… And Then Everything Changed

Chris Jankulovski is a founder who had a life-altering experience. Afterwards, he was able to run faster, love more, see the world and build a profitable business.

This story is better told by Chris directly, so I’ll let you hear it from him. For now, I’ll just tell you that this is the inspiring story of a guy who runs an outsourcing company, but unlike most of my interviews, it’s not just about the business.

Chris Jankulovski

Chris Jankulovski

Remote Staff

Chris Jankulovski is the founder of Remote Staff, which lets you hire a virtual staff and uses an innovative method for watching what your remote staff is working on.



Full Interview Transcript

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Here’s your program.

Andrew: Hey, everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart and the place where you go to listen to entrepreneurs talk about how they built their businesses. How do you build a company with a staff of 250 people while you’re traveling the world? Joining me is Chris Jankulovski. He is the founder of Remote Staff, an outsourcing company and Chris, as you’ll hear in this interview, has been doing a lot of traveling while building his business.

Andrew: Chris, welcome.

Chris: Hi there, Andrew.

Andrew: So, you started pulling out a calendar to tell me privately where you were going. I said, Chris, hold off. Let’s tell my audience. Let’s give them a taste of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Do you have that calendar with you, want to describe where you’re going?

Chris: Sure, sure, yeah. This is my new itinerary for this year. We’re basically going to be leaving on May 7th from Sydney to the Bay for a few days until May 10th. We haven’t been to the Bay. We just want to explore it. That won’t be actually remote working. It will be more of just an adventure.

Then we land in Munich on May 10th, and we’ll be hanging around in Germany for about a month. Then two months in Paris, in and around the [inaudible 02:44] area which I very much enjoy. I’ll be flying my parents over to join us and be our nanny for our little baby boy.

Then we’re going to be in London for all of August. Then in the 3rd of September, we fly out from London to China. We’re going to in China for a month. I have a mate’s wedding and I’ll be doing other things there.

Andrew: All right. Let’s pause there for a moment. This is a lot. If we go through the whole list, we’re probably going to spend a whole hour on that. What percentage of the year would you say you are traveling and what percentage are you at home?

Chris: I would say every February, March, April, I’m in Sydney, Australia which I call home, and in September, October. So, that five months maximum of the year of being home and the rest of it is remote working and living.

Andrew: Wow. All right. Before we continue, let me suggest something for your Skype. I didn’t realize how popular you were on Skype. Can you select the “do not disturb” mode on Skype. That way you won’t hear any of the alerts as your friends pop in and out of Skype. Cool. All right.

So, you’re doing all this traveling and you’re actually working while you’re away?

Chris: I have a discipline of saying no matter where I am, I’m always going to stick to a nine hour shift. I’ll be working as soon as I basically wake up. I’ll work depending on the time zones as well. Most of the times, I just prefer to wake up really much more earlier if I need to reach somebody in a particular time zone. Then I’ll work a solid, kind of like, eight hours and then stop and enjoy wherever I am.

Andrew: And where do you work, do you go to coffee shops . . . by the way, guys, I’m not going to do this whole . . . this isn’t a travel log, I’m just curious about how he works, and trust me we’re going to find out about how he’s building up his business. I’m going to ask him about how big the business is. We’re going to find out the whole story of how he built this up. This isn’t just about traveling and the minutiae of it, but I’m

fascinated by the details.

Where do you work, do you go to coffee shops? Do you work from hotels?

Chris: Definitely done work at a coffee shop, but when you go to work remotely from around the world, you can’t just depend on Wi-Fi and little devices and stuff. You also can’t depend on hotels. Hotels often have shared networks, and every now and then you find a hotel that has consistent Internet connection. The way I travel is really dictated by my ability to get Internet connection in a house.

I make sure when I book from, let’s say service departments or sub-rental private kind of landowners, I always tell them give me photos of the house but also give me a photo of a screen and a recording of your speed test. I need the speed test. The upload, download is everything for me. It’s not just about location. It’s really about the speed connection, and it has to be fast, otherwise it’s too stressful running a large company while you’re in these different locations. It’s just the last problem you want on your


Andrew: I love that idea. I don’t care what the rooms look like, so I care a little bit but not that much. What would drive me nuts is if the Internet was slow and I never thought to do that. You probably just have them go to screen, internetspeed.net and take a picture of the result?

Chris: Speedtest.net, I just tell them do the speed test, if not you install a DSL in there. I actually had landline connections installed in villas on cliffs at Thailand in Casa Mui. I actually paid for one house in Baraka, in the Philippines, on a tropical island. The house cost me $1,000 US to rent for the month, but the Internet cost me $1,002 for the month because I had to install a two kilometer line directly to that house. It’s just the price I have to pay when it comes to working remotely.

Andrew: If you’re in these kinds of places, sounds like you have your own private room in the house, right, to work?

Chris: That’s correct, yeah. I always get a big . . . like right now, I’m traveling with the family, so I’m always renting two bedroom houses. One room’s always dedicated to myself to work privately and quietly. The other room’s for being asleep and the family and so on. You’ve got to do it right if you do it.

Andrew: Isn’t it hard when you’re traveling to get yourself to sit down and work considering that the night before you were probably enjoying the nightlife and the day of there’s so much beauty to be seen in the city?

Chris: I think it’s a discipline. For me it’s more, see I’ve done a lot of traveling before I worked remotely as well. Just being on a holiday is pretty boring sometimes. You explore an area. You go to museums. You do this. You do that. It’s like, so what. But I should get much more pleasure by focusing and working really hard. At the end of the day, the day is finished like any other day, no matter where I am. I shut the

computer down. I look around and go, oh, bugger, I’m in Paris. Or, wow, here I am in New York. I enjoy the weekends. It makes special weekends every time.

It’s a compromise to go, well, you’re maybe on a tropical beach location yet you’re not out on the beach but you’re earning some good revenue. You’re running the business. You get to enjoy . . .

Andrew: Before we continue with the story, this is life for me. I love this. This is what I always want to do when I’m in a foreign city. I don’t want to just sit in coffee shops all day long and take in the vibe. I want to go to work. I want to experience it the way a local would. I want to experience it within the culture. What did you eat for breakfast? How do you get to work, do you take metros, is this a city where people take you in with rickshaws? What do you do after work? Do we all go drinking, do we have dinner, do we go home to our families?

What else am I wondering, what else do I need to know to be able to do this, ah, I know what. It sounds like you have a child, right?

Chris: Yes.

Andrew: How old and how do make that work, that seems tough.

Chris: Yeah, this is the little boy right there. He’s my little angel. It’s not so tough. It’s all about getting nannies, and what I find interesting is, every part of the world we go to, we get a chance to actually explore the place even more. When we were in Thailand, we had a nanny there who didn’t speak any form English whatsoever. What we did was we used Google translator and we communicated that way. We were fine.

We said something in English. It said in Thai language and it was great. We were able to have a nanny that absolutely loved our little baby. We had the peace of mind to go cruising, with no helmets, with our scooters around the island and enjoy ourselves and explore the culture.

When you are working, it’s great to go, ah, let me go get a little coffee before I start and have a croissant or go jump on a rickshaw. Be a part of the society, you get a chance to see a place far more when you actually hang out and live there for about a six week period.

I realized it’s no good to do this remote living on two weeks here, three weeks there. I found the best opportunity is six weeks. Six weeks was the period of time where it was long enough for you to get familiar with one of your favorite places and how to live remotely in that part of the world. Six weeks was enough for you to find, you get to a point, ah, I feel at home now in this location. Then you can move on, you’ve properly settled in a location.

Andrew: All right. I love this life. Our mutual friend, Rob Roriston who introduced us, he knew what he was doing. He knew exactly the kind of life that I was interested in.

All right. You mentioned, and I’m just circling it on my piece of paper here from my notes, you mentioned and earn good revenue. You and I talked about the revenue before the interview started. It’s a private company. What do you feel comfortable telling my audience about the size of revenue?

Chris: My first goal in the business was to grow to 100 staff in the first year and to prove the model. That’s what I did. I grew it basically while traveling to about a million in revenue in the first year and 100 staff. It was quite an achievement because people who start a business don’t actually get their businesses up and running to a million in the first year. Let alone do that while actually being in multiple

different countries around Europe and Asia.

Then I spoke to a B and A mate of mine and goes, okay, Chris now you’ve got to prove that you can grow it fast. I’m in the business now of trying to get it as fast as I can to a 1,000 staff and make it sustainable, which is a whole other challenge in itself. To do that by the end of 2012 which we’re on target and we don’t have 250 staff right now, we have over 300.

Andrew: Oh, so even the data that I picked up is already out of date. I do my research. I didn’t just pull a number out of nowhere. This was a number that was out there. I think I might’ve gotten it from one of the pages on your site and you’ve already outgrown it.

Chris: We’ve already outgrown it, yeah.

Andrew: Now, we’re getting to the heart of what this is . . . sorry, go ahead.

Chris: I was going to say, now we’re just trying to get it to the 1,000 staff over $12 million in revenue, $15 million in revenue. We’ve got a target goal of being able to reach and we’re breaking it down by the day, by the month, and we actually just reaching it every month. It’s exciting.

Andrew: This is what I saw in the research. First of all, you have people in the Philippines, true?

Chris: That’s correct.

Andrew: Okay, and I can hire developers. I can hire all kinds of people from you. Developers, what else do we have . . .

Chris: Developers, designers, assistants, writers, engineers, all types of customer support, telemarketing, [inaudible 12:02] roles, and so on.

Andrew: I saw that there was something about, well, I know what it is but you should tell the audience. Then we’ll come back and talk about how you started and how you built up. Accountability, how do you guys do that?

Chris: For me, we could give them the autonomy to work from home. There’s no problem. We actually go visit their homes. We actually go see their rooms and go, where are you going to be working from. Show us your Internet connection. Show us your table, your chair, we want to see it. Give us your ID we want a witness to say you are who you say you are to us. Because our clients need, they got an IP. They’ve got a lot of things they need to trust you with.

For us, giving the autonomy is the easy thing. They appreciate that so they don’t have to get into the traffic of Manila, the Philippines and they can work from home and be with their families and so on.

For us, it’s all about keeping them accountable. We want to make sure that they show up and work on time that they are committed to work in a work related task. They’re not socializing and fooling around on Facebook and stuff, that they’re instantly available for our clients.

We’ve developed a whole technology and system dedicated towards facilitating these things so we can keep them accountable. When we keep people accountable and responsible in the economist’s environments, we found that the relationship between the client and the staff just grow and grow. Before you know it, the clients feel more comfortable to give more passwords, give people more responsibilities, and after that . . .

Andrew: Because, I as a client, can see the computer screen of the assistant and the developer and the designer, whoever, that I hired. I know that they have their own private room in the house. We’re not just doing this on the kitchen floor. We know that they have a private quiet room to do it and we also know that we can watch their screen as they’re doing some of these tasks.

Chris: What you’ll be able to do as a client, you log in, you’re able to see their screen shots every three minutes, yes. We also have another staff member of Remote Staff actually watch the screen shots on your behalf as well to pick up on anyone just idling or, you know, all that stuff.

Then you’ll be able to get, every 20 minutes, activity trackers. Basically you’ll get updates every 20 minutes of their priorities or whatever they’re focused on and you’ll get that in an email as well. Other than seeing it live, as a client log in. You’ll see them when they log in, when they go on lunch breaks, what their Internet connection speeds are. You’ll get to view all of that.

You’ll have instant access with them as well. We have a three minute Skype policy. So when you send them a message, you go, “Hey, how’s it going?” They need to respond in three minutes because we understand communication is critical and it’s a very important factor.

Andrew: Respond within three, all right. I’ve got to go back to how you built this business up. If you don’t mind me saying it though, before you launched the business there was an issue in your life. You had an operation that changed things. Do you feel comfortable talking about it?

Chris: Yeah, sure. No problem.

Andrew: When was this?

Chris: Back in 2005, I was speaking at a seminar about internet marketing and a few other things, and I’d had this nagging headache for two weeks. I just thought nothing of it. I thought, I’d never had a headache for two weeks, what the hell is this? I kept on asking friends, and friends were like, oh, you look like you’ve got a migraine. That’s what a migraine is. Oh, okay, that’s a migraine.

I go to the doctors, got a scan, and they realized that I have a brain tumor the size of 5 centimeters by 3.5 centimeters. Then I went to the hospital, so I went to the doctors on Tuesday. They operated me the first thing on Thursday and when I got diagnosed, I kind of came out of there going, this is not going to be a disappointing time in my life. No matter what the diagnosis is, I’m going to choose life. I’m going to choose to not make [inaudible 15:56] in my life. Because I’ve had previous health challenges before, I have a hereditary condition that makes me prime to cysts and tumors. I didn’t deal with them too well in my early 20s. [inaudible 16:10]. Kind of had enough of . . .

Andrew: So, Chris, sorry, you were saying that you had tumors in your 20s and you didn’t handle them right? What do you mean, how did you handle them?

Chris: I got diagnosed with a condition called Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome at 21 just as, you know, the DNA strands and all that were coming to play. I had a lot of laser eye operations on my eyes because of these angiamas in the eye. As a result of all this constant kind of like, you know, moving the thumb and putting the lens in my eye, what had happened is that it made my eye duct thing kind of lazy and it became almost like a

lazy eye.

Because this eye was slightly bigger than the other eye, I almost developed my own personal kind of complex of not being able to look people in the eye because I was so embarrassed of my eye being the way it was. As a result of that, it created a lot of self-inflicted pain, you could say. I couldn’t feel comfortable looking somebody in the eye. As a result, I felt I had a problem with my self-image and all this stuff was self-generated. It created a pain for me internally from 16 to about 20, I was just like

getting fed up with this problem and it was all self-inflicted.

I remembered that when I got diagnosed with the brain operation at 30 something years old, 33, 35. When I got diagnosed with the brain operation I was just reflecting back on how badly I handled my last previous challenge and I just said, right, I don’t want to do that again. I want to make sure that this is not going to be a disappointing moment in my life. I’m not going to make it a problem in my life. I’m going to choose life and

I’m going to make it . . . I’m going to above and beyond it even if they diagnosis me to say that I can’t touch my nose with my finger or that I can’t probably even talk properly. It didn’t matter. I resolved before I even got into the operating room that I’m coming out choosing life no matter what.

Andrew: And choosing life led you to do what? How do you act on that?

Chris: I think it . . . the funniest is the first thing I wanted to do after the brain operation was take on life in every way. I had a lot of debt. The first thing I did I took on this debt. It’s an interesting thing to have a second chance at life and the first thing you want to do is actually take on your debt. I took care of my outstanding bills and things that I did previously that were just fully paid off.

Then there was a City to Surf marathon, fun run, a 40 kilometer fun run happening outside my window. I lived at Bondi Beach and I could see the preparations for this run. Now, two years ago I ran the race, trained for it and ran it at 65 minutes which is a not bad effort. My goal was 60 minutes. Now, two years later after the brain operation, maybe three, four weeks max after the brain operation. I ran the race with no preparation just this new resolve to take on life.

This sense of urgency about everything. I ran the race with this kind of new perspective and ran it in 58 minutes. I basically shocked myself that how much we can eliminate ourselves before we even get started or anything. To think that my goal was 60 minutes and I ran it 58 minutes and I couldn’t even turn my head left or right and I still had a shaved head because of the scar and the operation and everything.

Andrew: Wow, you mean physically you couldn’t move your head left or right while you were running?

Chris: Couldn’t move it, no. And I had still internal high blood pressure from the problems. So, no matter what the, you know, I think no matter . . . I just had this new lease on life. I was just like a pre-shedding the flowers, the trees, and it really was a second chance to life. I was shocked at just the . . . oh, the other thing I realized was, if I don’t go for what I want in life now, if I don’t do, and live the way I

want to live right now, I may not ever have a chance to do that.

That reality became very true for me. I basically started running out of the block. As soon as I left the hospital, I started running literally. I did that in everything I did.

Andrew: Wow, this is incredible. As you were telling the story instead of emphasizing and sympathizing with you, I was thinking what would happen to me? If I got a brain tumor all of a sudden, how would I react and immediately I went to this would be terrible. Everything would just stink.

It’s interesting to see that you went the other direction. Did you have moments when you weren’t feeling so alive? When you said, why me, what’s going to happen to my life, this is awful, life sucks.

Chris: Yeah, look I mean when you get diagnosed with this, it all happens so fast, for me, for the brain part there was no opportunity to think anything else. I had to go hardcore on my resolve. I did right through the whole process.

Andrew: So, you’re saying you didn’t allow yourself to have any down time?

Chris: At all, it was just a solid decision. It was just no, I’m not going to make this a disappointing moment in my life. There was no budging from that during the brain operation. Then while I was in the hospital, during the brain operation, they diagnosed me that I had cancer in my kidney. My kidney had to be removed two months later and that I had to have another operation on the other kidney and so on.

That’s when I was sitting around on the bed going, wow, you know, this is really cutting it close. I’ve got a multiple system attack going on here. That’s when I realized, hey, this is really a second chance to my life here if I pull through all this.

Andrew: Chris, you and I talked earlier about how after that you went on a trip. You started traveling and you said that you did some dating.

Chris: Basically this is a funny bit of . . .

Andrew: Can we talk about this publicly?

Chris: Yeah, sure. This is such an adventure in itself. So, traveling the world, it’s funny. The first thing I wanted to do was take on all my debt and then the second thing I wanted to do was just travel the world and just have fun with all the women around the world.

I had fun doing all this online dating so basically before I got to any city, I had dates lined up before I even arrived. Thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was a great, it wasn’t remote working, and living, it was more like remote living and dating. It was an amazing adventure. I dated 100 girls in that timeframe and out of those 100 girls, I was learning things like, how could I learn to love anyone in front of me. I was just

exercising how I could learn to love and appreciate anyone I was dating.

But sometimes you’d come across people who weren’t quite what they were on

their profiles.

Andrew: Let me ask you about this. I want to dive into this if you don’t mind. We’re still going to get into the business. We’re going to find out how the business grew but I had a period in my life where I wanted to focus on dating. No work, no other, I just wanted . . . this was your period it sounds like?

Chris: Yes, it was, yeah.

Andrew: And for me it was because . . . when I was younger I didn’t date. I was the dork who didn’t have options to date and had to, I don’t know, just had worked with the idea that one day I will have all these possibilities. That one day I’ll learn how to dress well and hire me somebody to teach me how to say the right things and all that. Sounds like you had a similar situation?

Chris: For sure, yeah, it my early 20s and stuff, I wasn’t that active in the girls. I had a girlfriend here and there but I wasn’t really focusing that much attention on women. So, on the second chance at life moment, you know, I really just took a year off just wanting to focus on .

. .

Andrew: Is it that you didn’t focus on them or that they didn’t focus on you?

Chris: It was more of a combination of I didn’t focus on them.

Andrew: What were you focusing on instead then?

Chris: Just business and other kind of areas in life, I was just getting too busy and too bogged down in the moment with a lot of things. I didn’t, I went out and all those kind of things but I never really, really made it a priority to have another person in my life. I never made it a priority to choose love in my life . . .

Andrew: I understand.

Chris: When I traveled around the world and India was a fascinating experience for me because when I was there I had a date with this Israeli girl. She walks up in a dress and looks amazing. Everyone’s like, wow, check her out. This Indian guy, went she went back to change because I said, “Look everyone just can’t keep their eyes off you. Can you just cover up a bit?” So, she just went back straight away and came straight away. But while she went, this guy next to me goes, “Uh, you foreigners, you all think you’re going to find love somewhere.” Okay, come on guru, tell me what is it? He said, “It’s all about learning to love. It’s all about choosing to love somebody and learning how to love them. It’s not about trying to find or fall in love.”

Andrew: How do you learn to love someone, what does that mean?

Chris: It means, love is not something outside of you. It’s in you, you, you need to take responsibility for allowing love to flourish in your life.

Andrew: How do I do that?

Chris: I think it’s about really being present and connecting with the person that you’re with. It’s also accepting them for their flaws, strengths, weaknesses, whatever it is. It’s also, learning how to appreciate anyone and seeing the beauty in anybody. So, whether they’re small, tall, fat, thin, your look, not your look, how can you learn to love any of them. If you’ve got the ability to learn that yourself, to actually

see anybody and learn how you can love anybody then falling in love and sustaining that and managing that love is possible.

Andrew: So, you’re saying that before you were able to find the woman that you loved, you had to find love for other people inside you?

Chris: I had to learn how to love others. I had to learn how to just allow love to occur.

Andrew: And before that, forget about relationships with women and dating if you were to have a friendship with a guy or you were to have a conversation with me. There wouldn’t be love for me it would be what? Hostility, competition, self-interest . . .

Chris: Yeah, there would be a little thing talking in my head making an assumption about you or just pigeon holing you in a certain way. Whereas now, it’s really a blank canvas and it’s just always looking for opportunities.

Andrew: So, how do you do that? How do you go from being someone . . . I know the feeling, like, I would constantly go, is this guy better on this scale of whatever’s in my head. Or is he worse, if he’s better, how do I find a way to get with him or compete with him and if he’s worse, what the hell am I doing having a conversation with him? How do you go from having that kind of monkey brain to saying, let’s just listen to this guy and see what he has to say.

Chris: I think it all starts from just being a tuned. I think it’s grounding yourself to . . . when you can kind of get to point of going, well, look you know, I can accept and appreciate anybody regardless if I choose to take what they have to say or not. It’s how can you get comfortable in that space, in yourself, to just be at peace with yourself. Listening or accepting or just being present with somebody without placing

too much judgment on them, just kind of being.

What’s really fun about doing that is when you travel the world as well, you get to practice these skills even more because you get to deal with all these different societies and there’s some kind of taboo things going on in other parts of the world. Rather than cast judgment on it, I don’t look at somebody who’s complete poverty and pity them or something. No, I get to enjoy the moment with them. Sometimes they’ve got pain or somebody has some kind of illness or problem – I’m not placing judgment on them.

If somebody’s being there, I’m not placing judgment on them. I’m not putting them any more special than anybody you know what I mean. I can line up all the people and be there present with them. That’s what’s been a real great joy when you’re traveling around the world.

Andrew: Before you traveled around the world, you were a guy with a lot of debt who wasn’t seizing life. You were doing, you were making an effort from what we talked about before. You were working. You weren’t just sitting on your butt playing X-Box but afterwards, business took off, got married, got a son. Things changed. How much did this realization of just being in the moment help you go from one place to the other?

Chris: I think that around there again, we realize how much we limit ourselves before we even begin on anything was a key factor. The reality of the fact that if I don’t do something now in my life. If I don’t make these things happen in my life now, I may never get a chance to. That sense of urgency that kicked in and combining those things with grounding, just getting real with myself, who I am. I looked myself in the mirror and said, no, Chris, you’re not some God knows what type of entrepreneur.

You’ve got this debt. You’ve got these problems. You constantly succeeding things but you’re not necessarily control those things. How can you look at yourself, where are you really at right now? That’s where it helped me to be able to move forward. I knew how to take the first step forward once I knew that both my feet were on the ground. Before that point, I was up in the sky in my head.

Andrew: Okay, I see.

Chris: Never really quite, never really quite fully in reality.

Andrew: So, if I’m understanding you right, what you’re saying is when you got the new lease on life, you were able to pay off your debt. You were able to find love. You were able to travel. You were able to build businesses. Once you realized that you have this one shot, only one shot to live life, that’s when you said, “I’ve got to do it right.” and everything else fell into place.

Good lord, Chris, the way you describe now, I want a brain tumor. No, I don’t even as a joke I say, no, don’t bring it on. Let’s talk one more thing personal before we get into business. You met your wife through dating?

Chris: That’s right I met my wife, she was one of the ladies who I met while traveling around the world and doing this online dating. She was the lady who I least expected to be with. She was somebody from the Philippines herself. There was dates, I had other relationships going on at the same time but there was something different with her.

Managing and maintaining the relationship of love was great. The connection on a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional level were all at a 10,10,10. It just felt like there was an extra level. For her it was her values, her number one value was love. Her heart space was so much more intelligent than my own. She was present with the way she felt, where she belonged in her heart space. Whereas, in my case, my emotions were often what I think about something not necessarily feel about something.

She made a big impression on me. It was good. Again, this whole attitude about we only live once. It got to the point where I couldn’t get my chance ever consider myself being married – with my hereditary condition I never thought of wanting to have a child or get married or follow that family path. I think the adventures that I found myself in and my experiences after the brain operation made me question all that and made me realize,

now hang on a minute.

I don’t have to worthy of living the life I want. I don’t have to do anything to prove that I’m worthy of living. I could be whoever I want to be. I could do whatever I want to do and I did.

Andrew: You said you dated, I think you said 100 girls, around the world. Some of them were lined up before you even got to a city, how do you that – I know but, let’s tell the audience.

Chris: Online dating, what I recommend is when, I’ll never forget Shanghai as an example. I was in Beijing. I was coming down to Shanghai. I went to some online dating. Signed up to some kind dating websites which I don’t remember anymore. I just send out a kind of blanket email to go, hey, listen I’m in town, who am I going to get a chance to see. I’ll get these responses. I pick one and great let’s go catch up. Every night was an eventful night.

Andrew: All right. Sounds awesome. You do all that, you’re ready to come back to business. You at some point discover the Philippines as a place to hire outsources and discover the outsourcing business as your next business or your next challenge. So, how did you discover it?

Chris: Well, when worked with Rob Rawson on this online marketing college. We had an office in Sydney and I could see some of the talent and the costing associated with that talent locally in Australia. Then we went to the Philippines to see what he was doing. I got to see some of the same talent, like designers or developers or whatever but over there.

The costing associated with those type of people. I could see what some of the challenges in communication and some of the other challenges. You need to micromanage them initially and be involved with them. I saw those things and I just realized, wow, you could truly, if you could make this work, there’s such an advantage.

The cost factor was very much a big lure. The lure was their work ethics. I mean it was just fantastic. They’re really committee, loyal people who were dedicated to really working with you. I just thought, I hired one or two people. I hired a designer and an assistant in the Philippines and then I was going to Australia three weeks later.

I got to a point where I was saying, wow, wouldn’t it be great if I could work with these people the same way I could work with them face-to-face but be on the other side of the world. Can I really make it that reliable and dependable kind of way that I could work with them where distance is irrelevant.

That’s how Remote Staff was formed. It was evolving out of the idea of going, when they’re working from home in the other part of the world, I was going, are these people even working? What are they bloody doing?

Because of these questions and because of my experience working with them without any technologies and services, I got to the point where I developed remotes for my own needs first. I ended up hiring a team of 20, 30 people all types of roles that I was working with. I slowly evolved my system based on the fact that, oh, yeah, I don’t want to ask them what they’re up to all the time. I like the idea of having my system update me what they’re up to every 20 or 30 minutes. What’s their progress with things?

Andrew: Let me slow it down here so I could dig into this, because I want to understand every step of this. First of all, I’ll explain that Rob Rawson and you were in a business where you were teaching marketing online. You went and you said you hired two people to do what for you guys?

Chris: Rob had hired his own team of 30, but I hired for myself a designer and a assistant somebody that was going to be doing . . . I was writing some things and they were going to be editing and helping me with the writing. The designer was just assisting me in putting up sites and things like that.

Andrew: Okay, and what were you paying for an assistant, what were you paying for a designer?

Chris: For those, we’re looking at, I was going for some more quality staff and I was paying for like $1,000. I was getting a quality designer, the best I could find at the time back in 2006 and a assistant that was, yeah, quite good. I hired her for part-time for $500.

Andrew: $500 a month for about . . .

Chris: Yeah, four hours a day, Monday through Friday.

Andrew: Wow, all right, that’s incredible. You must have come home and said, I just found an incredible opportunity or Rob just turned me on to an incredible opportunity. You kept hiring them for . . .

Chris: I think Rob opened me up to that this something that you could really make happen. Then I thought, how am I going to make this happen for myself. Rob pursued the office, you know, he had the office, the people who were working in there. At the time I didn’t have the finances to actually hire an office and do that. I knew that the only way I could make this viable was by having them working from home.

That’s when I realized having people, giving them the autonomy is one thing but you’ve got to keep them accountable while they have that autonomy.

Andrew: I see. So you said, I can’t rent an office. I can’t hire an office full of people. My finances are strapped. What I could do is let them work from home and I’ll use that to my advantage and then you said, if I’m going to have them work from home then I really need accountability and that’s when you decided that you were going to add some kind of software that would hold them accountable.

Chris: Software and technology combined. I mean, HR technology.

Andrew: Who put that together for you?

Chris: I did, the whole thing. I put together. I hired my own development team and I didn’t, everyone says that my systems similar to other types of systems they’ve come across but I actually never reference anybody or even knew much about any other kind of services that were out there.

It was more like something that I just wanted done. That made logical sense for me. I said to them, if I had the screenshots every three minutes that would make me feel comfortable in the transparency factor.

If I had a pop-up on the screen where they needed to type in their progress and a comment in detail about where they’re at every 20 or 30 minutes. That would make me feel comfortable to know that they actually are making progress in something and I’m aware of what they’re doing throughout the day.

If I had online time sheets where I could see them logging into work, when they’re having lunch breaks, and when they’re finished work. I’ll be able to manage their payroll and ensure them a little bit more comfortably that I will honor any hour that they work properly.

Then it just started evolving from there. Technology was one element but the big factor was the need for . . . I had staff that I had in place to review the screenshots. To actually be on top of the stuff when they’re late, they’ll call them up, what happened. Excuse, bloody hell, when you’re working from home and you’re late, I mean, what could it be?

Where you stuck in traffic from your bedroom to your office, I mean what’s going on?

Andrew: What do you do when someone is stuck in traffic from the office, from their bedroom to their office, or from one desk to the other. Your client is depending on them and your client already in with them, you know, they’re half way through a project. How do you hold that person accountable?

Chris: We send them a text. We send them a call. We got their home phone numbers and mobile’s and if they don’t reach that way. We send them emails and let them know, that look, we don’t want . . . we’re actually not a bad [inaudible 39:42] based type work at all. Our remote staff, it’s all about sustainability. We actually hire people to tell them, if you aren’t prepared to make a career move with our clients. If you’re not

prepared to see this as a long-term view for you, a year or two minimum, we

can’t work with you.

Our clients, they’re going to spend the time micromanaging you to get you started properly. They’re going to spend the time training you and getting you up and running. The last thing they need is somebody who’s not really committed in this kind of career choice and aren’t going to stick around when they’re finally going to get their returns.

We always remind them of that. We go well, look, you know, we’re going to give you all the security you want. You’ll never get a delay in your payroll. You’ll always be guaranteed you work a day, you get paid a day. In return, we really do need you to feel committed with our client because reliability is everything and without reliability our clients can’t invest in you over the long term. But if you are really reliable, somebody the clients can totally depend on to get the work done – they’ll want to keep you for life because what are their alternatives? They’re going to go from a couple thousand and a half to five thousand for somebody just as capable as you? It’s not going to happen. If you can be dependable, if you can be reliable and you can make a career choice out of this, my clients would love you for a long time.

Andrew: Okay. How do you find clients to keep all these people employed, in the beginning?

Chris: It all started by word of mouth. I did it for myself and I was just bragging to some of my mates going, wow, I can’t believe it. I’m getting so much done and I’m paying a fraction for it. I’ve got a lot entrepreneurial mates and friends and they all kind of started coming to me. They’d go, mate, can you get me one as well. One or two of them went on the remote landscape and they experienced that and all the rest.

They realized that the staff that did their remote on that platform were much the same as the staff that I was giving them but instead they’re getting all these services from me. We’re directly involved with them. We’re making sure stuff is online and on time and working on the activities. We were managing the payroll and other HR functions. They

really liked that. They also liked the fact that we were pre-framing expectations on both the clients side and the staff’s side. Both relationships would come into play understanding what’s expected of them and how they could work remotely, properly, together.

That was a key factor to make it last.

Andrew: All right. You’ve got a lot of mates who are entrepreneurs but you don’t have that many. How do you go beyond your circle of entrepreneurial friends and start to bring in new customers and start growing.

Chris: I put a website together. Shared what I did initially. The remote staff will come to your site and then I just placed some Google Ads and did a little bit of search engine optimization that I didn’t do, but I hired somebody remotely to do. It just took off from there. I started taking the calls. As a matter of fact, I did everything when I first started. I did the recruitment. I did the answering of the calls, the

marketing, the whole lot.

When I got a call, everyone was very fearful and concerned. Can they really, they all wanted to work but they were all worried could it really, really work? Because all of the other kind of services that are out there, the freelancing services, you kind of left on your own. You’ve got to interview them. You’ve got to be responsible for them completely. Whereas there’s nobody there with you to kind of help you make it work.

That was my pitch. I’m going to help you make this work because I know the value and the asset this thing can be for your business if you can make it work. That’s where RemoteStaff just grew. It was that offer that just took off from there because more and more people started hearing about it and I started to get referrals as well from the existing customers.

That’s often a good sign that you’re doing good in a business.

Andrew: Were you in a situation where your costs were mostly variable because you didn’t have to pay staff and hire new staff unless you had a customer ready to buy services?

Chris: Yeah, because I mean, I actually grew from day one very profitable. I was profitable from the moment I started because of the offices and the fact that I didn’t have to have an investment upfront in a big other than marketing and so on. My investment as I started getting better and better at what we were offering. I started investing hundreds of thousands in our technology, in our staffing. So, now we have a team in-house of 35+ staff and a technology that we’ve invested a tremendous amount

of years building and developing. Now we’re at a point where we are actually considering providing office space service roles as well.

Because as, what we’ve realized is as our customers grow and they get the remote working properly. So, it’s okay to have one staff member remotely or one or two, three, four, five, ten staff, twenty staff. But as soon as you have say ten staff that are all doing the same thing, we realized it’s actually much more powerful if they are working in one environment because you can benchmark yourself with the best performer.

Whereas in the remote landscape, you slow yourself down a bit because you can’t quite benchmark yourself fast enough when they’re all working autonomously from all over, different locations. I found the limitations in the remote modeling of working this way from autonomous locations but saying that it’s still a fantastic model for those that have a need for one or two or three designers, one or two or three assistants, one or two or three various types of people. All working as a unit remotely, all of mine

in our staff are all nationally all over the Philippines and they’re working as a unit.

Andrew: Company name is RemoteStaff, how old is it.

Chris: I basically got into the company fulltime on June, 2008 but I started everything back in November of 2007. Now, I’m about to open my doors as well to Indian staff which I’m looking forward to. I think I’m now more stronger and systemized enough to take on the entrepreneurial, any direction type of Indian style of characters that are out there. I think the Filipinos were much more easier to follow a line. You could easily

direct them and manage them. Whereas the Indians are little bit more colorful and so, now, I think we’ve got the systems in place to be able to really help professional Indian staff work properly and better with Western clients.

Andrew: All right. You’ve come a long way, my friend. So, the website is RemoteStaff.com.au as you can tell from the accent, Chris is Australian. Chris, thanks for doing the interview.

Chris: Pleasure, Andrew.

Andrew: Thank you all for watching. Bye.

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