The Remote Show

Show Notes:

Welcome to Season 2! We’re kicking off 2020 at The Remote Show with Scott Mathson, who runs Web Strategy, Growth, SEO at Netlify and also is the bootstrapped founder of Plink. We were super excited to chat with Scott, as he is an ever present name in the remote work and bootstrapped founder communities.

We get into all kind of interesting topics from his background in woodworking, his experiences at Auth0 to taking on his new role at Netlify and bootstrapping his new startup Plink (Scott graciously created a free subscription Plink custom link for listeners of The Remote Show  (and desktop Show Page,Episodes Page). Scott is another great example of someone who is insightful, honest and open about his work experience about burnout, career progression and the pros and cons of working remotely.

Scott is a mentor at  Lambda School  and one of his initial mentors was Pete Sveen. For those of you interested in woodworking and DIY projects, you should check out Pete : -)

Burn out resources mentioned: journaling, therapy, scheduling in self care time, mindfulness & meditation - HeadspaceMacOS Aware App , Pomodoro techniques, Coworking, etc.

Scott’s book he’d force everyone to read:  Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

Find out more about Scott at:  Check out his personal website, his twitter, and Linkedin, as well as Mathson Design Co. You should all check out another project of Scott's: Makerviews, a place to share the stories of and advice from a variety of makers, designers, and artists. 

Please enjoy!


Matt: 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 with the people who know it best. Thanks so much for listening. The Remote Show is brought to you by We Work Remotely, the largest community of remote workers in the world with over 220,000 unique users per month. We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire.

Matt: 00:25 My guest on today's show is Scott Mathson. Scott has been working on the web for the past 12 years, was previously doing technical SEO and web strategy work at Auth0 and is now the web strategy manager at Netlify. Scott is also a consultant at the Mathson Design Co, a bootstrapped maker and entrepreneur, and a bunch of other things that we get into on the show. Follow Scott on Twitter at @scottmathson, his last name is spelled M-A-T-H-S-O-N, as well as go to his website, scottmathson.com. Scott, thanks so much for coming on the show, man. We really appreciate it.

Scott: 01:00 Yeah, thanks for having me. Big fan of the show and We Work Remotely community, so thanks.

Matt: 01:05 Yeah, we're really excited and we talked a little bit off mic about it, but this is actually the first show in the second season. So it's been a while since I've been recording these. If I come off a bit rusty just for the listener, that's why. It's been a couple of months. We'll get into it and I'm excited about it. But I start off all these podcasts, and anybody that's listened to the show knows this, so we'll start there. Scott, what is the thing that you're most proud of that you've done over the past 12 months?

Scott: 01:31 Yeah, so I think this might extend beyond 12 months a bit to be honest, but something kind of a positive, unexpected side effect of, well maybe side effect's not quite the right word, but opportunity of remote work has been travel. So I'm really proud of the fact that that was a fear of mine. Traveling even just close. I'm based in Western Montana, but domestic travel, even a few hours towards Seattle was kind of a big deal. I've had opportunities to go to the bottom of the world in Bueno Aires, Argentina, Mexico, Florida, New York City. Yeah, I'm really proud of that.

Matt: 02:07 Yeah, that's great. So I'd love to talk to you about your travel and get into the different things you did and especially Buenos Aires, but maybe we'll get there at a later date or another podcast. But yeah, I think that's a great one. Were you able to work at the same time, or was this structured time you took off or were you doing work as well?

Scott: 02:21 Yeah. Well, I think actually every interaction, every travel opportunity was work based, be it kind of a team specific or department specific offsite, or company all hands off site, or just I was with Auth0 for a while. They're based out of Bellevue, Seattle area. So I'm traveling there for work is primarily work.

Matt: 02:41 Interesting. That's actually a good jumping off point because I'd love to get your opinion on... I've talked to a number of people that are remote workers and some people that are doing the whole nomad thing I guess and going place to place and working on the way and spending maybe a few weeks in a certain place and then moving on. Maybe this doesn't apply because you mentioned that this is sort of a newer experience for you, but how do you feel or do you have a take on whether that's something that you would ever do or be interested in? Or could you be effective in that way of jumping around? Or would you need some sort of home base to be able to be effective do you think?

Scott: 03:15 Yeah, so this is kind of funny. Actually grown up my mom still cites to this day. I was a pretty home base type of kid. So whenever we'd get back, even after just from running errands or something, I would just say, "Ah, home sweet home." So, I mean, to this day that rings true to where I highly respect and I work... A lot of my colleagues do the whole digital nomad lifestyle. So I'm even doing the van life thing if you will. That would be difficult. I just think for the fact of we have pets, a dog and two cats, so kind of logistically, but also personally I need a place to call home.

Matt: 03:50 Yeah, fair enough. Well, the pet thing is obviously a big one too. I have a dog and I know that feeling of not really being able to move. Not only that, but as I've probably talked to before, my dog doesn't actually go anywhere. He's very stubborn. He's a big dog. He doesn't like to move out of the backyard. So it makes travel difficult.

Scott: 04:06 Yeah. My wife and I, she's actually a German citizen from Frankfort originally. Something we have explored is doing, I guess you could call it kind of a digital work from Deutschland, from Germany, whether it be a summer or something like that. So I think that would probably max me out is two, three months. But we might explore that. Yeah.

Matt: 04:26 Yeah. Whenever I get the chance to talk to somebody who's been working remotely for a long time I always want to touch on that, because it seems like intuitively for somebody who doesn't have any experience working remotely, or maybe they do, it seems like such an obvious thing to be able to do, especially if you don't have a dog or if you don't have as many things that are tying you to one place, you'd want to get up and move. I've found actually that that's not often the case. Maybe I just haven't talked to the right people yet, but it doesn't seem to me that that's a majority of the people that are high performing people that work in regular full time jobs that are able to pick up and move on a regular basis and do the whole digital nomad thing. And again, maybe it's just that I haven't talked to the right people and there's probably somebody listening to it that's shouting into their phone thinking I'm doing this myself right now. But yeah, I just haven't really been exposed. So I like to ask that question.

Scott: 05:10 Yeah. I think it might be more relevant the way I see that too. Or again, maybe not, but kind of the whole Tim Ferriss four hour work week, passive income. I think if you're living that lifestyle, man, I mean laptop on the beach in Bali or something looks amazing as hell. But for me, like you just spoke to too, ergonomically I need a desk, so I agree.

Matt: 05:33 Yeah. And same thing with me too. I need a home base. So anyway, so you've got a lot of experience that I would like to get into and to pick your brain a little bit about your current job, Netlify, and then your side project work and maybe your past experience as well. But to start, why don't you just explain a little bit about what you do at Netlify, what Netlify is for those people who don't know, what your day to day looks like right now with your current job.

Scott: 05:54 Yeah, so I'm still relatively new, kind of ramping on still. It's been a couple months at this point I guess. So getting a bigger grasp of the company, the culture. I specifically work on the website, title being senior web strategy manager. That really encompasses a lot. Previously I did the same thing with Auth0. And for them they're little larger scale SAS company, 600, 700 employees. Netlify is 100 folks or so. I like that scrappy startup environment, so doing a lot more kind of generalized work, whereas prior it was really SEO, search engine optimization, specialized work. But yeah, so I'm full time with that, overseeing a lot of growth initiatives. I sit underneath the VP of marketing, so it's marketing. A top that and run a kind of variety of side projects.

Matt: 06:44 Yeah. Was it the job itself that took you away from Auth0 to go to Netlify and the chance to work in that sort of generalists role? Because I speak for myself, I actually really like that, some people don't like that and like to have the ones specific niche that they really get to dive into and be experts on. I can appreciate that, but I also like doing different things because I get bored pretty easily. So what about Netlify brought you there? The job itself is so general. So can you give a few examples of what your day to day activity looks like, what your agenda looks like for the day?

Scott: 07:15 Yeah. Yeah. And sorry I didn't address that in kind of the second half first time you asked it. But also speaking to what Netlify does is static site hosting essentially. We have an advanced application delivery network for websites, kind of like your podcast here needs a hosting platform, all the websites do. And so static site generators and that whole microservices and that whole movement is something that I personally am really passionate about. A different project in mind, which possibly I'm sure we'll get into is called plank. And that is all run serverless, kind of with this edge computing technique.

Scott: 07:51 And so yeah, it was the broader mission vision product team that brought me to Netlify when the opportunity arose. There's really this vision and mission of pushing the web forward, kind of pushing it away from... I don't want to speak on the behalf of them saying that they don't want to see WordPress or Squarespace or some of these easy to plug in play sites get out of the way, but it offers an ecosystem for a faster, more performance web. The day to day early on here has been just auditing. It's kind of funny or meta or ironic auditing the website of the company that sells website hosting. So of course, we have our own marketing site, blog documentation, community, et cetera, where we want to market to other folks and software companies that here's why you should pick us. So finding some technical and kind of semantic markup and different things maybe on the SEO front as well as focusing, looking forward into how are we going to just get more content in the blog and inbound traffic.

Matt: 08:56 Right. Yeah. And that's something you were doing previously as well. So it sounds like you're pretty well an expert in that field at this point.
Scott: 09:01 That word expert's kind of funny. I don't really self identify with that, but with most things rapidly I learn pretty quick and I get pretty obsessive into 
whatever I'm doing. And so yeah, search engine optimization, SEO, has definitely been a thing for me since 2010 or so and it's rapidly evolving nowadays, so it's fun.

Matt: 09:21 Yeah, I know. It always seems to be something new to learn in general with this industry, I believe. If you learned it a year ago and you go back to it having not seen what's been happening, it's a completely different ball game in a lot of respects. So yeah, always evolved. Netlify is a great company and I don't know very much about the specifics of it, but I know that there's been a few jobs that they posted in there. Are they fully remote or partially remote?
Scott: 09:43 Yeah, Netlify and then also prior with Auth0, neither of them being kind of the automatic model of fully remote, but I think remote first being in Netlify's DNA of that's all the positions are remote. And maybe not all, but I think they like the executive level to be in San Francisco. There's a an office in the Dogpatch District there, so I think about 20%, 25% work out of the office and the rest is remote.

Matt: 10:12 Interesting. That question is based off of my own interest in just the companies that I've talked to have typically such different opinions about how important being in person is and what that brings to the table. And what a fully remote team versus a half remote team, how that changed that dynamic. And especially with the onboarding process for you too and somebody new to the company, I can imagine that that would be something that's a really big part of the company itself and how you get acclimatized to how things operate.

Matt: 10:39 So for example, if somebody is in a remote first company and they hired remotely and they see the rest of their team in a different place physically and going out for beers for example, or going out for social events after work and that sort of thing, I can imagine that that would be difficult. And so I always just like to ask about that to see how companies differ in the way that they structure their business in terms of some people being remote and some people not, and how important that is, how much thought is put into it. So that's where that question comes from.

Scott: 11:08 Got you. Absolutely. Yeah. I think it's at Netlify it's in their DNA of being it's every Tuesday, Thursday that even the executive folks and the cofounders and San Francisco folks will work from home, same playing field there. So we all get that experience of working remotely together. Like you said, I mean that's really interesting, especially as distributed flexible, remote work becomes more of the norm. I think I actually heard a fact recently that one in 20 people telecommute or work remote and that's quite impressive. I think within that, the onboarding, the culture, people, operations, that type of thing, that is very crucial towards setting the company's success for how remote looks for their org.

Matt: 11:53 Yeah, no, for sure. And it's an interesting topic because of the fact that nobody seems to really have figured it out entirely. And everybody's just kind of... I've mentioned this a number of times in the past and I've been able to talk to some pretty interesting people running some pretty amazing companies. And even those people who are on the outside that they figured it out still are having problems, still having issues, especially with hiring process and figuring out how best to include people in a really effective way with different people all over the world. It's just such a fascinating piece of this space. And so that's why I think it's so interesting to learn about, especially now from your experience working with Netlify and being able to experience the onboarding process.

Matt: 12:34 Well, and I guess this is a good question. So was there anything that they said deliberately to you as you became part of the company that was like, this is how we operate and this is how we're going to be including you into your team and this is how you get to know your colleagues in a remote context? Was that something that really they focus on or was that not as much part of the onboarding process?

Scott: 12:54 Yeah, so it's interesting, even in this short time span since I've been there and definitely not the newest on the team anymore, they've been an hypergrowth SAS company. We've hired quite a few more. I think the head count game plan for the end of this year is to almost double again. But yeah, it's impressive, man, being on these rocket ships. Same thing at Auth0. In a couple of years time span it went from being either high 200s on the headcount when I was hired maybe 290 or call it 300 to when I left they were over 600, so it's crazy how quickly these things can scale. But obviously, like you say, with that there needs to be solid onboarding systems, processes in place.

Scott: 13:34 I mean to speak to that openly and transparently, it was different at both places. Netlify being a smaller startup. I think I would absolutely give credit to even now being on the opposite side of having interviewed a couple of folks that are starting next week, some folks that have started last week, and the people team, they very much so put a focus and emphasis on formalizing that. But joining in, each team has their own stack of tools they work with. It was essentially just getting familiarized with the Slack channels, the different notion, spaces and pages. Yeah, there was an onboarding checklist. I think my situation was unique in the sense that week one I did start remote. Week two I had the awesome opportunity to go... We had a mini little marketing team offsite in Austin, Texas. So again, another travel opportunity, which was sweet, but that was really essential for team bonding and relationship building. I really consider that the onboarding process, which is a little atypical.

Matt: 14:36 No, for sure. That's something that I think is consistent with the companies and really the quality companies in the sense that people that are working there really have good things to say about them. That they flew them away somewhere and they were able to get together in person. And I think it brings a whole different dynamic and I think that's quite important. So yeah, I'm glad that you mentioned it.

Scott: 14:53 Yeah. I really honestly would go to bat for that time and time again. As distributed teams, as a remote worker, those offsites, the in person... I mean, yeah, just solely for the relationship building aspects are crucial. You have to do it. I mean to be honest, that's coming from someone who actually is quite introverted.

Matt: 15:13 You're right. Yeah. Yeah. No, I'm the same way. I agree with you. I think it's also definitely not unusual and probably quite regular to... Because I think that I'm an introvert as well and I think that it can be quite nerve wracking to meet your company in person, too. So if you're doing this sort of thing and you're nervous about it, that's normal. So don't feel like you're the odd person out, because I'm sure everybody's feeling the same way.

Scott: 15:37 Yeah. Yeah. I mean that definitely makes sense.

Matt: 15:40 The other piece that I was excited to talk to you about was just because you seem like you are... Well. you're fairly active on social media and you seem to be very much a part of the remote work community online and I think that's really cool. It's one of the familiar faces that we've been in touch with a few times and just seeing how the content that you're putting out and how active you are and one of those people that is part of the remote work community and very visible. So that's awesome. And we'll get into that too.

Matt: 16:06 One thing that I want to talk to you about was just the balancing or what your experience has been like with side projects. Because side projects is something that I think a lot of people that are working remotely, especially in the tech space. Have you thought about or are have one or two or three or whatever? So I wanted to talk to you about what your experience has been like with Plank and what Plank is and how you got started with that and where things are right now. So a lot of questions involved in what I just sat and I tend to do that, but tell us a little bit about Plank.

Scott: 16:38 Yeah, absolutely. Well thanks, man. I appreciate the... I like being involved in this remote work community and also the entrepreneur bootstrapper side project community as well. Yeah. So Plank is something that I guess we're coming up on a year now. It was early 2019 that I officially sat down and started coding and kind of architecting the whole thing. But it had been on my mind for a while. There's a few different projects throughout the years. Some of-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:17:04]

Scott: 17:03 ... been my mind for a while. There's a few different projects throughout the years. Some of them fizzled and gone, some still running strong. Another one being Makerviews. So maker interviews essentially, it's a blog, ran a little short podcast season with that as well. And so with that promoting Makerviews Podcast, looking at the ecosystem on Twitter, seeing folks doing podcast marketing, a lot of times they were just defaulting to sharing an Apple link. And what does that scenario look like for an Android user? That sucks. If they're going to click a link and it brings them to an app they can't even natively install on their Google Pixel, for example. So with Plink, I set out to create these smart links that at the core detect the user agent of the device. So then whether it's iOS, a smartwatch, Android, desktop, you name it, it'll send to native apps for that device, for that show, or episode.

Scott: 17:57 And yeah, it's really the adoption of it and the attraction. Like I said, I think I kind of soft launched, it was April of 2019 and got a shout out from Podnews, which is really great industry newsletter insight that helped. It was a good little flash in the pan to start things off. And then slowly iterated, did some new features and eventually did Product Hunt, which went really well. Product Hunt launch came out in the top five for that day. And I'm going through the timeline quick. Actually that was April the time in between of development, then September. And then actually this past October I was invited to a Techstars event to pitch Plink. So yeah, it's been awesome developing that.

Matt: 18:38 Well congrats. That's big. And it's coming up on a year. So you're well into it now, which is exciting. So tell us about the pitch event. How did that go and what that was like for you?

Scott: 18:47 Right. Yeah, so a whirlwind of events leading up to that, to be honest. Without divulging too much, I've actually in such a short span of time, I had other portfolio folks or business owners reach out interested in acquiring Plink off of me, so that was right prior to this Techstars deal. So going into that was impressive to be able to say up on the stage. But essentially how I got to New York City, staying right in Times Square, which again in and of itself we could talk travel all day. It's awesome. But yeah, so I work the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. They have what's called Blackstone LaunchPad, an accelerator for alumni and current students at the university to help get mentorship, coaching, et cetera. And the main director of that nominated me as one of a couple to represent Montana in the Big Apple. And so went out that way. Pitched Plink, did not walk away with any of the top prizes or a nice big check. But it was a great experience.

Matt: 19:47 Yeah, no. I've seen obviously the idea of this event is well known and just from an outsider's perspective, seeing just how that works a little bit, but I haven't really been able to talk to somebody who's actually done it. So you mentioned a little bit about it, but so you were nominated by, was it a former professor of yours, or just a colleague in the university?

Scott: 20:07 Yeah. And so the director of this program at the university.

Matt: 20:10 Great. So how many people were able to go with you or were you the only one?

Scott: 20:14 Yeah, so they nominated I think 10 different teams and then the board in New York selected two of us from Missoula to go.

Matt: 20:22 Wow.

Scott: 20:22 Two teams. So it was me as a solopreneur, solo founder representing myself and then another team of three, but just two of them went. And so that was cool to hang with them there.

Matt: 20:33 Yeah, the experience and the vibe of the whole event must've been just totally motivating. I'm guessing just being around that people and that vibe of just entrepreneurs probably would have been so interesting.

Scott: 20:42 Yeah, it was definitely really captivating and David Cohen, one of the co-founders of Techstars was there. Actually, looking at the agenda, prior, it was treated like a conference over the course of a few days where in-between pitches they would have keynotes and different events, but there was a live podcast taping with David Cohen which has like, "Oh man, I've got to go to that."

Matt: 21:06 Yeah.

Scott: 21:06 Not only write up Plinks niche and alley, but great entrepreneur himself and yeah, it was cool to see. But, coming out of that, to be honest, Matt, it made me realize the trajectory of that world, getting into an accelerator, taking on series funding, et cetera. I like working in that full time as an employee and I'm really loving the career that I'm building there. It is not the route I want to take with my own passion projects and side projects. I am a bootstrapper at heart and just made me realize I'm in no rush. It's fun to create and it creates some residual income, but this isn't my route. This isn't my path, but hell of an experience none the less.

Matt: 21:45 Yeah, no, that's interesting. So what about it, and you implied that it was the speed and just maybe the pressure involved, but was there anything that you can point to specifically that you thought yourself, "Oh I don't want to be a part of that." Or, "I don't want that as it's something that's hanging over my head." Is there anything that you can point to, or is it just the general feeling of what's involved in something like that that turned you off of it?

Scott: 22:04 Yeah, I think it was the culmination of the exit, if you will, that offer from the interested party leading up to that. And so my mind spinning on that, but then also some of the keynotes about getting fundraising, et cetera. And to be honest, the hustle, culture of grind, grind, grind, work, work, work. Burnout is super real and that's something that I've personally experienced and something I want to and work towards avoiding. So it was a vibe. It was a culmination of some happenings prior. Yeah, just a few different things.

Matt: 22:38 Yeah. The world of venture capital funding. Well, and I shouldn't say the whole world, but I was able to talk to Jason Fried actually a couple of podcasts ago, and we talked a little bit about what's involved in bootstrap companies versus venture companies, and I'm sure you're familiar with Basecamp and their mentality of just sustainable work culture, and strong businesses over time that do well, not necessarily as a result of outside funding. And their take on it was really interesting. And have you found that that is changing the hustle, hustle, hustle mentality of entrepreneurship? Do you think there's a shift going on within somebody? And your well withing the world now of entrepreneurship and building businesses, so have you found that that's something that's transitioning away from that hustle culture? 
Or what do you think the state of that is right now?

Scott: 23:21 Yeah, I think so. But then again, I'm biased. The folks that I follow are like Jason, myself, Tyler Tringas, founder of Earnest Capital, these folks that really advocate for Basecamps. I have that sticker, I can look at it right here on my laptop stand. "It doesn't have to be crazy at work." You know?

Matt: 23:38 Nice. Nice.

Scott: 23:39 Yeah. Again, so my viewpoint is biased of that. But then again, I see into the culture working full time with hypergrowth companies as well. And I see both sides of the coin. I just know that for myself, and I have full respect for that whole world, I'm deeply ingrained in it, honestly, full time. But I just know for myself that there was some signs at this event that I was just like, "I want to be sustainable. I don't really want to learn how to sell more faster and do more just that theme of like now, now quick, quick, go, go." It's no, things can take their time. That's how I want to run my business.

Matt: 24:16 Hmm. Totally. Going back to the event for a second, for somebody who's listening to this who might... Because again, this is one side of the coin here and one perspective and I think you and I seem to align on that, but I'm sure there's somebody out there who's listening that is very much involved in the world of work as hard as you possibly can to make your business grow and maybe you've taken funding, or not. And maybe you have a different perspective, and so that's totally fine. Obviously you're doing it and who are we to say, how you should run your business.

Matt: 24:42 But one thing that I would ask you about that this event is what would you take out of it that was a positive that you've been able to translate into Plink? Was there anything that you did in the preparation for it or, or took away from the event that you really were able to say, "Wow, that was worth it for me to be able to go to that, and that was valuable information." Anything that comes to mind?

Scott: 24:59 Right. Well again, personal growth in the form of the whole event, to be honest, is getting up on that stage in front of a few hundred pitching what I'd created, my baby, something I'm proud of. But also being just scared as hell to go up and do that. So there's that personal positive take away from that. But then yeah, there was quite a few great interactions with individuals. Techstars is very big on the mentorship model and creating mentors, or facilitating mentorship within their accelerators. Likewise, that translated into this event. They had actually virtually a whole day, or at least an afternoon dedicated to these almost like speed dating rounds of mentorship, speed, mentoring rounds. It was funny the way it was organized.

Scott: 25:48 But really each of those connections, I connected with an individual from Facebook an individual, he had previously worked with NBA Digital and he was doing his own startup now. All of those interactions one- on-one are just amazing. So I took quite a bit away from that, both business ideas, but also personal ideas and we connected on things like one fellow in particular, mindfulness and meditation, and like what we're speaking to right now, just avoiding burnout. Because yeah, we related in the sense that it's a very real thing. We need to talk about it. It's ever present.

Matt: 26:21 Yeah.

Scott: 26:21 That's my positives.

Matt: 26:23 Yeah, and that's a big thing that I've heard within entrepreneurship and successful entrepreneurs that have said that the value of a mentor, especially early on was so critical to them in a lot of ways. And I think that goes for anybody in any field I think, or anybody out there at all. So it'd be having somebody that wants you to succeed and is willing to facilitate that and go out of their way to help you I think is really something that people either get lucky on, or have to go out of their way to find. And actually this is something that I was going to ask you as well, is for somebody out there who maybe doesn't have that, how would you go about finding a mentor, or even starting the process of reaching out to people? How would you go about that now?

Scott: 27:03 Right. Yeah, that's really interesting. I see a lot of cool initiatives and actually I'm trying to pay it forward myself in the form of like Lambda School, an online bootcamp, if you will, in the tech industry. I applied and I'm now a mentor for Lambda School, because yeah, you're spot on. Just recently at that event, that was mentors, but peer-to-peer, we're the same age. I went to this event that was targeted at college students. I'm nearing close to my thirties now, so a little bit out of my element in that sense. So it was just like connecting with peers.

Matt: 27:40 Right.

Scott: 27:41 But throughout the years, one guy in particular I worked for, right after... My background is pretty wild. I don't know if we'll have time to get into it, but started in music and then woodworking, all along the line with all these pursuits and needed a website. And so eventually my wife called out, she said, "Well, why don't you just focus on building sites?" So then I ran an agency and anyways...

Matt: 28:04 Wow.

Scott: 28:05 I worked for a content creator, a YouTuber, and he was one of the biggest mentors in my mind. His channel is DIY Pete. So do it yourself. He does woodworking, home renovation type videos, and just a guy who, he was really foundational in my entrepreneurial career. He's very into different streams of passive income and all of that to be said, the passion behind that, or the goal is to live a family oriented life where essentially you can build your different streams to support that. So he was very, very essential to me as a mentor. I'm almost like at a loss for words, or stumbling over and because there's so much I could say.

Matt: 28:46 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Scott: 28:47 And that just came about from getting that job. I've had mentors everywhere I've worked, I think mentorship is almost a mindset as much as anything. Your boss right now, maybe you and your boss aren't on the same level or seeing eye to eye, try to think a little differently and take their feedback or their advice, be it critical as maybe a mentor, or that type of opportunity. So I think that they're everywhere. There's digital mentors and folks and peers, across Twitter within this industry. I don't have a specific place on saying where to start, but maybe right within your own job right now.

Matt: 29:25 Yeah, no definitely. And just to add onto that point, I think people really like to, if you're open and honest and ask questions and are genuinely interested in whatever it is that you're asking of this person, more often than not, and in my experience, and I think from people that I've heard, more often than not, people are really willing to help teach and help you if you are willing to ask for it. So I think a piece of it is just the asking in general that I think is in some cases it can be uncomfortable, but I think it's a really important thing to put yourself out there. And again, I've said this in the podcast before, but the worst that somebody can say is, "No, leave me alone."

Scott: 30:03 That's spot on. It's hard to be vulnerable, but the more you do it, the opportunities that arise, they could be really surprising. You're right.

Matt: 30:11 Yeah. So as I was saying before, you're very much involved in remote work community and the entrepreneurial community. Is that something that you are deliberate about online and then maybe it's just part of your job to have an online presence, but is that something you would have had to work on, or be intentional about what you do online? And what have you gotten out of it in terms of just things that have happened for you, having the online presence that you do? And how important do you think it is today to be online in the sense of personal platforms and things like that?

Scott: 30:43 Right. Yeah, so it's uncomfortable for me to think about or say. The term maybe I hear anyone who has more than a thousand followers on Twitter is considered micro influencer. I guess I'm in that bucket, like you saying, I take it as a compliment. So thanks Matt. It's cool to have that. But on the same token, I haven't really deliberately worked towards it. I just, I'm trying to write and I'm trying to blog more. I have a newsletter, building up these different, again from my mentor, initial mentor, Pete is all these different streams of content going out in different ways. But I haven't been super deliberate about it. No, I can't say that I have.

Scott: 31:25 It goes along with work, connecting with different folks, supporting their projects. Yeah. And just learning from them and one connection leads to another, or it's just consistency. Of course there could be that vitality, or viral effective of you share something that goes crazy viral, you get a bunch of followers. But I think for me the approach, again, not as deliberate as it may seem, has just been consistency.

Matt: 31:54 Yeah. Yeah. And that's something that I've thought about, because I often, and I think you probably see this too, is there's lots of people online that are successful tech people and it seems to be Twitter is usually the platform for that. And I'm always curious, because it seems like everybody that's successful has a Twitter account that's got lots of followers, which is great. I don't think it's a bad thing. I think it's great for people to be able to communicate and share and connect online and especially through Twitter. I think it's a valuable resource in a lot of ways.

Matt: 32:20 But then I think to myself, "Is this something that everybody has to have? Is it necessary to be successful?" And obviously that's not true, but I wonder what the percentage of people out there that are in this industry that are successful entrepreneurs that are doing a lot of interesting things that you just don't see, that don't really emphasize the Twitter, or the online presence as it is on social media. So I don't know, it's just something that I thought about. So I wanted to see if any thoughts on that.

Scott: 32:41 Yeah, 100%. So I again, glazed over that first part. I'm sorry, but I don't think that it's essential. No, but it all depends on what the goal is, what field you're in. We're talking very tech-specific, entrepreneurial, bootstrapping, these few different categories. Of course be it that I'm in the web world working on websites, SEO, growth, strategy, different things like that. It just comes natural to share it on Twitter. I don't know why that became my go to, or even when. Probably just a couple of years ago to be honest. But yeah, I don't think it's necessary. No. I think some of the best business owners, folks that I admire honestly, are just like driving down Broadway in Missoula here. It's a relatively small college town.

Scott: 33:26 But like an auto repair shop, they are always busy. This one auto repair shop called Roemer's. Side note, I did do some SEO contracting for them back in the day, but beyond that, no connection to them. Yeah. They are not focused on growing a newsletter list, or a huge Facebook or Instagram following, but holy crap, they're constantly busy. It just depends. Yeah. Even in tech though, I don't think that it's necessary. It can be distraction. So yeah, it's teach their own.

Matt: 33:58 Yeah. Yeah. There's some really great aspects of Twitter especially, and then some really not great aspects of...

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:34:04]

Matt: 34:03 ...really great aspects of Twitter especially. And then some really not great aspects of Twitter. I think if you use it in the right way, it can be an effective tool. And that's coming from somebody who doesn't really use Twitter at all. It's mostly, I just like to follow other people. So I don't put a lot of content out myself. But yes, I just love to think about what Twitter's role is in the, especially web and online business, world and ecosystem. And how that plays a part in people's success or not depending on if it's traction or if it's a resource. So it's something that I think is interesting.

Scott: 34:31 So I kind of want to call out another podcast here actually. Derek Reimer, so he's starting something called Static Kit. And Ben, I forget his last name, but he's running something called Tuple for remote pair programming.

Matt: 34:45 Okay.

Scott: 34:45 And they do these weekly catch ups to podcast is called the Art of Product Pod. And essentially both of them have been saying that, it's such a rabbit hole or a time suck that you can get in on, on Twitter. And they're questioning they both have large, huge followings, like Justin Jackson in this space as well. 20, 40, 50 thousand followers. But they're saying, what's the balance between interacting with my user base directly through an email list, versus the value of me tweeting out a new product? And they're kind of doing an experiment right now of going through exactly what you're asking. Are we going to lose users or is revenue going to drop? I guess we'll find out. But it's actually super topically relevant right now with them.

Matt: 35:33 Yes. I didn't know that. And we'll link to those in the show notes because it seems super interesting. And I'll look that up as well. But yes, and the other thing that I've thought about too is, how much does Twitter play in just the mental health component of both entrepreneurship and working in the tech industry?

Matt: 35:48 And this is coming from somebody who doesn't really have an opinion on it. But again, I'm kind of agnostic about what the reality is we when you're with Twitter because it is like I said, potentially distracting. But potentially a really, really powerful resource. And also if you go on Twitter and you see, because people present obviously is a certain reality to the world through online media. And as a potentially struggling entrepreneur or somebody out there who hasn't had everything work for them, what is the benefit in terms of your mental health to go on and see a stream of people that are doing really well and look like they're very successful? And I don't know if that's positive.

Scott: 36:22 Right. And I think it should just be taken with a grain of salt and go in skeptical. Asking, is this just a facade? Because I think that, like you said, it could be some facade really, yes.

Matt: 36:35 Yes. Going back to your work and your sort of day to day. And I've talked to a lot of people about tools and processes and that sort of thing on the show. And I'm trying to move away from that conversation specifically because I think it gets a little stale. Because everybody seems to use similar products anyways. So it's just repeating myself. I would love to talk because your case is a unique one in some respects because you have a few side businesses and things that you're doing outside of work, but you also work remotely. So I'm curious, how do you see the distinction between just in terms of your time between these two projects? So I guess in a more specifically, are you getting up in the morning and working on Plank and then doing that and later on or how does your breakdown in terms of your bandwidths go for these two different things?

Scott: 37:19 Yes. So it really is nice and weekend approach with that. Shout out to your colleague Justine. She did that day in the life of a remote worker. On your guy's blog. Where it detailed a day to day typical work day schedule. It outlines that usually six o'clock or later is when I dive into that. But I will say that with Plank, with Maker Views, with my maths and design consulting, especially having recently just joined Net LiFi. That's a big major life change. All of that's been put to the wayside. So it's been quite a few months since I've really dedicated any time to it. And again, all of that, I could be doing it in those extra hours, but I'm avoiding burnout.
Scott: 38:02 I'm focusing on just things and traits that I value in life. And my values of being more present with family, my wife and our furry kids. And so yes, recently I haven't been doing much of the side work. But looking back usually just six o'clock or later doing it then. I'm not a morning person. No, you asked if I do it in the morning. I never have been and I don't know. Maybe eventually when we have kids I will be. But it's not in the mornings for sure. It's usually late nights when I get into that groove.

Matt: 38:37 Yes. And we'll link, I should have mentioned that you done the day in the life. And also shout out Justine for that because I think it's a valuable resource for anybody that's curious about these kinds of things. And I know we've talked about it on the podcast before. But we do have a segment on the work slash blog that goes through and talks to different people that are in similar positions. And in their mode space that they go through their day. And some of those are really interesting actually. And I genuinely think that it's valuable for people that are curious about it. So go check that out and we'll link to that as well and we'll link to yours. I think the burnout thing is actually one of the things that I'd like to just talk about briefly with you because it's one of those things that I think a lot of people think about and talk about, well maybe they don't.

Matt: 39:13 But it's something that I've heard a lot about and yet sometimes I think that it's something that you don't necessarily know about until you've had it and experienced it. What are the signs, I guess for someone who hasn't really gone through an experience like that. So for you, are there things that you look for, or is it just a matter of hours in the day that you're willing to put towards work and otherwise you, you devote to other things, what are the telltale signs for you about when you're almost burnt out or getting there?

Scott: 39:41 Yes, it's interesting. It's kind of sensitive or it can be difficult to talk about. So I encourage anyone that might feel on the verge to honestly just reach out. I'm not an expert by any means. But I will say that though I've gotten out of the habit, things like Headspace, meditation, journaling, even therapy, seek a professional if need be, psychologist. But yes, there's some definite signs and again, it's personal. But for me in particular is likely different for everyone. But things like panic attacks and anxiety that I've suffered with anxiety throughout my life. But panic attacks increasing, sleep schedule getting a little wonky. That's definitely telltale. If your mind is racing and you can't sleep or you wake up and the first thing you think about is work-related. Just this general feeling of imbalance I think. And when you feel that, really pay attention to it. And it's something I'm still learning. I mean, I'm not honestly speaking from any form or a place of expertise Matt. It's something that I have to constantly be aware of. But yes, just I would say, paying attention to a few of those telltales.

Matt: 40:51 Yes, you're right. It is such a personal thing. And I think what's important and what we've been trying to do here and we were promoting in, because we're in I think, a unique position to do this sort of thing and to talk about these sort of things, is just the idea that it should be something that everybody considers or thinks about regularly. Especially if you're working from home and you don't have the option of going out and being around people a lot. Or depending on what kind of person you are. Obviously, it's so personal. But just having the idea, the concept in your head that these things are real and they're not something to be ashamed about. And everybody has gone through or has thought about these sort of things. So you're not alone in that respect. I think it's something that's really important. And we're obviously not experts, so we'll link to some resources and they might be able to help. But it's something that I think everybody should be thinking about. Especially if you're working remotely and you're not going to an office every day.

Scott: 41:39 Yes, absolutely agree. And it's everything you just spoke to is ironic when I see things that people questioning distributed work and remote work of, "Well what about productivity?" Folks that are so used to the regular office job of maybe even micromanagy "How will I know? You know what my folks had direct reports, what they're working on, how they're working?" I would say that it's the polar opposite within this world which is, managers should be asking and looking for overwork. That remote work can easily facilitate overwork. So just definitely be aware.

Matt: 42:16 It is ironic eh? How it seems like that's the concern until you get into the space and then you realize, hey, if you're hiring people that care about their work, you do, more often than not have to pull people back rather than get people going.

Scott: 42:30 Right, yes. And again, I think kind of some ways to dig out of that, that I've found really helpful are I spoke to the meditation journaling. I want to be kind of get in a better habit of that again. But also, I mean if you have a dog or kids or whatever your life situation is, just schedule a random 15, 20 minute to ping you on. We're all on our devices and your calendar to ping you to say, "Hey, walk the dog, get out of the house, get out of the chair. Work can wait." You know that base mentality again of just step away for a minute, take a break. There's different tools. If you're on a Mac book, something called Aware App, which will essentially show how many hours, minutes, etc you've been looking at his screen. There's the Pomodoro techniques. Honestly, could go on and on. But yes, there's a lot of resources that I'm sure you could link to.

Matt: 43:20 Yes, no, I will definitely do that. It's very easy to just think that, "Hey, I don't do that and I don't need that." But I think that most people do, because it can definitely get away from people pretty quickly if you're not paying attention to it.
Scott: 43:32 Right. I would say too that I'm a big advocate of coworking, more so recently than ever. Again, going back to, you said you could relate to the introvert kind of spectrum on things. But even so, there's cabin fever and isolation if you're just staring at a text editor writing code or something. Yes, so coworking is for a number of reasons I've found it really beneficial for me.

Matt: 43:58 Could definitely relate to that. And I think it's a matter of where you are in the spectrum of introvert or extrovert or whatever. It's important to get there. And if you're not talking to people directly, be around people that are talking or just be around people in general. There is something to that. And I think it's an important thing to think about.

Scott: 44:14 Yes, I mean it's ingrained. Look at evolution of how as humans we grew up in communities and hunted and gathered together and depended on each other. And now what do we do? We sit alone in our office and stare at a screen. Well, that's going to probably cause some tension.

Matt: 44:29 Yes. There are consequences to that I think. [inaudible 00:44:32] to think about. All right, Scott. Well, we have a few more questions here for you before you go. We really appreciate it, you coming on the show and sharing your thoughts. And we'll start off with this one which is, if you weren't involved in tech and entrepreneurship, and this is going to be fun actually, because you sound like you've done a bunch of different things. But if you weren't involved in tech and doing what you're doing right now in your day job and entrepreneurship, what do you think you'd be doing?

Scott: 44:56 Yes. I want to say woodworking, but I think, no playing music. That's from a young age, I thought I would pursue that full time. But you can quickly see that 
it's difficult. But yes, I would say that would be what I'd be at least giving a go at, is songwriting, touring, playing music.

Matt: 45:14 Wow. Very cool. And that's one that I've actually heard before. And I think people who, like you've said, you really get into things and you can become really laser focused on certain things and learning about them. I think, yes. Music is one of those things that you just, if you know a little bit about it and you realize, the more you learn about it, the more you don't know about it. So you can definitely go down as many rabbit holes with music as that you want to. At least as you have time for.

Scott: 45:35 Yes. I mean I find that with woodworking too. That's why I run Makerviews and share other makers stories because you're totally right, man. Creating things is very meditative. Yes, it's interesting. It just kind of takes you to a different place. But I would definitely be playing and pursuing music to answer that, yes.

Matt: 45:55 Yes, that's great. And I might have actually the same answer that you just gave.

Scott: 46:00 Awesome.

Matt: 46:02 Yes. If you ever up, we'll, I'm not sure what kind of music you play or what instrument you play. If you're ever in Victoria BC, then we should get together and play some music.

Scott: 46:10 Oh man. Yes, I mean obviously being in Seattle, a lot of thought about just doing the drive, just a couple hours North, right?

Matt: 46:16 Yes. It's not very far. It's a ferry ride to get over to the island too. But yes, we're not very far from Seattle.

Scott: 46:21 Yes, I'll do that. We're going to eventually move Pacific Northwest, be it Portland or Seattle. So yes, I'll bring the banjo.

Matt: 46:28 Yes, for sure. That's great. All right, so the next question here is, if you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be and why?

Scott: 46:36 Yes, so really not much of a traditional book reader. I'm again, kind of more of a podcast, consumer, lot of blog posts, things of that nature, email newsletters. But trying to read more and just one that stands out, been a number of years since I've read it. But I read it multiple times is Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I mean, totally off topic from what we're talking about. Are you familiar?

Matt: 47:01 Yes, I read it, love it.

Scott: 47:02 Yes, it's such a fascinating journey and perspective on life. And obviously you live in the part of the world where you are, me in Western Montana. We're familiar with mountains and wilderness. And just that whole daunting aspect of his journey into the deep woods of Alaska is fascinating.

Matt: 47:21 Yes, no, a fantastic book. We'll link to it again in the show notes, would recommend. And actually they did a pretty good movie of that. I don't know, usually I'm not a fan of the books to movies and usually I'm on the book side of things. But they had a great movie on that. And you're a music fan so the soundtrack to that movies is quite good as well.

Scott: 47:41 Yes. It's Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam. Right?

Matt: 47:45 Yes. All right. So my last question before we let you go here Scott, is what is the best advice you've ever been given?

Scott: 47:51 Yes, I think that's simple it's just two words my grandpa said and it's, "Be yourself." Yes. I mean that just holds true and resonates. Yes, don't try to be anyone else and just be yourself.

Matt: 48:05 Yes. So simple and yet so hard sometimes to do that. But yes, I agree, never stops being true.

Scott: 48:14 Most definitely. Yes, this has been great, man. I really appreciate it.

Matt: 48:18 Yes. Thank you for coming on. Again, this is the first one of season two and I think we kicked it off here well. And hopefully we can do a few more if you're interested and apparently we have another podcast spinning up as well. So, the two introverts go traveling podcast, which everybody should look out for in the near future. Scott, where else should we point people to get to know you better and what you're up to, you have a Twitter feed. Is there anyone else that you'd like to be sending people?

Scott: 48:42 Yes, I think that's probably the best. So, my last name is spelled like math and son. So, M-A-T-H-S-O-N. So, I'm scottmathson.com. Yes, and then @scottmathson. pretty much everywhere else, Instagram, Twitter, yes.

Matt: 48:58 Sweet. Well Scott, thank you so much again. This was great. And we're looking forward to seeing what you do. And another [inaudible 00:49:06] maybe we'll have you on again in the near future.

Scott: 49:08 Awesome. Yes, I look forward to it. Thanks again, Matt.

Matt: 49:10 Yes, thank you Scott.

Matt: 49:12 Thanks so much again for listening to the show. Be sure to check out weworkremotely.com for the latest remote jobs. And if you're looking to hire a remote worker, We Work Remotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so. As always, if you have someone we should talk to, any advice you have, or if you'd like to advertise on the podcast, please reach out to us at podcast@ weworkremotely.com. That's [email protected]. Thanks so much again for listening, and we'll talk to you next time.

PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:49:44]

← Back