remote and office work that you see people experience every day.

[00:06:58] Basically our concern is when you have people that are co-located,when you have people that are remote we call this they hybrid team, that is when inequalities are most prevalent and that's terrible. What we want to do is really help do our part to create a world in which those inequalities can go away and the place where we're starting is with meetings and team meetings.

[00:07:22] Matt H: You mentioned that's where you're starting, targeted specifically to those companies that have that hybrid approach. Do you have anything else that you offer as a company to those groups and organizations that are running through those issues? I guess a better way of asking that is, is there anything on top of the specific hardware that you offer, maybe in terms of the processes and best practices and that sort of things to companies that are running into the same problems? Or is just the hardware product itself at the moment?

[00:07:47] Rebecca: Yeah, nothing formally. I mean, just to be good stewardsof these ideas. We have a lot of our own content. We have our remove interview series, similar to yours in regards to interviewing interesting people and their perspectives. We like to give our best practices and support, to just really help move toward a world where there is this better equality and wherelocation can become irrelevant but from a business standpoint today we have our Meeting Owl product. We'll obviously always be hopefully innovating and finding new ways because really our mission that, let's just be as natural as just sitting in a room might be.

[00:08:25] Matt H: How has the product itself evolve? Where did it start originally or was it sort it became what the product, as it stands today? How has the company evolved since you first came on I guess is a better way of asking that?

[00:08:36] Rebecca: Sure. I joined in early 2017 with the goal with my colleague Karen Rubin to bring this product to market. It's something that very intelligent people were working on for quite some time and now is our time to really bring it to the world. We've had quite the evolution as a business in terms of coming out of self, bringing the product to market and really building our brand, building our customer base, supporting our customers to the best of our ability.

[00:09:02] We only have the one product so that's been really interesting. I would say one thing that has allowed us to adapt is that it is a wifi enabled device which is pretty unique for the video conferencing hardware space. We've been able to take feedback from our customers about different interests, needs, things like that. We can actually shoot those over wifi to our customers' products to make them even smarter, which is really important when you have a device that's built on that intelligence. So that's been very cool but other than that that is our product.

[00:09:32] Matt H: Nice. Previous to working at OWLLabs did you have any experience yourself working remotely? What was your opinion or did you have a stance on remote work before you came on at OWLLabs?

[00:09:45] Rebecca: Oh, that's great. I'm going to embarrass myself a little bit. I was that individual who did everything she could to always be in person,always. The terrible story I can give is when, and maybe others have experienced this, you have that terrible cold and you know you really shouldn't go in but you have that big brainstorm that you really don't want to miss. I would be the one that one that would use terrible judgment and go in anyway. I came from the world in which I felt it was a requirement, so much so I remember when I joined OWLLabs and I met with Max (McKeeve) , one of our folks on our leadership team, and I told Max and I was like, "Max, I feel like I have this terrible remote work baggage. I feel guilty when I work from home," given that's obviously that flexibility is a core tenant of OWLLab's culture. He looked at me square in the eye and he goes, "Well, Rebecca, you're just going to have to get over that" which I thought was so awesome.

[00:10:47] So yeah, I came from a world that really focused on just being in person. Actually very early in HubSpot's world it was very, very important that our home base was all in Boston. So it's very interesting, especially seeing HubSpot's evolution in terms of how that mindset has really changed.

[00:11:06] Matt H: Your opinion, I guess, has evolved a little bit when it comes to remote work. To me, being an introvert, well a self proclaimed introvert as it is, it's hard for me to be in the shoes of and sort of empathize with the problems that an extrovert would have with remote work. For you, what has been the biggest shift or what would you suggest to somebody that is an extrovert that is working remotely and maybe feeling a little bit isolated and not doing their best work?

[00:11:34] Rebecca: Yeah. That's a wonderful question. I am a true blue text book extrovert. I like to stereotype myself and tease myself a little bit. I think the key element to that that is most applicable in considering a remote work setting is I get my energy from others. Absolutely. Put me in a box. Put me by myself, it depletes my energy. I am energized when I'm able to absorb that among and being with others.

[00:12:02] I have two things to think on the remote work world. One is the harder answer which is it's okay if you shouldn't actually be remote. It's okay and hopefully you can find an environment where you can be at your best because I think that's number one. Two, you have to understand that not everyone may have that luxury of just saying, "Well, I'm just going to go into the office." In that case I would say, "Well, where can you find your energy?" I, believe it or not, focus better in loud environments. I'm not even kidding you. That blows some people's minds. I focus better when there is buzz around me. So go to your coffee shop. Go to your co-working space. Go wherever you're able and see if you could absorb that energy just through being around other humans, even if they're not directly interacting with you. Those are my two pieces of advice.

[00:12:52] Matt H: Yeah, and I also think it's important for people that are in a management role to understand sort of how your employees operate and take the nuance and try to understand on a deeper level what these people are trying to communicate when they tell you different things. I think you have to be a little bit more deliberate and intentional to try to find out how your employees work there at their best. So really diving into, okay, well whattype of environment suits this person the best and how do I encourage them to find that place and to understand that everybody isn't the same as you are. That's kind of something I think that everybody should be aware of when it comes to managing remotes, even if it's not as intuitive as you might think so I think it's something that I think everybody should keep in mind, especially when they're going into a remote role.

[00:13:36] I'm guessing you manage a remote team of some kind. How has the management itself within OWLLabs evolved for you and what would be the sort of the number one takeaway for people that are managing a remote team to try to keep in mind when they're going into a role that is remote and has remote employees?

[00:13:55] Rebecca: Sure. I think my team is actually best described as a hybrid team. If I take the marketing department particularly, we are a group of six and we have two people that are usually in the office I'll say 99% of the time, myself included. We have to people that are straight out 50/50, depending on what they have going on and their personal preferences to the moment. And we have two people that are 100% remote, so we are as blended as hybrid as you can be. I would say some of the learnings from that ... and this is actually, to add another anecdote, my first time managing someone remotely, fully 100% remote I should say. I would say the key thingsthat I've learned is that I am doing my team a disservice if I ever try to enforce a working style that fit my needs and not theirs. That would be the most terrible disservice.

[00:14:52] Take a woman who runs Content Marketing. Her name is Sophia. She's brilliant. If I kept her in an office every single day she would suffocate. Itwould be so cruel. She does some of her best work when she can hack away at home with her cat. I hope she listens to this because I know it will make it laugh. So I know in order for her to be at her best I need to make sure she can make those choices as she wants.

[00:15:16] To take a ... One woman, her name is Aaron, she's 100% remote, ironically was in the office this week which was lovely. It had been many months since I saw her in person. The first time I worked with her remotely and to give really a testament to her and her choices, she impressed me so quickly at how present she could be while not being physically present. That was really, really a matter of her approach, her maturity, her understanding of how to be remote and very active and integrated with the rest of the team,which really impressed me. It was through those lessons, really through watching her I said, "Okay, I understand this and now I can take the manager point of view and figure out how I can support other teammates when they are either parttime remote or fully remote and how I can also share this with the world through our product or our content in work.

[00:16:05] Matt H: Do you have any process for having people that are more comfortable working remotely that you maybe suggest to them that either one day a week or a week out of a month or something, do you have any guidelines to get people maybe out of their comfort zone and into a different environment that they wouldn't be as comfortable with but then would be productive for the team and for them to experience?

[00:16:26] Rebecca: Yeah, that's a great question. First, no process necessarily. We're also a startup and so process is limited in general, but I would say in terms of tools or things we think about, first I think it's really important that working remotely not be a big deal. You know what I mean? It's just not a big deal. It's just what you're doing. I remember people said, "Oh, do you want me to give you a heads up or should I ask permission?"

[00:16:53] I'm like, "Oh goodness, no." That's defeating the purpose and I would say maybe if we have a meeting that day just give me a heads up or let me know before hand. Other than that, because I think if it becomes a big deal that's what creates the divide. It's not a big deal that you came to the office today so it shouldn't be a big deal if you didn't. You know what I mean? It's really thinking of it differently.

[00:17:19] For those who maybe are newer to the remote work world, and I mean, and really taking from my experience, I think it's really showing that it is a personal choice and you trust the person. There's someone on my team who is in I would call the 50/50 camp. His commute is terrible, absolutely terrible and sometimes he's like, "I'm just going to stay here because I have aton to do," and I'm like, "Great. That seems like a perfect choice. I applaud you for making that decision."

[00:17:45] He once had a point, he's like, "I hope you don't mind." I think it's because I was talking like, "My goodness." It's been really interesting. You've been at OWLLabs where we're working so hard to change this for the world, we're still carrying a teeny tiny bit off that baggage that we had from our former employers that while they likely also had the best intentions were not as fully enabled as we want to be at OWLLabs today.

[00:18:08] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, it's funny that you mentioned that because I agree, even more myself, too, there is a little bit of, I don't want to say guilt but there is something there that, just being at home you want to make sure that everybody else is aware that you are a part of the team and you're working hard. Traditionally that was you came to the office early and you leave late kind of thing and that's how you showed that you're a part of the team and you're committed to it and you're a hard worker.

[00:18:34] I think people just need to just kind of get out off that mindset thatyou physically being somewhere does not lend itself to being a productive worker. That in itself isn't something that people should take into consideration when they think that you're committed or not. So yeah, I think that's a really interesting point.

[00:18:51] Rebecca: Yeah, I think you're completely right.

[00:18:53] Matt H: One thing that I like to ask people ... It's actually taken fromanother podcast and I've said this on most of my recordings. It's taken from a podcast by Claire Lew who I really respect and admire as a manager of a remote team. Her question is for her guests, "What have you learned along the way that you wish that you knew when you started your career?" I think it's a really interesting question because it brings up all kinds of interesting answers. What for you would be the thing that you wished that you knew when you first started?

[00:19:19] Rebecca: Hmm, I think I had a pretty non-linear path when I thinkabout it. I would call it more of an opportunistic path than a linear path. Early in my career I questioned that. "Am I doing it wrong? Is it bad that I'm not progressing from step A to step B? What should I think about that?" I questioned it and I think it was a little bit of luck, maybe a little instinct and some good mentorship that non-linear opportunistic paths are often the most successful ones.

[00:19:47] That is something I like to bestow upon others who think like, "Oh, I'm trying to figure out my career path." I hate the word path. Path implies that there is a straight line or a line to even follow when it nearly never is the case. I wish I had known that earlier because maybe I even would be even more assertive in those moments in which sometimes taking a non-linear path is something that's been really, really supportive for myself and I think for others as well.

[00:20:12] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, we've mentioned a few times and it's something that I think comes up a lot is sending the e-mail, the cold e-mail when there is somebody that you wanted to reach out to or just going after things because there's real no downside to those kinds of cold e-mails orthose kinds of outreach opportunities that you put yourself in. I think that's a really important thing for people to take away is that if there's something thatyou want or if there's somebody that you admire, reach out to them. Send them an e-mail and the worst thing that can happen is they don't respond or they say, "No, sorry, I don't have enough time." There's so much potential upside for those kind of opportunities if you put yourself in the position to do that. I think it's a really interesting point.

[00:20:53] Rebecca: Yeah, I mean, I went music, PR to Marketing in such a short window and even at that point in terms of meeting Mike really on, he didn't give me a job. Just a really, I'll give you more details to that story. He didn't give me a job. He gave me a project. That was my in at HubSpot and I thought, "Well, I really prefer a full time job with benefits but you know what, I'm going to give this a shot because I believe in this opportunity." I'm really thankful that that's what I did and really thankful that he did give me that chance because I think that was a first step that led to so much. I think knowing that it's okay that you might not do the textbook version career path. I think there if you actually do.

[00:21:36] Matt H: One thing that you mentioned before was the value of mentors in your career and it's something that I've heard quite often from people that are successful, that they've had some pretty significant mentors in their life. If you don't have a mentor how would you go about finding one? Is there a way that you can even do that or whether it's just something that happens naturally? I'd be curious to hear what your thoughts are there.

[00:21:58] Rebecca: That's a wonderful question. First I think there's two sides of it. First I'm going to state something which I think is a fallacy of mentors or the idea of mentorship which you find a person to serve you. Now,no one really thinks that way, at least directly, but the underlying message could be that, "Oh, I need somebody who can help me in my career." I would actually flip that. The people who have actually become the best mentors in my life are those that I've worked extremely hard to support myself. I think that that mentorship is really two-sided. Maybe in terms of thinking of finding your mentor, maybe this someone you work with now or someone who you'd like to get to know, but I would start with, "How can you help them?"

[00:22:41] That's going to be really key. What can you do for them? What do they need? What do they need help with? Can you use that as your first step to form a genuine relationship and then often really wonderful people, they love the opportunity to then mentor, support, nurture others that are that eager. Eager in the sense that you're really open and looking to learn. But I would say the real fallacy is that you're looking for someone to serve you. That's not really the right way. I would really find someone who you admire that you can go and help first.

[00:23:12] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think that translates as well to working at a company that you admire as well. One of my favorite quotes or people that I admire, his name's Charlie Munger. You may have heard of him. He's an investor down in the states. He says that the most important thing that you could do as a young person is work for somebody that you admire, for a company that you admire. The pay itself doesn't really ... obviously I'm paraphrasing, but the pay itself isn't as important.

[00:23:38] One of the things that was given to me as a device was to find thecompany that you want to work for and go be helpful to them. Go find a way that you can be the person to do things that others don't want to do. I think that just being helpful in general is a really underrated skill that kind of gets overlooked. It's surprising to me that it does because it's such an obvious thing, but yeah, strive to be helpful always and good things will happen to you I think.

[00:24:01] Rebecca: Yeah.

[00:24:02] Matt H: You mentioned before as well that building the culture at HubSpot was something that you were involved in. What was that like at HubSpot and how is that different from maybe OWLLabs where you're a little bit more distributed? I'm always curious, especially with remote companies, how do you create a culture that people want to be a part of and people wantto work towards being involved in. How did you do that at HubSpot and how has that changed at OWLLabs?

[00:24:25] Rebecca: Yeah, at HubSpot I would say focusing on hiring and people who had the key attributes that you really wanted to really emphasize long term. That was probably step one. I can't take any credit for that. That really goes to the co-founders, the original leaders, et cetera. Some of the key pieces of HubSpot's culture that I've always admired is that grit, that hustle, that really thoughtfulness, that really problem solving nature, ability to adapt things like that. Those are always attributes that many if not all of the hires in the early days had. I think that was the first step.

[00:24:58] Then in terms of my part I would say from there it's modeling it yourself, I think is key. I was newer in my career at that time so just modeling it I think was really important. Then as the team scaled how I liked to contribute was, could I identify some sort of issue or something that wasn't working culturally or even socially or organizationally, or communication-wiseand could I provide a solution?

[00:25:26] Maybe it's not the one that's always used, but could I provide a solution? That led to some really cool things from ... oh man, we did all sorts of crazy stuff. It was very fun, from just like social things to new lunch and learns to, oh what else? There's just so many ideas that we had over the time. I had the chance to build a leadership program for emerging leaders, specifically individual contributors. That was really fun because one of the things that I identified is that there wasn't a clear career path for ... I'm gong to contradict myself but there wasn't a clear growth opportunity for individualcontributors as there were managers so that's something I wanted to contribute. I would say, modeling it, identifying issues where I saw and bringing a solution and sometimes they were used and they weren't but always be really focused on that.

[00:26:14] In terms of how it differs from OWLLabs I would say the approach isn't different and I would say I'm fortunate to now be at a leadership level which I can influence a lot. I think what's different are the types of challenges we see. We are not a perfect hybrid team. We still have the inequalities between a remote team and our in office team and I think it's going to be a journey that we're going to experience really as a working society. It's the same approach, how can we identify them? What can we do? What solutions can we bring and how can we learning?

[00:26:48] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative). How do you feel about the idea of getting together in person on a regular basis for remote teams? I hear there are companies out there that don't do the get together thing and they don't fly people out or depending on the team and their size. They don't value it as much, that in person collaboration every once in a while. Is that something that you put a lot of value on? Is a part of that culture building that you require everybody to get together for those team building exercises that are in person?

[00:27:15] Rebecca: Yeah, we do it at least once a year if not twice a year, so you can judge whether you consider that frequent or not. We're also at a size in which it's still possible so hopefully we can hold on to that. I would say that the difference is mindset. If you rely solely on those two instances a yearand that's your relationship building for your team, that's a problem. If it's additive and above and beyond, how can you work to build relationships every day no matter where you are and then your additive are these really exceptional moments where you can all be together, I think that's a better approach.

[00:27:52] If you can afford it why wouldn't you want that additional extra opportunity to spend time together because I mean, I love the idea of figuringout how to build relationships virtually. I've hired people without meeting them. I mean, you name it, but at the end of the day it is true, there's something really amazing about being able to just sit across the table from someone. It's not always possible. You can't rely on it but if you do have that chance, why not?

[00:28:17] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative). For OWLLabs, what is the size of thecompany right now and where are you distributed as of right now? Is it global or is it just in the states?

[00:28:25] Rebecca: Yeah, we're fewer than 50 folks. We are mostly in the United States and then we are spread across the entire United States from, you name it, Chicago, California, Texas, Mississippi. We're located in Boston so you can kind of go all the way around. We're about, we might be a little more than this on the last time I counted, we're about 33% fully remote as in people aren't able to even commute to the office if they wanted to. Then I would say there's another third who are a short and a commutable distance to the office but either do it very infrequently to rarely. Then you have another third who I would classify as mostly office folks.

[00:29:08] Matt H: I'm always curious to hear people's either daily routine and weekly routine. Is there something that you don't miss yourself personally just in terms of your management or is there specific, strict guideline on how your week is usually planned out or is that more just depending on how you're feeling that day or what's going on?

[00:29:25] Rebecca: Yeah, at a bare minimum for my team I always have a weekly one on one pretty standard. I have found that it's just very, very important that that time is just reserved because you don't want the day, the week to get ahead of you and it's just a really great way to do that and have that check in and that really thoughtful conversation. That's for every single teammate, whether they be remote or not.

[00:29:46] Then other things, I love getting the team together. We live in Slack, that's our chat tool of choice and so we live in Slack and we do a lot of our collaboration there which is great. I think asynchronous communication's really important so that's a regular part of our day to day. Other things personally, I write in a physical notebook. I really enjoy it. I think it's important. It's so funny to have this one-dimensional way of organizing myself but it brings me satisfaction so I do a lot of that. Even in conversations, too, I much prefer to write by hand than on the computer. I think it leads to a better conversation. That includes if I'm on a video call for what it's worth. I'll still write by hand so I think that's a habit. That's very important as well.

[00:30:33] Matt H: Yeah, I actually do that myself as well and I feel very old fashioned in doing so. It's interesting actually. If you stop writing on a physicalpiece of paper for a long time you really lose that ability, more quickly at least than I thought, which was a little bit depressing when I first started going back to writing in pen and piece of paper. Just the quality of my note taking. It's just awful. But yeah, no I do the same thing and I find it's easier for me to organize myself when it's on pen and a piece of paper kind of idea which is very old fashioned.

[00:31:01] Rebecca: Yeah and it removes, from a social stand point it removes the barrier in the communication. I mean, if you're both on your laptop staring at your screen or typing away or whatever, you lose some of that connection. And I do think that's something that crosses, sitting across the table face to face or even on a video call. I think it's the same in either case.

[00:31:22] Matt H: What's the biggest thing that you see in working with companies that have a distributive work force, what's the biggest issue in themanagement itself that you see frequently? Is there something that you couldjust in talking to remote managers that you could just communicate all at once and say, "You need to do this better." Is there something that people often miss with managing a distributive team? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts there.

[00:31:45] Rebecca: Interesting. I would say something that's probably part of the learning curve is really increasing one's mindfulness and how I mean that is being really aware of the crutches you might have in your management style that are fully reliant on visual cues. Just to give a real obvious example, if you're the manager that likes to, I don't know, walk aboutthe sea of desks and use that as your opportunity to see how everyone's doing and that's your motive, checking in? That is not going to work. That's not going to work in a distributive setting by all means.

[00:32:25] So being mindful, if that is your habit, being mindful that it's not going to work in figuring out how you're going to adapt and how it's going to change. I think that's really important. I would say another, for all that can happen and you mentioned it yourself, figuring out you're going to evaluate impact by your employees and are you used to visual cues like butts in seats and if you are, basically how can you translate that? In that case it's not well is your Slack or chat light on? I think it's really translating to, well how can you actually measure impact on something that's not physical at all, not time based at all? Make sure you have clear results that you have set as expectations for each of your people.

[00:33:07] That's good no matter if you're co-located or not. What are the results that you expect for each of your people and hold those people to that and have that be the subject matter of communication, because then it's completely irrelevant where you are when you work, when you're working even how long you're working but are you meeting those goals, meeting those targets, having the impact that's expected of you, then those other details become a completely irrelevant aspect to your working life.

[00:33:38] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. One of the things also that I like to ask people, too, is the ... and this might not apply to OWLLabs specifically or I'm not actually sure. Does the hiring process change for you when you're hiring somebody to work in a remote role or is that something that's kind of secondary and you don't really consider during the hiring process? Is there a skill or an attribute that would lend itself to knowing whether that person would be a quality remote worker? I'd be curious to hear whether that's something that you would consider in your process?

[00:34:09] Rebecca: Yeah, for those that would be fully remote I do ask some questions to make sure that they would be successful and feel successful in that environment. I'll ask questions about their working style before, what those environments were, the environments where they feel the most successful, the type of situations where they felt the most successful, the most empowered and really get a sense of that.

[00:34:34] I'll also be really direct and ask about their reflections about being remote. What do you think about that? Do you have concerns? Really let the person reflect. Obviously if they're a great candidate I'm hopeful but I also know that I'm doing someone a disservice if I'm unintentionally convincing someone to be remote when it's actually not really for them. So really having those open, reflective conversations I think is crucial to making sure you're doing everyone the best that they can for their world.

[00:35:03] In terms of the process, not necessarily. I think the biggest difference is instead of meeting in a conference room we're meeting on a video call. All of our interviews are on video. I see absolutely no reason to do anything audio only when it comes to just meeting and having those types of conversations. You might as well get more context than less so that's a really key part. Then for not all but some roles that are remote we might fly the person out but that would be reserved for very, very large impactful leadership level roles. There's plenty of people that we've hired that we did not meet in person and that's worked great.

[00:35:43] Matt H: Nice. This might be a hard question to answer but what is the mission of OWLLabs in the sense that what would be the goal that as a company that you're trying to work towards? What are you trying to change within the workforce that you would consider to be successful five years downthe road if you back and thought, "We did a good job in doing this." Is there anything specific that you as a company are trying to work towards in terms of shifting the workforce itself? I'd be curious to hear what you thought on that.

[00:36:13] Rebecca: Yeah, oh I love that question. I'm wearing a sweatshirt right now that has this tag line of this idea that we believe so much. I mean the long term vision is to help create a workforce where location is completely irrelevant, location is irrelevant. That means any person at any time is enabled to work wherever they work best, whether that be in a coffee shop, their home office, a desk next to 40 other workers, wherever it may be. That location is completely irrelevant to the point it's not even thought of. That's the utopia that I really hope for for our world. I would say in terms of our mission, in terms of what piece we want to carve out, how we want to contribute, we're thinking about that from the meeting standpoint. How can we make location irrelevant in a meeting?

[00:37:06] So go back to that story I told where I refused to stay home when Ihad that cold, when I really should have, for that brainstorm. There wouldn't be a thought in my mind that I could be equally as productive, heard and understood in that meeting if I stayed home versus went into that office. That's the world that we want to help support and create.

[00:37:31] Matt H: Yeah, that's fascinating. I think there's a tendency now for companies to either choose one or the other. They're either a remote team orthey're not. It's interesting when if you take out that component of it and make it be, not even irrelevant point to bring up as a company that has distributive workers. We're not even a remote team. We're not anything. We're just quality workers and we get the job done but the location aspect of it completely agnostic. That's a future that I would want to be a part of as well and I think it's great that you're working towards that.

[00:38:00] Rebecca: Yeah, a thought to add, to really dig in there, a method that a lot of people I respect are doing for their team meetings, maybe you'reheard of this. There's some guidance that's been given that if you're going to have someone remote everyone should join the meeting from their lap top separately, from their desk or wherever. Everyone should act as if they're remote. I've heard this described as the Remote First mindset, at least as it's applied in this context.

[00:38:31] On the one had I applaud the intention. I mean it's really looking for a world of equality and making sure that everyone's on the same playing ground. I get it. I applaud the intention, however my criticism is it's lowering it to the lowest common denominator. It's saying, no one gets to benefit from that in person energy you might get which would put someone like me at a disadvantage for example. I would say the utopian view is how can we actually elevate it so everyone has what they need. Elevate the experience for those that are remote so they feel like they're in the room or they feel as if they're on the exact ... not even feel, they are on the exact same playing field as everyone else versus limiting it for others. That's something that I ... contacts a little piece of it but that's really inspired me to want to react to.

[00:39:32] Matt H: That is interesting and it's interesting to hear that perspective because I think there is a tendency, again to be a remote team and really value and have that part of your culture and part of your identity a company, when that might be isolating for people that are like yourself, who get energy from other people and really value that ace to face communication. I agree, I think that's an interesting way of looking at that it brings everybody to be their best which is I think is the goal or should be for every company.

[00:40:01] One of the other things that I wanted to touch base with you because I know that your time's valuable and I want to be cognizant of how much time we're taking up here. I wanted to ask you, what's your favorite part of your job at OWLLabs? I know that it's probably, you wear a lot of hats and you cover a lot of ground. What's the part of your job that you get the most satisfaction out of?

[00:40:22] Rebecca: Oh, the most satisfaction. I think the most satisfaction comes from really supporting my team and watching them succeed in what they're trying to do. Nothing brings me more joy than that. I am lucky to havea really incredible team on both marketing and then across the organization. It's a really remarkable group of people. That easily brings me the most satisfaction in seeing them succeed or learn something new or figure something out. It's so much fun, especially when you have such a talented group to work with. I think that goes down as my favorite by far.

[00:40:57] Matt H: Fantastic, and I don't know if you can answer this or not, but do you have a least favorite part of your job?

[00:41:02] Rebecca: A least favorite. That's so hard. I feel very fortunate that I love what I do. It's definitely hard. I mean, for you to get a startup, I mean, it's hard and carving out your own space and setting really ambitious goals. I mean, I wouldn't change it for the world but it takes a lot. I mean, being part of startup is a lifestyle. It's a choice and it's one that I absolutely love and adore so I wouldn't say it's my least favorite. I wouldn't change it butif it's worth acknowledging that the requirements of someone in a startup environment might be different from other types of companies.

[00:41:38] Matt H: Going off of that, is there something that you do specificallyso that you can shut off at the end of the day? I know that in myself and people that I know that are working startups, they tend to ... because they have that optionality of working at home if they want to, the amount of work that they do at home kind of bleeds into maybe taking up some of their sociallife and their personal time. Do you have anything specific that you do shut off at the end of the day to make sure that you're getting your time?

[00:42:05] Rebecca: Aah, you assume I shut off. I guess I think of it from a bigger picture. It's not necessarily at the end of the day shutoff. It's everything that I do and the time I put in is all a choice. It's all a choice that I make because I want to and I'm inspired in the moment. I will say to have a balanced life, I have my hobbies. I mentioned I'm a musician. I'm a singer. I actually sing with a acapella group today and that's a very active part of my life. We rehearse every single week. We perform at least every month so I would say that brings me balance in my full life, but it's not necessarily like, I don't like done at the end of the day. That's at least not how I personally thinkabout it.

[00:42:44] Sometimes I might feel like, "Oh my goodness. I just need to turn on HGTV and just veg out for a moment because I'm my maximum mental capacity and that will be a choice. And some days I'll say, "You know what? I am so in to this data that I'm analyzing. I'm going to look at it until I must go to sleep." I would say as long as you're feeling satisfaction and it's a self imposed choice and you're finding balance in the bigger picture, I mean, that personally works for me and is something I really appreciate.

[00:43:18] Matt H: Yeah. As a manager do you do anything intentionally to encourage people to have that balance within your team? I'd be curious to know about if there's anything that you do specifically that encourages that amount of balance if you do say that people should shut off at a certain amount of time or not sent e-mails at a certain time of day? Is there anything that you do there do encourage that balance?

[00:43:36] Rebecca: Nothing that I dictate. It's interesting, makes me want to know if I should go get some feedback on my own style, but nothing that's dictated specifically. I would say one of the things I'm cognizant of is just because I'm inspired at 11:00 p.m. working on this data doesn't necessary mean others are. So that's okay and how may I say it for others? I would say not necessarily bringing people into my world, that crazy hours like that. That's one thing that I'm cognizant of.

[00:44:05] I would just say just greater flexibility in general. I think that goes into those that either choose to work remotely or do on whatever days or anymoment. Some people have yoga classes that are important and it happens to be at 2:00 p.m. Well, I don't care. Great. Sounds good to me. Sounds like a really nice thing to do in the afternoon. So I wold say then it goes back to thatidea of impact over time or impact over hours. How do you make sure what someone needs to achieve is clear because then how and when is then up to them.

[00:44:38] Matt H: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. Interesting. I have a couple more closing questions for you, Rebecca. Again, I really appreciate you spending your time here today to talk to is. The first closing questions I have is, and you may have already answered this already but, what leadership practice or skill do you think is most important? This could be just somebody, that you've seen other people that you really admire or in yourself do you value the most as a skill as a manager. Yeah, what is the leadership practice that you think is most important?

[00:45:07] Rebecca: Yeah, the one that ... I took some time to reflect on this question and really think how I'd want to share. What I think is really important and I don't know if it's a leadership practice or maybe just a best practice and being a human to others, but listening and truly being really curious when you're managing someone. What I mean by that is take some random day when something goes wrong and you're working with Jane who's been a person on your team for a long time. All of a sudden it appears to you that Jane has done something wrong. In that moment, what is your approach?Is it to reprimand? Is it to teach? Is it correct?

[00:45:46] Or what I think is best is it to inquire? Being truly curious in that moment because most likely if Jane is a smart person who has always had her best intentions in mind and always has done everything that she can to serve the company, the customer, then likely there's something else going on. So if your instinct is always to be curious, inquire, ask questions, understand the bigger picture, more likely than not there's actually a really genuine lesson that you can share together that will be really helpful. That's something that I like to remind myself. It is so easy, so easy to say, "What happened here?" But instead being like, "This is actually atypical. Can you share me your thought process?" And truly be curious in that moment, that's going to be the best learning and the most impactful for everyone.

[00:46:37] Matt H: Yeah, no that makes sense. I like what you said there which was it seems like it's a learning opportunity for both sides. It's not necessarilyjust to point out a mistake that was made. If you ask questions you might have come across a point that maybe you can learn from as well. I know that I've done that in the past as well so it's a good way of approaching I think.

[00:46:55] My next question is one of my favorites actually. If you could force everyone to read one book what would it be and why? If you don't have a book it can be a movie as well.

[00:47:05] Rebecca: Yeah, the one I'd recommend is called Radical Candor, by Kim Scott. Have you read that one?

[00:47:14] Matt H: I haven't actually read it. Funny enough, it's on my list of books to read.

[00:47:17] Rebecca: Oh, good. Oh I'm glad to hear it. It is awesome. First thereason why this book really spoke to me is she had a blog first that I also readand then the book later. She has this wonderful method to help people lead with radical candor. The whole thinking, the best way to describe it is you know that terrible moment when someone you're having dinner with has spinach in their teeth and that terrible discomfort you feel to tell them? You want to tell them but you're afraid? The idea is that in that moment you should have radical candor and give them that feedback. Tell them that there's spinach in their teeth.

[00:47:58] I would say my instinct is this. I hate upsetting people. Oh my God,nothing makes me more upset than to upset someone. But I can't take that approach as a leader because if I'm not being direct and clear in my feedbackand guidance, I'm doing a disservice. If I'm not telling you there's spinach in your teeth I'm doing you a disservice. So really embracing that to others where just being direct without kindness, that's not good either. Anyway, it's a great book and a great framework. You can even Google it and get the image that is really helpful and that leads this frame or thought. It's an awesome idea and I think it's helpful for all leaders.

[00:48:38] Matt H: We'll link to that as well in the show notes for the podcast so people will know where to find that. We'll definitely check that out.

[00:48:47] The last question I have for you here, Rebecca, and this is a good one too as can be in work or in life. What is the best advice you've ever been given? Like I said, you can take that in any direction you want?

[00:49:00] Rebecca: Oh, man. I'm lucky to have a lot of great mentors. I'm lucky to have a lot of great advice. I'm going to pick, because this has been very leadership-focused, I'm going to pick a phrase that one of my mentors gave me that really helped me understand the best of leadership. What that quote was is that leadership is to create the conditions for self empowerment.Oh my goodness. I have no tattoos but if I ever were to get a tattoo that's what it would go and it would go right on my arm probably so I could read it every day.

[00:49:31] What I love about that idea is that for anyone who thinks leadership or management is to control, they couldn't be further from the truth and really the job of the leader is to create conditions where people can be at their best. Those conditions, whether it be where they can work at their best, where they can learn at their best, where they can be creative at their best, where they can make decisions at their best. You can never force someone to do that but you can find a way to create the conditions, the environment that they need so they can do their best works. So anyway, I love that and I lean into that idea as much as I can.

[00:50:07] Matt H: It should be maybe another question and I'll ask in these closing remarks for my podcast going forward is, if you were to have a tattoo of a quote on your body what would that quote be?

[00:50:15] Rebecca: That's great. You should.

[00:50:18] Matt H: Well, Rebecca thanks again for coming on the show. I know that I learned a lot about this. Is there anywhere that you want to be sending our listeners or encourage people to check out, either you personally or OWLLabs?

[00:50:29] Rebecca: Sure, I would say if meetings are something you want to improve we'd be honored for the opportunity to help. Our website is OWLLabs.com, so go ahead and do that. If you want to connect with me I love chatting with people on Twitter, any questions that people have. I am RepCor on Twitter. That's R-E-P-C-O-R. I'd love to connect with you there.

[00:50:51] Matt H: Fantastic. We'll link to that as well so everybody can check that out and make sure people follow you. Rebecca, I can't thank you enough again for coming on the show. Hopefully we can maybe have a part two because I have a bunch of more questions that I want to ask you. We really appreciate you taking the time.

[00:51:04] Rebecca: It was great. Thank you so much.

[00:51:10] Matt H: All right, thanks.

[00:51:10] 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 WeWorkRemotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so. As always, if you have someone that we should talk to, advice you have, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. That's [email protected]. And if you'd like to sponsor the show please go to WeWorkRemmotely.com/advertise for all of our available opportunities. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time.

← Back