Recession Proof: An open conversation about working remotely

Joining me is an entrepreneur who has built a company that is doing well in this current crisis. I want to ask him about that.

He is also someone who happens to run a remote company. Liam Martin is the founder of Time Doctor, time-tracking for remote teams.

I want to ask him how the crisis impacted his annual conference which was set for April and how he’s helping people work remotely.

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Liam Martin

Liam Martin

Time Doctor

Liam Martin is the founder of Time Doctor, time-tracking for remote teams.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. As you know, I am sticking with stories of how entrepreneurs built their businesses, what happened in their businesses throughout the health crisis that we’re going through, and also the economic crisis that we’re going through. And partially my goal with that is to allow people to have something to take their minds off of what’s going on in the world and to give you space to see what entrepreneurship can be like.

But joining me is an entrepreneur who’s built a company that’s doing well, but I want to ask him about, how the company that was doing well that suddenly is not up and I want to ask him about that. And he happens to be someone who runs remote companies. I was kind of like spacing out as I said that because I wanted to make sure to say he runs Running Remote, the conference that I spoke at, in Bali, but also he runs remote companies. Anyway, that person is Liam Martin. He is the founder of staff.com, which was a long term, two-sided remote marketplace. I interviewed him about the success of that company. I want to find out what happened, why that’s redirecting right now. He also runs a company called Time Doctor. It’s time tracking for remote teams that is up and running and doing really well.

And as I said, I spoke at his conference runningremote.com. It was full of digital nomads. I want to ask them what’s going on now that people can’t travel and all those digital nomads can’t get together at his conference, and just kind of catch up with him and find out how, I guess if we’re all working remote, how we can do it better. And frankly, do you have kids, Liam?

Liam: I have one on the way, July.

Andrew: July. Wowee. I wonder what that means for you? Like I remember what I would freak out when I was having kids, what I would freak out about and ask you about that. But I think that a lot of people who are talking about remote work, aren’t bringing the realities of being in a relationship number one, into the conversation, number two, having other people in the house who are kids who are depending. I want to make sure that we include that in this conversation because I got kids. They’re not driving me crazy, but it’s definitely a distraction.

All right. All that’s a long intro. I’m going to add one more thing to it. This interview is sponsored by a company that will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. And the company that will help you hire phenomenal developers called Toptal. It seemed like I was about to introduce you and then I go into the, ads. Isn’t it, Liam?

Liam: Yes, absolutely. By the way, Toptal, fantastic company. They are speaking at Running Remote as well. And if you want to find any long-term talent, they’re probably the best people in the game.

Andrew: I loved the Running Remote conference. I was basically running a marathon on every continent last year. Not basically, that’s what I was doing. And I came just because I like you and I wanted to see what you were up to. And I wasn’t speaking at conferences last year. And I was so glad that I did. It was just such a good vibe of people who were traveling everywhere, people who were creating things, working remote, and you created a nice atmosphere. Are you guys going to continue to do that?

Liam: After this? Absolutely. So we ended up postponing the event.

Andrew: What are you going to do this year with the no travel?

Liam: It’s postponed. Yeah. So, I mean, obviously we were going to do our event on the 20th and 21st of April. We moved to Austin. We had a fantastic amount of speakers that were going to go and present. We had amazing ticket sales. This was the first year that we were making a really good amount of profit, profit that really, really counted, in essence. And all that got wiped out, lost a couple hundred thousand on that conference right off the top.

And the one thing that we are doing right now is we’re trying to run a donation-based event and everything is going to the Red Cross. We realized, because it’s just the remote work world was very, very small until two months ago. And it has completely changed. It’s been a reshuffling of the deck within the last two months. So I’ve had a meeting with all of the other people that are doing big things in remote work. And I said, “What can we do together?” And we decided to run something called Remote Aid. So we’re just bringing all these experts together, trying to figure out how to teach people to work remotely and at least give them some semblance of productivity over the next few months, which I know is going to be really hard for a lot of people.

Andrew: Wow, you got David Heinemeier Hansson to speak at the conference? I guess now that you’ve gone remote, he doesn’t want to travel anywhere, but he’ll speak at an online event, huh?

Liam: Yep. Oh, yeah.

Andrew: The founder of Basecamp, a guy who’s been talking about and preaching remote work for a long time. All right, anyone who wants to go check that out, it’s runningremote.com. What happened to staff.com? I think that’s the last time that I interviewed you, that’s the company that we talked about. It was doing well.

Liam: Yeah, it was doing quite well. So long story short, long-term poaching problem. And this is actually a really good counterpoint to a company like a Toptal because we were a competitor with Toptal. And this is something that I think a lot of people don’t understand when they look at two-sided marketplaces. Fundamentally, if I had to boil it down to one singular failure point, it’s that two-sided marketplaces need to be transactional, and any long term engagement that you have in a two-sided marketplace where the other side of the market is taking a continuous percentage, it’s not going to be successful. I mean, maybe not ever, but I would say the vast majority of cases, it’s really not a sustainable model. So long story short, we were doing 86,000 MRR the very first year, that would’ve been . . .

Andrew: How much?

Liam: 86,000 MRR the first year.

Andrew: 86,000 monthly recurring revenue in the first year of helping people find what? It was it wasn’t developers. It was all kinds of staff, right?

Liam: It was all kinds of staff. Yeah. But long-term work engagements. So it wasn’t just like a gig. It wasn’t a Fiverr. It was, “You’re going to hire this person for months or years. This is a long-term employee.” So the type of headhunting that you would get from Toptal, however, on a month-to-month relationship, so you didn’t have to make any type of long-term commitment. The different that Toptal has inside of their business model, which is genius and I’ve spoken with those guys at length about it, is they make you commit to an initial engagement. And they’re very clear about how much money they take out of that initial engagement. So they know that they’re actually profitable on that very first transaction.

For us, we would spend thousands of dollars headhunting for someone. So we would, in essence, be providing full-on recruitment services to someone and then they would end up working with us and maybe we would make $1,000 off of that engagement and we were 2,000 to 3000 in the hole when they end up churning that person, when they end up poaching them. And the other thing that was, I kind of defined it as like secret churn, or kind of underground churn, no one would tell us the reason that people were churning, right?

Andrew: Right.

Liam: Because like, who’s going to say, “Well, I was poaching all of these employees.”

Andrew: Right. And so what did they say instead?

Liam: Well, they’d say, “It wasn’t the right fit,” or, “We decided to go with somebody else,” or, “We’re downsizing.” And then what we ended up doing is we actually ended up doing a little bit of a trap. So, when someone would churn, we would email the employee right after that, and we’d say, “Hey, it sucks that you just lost your job. We have another one that’s a 30% higher salary. Do you want to take it?” And of course, anyone would take that. And that was just a test for us because we were really getting frustrated trying to understand what was going on here. And then we found that almost no one was taking those.

And then the nail in the coffin was actually a very good client of ours that ended up hiring a couple hundred people through our platform, for a company that shall remain nameless, because you’ve probably interviewed them before, and he had left the company as their HR manager, and he said, “Oh, yeah, we were poaching people from you left, right, and center. That was that was a great business model for us.

Andrew: Right, because they don’t know to pay recruiting fees.

Liam: And you can go after those people legally. Exactly. So we were basically deploying thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of recruiting fees and getting hundreds and hundreds of dollars. And initially, that looks like a really good model. But with churn, especially when you look at the follow-on components of churn . . . We had 11% institutional churn, monthly churn. So that means that, we were out of customers within about six months. And you need to constantly replace those customers. But at the very beginning, that looks really successful because that doesn’t show up until month 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 which is exactly where it was. And yeah, it was not a good model.

So what we decided to do is we actually turned staff.com into an enterprise version of Time Doctor, which is our time tracking tool for remote teams. And the entire time that staff.com was running, Time Doctor was doing fantastically well. Numbers were solid. We were making money hand over fist. And we were deploying zero marketing budget, zero sales budget. It was just literally running on product-based marketing the entire time. And we realized . . .

Andrew: What’s product-based marketing for this, for Time Doctor?

Liam: So literally just referrals. 75%, approximately, of Time Doctor customers right now come through a referral.

Andrew: So the way it would work is . . . I’m trying to think of how you get organic referrals for Time Doctor. The only thing I thought was, I imagine people are going to staff.com, signing up, hiring somebody and then saying, “You know what, I want to make sure that they’re tracking their hours right. Time Doctor will do it,” and then they sign up. And then if they had another staff member from a different part of the company, that staff member would need to be on Time Doctor too, because then it becomes weird if it’s two different platforms.

Liam: Yeah, I’m just like talking about, like institute referrals between different clients for Time Doctor. So we would have someone that have used Time Doctor and then they would refer it to their friends. So it’s still around that ratio right now. We actually do very little inbound advertising. The vast majority is just churn mitigation and making sure that the customers are happy and that the software is working properly.

Andrew: So wait. How high did you get your revenue for Time Doctor?

Liam: It is, and I know you’re going to ask this type of a question. We’re in the . . .

Andrew: Just roughly. I don’t want to get too deep into your numbers.

Liam: We’re in the high seven figures.

Andrew: You were at Time . . . I’m sorry, I meant . . .

Liam: We are for Time Doctor.

Andrew: High seven figures a month?

Liam: No, no. A year.

Andrew: A year?

Liam: Yeah, for Time Doctor.

Andrew: Wow. I know I’m blowing some people ear. Wow. It’s a high margin, not the same kind of headache and then with staff.com . . .

Liam: It’s software.

Andrew: It’s software.

Liam: Do you know how many headaches you have to deal with with humans? Getting this . . .

Andrew: Yeah, why did you stick with it?

Liam: Well for us, again, the business model was very clear. Time Doctor was a SaaS product, we could consistently break down our quarters. We understood exactly where we were going to go. Staff.com was this business model that realistically, we probably needed to invest $20 to $30 million to be a Toptal, Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer, which are really the big players in the space. They each approach it as kind of sector of the industry. And that’s something that we didn’t necessarily want to do.

Andrew: You didn’t want it. Why would investing more money allow you to do better?

Liam: Well, we would have been able to get past that institutional churn. That probably would have been the big . . .

Andrew: How?

Liam: So, when you look at these two-sided marketplaces, there is, and I don’t want to kind of get into the business of some of these other guys in this space, but a lot of them have very, very high churn. And the way that they win is they go up market. So you need to be able to kind of . . . We knew that we could get a customer in the SMB space less than 20 employees very, very easily. But to convince someone like Dell, as an example . . .

I don’t know if you know Andy Tryba from Crossover. So a really smart guy, you should definitely have him on the show. He’s very quietly, actually deploying massive amounts of people over to remote work through his M&A company. But what he did is with Crossover, Crossover was actually from his . . . He was one of the largest clients on Upwork. And then all of a sudden Upwork decided to jack up the prices and he basically said, “Well, I think I’m going to build another platform,” and he built Crossover, which is basically a high end enterprise, kind of like two-sided marketplace BPO which is a business process outsourcing company, which basically is like, if you call MasterCard right now, it’s not actually MasterCard that’s doing the phone call with you. It’s a company that MasterCard has subcontracted. And there’s again, a lot of different pieces inside of remote work, that being one of them. And so these are the types of clients that you really want. And that’s the type of clients that companies like Toptal, Upwork, Freelancer really make their money off.

Andrew: Because the bigger companies, they’re hiring a lot and they’re not looking to cut . . .

Liam: And they’re also not looking to get sued by people like me.

Andrew: Right. Got it. And I guess if it’s one or two, it’s easy to do, and it makes sense. But if you’re hiring hundreds of people, then it becomes a lot harder to bring them over.

Liam: You can manage 10 enterprise clients and you can make sure that they’re all honest. If you have 10,000 very small customers, and they all start churning people, you could go after each of those people legally. They were all breaking all of our contracts every single time. But are you going to spend $20,000 to go after a $10,000 loss? Of course you’re not. It’s death by 1000 cuts.

Andrew: What about Matt Barrie from freelancer.com? I remember when I flew to Australia, I interviewed him. He’s really high on his own marketplace. I wonder why people don’t steal freelancers from freelancer.com?

Liam: I mean, did you ask him that?

Andrew: I didn’t think of that. I wonder with Upwork too, the only thing I can think of is, well, I’m projecting my own experience on Upwork, with Upwork I need a quickie thing and I want somebody to do it and then I’m done. And I move on. And that person wants the credit so they could find somebody else. And I’m not thinking about the individual I’m working with as much as I’m thinking about the platform that will let me do a bunch of tasks even though they don’t want to be thought of as a task-based platform.

Liam: Well, that was a very interesting addition to Upwork’s model. When you look at Fiverr, Fiverr really moved Upwork more over to Fiverr than Upwork moving over to Fiverr. So Fiverr was like a gig economy. They started with $5 gigs, right?

Andrew: Right.

Liam: So you do something for five bucks and you get it done. That model is incredibly successful. Because again, it goes back to the Uber conversation we had earlier. I don’t want Andrew, the Uber driver, I just want an Uber. I don’t care who’s . . .

Andrew: Right. I’m paying for the service not the person and the person is disposable. Give me the next person who’s going to do this thing. Give me the next person after that. Got it.

Liam: So the more you move your two-sided marketplace into that direction, you’re going to be a lot more transactional. And yes, you’re not going to have these long-term relationships. However, you’re actually going to have zero churn because you’re going to use that person once, maybe twice, maybe three times. But realistically, are you going to go through the process of actually trying to churn that person? No. In comparison to a platform like Toptal, where it’s long-term working relationships. Toptal says, “I want to become whole before I actually [inaudible 00:16:03] this engagement with you.: And those are just two completely separate models, and we were trying to do the pay what you want, do it month to month model that you would get from an Upwork or Fiverr, but provide the quality of Toptal. And we ended up losing our shirts.

Andrew: How much money do you think you lost on that?

Liam: Our domain was half a million dollars, so that’s a complete write-off. We probably spent another million dollars on like development, marketing, that kind of stuff. So probably at the end of the day 1.5, 2.

Andrew: Okay, that’s a lot. But considering that you’ve got a software product that’s making at least that a year, am I right about that? So you’re doing okay.

Liam: Yeah. I mean, that’s the beauty of SaaS products is, if you have a SaaS product like Time Doctor that’s consistently generating really fantastic revenue, you can make those type of long game kind of moves. And if you lose, then you just go back to your other product.

Andrew: Rob, your cofounder, still in on the business?

Liam: Yep. Me and Rob have been working for like 10 years.

Andrew: I feel like you’re the guy who does the work and Rob’s the guy who sits back and maybe made the investment. Why do I see you always as the face of the company and Rob is the guy who like checks in on my kids?

Liam: You said that, not me. No, Rob, is having a ton of fun. So I think between me and Rob, we have a really good relationship where we definitely have a yin and yang. And I think in any type of co-founder relationship, your weaknesses should be the other person’s strengths. And so Rob’s a really good worker. He’s really focused, he understands large scale strategy. And he can organize. I am disorganized. I’m get up and go. You know, I messaged you today and I said, “Hey,” because I was on . . . We’ve been doing time tons of press the last couple weeks with regards to the current pandemic that’s current.

Andrew: Because everyone’s working remotely and you’ve had more experience, I imagine, than just about anyone else and so they’re all interviewing you about it?

Liam: Right.

Andrew: Okay. And so your way of doing it is messaging me and we message back and we ended up at 7:30, my time. What time is it for you? 10:30?

Liam: It’s 10:30, yeah.

Andrew: 10:30 your time doing this. Okay, that’s the way you work and how does Rob work?

Liam: Oh, he’s more, “Here’s the plan. We’re going to deploy the plan in this way.: I’m like a ready, shoot, aim type of person. And he’s the other side of that. So between the two of us . . .

Andrew: And so what’s the work responsibility breakdown?

Liam: So I do marketing and then Rob is the CEO.

Andrew: Got it. So that’s why I see more of your face. Because even at the conference I was wondering, “Maybe Rob is not involved in the business anymore and he doesn’t feel comfortable telling me. And in private, I’m not looking to push.” You were on stage. You were working the crowd. You were making sure that everything was taken care of at Running Remote in Bali. Rob was, I think in shorts. I think he was wearing open-toed shoes, like sandals or something. He was a chillest guy, “How are the kids, Andrew?” We were just talking like, I don’t know . . .

Liam: I mean, definitely Running Remote has been my project. It’s been something that I’ve been very passionate about. And I realized this was something that . . . Running Remote really was a project for me where I said, “I really want to hang out with more people that are building large, remote teams. And I’m getting frustrated that I can’t really hang out with these people.” And the events that I was going to they weren’t my type of people, and no offense towards any type of people, but they just weren’t my type of people.

So I said, “Okay, forget about it. Let’s just run an event for it.” And actually, it was funny, you were at one of Running Remote which you can see my opening address. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Peter Thiel question, “What truth do you believe that other people that most people don’t agree with?” So I pitched the Running Remote idea to Rob and Rob said, “You won’t sell 20 tickets.” And he also knows how to push my buttons properly because he knows that that gives me the motivation to say, “Oh yeah, I’m not going to sell 20 tickets? Watch.” And we had 500 people for the last event.

So that’s kind of Rob in a nutshell, is just sort of like the strategist and then he can point me in the right direction and I can just go. And sometimes I don’t even know if I’m going in the right direction. But usually he can kind of come in and say, “Hey, you’re going the right direction. You’re going the wrong direction. Let’s just figure it out.” But with Running Remote, it’s been a passion project for me. I call it my Friday business, right? It’s the business that I do. Not today, obviously. The last couple weeks have been all Running Remote because we realize that that’s what the world needs right now. But, long story short, I mean, it’s definitely a great project and we still have a really good relationship, me and Rob.

Andrew: I just love the people there. I love the atmosphere you guys created for it. I’m still in touch with people from there. What’s the name of the guy from 500 Startups? I’m blanking on . . . I see his face. I just saw him on Instagram.

Liam: Marvin.

Andrew: Marvin. Marvin and I still chat. There was like an investment that I made with someone and I didn’t know whether to trust him or not. Even though I knew the person for years, and Marvin I just met in Bali because we were stuck in this environment. Not stuck, we were in this environment together in each other’s faces having dinner together, talking about wives and like relationships. I messaged him and I go, “What do you think of what this person’s doing over here? This seems a little bit shady to me.” He goes, “You know what, it’s not a shady, this is how it works in the VC community. You can’t fight it. That’s where you are, you have no leverage here, then you might as well work with what you got, or you’re going to have to go in and fight without leverage.” And I said, “All right, I got what I need,” and we talked it through a little bit.

So you then close it down. My sense is . . . You know what, let me take a moment and then I’ll do my psychological analysis from an outsider’s point of view just to give you something to disagree with and give me the correct analysis.

Liam: Okay. Can I have another drink?

Andrew: Yeah. What are you drinking?

Liam: Can I have another drink while you’re . . .

Andrew: I wish could drink. I’m driving.

Liam: Yeah, I’m drinking rum and cokes right now, to be honest with you. I’m into that. I realized, I don’t have a violin so I thought, “I might as well just drink instead.” And you’re the last meeting of the day for me.

Andrew: I wonder why you’re doing that. You for me too.

Liam: Yeah. I mean, I’ve got to tell you, we’ve been at a point where . . . I don’t know if you know the situation that we’re currently experiencing in Canada, but we’re on lockdown.

Andrew: The whole country is on lockdown now?

Liam: Yes, so no restaurants, no coffee shops. Groceries and pharmacies are open, that’s it. And we are probably a couple of days from quarantine, to be honest with you. So we’re going to have to print out a piece of paper and we’re going to have to tell people, “Yeah, this is where we want to go.” And I don’t know when that’s going to end. And so that’s kind of something that, you know, I’ve done as much preparation as humanly possible. And to be completely honest with you. I’m having my first kid, baby girl in July. And I don’t know what we’re going to be doing over the next couple months. I don’t know what the medical system . . .

Andrew: I mean, how are you going to give birth?

Liam: I don’t know what the medical system is going to be in July.

Andrew: Right.

Liam: We have socialized medicine in Canada, thank God for me, but it’s still one of those things that, who knows. And we’re all dealing with that. I think every single person on planet Earth are dealing with that right now.

Andrew: How much are you worried about that? Does that take up a large part of your thinking?

Liam: Boy, I’m probably thinking about it a couple times a day, realistically. It’s something that’s definitely . . . Yeah, I mean, it’s something that I’m trying to prepare for. And as a business owner, you always trying to mitigate risk, right? Like it’s always one of those things that you’re thinking, “Okay, how do I build this? How do I build that? How do I make sure that this doesn’t break?” And so going through these things, and it’s creating a lot of anxiety and a really bad feedback loop. I had to get my in-laws out of Costa Rica last night. We had to buy them first class tickets out of Costa Rica because the airports are closing. And we got . . .

Andrew: In Canada?

Liam: . . . from Costa Rica back to Canada.

Andrew: But are the airports closing in Costa Rica or Canada?

Liam: The airport was closing in Costa Rica.

Andrew: Wow.

Liam: Yeah. So they were about an hour and 15 minutes before the airport closed. So, you know, these countries are shutting down. And we’re currently in that process right now. And it’s definitely scary. It’s something that . . . The only thing that I’m really focused on right now is teaching people how to work from home because I know how to do that better than most. And so that’s what’s keeping me busy. But realistically, that’s pretty much one of the biggest things that’s kind of keeping my anxiety at bay.

Andrew: You know what? I had this situation where I was walking with my kids outside. And I realized I’m telling them so much about what’s going on because I’m the type of person who’s super open with his kids. And I realized that it’s a very weighty thing for me, it’s kind of crept up on us, as I’m telling them about international news. And one of the points in the news is that there’s this virus in China and then I’m naturally telling them the next step and the next step. And before you know what I’m telling them, “You can’t leave the house.” As we were walking back home from, I forget where it was, the grocery store where I told him that they couldn’t go back in. And I realized, “Well, they can’t go into the grocery store. I’m taking them back. I might be freaking them out.” I leaned down and I said to my son, “Don’t worry, you’ve got parents that are going to protect you. We’re here to protect you. You’re totally fine.” And I realized I couldn’t get through that fricking sentence, I started choking up. And I started, like, almost tear up and I said, “This is the exact opposite of what I think they need right now.” I took them into the house, five-year-old and a three-year-old and then said, “I’m going to go in the store by myself.” And then I got the food, I quarantined the food outside of our house for 24 hours in case there’s like . . . Because I heard that there’s something on the cardboard.

But after I got back into the kitchen, they were sitting in the living room and I started to tear up and I said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to them. What’s going to happen to them if I’m not here? Who do they go to? Even if I could get past this, what’s going to happen to them?” And that hit me really, really hard. And I feel like that was my low point. And it’s the low point for now, but it’s tapping into something that I’m hiding away as I’m trying to deal with the everyday stuff of work, of preparation, like you said, have everything ready.

Liam: Yeah, I shed all my tears about a week ago.

Andrew: You did.

Liam: Well, actually, I have all of these other issues, the baby, the business, trying to tell people, trying to tell digital nomads not to travel has been my mission over the last few years.

Andrew: Because they’re still traveling?

Liam: They’re super spreaders. Yeah, they’ve been . . . If you go to the forums, and they’re saying, “Oh, yeah, prices are going to be super cheap, and we’re going to be able to get hotels at next to nothing.” That’s true. You’re probably not going to die from the coronavirus. That’s also true, but you’re going to spread it to my father who had a stroke two years ago and was on a ventilator six months ago. And if he gets it, he’s not going to make it. My grandfather is 92 years old. If he gets it, the chances of him making it out is not very good. A lot of people are going to get seriously ill. So that’s one side of it. I also kind of shed all my tears for the life that we had before, that we had a couple months ago.

Andrew: Yeah.

Liam: I really like my life. I would travel six months out of the year. I know that you did too. I mean, the life that we have experienced up until this point is not even a 1% of life. It’s like the 0.1% because it allows you to have access to such a massive amount of freedom and interact with so many different people. And that life, at least for the next few months to possibly years, is over. And so that really . . . I mean, that hit me about a week ago. I don’t know whether or not that’s going to hit me again. It’s probably going to really start to lock in after we’ve been in quarantine for a couple weeks. And, yeah, I mean, that’s something that I’m definitely dealing with. But again, for me the way that I usually get out of those situations, I put myself into work and that seems to just kind of push those ideas aside.

Andrew: It does for me too. Yeah, you know what? When I was with the kids and like prepping for everything that is when I was feeling it. Today I have felt better than I have in so long because my groceries were actually accidentally delivered to the office. We’re only allowed to go out to go get groceries. I came out to get groceries. And it just felt great to sit here at my desk and take an interest in people and like do research on what they’re saying and come back and work.

Liam: But you’re in your element.

Andrew: And be in my element.

Liam: That’s who you are.

Andrew: All right. This is kind of a downer to go into an ad. I’ve always wondered how it is that The Daily, The New York Times podcast can transition into ads? What they do is, they take a moment. It almost feels like maybe the app is broken when they do that. And then they take another moment of complete silence and then suddenly the ad comes on and there’s nothing like, and they go into it. So I’m going to have to do it without that transition. I will just clearly say to people, this interview is sponsored made possible because of a company called Toptal. Liam you have some experience with Toptal. They’re paying me so I feel like it takes a little bit away from my ability to endorse them, even though I’ve been a customer of theirs for a long time. What do you like about Toptal? What works for you about them?

Liam: So, as a one-time competitor and now partner with Running Remote, Toptal is probably the best firm on planet earth for long-term, remote work engagements. If you have the resources, Toptal is absolutely the best place to be able to find top talent, particularly remote top talent. We’ve used them and a bunch of other companies, partners have used them.

Andrew: To hire developers?

Liam: To hire developers. We’ve hired a whole bunch of people through Toptal. It’s usually when we need to find someone very particular. So, like, maybe we need to find some kind of like server admin guy that does this particular type of technology. And there might be 800 on planet Earth. Toptal can find you that person. You’re going to pay more for that, but if you need that type of technology, and you need to deploy in that way, well, you’ve basically got no better person than Toptal to be able to do it.

Andrew: And if you need them now, they often are in the network. I think when blockchain became hot as a technology, they went out and got all the top blockchain people in their network so that when somebody needed to work with them, you can get started with them right away. We’ve talked a lot about Toptal here. So all I’ll say here at the end of this ad is, if you want to hire from them, use toptal.com/mixergy, and they’ll give you 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial period. So really, they’re going to make it easy for you to get started with them. I’ve been with them. I’m happy with them. And it’s at least exploring by going to toptal.com/mixergy. T-O-P-T-A-L/M-I-X-E-R-G-Y. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

I want to just come back to my side. I always try to understand the person as much as the company. I remember when I interviewed Rob Rawson years and years ago, his big thing was that he did well in affiliate marketing. But then there was nothing there. He wasn’t leaving a legacy. He wasn’t leaving a business that survived. This was . . . Oh, look, I just found it. November 12, 2010. And his big thing was, “I want that, something that can outlive me.” I wonder if what was happening with staff.com was him saying, “I’m willing to invest in this because I need this business that survives. It means something. It’s not a fly by night moneymaker.”

Liam: Yeah, I mean, Rob has always wanted a billion-dollar company. That’s what he really wants to build at the end of the day, and I totally respect that. That’s not me. I’m happy to be brought on that ride, to be honest with you. But that’s not my DNA. For me, I would probably . . . If we knew we were going to make it to a billion, and we had an offer for 100 million, I’d probably take the hundred million because that’s a good solid win for me. But Rob’s always focused on, “Hey, let’s go bigger, let’s go better.” He was the one that convinced me to invest in staff.com, the domain name, and we just wanted to keep going big. And we lost on that one. But the reality is, I think those types of wins eventually end up panning out at the end of the day.

Andrew: Why didn’t you sell staff.com to someone like Matt from Freelancer?

Liam: So, number one, Matt is really bad at buying companies. His valuations are crap.

Andrew: Really?

Liam: Yeah. I’m sorry. And Matt actually uses Time Doctor, by the way. Freelancer, I believe uses them for some of their operations. So we’re friends with everybody inside of that space. But I think that that’s probably also another decision of the CEO, i.e. my cofounder, Rob, that, he wants to go big, right? And that’s the other thing that’s really important inside of like, cofounder relationships. I see a lot of cofounder relationships that end up going sour when there isn’t a very specific . . . When there’s like a very clear scale. I hate the like co-CEOs.

I think actually if you analyze a whole bunch of like co CEO relationships in companies, you’d probably see an interesting connection to failure rate. So if Rob makes a decision . . . I remember, we went down for 24 hours about a year and a half ago on Time Doctor and we lost about a million ARR in those 24 hours. We just had massive damage to the business because we’re a contracting company and when time tracking companies can’t track time, people quit very, very quickly.

Andrew: Wow. Okay.

Liam: And we actually ended up completely switching our infrastructure. And we had a conversation about three and a half years ago, “Do we continue on with our current infrastructure or do we completely refactor our code base and go for a new build?” And I remember, I was getting outvoted by [inaudible 00:35:28] everyone else in the company, including Rob. And I said, “This is ridiculous. We need to refactor.” I said, “Rob, you’re the CEO. I completely disagree with your decision, but I’m prepared to make the best of your decision as you possibly can.” Rob made the decision. Rob made the wrong decision. He actually later told me, “Hey, listen, I made the wrong call. You were right. I was wrong.” That was very big of him. But at the end of the day, you need a CEO to make a decision because sometimes just making a decision is actually better than no decision at all.

Andrew: Okay, and so the reason that he didn’t want to sell was he said, “Why bother with this petty sale to Matt who’s going really aggressive. Let’s just take it. We’ll use the domain for something. We’ll use the traffic or something.”

Liam: I’ll give you a perfect example of what’s currently happening right now with Time Doctor. Time Doctor is a critical tool towards remote work. We have 20X star leads in the last week. We’re now trying to figure out who to give the technology to that has the most need for it, because we don’t have enough capacity to be able to hand out seats to everyone that can get it. So we know we’re going to make a ton of money off of what’s currently happening right now, and we’re just trying to figure out who needs it the most? How can we get basically the software into their hands?

Andrew: You mean you want to spend money to make the software free for the right organizations.

Liam: Yeah. So, if you’re an NGO right now, if you’re doing anything connected to the virus, we’re going to get you to use the software. You can use the software. You can use it for free right now. Just message me, we’ll figure it out. We’re also having other companies that are coming to us saying, “We need to deploy, and we’ll come back and say, “We can’t give you those many seats. We don’t have the capacity right now because of our . . . ”

Andrew: Because what’s limiting it?

Liam: Because there’s a refactoring issue. So like, when you go . . .

Andrew: What’s refactoring?

Liam: So when you go 20X, increase in your capacity of any software, we’re going to have to take months to retool our technology to be able to basically absorb all of those extra seats. So we’re turning people away at this point. I never thought we would have this problem.

Andrew: And the reason that’s happening is because you didn’t redo the site before.

Liam: We’ve 20X leads . . .

Andrew: Oh, and you’re 20X leads . . .

Liam: 20Xed. 20Xed to leads in the last couple of days.

Andrew: And that’s the thing that’s amazing to me about Eric from Zoom, that Zoom is still staying up considering all the weight that’s put on its shoulders right now. You and I are doing this on Zoom and it’s holding up. My kids’ school is now meeting on Zoom, because it’s holding up.

Liam: Yep. So that’s another difference between a venture-backed company publicly traded and then publicly traded company versus a bootstrapped company where you say to yourselves, “Well, we don’t have to think about 20Xing in the next month or two because that would not be the right dollar [inaudible 00:38:52]. What we need to do now is make sure that we can double to triple every year because that’s the most cost-effective way to be able to do it.” Then all of a sudden, you’re dropped with governments of the world wanting to use your technology and us saying, “We can’t do it for you right now.”

Andrew: And that’s what’s happening with Time Doctor?

Liam: That’s what’s happening with Time Doctor.

Andrew: Are you worried that somebody’s going to listen this to this and say, “Oh, Time Doctor can’t handle it. I can maybe take 20th of their leads and start a business and copy this model.”

Liam: Go for it. We’ll send them to you. So, for us, it’s just an issue of, “For right now, let’s try to help out as many people as we possibly can. Let’s get the technology in as many people’s hands as possible.” I’ve been very concerned about developing countries, countries that don’t have social nets, people that are out of work right now that they’re not going to get their government subsidy check that’s coming in over the next couple of months. Those are the people that I am very concerned about. So, yeah, that’s what I’m thinking about right now and trying to figure out how we can do that. I’m telling you, we’re working our butts off.

Andrew: I imagine.

Liam: I’m working 14-hour days every day and everyone else in the company is doing that as well to be able to make sure that we’re staying up and that we’re staying solid for our existing customer base and then for the people that want it, but there are definitely some customers that we have to turn away at this point.

Andrew: So then, what are we doing telling people to go see runningremote.com? Why are you bothering with this? You got a whole company running, you got a baby coming, you got stockpiling to do, you got rum and coke to drink.

Liam: We’re trying to dull the curve. What do say it? What’s that thing? We’re trying to get less people to get infected with coronavirus. That’s what we’re really trying to focus on.

Andrew: Like, you’re intentionally . . . You’re doing do-gooder work right now? You’re not going to save the money that you lost in the conference, right? Your donations are all going to the Red Cross.

Liam: We just had a client that’s now going to . . . They came to us and they said, “Well, we want to give you some money for Remote Aid.” We said, “No, we just want to give it to people for free.” If you want to go, you don’t have to pay anything. If you can give a couple bucks to the Red Cross, that would be great. I think that they’re probably the people that are going to need it in the next three months. Time Doctor is doing great right now that we’re thinking to ourselves, “What can we do to dull the curve? ”

Andrew: In addition to your own work, you’re taking on the agita of the world, and you got the baby, and you got your family.

Liam: Yeah.

Andrew: Why? What is it about you that makes you want to go do this?

Liam: I want to make sure that the hospital is still working in July.

Andrew: That’s it. You know what my first question to you was going to be, are you profiting off of this? Are you only doing this interview and a set of interviews today because what you’re trying to do is capitalize on this crisis? And I was going to say it but knew that that’s not what you were doing. I was going to let you have room to bring the elephant out of the room.

And then I said, “There’s something going on here.” I can’t even ask that question because it’s like, sad to even ask that question. I’m going to ask the question that’s real, which is, what the hell? Why do you have to take on this world? Like, what are you trying to do now? Take care of customers, take care of family, take care of your upcoming baby. Why? Why do you need more?

Liam: I think if we’re not stepping up, and trying to help solve this problem, we’re all screwed. I think this is something . . . What’s that famous quote? When good men do nothing evil persists. I’m sure you’ll probably be able to pull it up.

Andrew: All that we need for evil to something . . . Yeah, I’m going to look it up. Yeah.

Liam: That’s where we’re at right now. I think we’ve got a situation that is completely unprecedented in the last century. This is a Spanish Flu type of event. And we all need to be able to figure out what we can personally do to be able to mitigate that. And for me, I want to be able to have a, completely selfishly, I want to have a happy baby girl. Her name is Stella. Marielle has already chosen that name. I want to have a happy baby girl in July and I want to be able to make sure that I can walk outside my door in the summer. I don’t care about any of this money. Like when you compare those two things, I was doing well before. I’m going to do well regardless of whether or not this this happens or doesn’t happen. Freedom of movement is priceless to me, and that’s what I’m trying to help stop.

Andrew: Yeah. Man, we did have it. We knew we were lucky to have it to be able to go out and just see people from all over the world. I think Martin was from Taiwan. There’s another guy who’s from Indonesia. His difficulty was he had a passport from Indonesia and he couldn’t travel but he was still in Taiwan is where he’s living and he and I’ve been chatting. And so you want to bring that back in the world.

Liam: My heart goes out to all the digital nomads. I love digital nomads. It’s definitely like they’ve got a real . . . I consider myself a digital nomad. And I’m going to call it right now, digital nomadism is canceled for 2020. It’s cancelled.

Andrew: Yeah, and right now I can see why you’re so bothered. When you’re doing all this, you’re staying up right now. It’s almost 11 o’clock at night, after a day of working. And then there’s somebody who says, “I think I can find a good deal going to this other place and then from there, go get another deal and I’m going to continue.” I could see how that selfishness is really painful to watch. And it’s not necessary if they understand what’s going on. If they could just wait a little bit, the deals don’t go away.

Liam: I don’t know if you saw South Florida yesterday?

Andrew: Yeah.

Liam: Everyone out in South Florida. I mean, it’s 10,000 cases in South Florida, for sure. In a month, that’ll be 100,000. In another month, that will be a million. And the month after that will be 10 million. 3.4% of people that get this die from it. You run the math . . .

Andrew: It also empowers governments to say, “If people won’t listen, we have to force them to listen,” which I get. But we’re here in San Francisco right now. They trusted me that I was coming into the office because the groceries was delivered. I stopped at a red light next to a cop. He didn’t look over and go, “What the hell are you doing out? Prove to me that you’re doing something worthy.” It was an understanding. And as you look in the street, you can see that people are staying home. At some point, it goes away when people are abusing it. Wowee. It’s runningremote.com. When is this event going on?

Liam: April 20th. We would have loved to have done it earlier, but we just literally couldn’t get it together and put on an event that we were really proud of on shorter notice.

Andrew: It’s going to be what, on Zoom or something?

Liam: No, it’s actually going to be on a platform, a brand new platform. Andreas Klinger, who was also at Running Remote and . . .

Andrew: He killed at that day. He absolutely killed it.

Liam: He was fantastic.

Andrew: He says he works for AngelList technically, but he’s the Product Hunt guy, which I feel gives him a little bit more cool credibility and AngelList gives him more credibility, credibility. Yeah, so what did he build?

Liam: So, at Running Remote, he was really interested in trying to figure out how he could build an angel fund for remote first companies. And so he was talking to people in Bali about that and raised a couple hundred thousand dollars in a couple hours, literally just chatting with people at Running Remote. And now one of the companies that he invested in is hopin.to, H-O-P-I-N.to. It’s a massive platform for . . .

Andrew: H-O-P-I-N. What is it?

Liam: H-O-P-I-N.to.

Andrew: .to. Hop in to.

Liam: Yeah. So it’s a live events platform. And so that’s what we’re going to be running it off of. They were very happy to give us the platform for free if we did not charge for it, we were just doing it all based off of donations. And obviously not giving it away for free, because if we gave it away for free, we’d break their servers. We’re all trying to pitch in to be able to make sure that it works.

Andrew: Oh, so that’s why you’re doing it on donation only.

Liam: Correct. So we don’t want 150,000 people there because we literally can’t, Hopin cannot afford it. So we’re creating that small barrier to entry. But again, if you need any other form of education, I mean, our YouTube channel youtube.com/runningremote, we’ve got hundreds of videos about remote work. There all these expert talks, they’re all up for free. You can check those out. If you have any questions just come to Time Doctor, scream my name into the support channel and I’ll be able to help you out.

Andrew: That’s friggin nuts.

Liam: Whatever you need.

Andrew: All right, do you want to go into a couple of tips for how to work remotely, and then we’ll let you go or is it too late?

Liam: Yeah, sure.

Andrew: Be open with me.

Liam: This is fine. I mean, for me, that’s really what I’m trying to figure out with people is, I think a lot of people are scared right now. A lot of people have probably been put into a work from home situation in the last week and a lot of them are not very technically savvy. Your audience obviously is very technically savvy but even then, I think a lot of people don’t really understand the reality of remote work.

Andrew: Like what? You know what, let me take a moment. I have an obligation to the sponsor, because I committed. I want to make sure that I tell people, I’m not going to be heavy handed here, I’m just going to tell you guys, if you’re listening to me, and you need a website hosted go to hostgator.com/mixergy, they’ll give you the lowest price possible. It’s a good place to experiment. And if you’re learning, if you’re building, you’re going to do well with them. And if you hate your hosting company, switch them too, hostgator.com/mixergy.

You know, I’d never thought that it would be an issue, the tech part of it. I think you’re right that I’m blind to it. And then I saw, who’s that professor? Professor Galloway from NYU. He said, “I’ve been doing remote teaching for a while. You need when you’re bringing somebody into Zoom to coach them.” And I thought, “Really?” And then my kids’ school did it. They didn’t know that they could mute every fricking person on entry so everybody’s mic was going nuts and they don’t even know, in Zoom, for example, where you can go and chat to . . . They couldn’t see my chats in Zoom, where I said, “Can you mute everybody?” And they were trying really hard and failing at the most basic thing, which is connect via video, which we do all the time. So you’re right, I take it for granted. What else do we need to know?

Liam: So, at Running Remote, we actually have a consultants’ track. So we’re bringing in a whole bunch of remote work consultants. And one of the things that they’ve been able to teach me which has been amazing, is exactly that. If you’re bringing a large company remote, let’s say more than 1000 people, there’s one particular person that’s coming to mind, Sasha, who is going to be doing a fantastic talk at Running Remote. And she talks about how she has to give one hour trainings on Zoom for 30 people at a time, bringing them physically into a room and teaching them how to use Zoom for an hour and then bringing in the next group of people and the next group of people. And those are the things that I think tech people, you know, kind of take for granted. We can push these buttons, we can make these things work, but regular people, you know what people would kind of call now work from home. The media is really calling it work from home, which is frustrating the living crap out of me, to be honest with you. It’s remote.

Andrew: Why?

Liam: I don’t like that terminology. We’re remote first companies. We’re building remote teams. That was kind of what we all agreed on, obviously, but the media is using work from home and telework. That’s the terminology that I’m using.

Andrew: The problem I have with work from home is, the temporary solution today is work from home. At some point, we’re coming out of our homes and we should know that we don’t have to be holed up in the same place where we sleep, that there are . . . I’ve been excited about working remotely because I could go to the beach. I literally don’t do it all the time. But I did it the other day. It’s great here in San Francisco. If you sit in the right spot, this internet is super fast. I do go to museums and work from there. I do go to the Virgin hotel here in San Francisco. They’ve got this beautiful roof. Everyone is out exploring San Francisco, if they’re staying at the hotel. You buy yourself a cup of coffee, they bring you a carafe instead. And you have the full roof to yourself to enjoy working remotely and experiencing the city that you don’t get when you’re inside. So I get why they’re doing it. But I think what you’re saying is, it’s a temporary focus on the location when what we should be doing is saying, it’s not about the location. Am I right?

Liam: It’s about freeing people. So the other thing that’s very cool is Buffer put out a report, remote work report last year, and they found that 96% of people that have a remote work engagement, do not want to go back to an office model. So I think the other thing that’s going to be very interesting in the next couple months, is all these people that are going to work remotely, there’s going to be a huge economic meltdown, everyone’s going to go to zero. And companies are going to try to figure out, how can they cut costs. And they’ll say to themselves, “Man, it’s been two months of us working remotely. It looks like we’re actually doing pretty well. It looks like everyone’s pretty productive. Why are we keeping this office lease that’s 20% of our P&L? Maybe we should just cut that. That’s probably a good idea, right?” And I think that we’re going to see a complete . . . We were projecting, a lot of the studies were projecting, 50% of U.S. workers working remotely by 2028. We’re already there now today. It’s about 50%.

Andrew: What percentage?

Liam: 50% of the U.S. workforce was projected to be working remotely by 2028. And we’re pretty much there right now. So that’s huge. And people that work remote, stay remote. They don’t want to go back to an office model. So I think we’re going to see a huge, huge movement over to a remote work model after this is over because people are going to get that taste and realize, not only from an individual perspective, “Hey, I like working remotely.” But more importantly, large corporate are going to realize we’re getting the same amount of productivity out of our employees, our employees are happier. And it doesn’t cost us anywhere near as much, right? Just having an office lease, and having equipment, and computers, and all that kind of stuff that adds on, average, 30% of the cost of an employee. You can wipe that clean when you’re working remotely.

Andrew: Okay, so we’re seeing this as a long-term thing. What advice do you have for somebody who’s taking their company remote, or for a person who’s being taken remote?

Liam: So you really got to break this down into like, what to do today, what to do next week, and what to do next month. Today, deploy your tools. So you’re going to use something like Twist or Slack. Those are like instant messaging tools. And again, I know your audience is a lot more advanced than this. But it’s basically just a way to be able to communicate with a whole bunch of people through instant messages and you can bring in a whole bunch of integrations. Then there’s Skype or Zoom, Skype’s free, Zoom is paid. I like Zoom more than Skype but it really depends on where your budget is. Deploy those tools, get them up and running.

Number two, like basically the next week, everyone’s going to be working remotely, you have to really focus on communication. There’s no, “Can I have a minute,” inside of remote work.

Andrew: What does that mean, can I have a minute?

Liam: Can I have a minute?

Andrew: Yeah, what does that mean? Or someone will just come over and talk to you.

Liam: Can I have a minute? I just need to talk to you about something. Do you have a minute? Can you come over here? I need to talk about something. That happens inside of offices.

Andrew: Why can’t that happen online? Why can’t somebody just text you, and just say, “Hey, got a second? Can I ask you something?”

Liam: They can, but then you respond on your timetable, not on theirs. So, when it’s a human to human interaction, if I’m interacting with you, and I’m saying, “Andrew, can I have a minute?” You have to actually look at me right now, be pulled out of your [inaudible 00:55:29]

Andrew: There is no immediate response.

Liam: There is no immediate response. It’s very asynchronous. So remote work is very asynchronous at its core. I have like a hierarchy of communication. In person beats video, video beats audio, audio beats instant messaging, and instant messaging beats email. As you move up the chain, you become more synchronous in your communication. As you go down the chain, you become more asynchronous. Asynchronous is better for like, deep work. My friend Cal Newport wrote a fantastic book called “Deep Work.” I highly suggest you go check it out.

And as you move up the chain, you become more synchronous, meaning your information flow is a lot faster. However, you’re going to get bugged a lot, you’re going to get those, can I have a minutes. Instead of remote work, it’s mostly asynchronous communication. So you have to plan out meetings and communication, you have to be very specific about it. What’s the context? What are we talking about today? What’s the outcome of this meeting? How long is it going to take? Everyone jumps on Zoom and has those calls.

The other part of this is, you need to really figure out right now, where sacred knowledge exists inside of your organization. So what I mean by that is, what does one person inside of the company know that’s absolutely critical to the business, that if they were to get sick, and not be working for a couple weeks, the business would fail? So does Andrew know how to do payroll and no one else knows how to do payroll, but Andrew? Andrew gets sick. Now no one gets paid. So you need to assess, you need to audit all of that sacred knowledge. It’s, in essence, process documentation, right? And that’s something that I’ve been talking about for years. I’ve been on here a couple times.

Andrew: What do you guys do?

Liam: So we use a combination of tools. If you want to do the free version, Google Docs, you literally have these shareable documents. You put all of your process documents on there, you break them down into like a file folder system, and then you just give it to everybody.

Andrew: It is a good first start, because everyone understands it, it’s easy to edit and it’s . . .

Liam: It’s very accessible.

Andrew: I thought it was searchable. Let me tell people this, this is such a basic thing but it’s really important. When you share a folder with someone, you think what you’re doing is giving them the ability to search within the folder anytime you put something in there. People don’t realize, with Google Docs, if you share a folder with someone, they have to drag that folder into their Google Drive for it to be searchable and accessible in other ways and so they don’t get it. Unless there’s something weird with our company, you have to drag the shared folder in.

Liam: That’s interesting.

Andrew: Yeah. I sometimes wonder, “How are people not getting this stuff?” It’s not there.

Liam: So the thing that I like more than Google Docs is, I’ll give you two options. Trainual, if you want to go for a paid product.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s great.

Liam: So Trainual is like a training manual. They’ve been in Running Remote a couple times. They really are a fantastic product. We use them, and great for just like putting all your process documentation in one place, idiot proof, and you can train all your people. And the second one that I would suggest that people check out is, about.gitlab.com/handbook. And for a remote work nerd, this is the best. They have the largest remote first process document repository on planet Earth. So GitLab has open-sourced everything that they do inside of GitLab. So if you want to know how they do a sales demo, it’s in there. If you want to know . . . Actually, you know what’s really funny is they were a sponsor this year for Running Remote before we got canceled. I’m still laughing on that one. And all of their debate about whether or not to do sponsorship with Running Remote is all open-source. So you can literally look up all the email exchanges.

Andrew: Where do I find that? It’s on a handbook. Where do I find that?

Liam: I can send you the file, they literally have everything open-source inside of their organization. So you can look . . .

Andrew: I’m going to just do a search.

Liam: Yeah, if you can find the search query Running Remote GitLab, they’ll actually have this interaction. So I really love that with their business. I mean, Dimitriy, who’s the CTO and cofounder of GitLab, he’s spoken at Running Remote before. Good friend of mine, really good remote work advocate. That’s a place to start because every single process document that you could possibly think of is already on that handbook, and you can steal it. Dimitri says, “Steal it, take it, fork it, and then and you can actually have your own process document in place.” So between those three solutions Google Docs, Trainual, and GitLab, you can do it.

Andrew: Whoa, hang on a second. I found it. This is the cofounder. Oh, wait, no. Igor . . . Oh, this is your Igor?

Liam: This is Igor. Yeah.

Andrew: I love Igor. I got to actually send him like a middle finger via WhatsApp that we were using. I felt so comfortable talking to him. He was like my buddy at Running Remote. Here’s the headline posted in GitLab by Darren Murphy. “Consider Running Remote conference 2020. Igor, the cofounder, has reached out to inquire as to whether Sid would like to be announced as an early speaker for 2020 conference. I want to investigate whether this is a suitable opportunity for GitLab.” Wow, they put the whole thing and then they’re back and forth.

The whole conversation is in here?

Liam: Isn’t that cool?

Andrew: They did remove some things.

Liam: Okay.

Andrew: But wow, I like that this stuff is so open here.

Liam: Yeah. I think they probably put down how much they paid us. I can’t remember what it was.

Andrew: It might have been removed at this point, but they do have a lot in here that’s just . . . Sorry.

Liam: Yeah, it could have been. I haven’t looked at it in a couple weeks.

Andrew: Oh, got it, closing this issue, moving into corporate marketing events and then they continue the discussion there. I see for the 2020. Wowee. Okay. All right. I like that this is all in there. Oh, yeah. Look at this. I got to stop because people can’t see it. I had no idea. You know, I heard that they were very open about this stuff, but I had no idea what it looked like because for some reason I never thought to go in there. Oh, yeah, they’re. They even showed what their negotiated rate is. I’m going to read it out loud. Can I read it out loud?

Liam: Yeah, sure, go ahead.

Andrew: Yeah, look at this. GitLab is a gold sponsor, negotiated rate 27,000 USD of Running Remote 2020. You’ve lost that money now.

Liam: So I think every single sponsor has decided to support us and is going to allow us to . . . They’re basically going to move it over to the next event.

Andrew: The following event.

Liam: We lost 6.8% of our ticket sales. So we had 6.8% of people that refunded and no sponsors so far.

Andrew: And the rest, they just said, “Let’s move it to next year.”

Liam: Which is really great. I want to do a video specifically about like, how to cancel an event properly, because I think a lot of people are not doing it well. They’re just kind of putting out an email saying, “Hey, we’re canceled. If you want your ticket, here’s a super complicated way to be able to get your refund.” We were just like, “Email us. If you want a refund, you’ve got it right now. Sponsors, email us if you want to get a refund, you’ve got it. Here’s what we’re doing instead, we’re trying to run this free event. If you want to help support us, we’d really appreciate it. We’ll move it forward to whenever we have our next event, which we’re hopeful is September. Who knows whenever that’s going to happen?”

Andrew: September this year?

Liam: Yeah, I mean, who knows, right?

Andrew: Who knows.

Liam: So we’re just pushing it into a further date. But that’s the way to do it, just be completely open. Also, too, on our YouTube channel, I put down our entire P&L every single year. So every time we finish a P&L, I do a video and I’m like, “Here’s how much were our costs. Here’s how much we made. Here’s the $5,000 that we made on year one. Here’s the $20,000 that we made on year two.”

Andrew: All right, the website is runningremote.com. The sad part is, as I go through my Twitter, I see a lot of people who have canceled conferences, canceled team meetings and all that because they’re not allowed to leave the house. And a lot of these places that people booked with they’re saying, “Sorry, you can’t have your refund.” The one I’m not going to ask you about in this situation, but I’ll tell you that, who was it? It was Brian Harris, who said, “We’re not allowed to go to conferences, or we’re not allowed to leave, and we booked this place for our team meeting in San Diego, here’s the location and we can’t get out of this thing in any way.” So everyone’s being nice. You’re being great. And still, the bigger companies that we work with outside of our ecosystem are really, really tough. All right, I see that . . .

Liam: I can understand people that are just running events, and I can understand where their head is that where they’re just wiped out. Thankfully, we had the big brother, which is Time Doctor that can bankroll this type of event, obviously. And that’s something that I think, you know, is disingenuous for me to say, we lost a couple hundred thousand at the event, but you know, we’re okay, we’re going to be fine. But I know for a lot of other events, you know, they’ve gone to zero. So they’re probably never going to come back.

Andrew: Yeah. All right. Running Remote, a great fricking group of people. I’m just looking at the site. Like Nick Francis. I got ready to go for a run. He and I just bumped into each other. We sat down and we had, I think one of us was having breakfast but not the other one. And we just chatted about his depression and I can feel comfortable talking about it because he’s talks about it even on stage. And it’s that level of people that you bring. Nick Francis is the cofounder of Help Scout. Great help support email.

All right, I’m going to get out of here and go home. I got all my groceries here. I wonder if they’re still even good after being in this hot office for the last five hours with me. I don’t care though. I care that this interview and this conversation and the work that I’m doing here at Mixergy is good.

I do, at this point, think, this is not because of what’s going on in the world, and not to be too dramatic, but I often think about what would happen if I die? What would my kids get? What would happen to my kids? And what I really would like for them to have is, wow, this is not the way I wanted to say this, but I really would like for them to be able to go back into the archives of what I’ve said. Maybe at some point, there’ll be some, just like I could find a photo in my multiyear iPhone photo library just by asking Siri for one thing and I could find that moment. I would love it if at some point in the future if I’m gone for them to be able to go in and find my thought process within the transcripts of my interviews and say, “That is who our dad was.” And today, through this interview, they’ll get to know this is who I am. And I’m really proud of the work that I’m doing here. Thanks for being on here many, many, many, many times. And congratulations on being a good person in a world that’s full of people who are going out to party on the beach.

Liam: Yeah. Good luck, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks, Liam.

Liam: I hope that we’re really good in September and everything’s fine. And if it isn’t, we’ll get through that too.

Andrew: That’s true. That’s true. Thanks, runningremote.com, everyone. Bye.

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