Confessions of a reformed anti-remoter w/ yoel Israel CE0 @ wadi digital
Hear the journey of a CEO who hated remote prior to CoVid but now thanks to his experience leading remotely is a passionate advocate of the future of work.
Here's the recap...In this episode, I spoke with Yoel Israel about his journey from hating remote work to being one of Israel's leading advocates for the future of work. I'm excited to share his journey on his transformation. We started off discussing why he was so against remote work. Both as a leader and as an extrovert. We spoke about what the experience was like going remote overnight and what he and his team did to shift to remote work. Yoel shared what he's done to loosen his need for total control and shift to a mindset of trust. We also spoke about all the amazing benefits his team has experienced since going all-in on remote. And btw he's 2x his team since.
Why hate something that's great?
Yoel freely admitted he was an extroverted control freak. So he initially believed remote was bad for work for two reasons. First, for extroverts like him (and me) how do people build relationships? Without a shared physical space where are the watercooler moments or the bump-ins in the hallway? Those short bursts of conversation were core to my happiness & engagement in the office? Without the space, people would simply drift away into isolation. Killing trust and team camaraderie. Thus negatively impacting the business.
The second issue was the reliance on perceived productivity. Yoel couldn't see his employees doing the below all day.
So how could he trust they were actually doing work? This is a point I've heard countless times. Usually returning a friendly retort of that's just ridiculous. Productivity is based on output or deliverables. I'd state that every job relies on some cloud-based system. Simply check that system at the end of the day for check-ins, new designs, solved support tickets, or similar and you know they've done the work that day. Without that ability for oversight, big brother feels like they've lost control. Without control comes chaos and then failure. The pandemic has thankfully taught us this simply isn't true.
Employee feedback is key
Yoel has spent great effort building a culture of feedback. Creating a culture where feedback is welcome and actioned against. Knowing at the end of the day his team owns their role and deliverables. So he feels more comfortable relying on their input and making changes to make folks happy. The most obvious example was his team's feedback of their desire to work remotely full-time forever. Whether because farther from the office, it's easier to manage kids and a household or other reasons. His team wanted the flexibility to not have to come into an office. Thus requiring Yoel to lose some perceived control or perceived culture that is created in the office (which really isn't). He let go and found that his team was happier and more engaged remotely than they were in the office.
Another change was dropping the second daily check-in. Many companies that went remote during the pandemic added these 2x daily check-ins to try and recreate those feelings of control. So managers always knew what was going on. His team felt the end of day one wasn't adding value to productivity, engagement, or anything else. So again, Yoel has to release some of that control and build trust that the work had actually gotten completed that day. Before perhaps confirming the following morning indeed it was done.
Scott - [02:08 - 02:13]
Liftoff Yoel, how you doing today? Thank you for joining us.
Yoel - [02:13 - 02:16]
Excellent, man. Yeah, I'm really excited for this conversation.
Scott - [02:16 - 02:20]
Wishing you a very healthy and happy birthday. How was the birthday yesterday?
Yoel - [02:20 - 02:26]
It was perfect. Okay. It couldn't have been any, they want a more family pecan pie and beer.
Scott - [02:26 - 02:30]
So That's a great comment. It sounds like a great combination.
Yoel - [02:30 - 02:40]
I love it. It wasn't that at the same time putting about alcoholic be can't by, I dunno, like Opportunity for growth for next year.
Scott - [02:40 - 03:44]
there you go. Yeah. Well, when we first connected, so very interested in this call today when we connected a few weeks back, I think the idea of the conversation was going to be around, engagement and fun that your team does now that you're remote. And as we had the conversation and we're kind of no nailing through ideas, you kind of admitted that three pandemic you were and maybe part of the pen and you were admittedly very passionately against remote work and a anti remote or mobile call it. And through the experience of the pandemic and now post you've kind of reformed yourself and you've gotten on the away from the dark side, to be very for and seeing the value of remote. So I thought, no, the biggest value from the conversation that we could have is I think really to walking through that entire experience, you know, starting from pre pandemic when, and digging into the reasons why and things that you had been feeling about remote work, when the pandemic hit kind of process, what had changed, what you had done and now post pandemic, and really kind of dive into that. If that's a that's cool for you.
Yoel - [03:44 - 05:21]
Yeah, sure. yeah, I was radically, I was honestly radical, but I, you know, I was very anti remote work. I was very, anti remote as much as I was very much pro everyone else should be in person. and I've, you know, this is one of those things that I was very strongly about. I felt strongly about and a big part of it. I mean, this is hindsight, so I wish I could know what exactly I was thinking and feeling then, but a big part of it is my personality. I'm very extroverted. I love people and being able to have the people around me, was important to me. I felt as someone who's an extrovert and needed that socializing or need that, I assumed that's something people need because you assume what's important a party for you for other people. I didn't, I didn't even like have that thought process that I was like, yeah, of course I'm more productive Rob, more, this and that. I was, I was telling you these things, some of them were true. Some of them were half-truths about it, but what I've now, I mean, now looking back, I mean, I, people, my team that there's things are so happy there first, they also were thinking of getting, going in person in between the peaks when we thought coronavirus was behind us, the beginning of the, the vaccine drive. we were talking about maybe getting an office again, including team members of mine that are like 45 minutes south of from where I am, you know? And then, those people also decided, you know what, let's keep it remote. They like being with their family, their spouses, their kids, they like to be able to do, like, I just did.
Yoel - [05:21 - 06:41]
I jumped for seven minutes to take a quick shower, right before this call, you know, that you get to do these things and you can be just as productive and you don't have to feel that your work is taking away from your personal life, which has been a big, which is a big thing that I've learned is that when you force someone to go to the office, you feel as long as on the office, I'm not with my kids. I'm not with my spouse. Yeah. I'm not with anything. So therefore work has become an obstacle to the most important relationships in your life. Yeah. And it's at some of those important things that you need to get done, including Arabs. So I remember when I used to work at Xerox in Philly, you know, I'd made sure to get my eye doctor's appointment during work hours. You know what I mean? This and that. You know what I mean? Like while I'm at the office, jump out and do all that. So when I'm home, I can spend it with my family or my friends or my neighbors, my kids. Yeah. And now it's not like that now it's, you can do when and what, and sometimes in the evenings you have to work and whatnot, and then you can trade off, taking off a long lunch with your spouse and make up the work later and all of that. And at the end of the day, it's just, once you introduce high level of trust, which was forced on me again, this wasn't a decision that was coronavirus and you find that everyone's far more productive and everyone's far more reliable.
Scott - [06:41 - 06:53]
Yeah. So there's a few things in there. we're going to unpack, before it, usually the way we start at night, I apologize for not starting off with this is maybe introduce yourself a little bit and tell us, tell everybody a little bit about Wadi digital and then we'll dive in.
Yoel - [06:53 - 07:22]
Yeah, sure. So they'll know my name is Yoel Israel. I'm the founder of Wadi Digital I do digital marketing for technology companies, particularly lead generation and helping leads, become opportunities. We have three main departments for now soon to be a fourth. we're doing paid acquisition, paid media PPC lead generation. The second is SEO. And then the third is influencer marketing. and we dominate and all three of them are where, where the agency people go to when they're sick of their current agencies not working.
Scott - [07:22 - 08:45]
Excellent. so we'll start off with the first point that you started of you being an extrovert. I also very much of an extrovert. when I was in the office, once, twice a day, went to Starbucks with a colleague or a friend once every hour, maybe it's add, maybe it was just that extrovert in me had to get up. I had to go to somebody's desk and I'll have a schmooze for five, 10 minutes was very much the water cooler person. And I definitely felt, I certainly admitted, when I went remote, I missed those opportunities. because without a physical space, if was no Starbucks and there was no water cooler and there was no, desks to go up to. And for me, it was something that the beginning nothing really happened. And I wasn't able to recreate those, those moments. But after time I said, okay, well I need these moments very much as an extrovert. so, and my last couple of years at envision, I recreated that there was moments by every day, opening, slack, the list of people who are online, kind of closing my eyes, scrolling down, clicking on one person. And we DM you and say, Hey, no, you all, hi, I'm Scott. I'm in Israel. Do you want to jump on a five minute zoom call? Just for that opportunity to see a face, hear a voice, meet somebody new on the team that I wouldn't have, have met and really kind of that serendipitous random person. And then that kind of random time and people that I did it with absolutely loved it. No. After one or two times they would start messaging me. Hey know, when are we doing these live would call them five minute FaceTimes people loved it.
Scott - [08:45 - 10:10]
I love it. And this was the biggest thing that I've heard through the pandemic for companies of this is why the main reason why people want to go back to an office or have some type of offices for that comradery, that team building that team engagement, where I think it's the, the problem was. And I would love for we're going to dive into this, it's recreating those experiences. So in the last couple of months, I launched a I'll call it a side project called spontaneously, which works to recreate those little serendipitous moments. I'm very much focused on you, the individual. So when it's a good time for you, you literally click one button. You kind of raise your hand saying, yes, I want to meet somebody for, for an eight minute coffee. We automatically pair you with someone else that who at that time also puts their hand up. So there's no pre coordination. That's not at a scheduled time. It's the opportunities to do it every day. Just like you went for a coffee break every single day, and you meet somebody new for, to kind of a short conversation. Just again, it's not a 30 minute blocks. And then a 15 minute block is just as long as you would have a conversation with someone in the hallway or someone in the coffee machine really designed. So I think that was continues to be a big problem, across many things of companies not understanding, Hey, this is the future of work. So how do we redesign or recreate all these types of things, whether it's engagement, whether it's onboarding, whether it's mentoring for a new environment. So I definitely feel that that pain that, that you did, and decided, okay, there has to be a way to recreate that for, for a remote in a virtual world.
Yoel - [10:10 - 11:03]
Yeah. I don't think it could be recreated because I think when you're doing it in a way, like nothing can be recreated, like walking by someone at the water cooler or somethings you hate, like being stuck in an elevator with someone you don't want to talk to, or in the men's room, washing your hands at the same time showing, you know, but, but the ones that you, but most of them that we do enjoy those encounters, they happen by chance. Yep. And as opposed to saying, okay, now I am ready to speak for five minutes. Like, you know what, maybe I just need to like a break for five minutes. And instead I don't want to talk to someone. Maybe not like, you know what I mean? Or I dunno, who's going to be paired with, you know, I, there's a little challenge there. I feel like w we're trying to have our cake and eat it too, and we're getting a bite of the cake, but I, nothing was like the spot nuity of, of bumping into someone, as opposed to having to choose to carve out that time or the next, you know, eight minutes.
Scott - [11:03 - 12:24]
So I'm going to speak to a stranger and then the anxiety involved, The stranger, it it's, I mean, it's, again, there's nothing like in real life experience, but again, it's trying to mirror that experience as much as you can in the digital side. So I sitting in an office at 10 o'clock in the morning, decide, Hey, I need a cup of coffee. Now I need a break. I need whatever. So I decide to 10 o'clock to get up from my desk and go towards the coffee machine. And I happened to bump into some random person at the coffee machine or in the hallway. So I've selected myself at this time. Yes. I'm getting up. I'm physically getting up and taking an action. And now walking to the coffee machine where I now bump into somebody who I didn't know, or maybe I sent me, but they did know, and making a cup of coffee sitting around, how's it going? How are you nice to meet you? How was the game? How was game of Thrones? Short? No, kind of a no conversation. And then going back to the day, I think it's really that, I mean, there's other tools that are out there that are trying to bridge this gap and really be focused in the specific area, but it's once every other week or once a week, and this pre coordinated and it's at a time that the company tells you, and that's the number, how it worked when you were in office. It's like you decided when to go to get up, you decided when you need a break from work, you decided, Hey, I need a cup of coffee now. So I think that that's the idea of no, that the project that I had launched was really you, the individual decide when's a good time for you and we'll send you a message.
Scott - [12:24 - 13:51]
Hey, is now good. If it's not, Hey, no problem. We'll try again later. and if it is, then again, it's not, you know, opening, zoom and calendar, calendar invites and links and knocking on doors. It's just literally one, one click and everything happens. So the effort just like when you bumped into someone in the water cooler, didn't take effort to start a conversation. It didn't start. Okay. Is now a good time. Hey, do you want to have a conversation now? Do you not? It's very much of, Hey, you're here. I'm here. How's it going? Quick conversation. Move on. yeah, so kind of moving, pushing the conversation. I would love to maybe dig in a little bit more of maybe a little dive in the book, go back there. your point of, I think this is the biggest thing that's coming out of the last two years. It's I think for the last hundred and 50 years, when we moved from an agricultural based economy and work to factories and then offices, we went from living to work, sorry, from work to live, to working, to live, to living, to work. And I think what this pandemic has done is now flipping that script back to the original way where it really should be where you're working to live. Then my life is not all about work because as you said, work was my day. Now, if I woke up early, I had like a little bookmark in the morning, I'd get up. And I do a run. I do an exercise at like six o'clock in the morning. I had to get out there to train I'd work, and then I'd come home and I have, you know, an hour or two hours of family, time, time with the kids, eat dinner, go to bed, rinse and repeat.
Scott - [13:51 - 15:03]
And now what we really learned through his experience is that the two worlds can kind of coexist and they work well with each other that your life and your work are all managed to happen. At the same time. You don't have to block out time. It doesn't have to be okay, well, this is work time. This is lifetime. And I think that's the biggest thing, whether we're talking about location. So for remote work or we're talking about in the us of all the issues with people who are not coming back to the workforce, you know, people aren't able to get Teslas because there's no, no people working at the docks and no one wanting to drive trucks. And yes, part of it's because of salary. But I think the bigger part is people realize that, Hey, you know, we w drive an Uber three, four hours in the morning and we can spend our afternoon or lunchtime with our spouse doing art, going, surfing, living our life and enjoying the things that we want. And then later in the evening, going back and drawing the Uber again and make as much money or more money. The real crux there is like, Hey, I get to live my life during the day. It's again, getting away from the bookmarked life, surrounded by the, by the work. And I think that's the biggest revolution that that's really coming, is being able to merge those two worlds, back together.
Yoel - [15:03 - 16:29]
Yeah, no, I mean, I definitely feel that way. I don't, I don't think that you can, like, I don't think you can merge them. also what I've learned is one of the big things I've learned as I noted on is that everyone's really different. So like, I might be an extrovert introvert. Like they, oh, there's people that always need to go into work and there was always enjoyed going to work. Right. And then there's, you know, people have newborns and they get to now breastfeed their baby as a, you know, when they're three or four months, they don't have to pump her, put them on, on a formula. You know what I mean? And leave with someone else's name for them to feed when they would like to continue to have that bond. And of course, it's best for the baby to have, you know, the mother's milk. There are a lot of great advantages like that, you know, and where, if you have a baby at home and you're the father you want to be around and you want to help her, your spouse is also working and she needs a break. So I think there's what I've learned is that like, everyone's really different. Yeah. And in general, this is kind of my opinion with a lot of things, not just work. I mean, also like government is that as long as there's no force involved that, which is why I've kind of become very anti and why, you know, forcing people into the office, if it's not necessary. Yeah. then if people make it work for them so they can make their work and business, the life balance work for that, you know, they know I have to have these meetings at these times and I have these deliverables and I'll make it and okay.
Yoel - [16:29 - 18:04]
And I trust you. And if you don't, you're fired, I'd have that high level of trust. People rise the occasion. I think people are more productive and not to mention, of course, just the time saved on the commute, you know? And then, and then, then all those hours in the office itself, how much it gets done because of the small talk because of the extended lunch and then going out in that and blah, blah, blah. So I don't know. I think that, I think everyone's really different. Yeah. And I find that as long as the less rules you have kind of like the less, you try to force someone into a certain system. What you'll get is more productivity, more enjoyment, more collaboration, you know, from, from people you work with and suddenly will become a lot more enjoyable, a hundred percent also, by the way, another side note is that you're talking about this small talk at the water cooler. So to speak the small talk, you guys, before you get on a call. So like, you know, you and I would, or where to get on here. I already get on with a coworker that I speak to all the time that I would see every day, because you're in your home and maybe your kids are around or there's whatever, or pile the dirty laundry. Right. This small talk is no longer bullshit about the weather and the football game. Yeah. The small talk is, is human. Like, like I actually know, oh, I see someone's home. Oh, they don't feel well. Oh, Hey, the next day, Hey, how's that person feeling then the next time at the beginning. And so this totally different. So actually your small talk are actually real conversations.
Yoel - [18:04 - 18:21]
The human conversations, not filling the awkward space and awkward time. You know what I mean? Conversation, you know? Yeah. Because you'd probably heard the weather reference when I went to an office like several times a day, it's like, you know, thing to not get bored of it.
Scott - [18:21 - 19:47]
Yeah. I think that that's spot on. This is something that I've been saying certainly a lot through the last two years, it's no working from home. And these calls through zoom, which everyone know, happens to, to hate, allows you to get to know your colleagues far better and far deeper than you ever knew them in your office. Because again, in the office, you are no, yo yo, yo L the, the marketer, you're a Scott, you're the product guy. And that's all I knew about you. But now when I see you and I see like your family, your kid, your cat, your books behind the wall, like, oh yeah. Peter teal book. Yeah. I read that. Or I'm reading that now. Right? Exactly. Just you, just that environment that's round, you get to know so much more about that person that you never, you would never come up with in the office and really creates and crafts more opportunities to connect with somebody when you see them as human being. Right. They're not, they're not an employee, not a co-worker, they're, they're a person, they're a parent, their spouse, they're a animal lover. They're, a wine connoisseur or they're up, whatever may be. And that's something again that people never got while in the office. And it's something, I think that's one of the beautiful things that came through this, but I want to kind of go back if it's okay. And digging more outside of the idea of you being an introvert and needing those conversations throughout the day. Like what made you feel that being in the office was the right way to work that remote can never replicate or remote was missing. That would not, not allow a company to be successful in a remote and by, Well, it's not about the company being successful just as an employee.
Yoel - [19:47 - 21:18]
That's what I want. I mean, even now some people say I love the remote life. I would love to come in once or twice a week. And it's more about, it's about getting out of the house. It's not even about productivity. It's about like being forced at the house, the end of the day, like you need a reason to do something that's difficult to do. You know what I mean? No one runs for fun, right? So they might say the dopamine is a secondary. It keeps them going, dang fine. But that first step out of the door, you're doing it for exercise, for mental health and physical health or, you know, whatever it is. and I find that's kind of the same way about going in office. They know it's good for them. So they want it worked into the routine, ideally by company policy. Because if it's not, it's on their own, we'll never, we'll never do it. Right. So, that's kind of, that, that's how I, that's kind of how I see the, I feel like, about people wanting to go in and me, it was the same. I just wanted to see people. I wanted to feel people. I wanted to joke around about things now, what I find interesting. And I think this is about me and I'm gonna go assume it's other people. I was very, I was anti remote work. I never did remote work before Corona. And I wonder how many other people that are anti remote work were never, never did. Never participated. Yeah. I was so happy with, I was, I was fine with the status quo. Yep. And you mentioned people don't want to go back now, especially younger people they're like screw this commute, or I think that's the big one for them.
Yoel - [21:18 - 22:06]
Really. Yeah. I was like, what, why, why I would just be productive, screw the screen. And they got used to it and now I got to wake up and get dressed nicer than I needed to. And, you know, and, and all that, you know, roll out of bed whenever you can get, go into. And there's that whole commute, such a pain in the ass with, you know, and being next to people you don't want to be with on a train or on a box or the traffic. God forbid. So, I mean, I like seeing people. That's what it was for me. I, and as a business owner, I felt I hadn't, I was in control. Yeah. So I'm not coming in as an employee. I'm coming as a business owner in 19 people. I mean, before the corner, we were like five, but I've, I mean, I felt like we were, I mean, control, I know what's going on, I'm in forth. if I need something done, I can turn around and ask someone to do it.
Scott - [22:06 - 22:54]
So, so that's, I think that the points are up, like focusing on being a boss versus the employee, but you send to kind of mentioned, this is something that's been said a million times was that feeling could control. What was it specifically in the office that you felt you had control on people? Was it again, I mean, there's, there's research that comes out even last week. There was a research that said in the office, the average, or probably even, maybe not for four hours of work, we're actually get done out of an eight hour day. So the fact that somebody was sitting there doing this for eight hours science, and the research says that four out of those hours were on, spent on YouTube and Facebook and whatever may be not doing work. So like, what was that feeling of control that you had before the pandemic started? That was like, I have this new office. And in theory, if it was remote, I would not have this.
Yoel - [22:54 - 24:23]
Well, I thought people would be more productive in the office. Cause we'd act, I know I would get whatever nine hours of work out of you, you know, minus lunch and breaks, whatever that our productivity. Right. I would assume that because, but at the end of the day, people are going to screw around if they want to. Anyway, what I've learned when you go remote is that there's a higher level of trust and it's no longer about hours working. It's about showing up to meetings, meet your deliverables, be reliable. You write this thing is assigned to you, take care of it. And so then what happens is my metric from how can I get the most value in growth out of the limited hours they have before they go home and not working? Yeah. I've gone from that. And also, I, I know what's going on to trusting to things, trusting them that it's no longer about hours, but trust that they'll get the work done and trust their professionalism and trust that I hired them for a reason. I think that's like, I think that's the big one. And then the other thing is you kind of, you just trust people with their w w w with their, with their lives. It's just that they do things that things are running, that the business is riding as it should be. it made me step back and not micro manage. Not because I didn't trust them and didn't have time for themselves at work at all. It's always cool with it. I always say I've been spending my personality. I've had a great boss and I've had a bad boss. So I know, I know what it's like for both ends, but people just, I think there's a level of trust there that's been lacking.
Yoel - [24:23 - 24:51]
And once you go remote, you're forced that trust that they'll get the work done, that they'll do what they need to. And okay. I don't care if you check Facebook great. I've accepted it as opposed to trying to fight it, but I've also accepted. And so have they, that you have deadlines, you have deliverables, you have meetings, you will be there, right. Everything that, and you are reliable person. I'm going to treat you like an adult. Who's independent. Who's a hundred percent is an independent spirit. And that was probably the hardest part for me was to do.
Scott - [24:51 - 26:11]
Yeah. I mean, that's, that's certainly the future of work is going that direction. I know that there's a lot of movement now towards like the four day work week. I'm not so positive, whatever in the middle of it, I'm a believer. I think really where remote work started in the beginning and I'm coming back 10 years. When I, when I joined envision in which we are one of the first all remote companies, and we were trying to hire, you can never put as like a nice have, or requirement remote work experience, because it didn't exist. There were, there were only two or three companies that were doing the time, but the most successful people that we had that would, that joined were freelancers because they came from that mentality of, I have a project. I have deadlines. I don't have the boss looking over my shoulder, like looking at me all the time. I don't have to stay in like daily updates. Hey, I need to produce this by this time. And that's all I needed to do. And where I think we're coming back, the wheel is now turning around and coming back where that's where the future work. It's not, I don't think it's this four day or three day or five day, whatever it is. It's not even like nine to five, nine to five, but Salesforce is trying to abolish. It's really, like you said, Hey, I need this content piece launched by Tuesday three o'clock. So between now and Tuesday at three o'clock, I honestly don't care what you do. I hope you do things that are enriching and make you happy, make you productive and things like that. But what I in essence care about, especially as a boss is Tuesday three o'clock content piece launched. And I think that's certainly where we're removing.
Yoel - [26:14 - 26:52]
And while we were in the office, just interrupt you. You might've had that, but it's also do that and fucking be here and be away from your family and suffer in commute. And you've done that. And I don't trust you. And I'm looking over your shoulder and I'm monitoring software, add that. And then, and then, oh, and Tuesday three o'clock I need the content piece up. I was like, what? Like at the end of the day, I care about, you know, I'm just trying to manage them and they're diving. And it's just like, I don't like it being done to me. And I don't enjoy doing it to other people. And what I've learned is no, one's good at it at all. You can't force people into things it's counterproductive by every measure.
Scott - [26:52 - 27:51]
Yeah. So, so now let's, let's, let's dive into the actual process of producing a procedure. So pre pandemic, we'll talk about, you know, early March last year, you love the office believe in the office because it gave you that engagement, that kind of know, company culture and the control pandemic kits, crap hits the fan. Everyone. The government says everyone has to work from home. Talk about the first week. Let's start off with week one, then we'll dive into month one. And then year one, like what happened that first week? You understand, okay, we're here for, we don't know how exactly long what happened. What was it like, what changes did you make? What changes did you make around the engagement, those conversations? Did you recreate those? Did you say okay, every day let's have a five minute call with the whole team. Hi, how's everybody doing? Everybody's safe. Did you have those? No. Daily kind of check-ins in the morning, your daily stand up in the morning daily, stand up in the evening, kind of to get that piece of control back, like talk to us about what happened the first week. Right?
Yoel - [27:51 - 29:12]
The first week I lost half of my clients because there was and shit, my pants, they're not laying one off. That was, that was it. But, outside of, me losing my mind because the government decided to shut everything down. we, we had, I had calls originally I twice a day. We had calls in the morning at nine o'clock or maybe even eight 30, I think. And then we had another call at like two, and I was reeling back from being, someone who likes to be in control. when I hired last January, so like nine months into the pandemic, I hired a manager to help me build my ads team. Who's excellent. Has seen as Gilad and who is like, I think he was like, we don't need a call twice a day. We can do once a day. And I was like, but what about this? I don't think these are going on. It was like, well, if you have a good first call and we're using a management software, this is good enough. We shouldn't need it. And I was like, but what about, but what about, you know, trying to hold off and however much speaking in hindsight control to make sure things are being done when, and if you don't know how to do something in the middle of the day, I don't know you're going to ask me, so let's like meet up. and then I was like, all right. I mean, he led it. The goal was, he took over the department, which he did to his credit. and so what we have now, we have a nine o'clock call, 10 to 15 minutes with the whole company. So it was like 19 of us, 18, 19 of us.
Yoel - [29:12 - 30:30]
and there's no talk at all about work. It's just hanging out and making jokes, making fun of each other. talking about maybe some things, you know, are in the news or food or whatever. And it's like really good fun talk. Yeah. And then the, at nine 15, we break out to each team then has their morning meetings where he's, we're going on. Here's what the clients, here's what we need to prioritize that usually lasts until 10, 10 30. So it's like an hour, hour, 15 minutes and projects are assigned to monday.com and then they move on and everything's, and that's it. And then if needed, we have, we have WhatsApp groups. Each, we have a company what's up group, and then each department has a WhatsApp group and people will help each other. So we have that Google meet link that we use every day at nine 15 for the ads team. And I prefer the SEO and influencer marketing. And then we just say, join the scrum call. So if I have a question, I need help. Hey, how do I optimize this amendment trouble with the AB testing? You know, same with the reporting. I need some technical help. So it's like, you know, we put it in a WhatsApp group. It's like, I need help with this. Can someone joined scrub? And this one says, sure. And they go on to Google me kind of like you and I are work talking right now, virtually they get on the share screens and they got assaulted, you know, solved a couple of minutes and they get off. Yeah. so you have that advantage also now that our team's larger cause advertising teams like eight people, nine people. Yeah. So we're able to do that.
Yoel - [30:30 - 31:04]
it didn't always used to be that way. and so th that's kinda how it is now. So like, I am unlikely to speak at 10 30 in the morning. I'm not going to speak to my team for the rest of the day. Yep. Unless it's like specifically needed, you know, I have a sales call so-so with my son and my SEO team will be on a sales call. Other than that, I, I think I've checked in with my influencer marketing team because we pushed it off to the afternoon, but they do optimization on our ads. Other than that, I don't have any conversations with anyone on my team for the rest of the day. So it's that I can do work. Yeah.
Scott - [31:04 - 31:18]
So two points I want to bring out of that. Number one is the decision to drop one of the daily stand-ups came from employee feedback, which is something I've been ranting about for a long time.
Yoel - [31:18 - 32:06]
It wasn't even feedback. He just insisted, he was like, it's not necessary. And I was like, yeah. Okay. And then I, like, I pushed back. I gave him like a devil's advocate, it counter vantage. And I'm like, I'm not uncontrolled anymore. Yeah. I hired him to lead the team. I dropped it. I gave my video and they shut up and he was right. And he has, and I think this is probably for those looking to hire, in my opinion, the most underrated. And I told gelada this. So these are ads team, and we have a lot of team leaders and they're all excellent is you need to have talent and skills and being able to manage a remote team, you know, you can manage a team remotely, which is not easy. and you to build a culture in order to be able to do that, have level of trust and all that. Yeah. I feel like that's probably one of the most underrated skills and say, you're the you're going to need in the future.
Scott - [32:06 - 32:39]
That's why this podcast exists. it started the beginning of the year. I understood, I I've been doing this for 10 years. I've built in led and scaled remote companies and teams. And there isn't very much out there in the ways of learning. As you said, you kind of went into this without a choice. most companies just took what they did in the office. And did it remotely, or try to replace, you know, the, seeing you in the, kind of the overview of you two having two day, two times a day, stand-ups when that's obviously not the way that remote works. No remote is very intentional. but there isn't really much out there. And again, that's that the point of this podcast?
Yoel - [32:39 - 32:41]
Very intentional. What do you mean by that?
Scott - [32:41 - 32:47]
Everything that happens in a remote environment has to be very intentional because nothing really happens by itself.
Yoel - [32:47 - 32:50]
So the Way organically, like walking us over, Correct.
Scott - [32:50 - 34:17]
Correct. What is engagement for whether it's mentoring, whether it's learning development, whether it's whatever, like somebody has to have that agenda that says, okay, let me do this. And kind of in that idea of the, the side project that I launched was, Hey, I had the desire. I had the intention to every day, go find somebody to talk to. So it's always been possible with zoom or Google meet. You could always do that without new tools, but there aren't very many people who are like me, who have that passion who have the drive and have the intentionality that every day or whenever they desire to talk to someone, have a conversation to go find some random person to talk to. And that's what I think with the tools came into place. but I think I, going back to that point was you took feedback. You took a push within the organization saying, Hey, we don't need this. And he dropped it. And that's something that's been cleared from me for two years of employees giving feedback, Hey, 30% plus of employers are saying, I'm never coming back into the office. I'll quit. If you don't let me work remotely, another 30, 40% under saying, I require flexibility, but get the executives of the team saying, okay, they're totally not listening to this feedback. They're spending millions of dollars on trying to gather the feedback and they're taking it. And they're making decisions that are counter what the employees are saying. But the beautiful thing that you said was yes, initially constant friction. And you're like, ah, I don't know why this, why that, but you understood from their perspective, the value proposition, if their PR person saying, Hey, we could get this done without having the secondary meeting in the day then, okay, let's go with it.
Scott - [34:17 - 35:02]
So I certainly give you a lot of kudos for that. what else may have gone into that process of dropping words? The more kind of collaboration you said you used Monday was maybe more collaboration on, on Monday or some other tools that really helped you make that decision and allow that change to be a successful. There's going to, hopefully people who are listening to this kind of get inspiration saying, okay, let's make some changes, but still, I guess we're not going to be a hundred percent confident. So what, like, what was it that he saw as you changed that policy that you knew? Okay. Yeah, stuff's getting done. I see no conversations happening in Monday are conversations happening in WhatsApp? Like what were those pieces that you saw that helped you solidify that idea? Okay. Yes. This was a good decision to drop this second meeting. Okay.
Yoel - [35:02 - 36:35]
I mean, the proof is in the pudding. I, at the end of the day, I hired someone who I thought was absolutely perfect to be able to build the lead, our very successful advertising team. he's demonstrated that very clearly. And either the choice was yellow to you and to lead this team, or did you want him to lead this team? And I want to handle it, the team I'm paying him while to do it. He has the talent and that's why I hired him. and I also work closely with my business coach who is remote who's in north Jersey. who's very super pro remote. and we're working on me being able to move out of that managerial role for a few reasons. One is that I have someone that's better at it too. I, I don't like it. I suck at it. you know, so we were working on it. So being, I had the support of a business coach to help me let go. And so I needed even his help to hand over leading client calls from me to him and all of that. It was just hose hard for me to let go of that too. I brought in outside help. I mean, right. So, and I recommend that for me, if there are any employers out there, get a pro remote business coach to help you and show you so you can make the right hires, ask the right questions, the interviews ask the right question for referral. So you're, so you have the right people in the right chairs. You know what I mean? How to build things out culturally. so you still have like culture and you still do things fun, how, and if, and when to meet people in person and what you should do and what, what shouldn't be like, w w what kind of company policies that you're going to have, whether it's official or unofficial or implied, you know?
Yoel - [36:35 - 37:53]
And so these are the things you kind of need to work on. if you want to have a working machine remotely, and the business is far more, in my opinion, far more efficient when we're working remotely, because you asked them to be done, it gets done, and I'm not using any brain capital today at all. And neither is any of our team leaders that is this task going to be done by a certain time. We know it's going to be done, or if they need a delay, there'll be ask well enough in advance, or do they have a, we'll have enough time to be able to ask them a question if they'll need some help. but where I'm not that doesn't take up any real estate in anyone's mind, it's high trust and that's it. And so I found that it's made it so much easier, but it it's a hard thing to do you need to bring out outside help? Like, yeah. I finally started exercising like more seriously, cause they brought in a personal trainer a few months ago. So I started finding lifting weights because he comes to my house at seven in the morning. No, like I told you before I got on last night was my birthday. So I was drinking. And then while drinking last night, they did like 1130. I remember I met my trainer committed seven. I swear to you, if I did have a trainer coming, I would not have worked out this morning. You know what I mean? And it was like figuring out how to cancel on him when it woke up at like six in the morning, it was like they build later, but I did it because they had that accountability. Y
oel - [37:53 - 38:17]
So you need that accountability. So like, don't go into the load. If it's hard for you to go to remote, you know, it works for others and therefore it can work for you, bring in an expert or consultant maybe that can help you make that transition to, for that make, maybe make the right hires, that the right policies and certain things that it's a win-win for everyone in the company. Yep.
Scott - [38:17 - 39:53]
Maybe I would love to know a little bit more about that because what some companies have been doing the last six, nine months have been hiring what we'll call a head of remote, a remote lead or someone who is supposed to be focused on that. I personally interviewed for a number of those roles, what I've found through those interview experiences and who they've ended up hiring is they've tended to go with someone more junior with more transactional experience. Who's I guess, really more focused on tools. Like what tools should we be bringing in versus someone who's much more high level strategic, you know, kind of on the same levels of we'll call it as the VP of people who is thinking strategically, how do we shift the operations? How do we shift the culture of the business? How do we shift the way that we do all the things that we do to be supportive in the future of work, in remote work versus saying, okay, now maybe we should be thinking about asynchronous communication. What tools would we do? What used at all? We, we, should they be thinking about company culture and like pulse surveys? What, what tools have you spent? So for the non remote coming for the remote first companies, we're having a remote, head of remote. That's a totally different story, but these companies that have transitioned to being remote companies during the pandemic, well, at least from what I've seen and certainly I could be corrected, it's much more of, again, a transactional versus a strategic role and so many more tools versus operations. So I'd love to hear maybe a little bit more about the, the coach that you have and what you've done again, what that thinking was, how do we change, how we run the business?
Scott - [39:53 - 40:06]
Not just okay. Maybe before we weren't using monday.com. So now we had to use monday.com or we added another tool in there just to kind of replace something the whole mind shift of changing the exact whole way of how we're running our business.
Yoel - [40:06 - 41:47]
Yeah. If you're looking at your thinking, if your prime concern is w the tools, if our primary concern, I shouldn't say that if your focus ongoing is the tools for, let's say hiring some for remote work, then again, I think your focus is wrong. It's on, you're not focusing on trust. You have low trust, or we have, are we monitoring our employees? How much they're working. I read this article, this terrible manager that like, if their mouse doesn't move or something, they think they're offline. So this woman invented like the simple thing that like every 20, when she goes to go to the fucking bathroom inside of folks of laundry in the middle of the day for feed her toddler, you know what I mean? What, during a pandemic for God's sake. So her mouth, she puts her mouth on it and it moves it every, every 10 seconds, like vibrates and it moves like, like people will like, we will out smart. You like, yeah. I mean like people like, like we, people that are like pro Liberty and individualism, like we will out, we will outsmart the people that are trying to control us. so I think the problem is, based on where things that there's too much of a focus really, on these tools and not in the focus on culture, and you're not in the focus on your business, if you cared about like, what are your business objectives? And then you need to work with someone, how do I reach my business objectives in a remote way? Right. What do I need to do? And I think that's better than how can I try to replicate all of, as much of the, of the pros of in-person work, to get that to remote, that's the wrong way you should try to rebuild this thing.
Yoel - [41:47 - 42:31]
How would I rebuild this organization from the ground up knowing that I'm building a remote organization and what, how would the business processes be, who are the people that I would hire? What are, what are the rules, what do they need to have? What kind of experience need to have? What kind of personality do they need to have? And then I have some other things like, like they need to have guaranteed, they need be responsible for a certain amount of download and upload internet at their house. Yep. Cause I can send that over there. They need their own room for an office. Like these are things instead of just trying to replicate, you know what I mean? Like make the right hires to create that culture of, of, of work and collaboration as a, as opposed to, how can I maintain the control I had when we were in person and bring that to the remote. I think that we'll have a totally backwards.
Scott - [42:31 - 43:11]
Yep. I love it. I'm pulling on a little bit towards the future. You mentioned obviously that you have one meeting in the morning now, that starts off with the team and we'll get into that next. And then all the teams break out for kind of like the daily standup. Do you see your teams, especially now that you have much more of that trust moving more towards an asynchronous model where the updates are not in a live synchronous meeting, it's long form documentation. it seems like you use WhatsApp versus maybe slack or some, maybe some tool that kind of, you get to do your daily standup in a, a tool and share that within the team. So it doesn't matter what time you do it. Maybe let's say as long as it's delivered by this time to everyone kind of gets to see it.
Yoel - [43:11 - 44:34]
And if they have questions, it's more collaboration like on WhatsApp or slack, you see yourself going more in asynchronous direction, Not intentionally, but what we've learned is as they become more talented and more skilled and our talent is onboarded better, we have skipped the nine, 15 meetings where we actually review client's stuff and things just may be assigned to you through monday.com and that's kind of it in use. So we do have that once in a while, that called is canceled or postponed to the afternoon that happens every, like, you know, like every like seven, eight business days, maybe I dunno, something like that. but in general, moving to an eight, no, I don't think so. There are still pros of having videos and speaking to people. Some there will be people that will just want to give me my task list going, I think, but one of the hardest parts honestly, of going remote is training. Yeah. Is that training people remotely is not the same as them sitting next to you and us sharing the screen. Like, actually I can point to my, like, it's just not, it's not the same, that, that I will definitely give it. That's a huge con for remote. but having those opportunities to people to ask questions and train like, like forest, cause we didn't do that in person every day, nine 15 to 10 30. We're going to go over the work you're doing with the clients and address all of your questions about the work you did yesterday and everything now it's forced, expected and explicit. And so there's actually more learning that way and things that would have come up in a way that wouldn't happen in person, the training itself is harder, but it happens more.
Yoel - [44:34 - 45:49]
It's almost, it's forced, right? Like you said, like somethings need to be forced in a way. So I, I don't see us moving that direction. I'm not anti it and it was status. I could see it working for better for other organizations, but for us where it's very, very, very high skill, services that we provide for top technology companies. We really need, I think that kind of like, I think we need that kind of like morning, get up again to these to be able to address questions. and, and also the other thing, cause let's say if it's someone had a question about how to do something, right, and he would drop in a WhatsApp group and they would join the scrum call and someone would show them, it's like a corny, like what are the teachers used to say? You're like, you know, this thing is stupid questions. If you have a question there's probably other people in the class that have the same question and that is true. So when you have that team meeting, whether, in the morning, as opposed to not one-on-one. So when I was a question, there's someone else that probably doesn't know how to do that either, or didn't know how to do it as fast or as efficient or something, or didn't even know their work. That was a solution how to ask. Right. They didn't know what they don't know. So there is that added value of people joining together on a meeting at a team. So, no, I don't see us moving that way, but we do see times that it's not needed every day that we can skip here and there as necessary.
Scott - [45:49 - 46:35]
Awesome. Two final questions. The first is seemingly in the last year, you've four X your team. I think when we started a conversation, you started, you said you had five people, not even at 19. talk to us, talk to everybody about how you onboarded those people again, because in theory, I'm assuming the five people you had when the pandemic started, obviously onboard them in person, when you're in your office and those other 14 weren't so talk to us how you were able to onboard them remotely, how you enable them to hit the ground running because it seemed again from your conversations. It's no, they're all rock stars. They're all doing absolutely amazing work. So when from not knowing them, onboarding them remotely again, onboarding is supposed to be very much focused on helping you hit the ground running as best as you can just go through these accounts and maybe dive into that little.
Yoel - [46:35 - 47:57]
But yeah. so the big thing is it's actually making sure that you're hiring the right person. That's the big mistake. I find that a lot of people are making is that they're hiring the wrong people. I remember when I started in business years ago, I asked one of my mentors for advice and I didn't take it. And boy, it hit me hard. He said only hire people that I had full-time experience for a year. And they went to an office. I mean, right before remote, the remote was an important conversation. They know what it means to get up and work. They understand what is socially acceptable and what's not what you are doing. That kind of what the expectations of working in a career environment, not just a job, I mean like washing dishes. and so the thing that kind of like promote, you want to make sure that they have the proper experience that they can do. They have the proper setup at home. Do they have the proper internet? Do they have what they need? What's their home like life like is their spouse out, is their spouse didn't share to the same office. Also working remotely from home. Is that it, that's not a problem. But if both of you are doing client calls all day, that's an issue. And that's something that needs should be openly discussed. I understand that some countries, they might say it's illegal to ask certain certainties questions. You just need to find the right way to ask them. Unfortunately, because if you're one, a remote position, you need to know that. Also I do an insane social media check. anyone who's like a little too passionate about politics, I don't hide it. Even if their politics I agree with because it's just, they're a little bit kind of obsessive.
Yoel - [47:57 - 49:14]
The mind goes there all day. it's probably a side hobby almost. Right. and I also think just a little bit of an imbalance if all you're posting is politics and things like that. And also other things are you like, you know, how quickly do you like, you know, checking on people's Twitter and they're like, kind of get a good vibe with them before I even reach out to them. And, even for an interview, you really want to make sure you have the right, the right person. And then the referrals also the references. I mean, you need to make sure you do that references really well, but for the, we hire only in Israel and Israel is really small. So everyone does come in for one in-person interview. I do, I do ask that for that. I do believe in full body language and making sure that being able to have the right personality and all of that and that we vibe that I would to work with you as a person. And you would like to work with me, that's just as important, right? You need to make sure that they can do the work. I want to work with them and they want to work with me and they want it. You need all three of those. And some of those could, if you can do it in person. Great. And then after they're hired, they'll come, they'll pick, I'll have their stuff here while we have a bunch of stuff, they'll pick it up within, I'll get a laptop at monitors delivered, ordered online, delivered to their house. Yep. oh, one big thing I do recommend for builds. We were about all of our new laptops now for our employees.
Yoel - [49:14 - 50:28]
We were paying for three years on site support. So they don't have to go and lose their laptop that they'll show up to your house and fix your laptop. The point, which has been a huge, I just have to say the last time when your headache and ah, I don't have time, so much work to do it. I'd go take it in and lose it for a day and come and work with all the, like, what do you do now? I was like, how long have I had support, make them coffee, then your house for an hour. And you're gone, it's fixed. And it's been like, so worth the money. It's one of the things, that's one of those like small things that I wish I knew at the beginning, I just thought it was worth throwing in. And then, so then the onboarding and then to the training is tough. So we made sure they have some experience at least like a course or something that they pass. and of course we'll test their ad, copy their copywriting or you know, how they write how they do some optimization depending on their experience. And we'll do that testing in-person in-person interview, because we can really see and I can ask them, why did you do that? Why not that I want to kind of see what they're doing? not just scent, you know, and see how long it takes them also. Cause that's a big component is make sure you sure to reach deadlines, right? If I give you three days to do something, I want to make sure that you have enough time to do several tasks. You get them all done. But if I give you an assignment, it's someone I want to hire, get this back to me in three days, you don't know who can have helped them.
Yoel - [50:28 - 51:21]
And you don't know if it took them like, you know, it took them 20 hours of work. We should have been three hours, even if we did an excellent job. You're like, yeah, but that's not product 20 hours. How are you going to deal with many parallel deadlines at once? You're not going to be productive. So, you know, you got to do the things in person that you can do. And then we all on board, we have a woman on our team. Who's amazing who does a lot of the training. And then we support with online training and then they'll do the advertising and some marketing for like Wadi digital, not our clients. So I can kind of, you know, so they screw up, it's fine. Then I was fucking up our clients. They're fucking up our ads, you know, and things like that. So, yeah, that's kind of just the, how we onboard and then we get together once a month, you know, which is a, a big component. And I, we, I try to organize the, get together shortly after someone's been onboarded, like, you know, within two weeks of them starting. Yeah.
Scott - [51:21 - 51:44]
Amazing. Yeah. So that was going to cover a question, I guess we've run out of time, unfortunately, but obviously you do the daily chit-chat conversation and doing the monthly get togethers, which again, focuses on that team engagement team building. but again, because we're out of time, for that want to get ahold of you follow you company, you're looking for, so outsource the new marketing services, how do people get ahold of you find you et cetera?
Yoel - [51:44 - 52:13]
Yeah, sure. I mean really LinkedIn, yoel israel at wadidigital.com, but send me a message. If you need, you know, some advertising lead generation, if you need opportunities, SEO or influencer marketing, we we'd love to help. We have a great team working remotely independently with a very high level of skill and trust that can properly serve you. So you may, the people you're working with. Aren't, they're very, very, very high top quality people. Okay.
Scott - [52:13 - 52:24]
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining today. I appreciate the conversation and sharing the insights of where you were and how you grew and where you're going. And then until the next episode, have a great day everybody.