Working From Home: Episode 14 – Is the future of work remote? with Lavinia Iosub
Nelson is joined by Lavinia Losub of Liv.it to discuss how we can refine our offerings and find great team members.
– Transitioning to the digital nomad lifestyle
– Growing a remote business
– Refining your offerings
– What to focus on when hiring
– Vetting potential job candidates
[3:28] – Lavinia discusses how she transitioned to the digital nomad lifestyle
[7:48] – Living and working in countries that aren’t on the typical digital nomads list.
[11:22] – Lavinia dives into her business background and the services her company offers.
[17:07] – How to grow a remote business.
[22:25] – How to decide what services you should and shouldn’t offer as a freelancer. Are you a swissarmy knife, or a hyper specialist?
[32:23] – Adapting during COVID.
[38:18] – Things to focus on when adding members to your team. Attitude and behavior vs hard skills.
[45:21] – How do you find out if your job candidates have the attitude and behaviors you are looking for before hiring them?
[55:08] – What options are available to us when vetting candidates that go beyond the traditional interview style hiring processes.
[01:01:08] – Closing thoughts from Nelson and Lavinia
Nelson: Hello, and welcome to the ‘Working From Home’ podcast with your host me, Nelson Jordan. Today, I’m thrilled to be joined by Lavinia Iosub, who is a location independent entrepreneur, a managing partner in Liveit International, and we’ll be talking today about the future of work, co-working and co-living. Lavinia, thank you so much for joining me.
Lavinia: Thank you so much for having me.
Nelson: No, no problem at all. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for a long, long time, you’ve got so many interesting stories that our audience are going to be thrilled to hear. So, I’ve been looking forward to it. You have lived and worked and travelled all over the world, to the point that I am very, very jealous of some of the countries that that you’ve been in. Where are you from originally though?
Lavinia: I’m Romanian…but I’m not a vampire.
Nelson: Is that is that a common thing? The kind of Transylvanian link?
Lavinia: Yeah, people will go like, yeah, vampires, gymnast, all kinds of things. I’m happy to basically go into all of them and have a good conversation, because that’s how we get rid of small talk usually, right?
Nelson: Just goes straight into the vampire conversation. I mean, from the photos, I’ve seen that you have some spectacular castles and things.
Lavinia: Yes, we do. We do. It’s a beautiful part of the world:Transylvania. And it still boasts a lot of untouched nature. And I really hope it’s going to stay like that. It’s becoming quite popular destination for people who like just basically forests. And yeah, untouched sort of corners of a place like that. So. So see.
link to this.
I pay less.
I’m not sure what happened. Your internet went red, and it dropped out.
So it’s full signal, though. It wasn’t on full signal when it dropped out, unfortunately. But that’s not a problem. Sometimes it happens. We’ll just go from the previous question. Okay, give me just one second because I’m, no, I’m on the right connection. And signal seems fool I tested it before. So I’m really surprised this is happening. Okay.
It’s really not a problem, like it’s showing now, as you have full signal, which is great. But when it went red, just before you the screen, pause, so not a problem at all. As I said, it’s being edited. So we’ll just take it from the top. So I’m just gonna ask about the castle question and go from there.
So it seems like you’ve got some fantastic castles in that sort of area.
Yeah, absolutely. Transylvania has got beautiful, beautiful castles in beautiful nature for those digital nomads that enjoy gorgeous tracks, and an odd castle here and there and great internet and good food. So I thoroughly recommend it. Yeah, I’m looking forward to going somewhere with Sunday with my wife. I think she’ll love that because she’s, she’s loved kind of not just kind of vampire stories, but just mythology in general. She’s always been a big, a big fan. I think when she was younger, she studied classics and things. So she really does enjoy that sort of thing. So I think it’s definitely on our list.
But yeah, so in when you’re growing up in Romania, or is it is it quite common for people to learn English? Or if you kind of develop that later?
I would say it’s common for people to learn foreign languages. So a lot of people will learn English. Some of us growing up with learn one of the Latin languages because it’s quite close to, to our own language. So some people would learn Spanish or French or Italian.
Yeah, so So I would say, um, yeah, at least I don’t know exactly these days, but in my generation, I would say that for language training was pretty pretty good. Fantastic. And when did you kind of start to leave Romania to go on these kind of extended travel
Whether you are working in the countries or where you are living, when did that kind of start?
So I, I, so I grew up
in Romania during a time where we were transitioning between a pretty brutal communist dictatorship, which I fortunately didn’t get to live in for very long. I was very, very young when the revolution happened, transitioning towards an EU, NATO
developed country. So there, I kind of like came of age in a time where we were starting to have all of this amazing exchange programmes, travel programmes
like sort of work and travel, I said, Eros, moose, and all of this things that you can take advantage of. And I fully did. So I basically started travelling for short periods of time, when I was fairly young, probably 15 or so. And then I moved to the US for an internship
in 2008, so that would be about 12 years now. And then I went for an exchange for studies and in Belgium via the Erasmus programme, and then I did another internship in the UK. And then I went, I kind of like, decided to go for a management position in the same organisation, leadership, Youth Leadership organisation in Azerbaijan, because I kind of wanted to go to a country I didn’t know much about so there were a few options among which the crane in Azerbaijan, so you’re unlike with Azerbaijan. Whereabouts were you were you staying where you kind of in a city or were you in villages or?
I was in Baku, I was in the capital? Um, yeah, I I did travel extensively in the regions as well and I worked to expand the organisation, the NGO that I was the platform’s working for in a smaller town as well called ganja. But But yeah, I was for the majority of the time I was in, in Baku. So I personally, I don’t know very much about Azerbaijan as a as a country or a culture where they kind of quite accepting to you as a foreigner coming to their country or was the kind of a a bit of a learning period where you’re accepted more in some places than than others.
I think Azerbaijan Baku specifically has had foreigners coming in as expats for a long time because a big part of the economy relies on oil and gas. And so there would be particularly lots of British people, actually engineers and all kinds of Yeah, basically, technical and oil and gas people. Um, so So I would say it wasn’t extremely surprising for a very people to encounter a foreigner. Obviously, there were, you know, there are regions where that’s more of a casual thing, the regions where it’s more of a while, kind of an exotic fact to come across.
But yeah, so I would say, they also really enjoy the connection with Europe and have their European aspirations they have they participate in your vision and the European games.
I think that’s like, the ultimate, like, European stamp card. Right? is are you in your vision or not? Right, right. But then we do have countries like Australia, which are nowhere close to your right. So, so the culturally similar I guess, so. So so so yeah, so I would say they were Azerbaijani people are very hospitable.
very hospitable people. They are just, they would take you in as one of their own and they would be so nice and generous to us. So I would say that was my experience, generally. Amazing. I mean, yeah, Azerbaijan isn’t as you kind of alluded to, there isn’t your usual kind of, I guess, traditional digital nomads location, right. I mean, have you been to any other countries that kind of fit a similar bill?
Um, yeah, I would say so. And many of them are absolutely worth visiting and spending time in one of them that is not super easy to travel to, but I really enjoy it is Iran or Iran, depending on how people pronounce that which is just south of Azerbaijan, which I really enjoyed Georgia, to the sort of
northwest of Azerbaijan is also a great, great great option for digital nomads. They’re also doing a digital nomad visa. They are one of the four countries right now that are doing a digital nomad visa.
And are sorry to jump in there live any I know I’m Estonia, as one of the countries I didn’t realise it was the were for Can you do you know the others as well. So, um, Estonia is doing, I think a lot of people know of one or both of the two things that Estonia is doing. So they’re doing a kind of location independent
incorporation for companies. So they’re the kind of I would say, the first country in the world that really understood what it means to run a business on the go. And allow people to get an E residency and open a company there, do their taxes, pay service providers and run the entire thing without ever needing to step foot in Estonia. We live at have such a branch in there as well. So live in Estonia, which I’m very happy with. And I can go into it if you if you want in terms of just like sort of advice for for people who might be looking for that sort of setup. And they’re also doing, they’re also trying to investing a lot in startups and so on. And we all know some big names that came out of came out of such a small country, right. And they are doing a digital nomad visa. There’s also a Barbados that is doing digital nomad visa right now. And there’s Georgia who’s doing one and I believe there’s another fourth country, but I can’t remember it right now. Like I keep seeing all this news. And my guess is that there will be other countries following suit as well.
I love Island, Thailand is offering a sort of a startup and visa or so it’s got it’s definitely got some some, like sort of requirements tied into it. But that’s also possible for those who are, you know, want to spend
a good amount of time in there and so on. So with them with liver Estonia, is that something that when the company was first started, like Estonia was the hub? Or was it something that was later added?
Um, no, it was later added actually late last year. So it’s very new. It’s I was just looking for a solution to service and and do business easier with European clients within European jurisdiction. So that made a lot of sense.
And but live it was started in in Bali, and it is headquartered in Bali. Fantastic. Well, I think that’s a good transition as we’re going to get to talk about live it. So would you be able to give our audience kind of a bit of a flavour of what you do and why?
I’m sure, sure. So we are basically a support system for entrepreneurs and for startup teams. And we have a number of sort of moving pieces that that make up that ecosystem.
So we do we have a physical hub in Bali called live in hub Bali, where we have co working and event and innovation spaces. And we also have basically a digital hub, I would call it where we offer all kinds of services that have to do with business growth and support so so we can help people with incorporating in Indonesia, we can help people with growing scalable, remote capable teams around the world. We can help people with remote recruitment, head cutting headhunting talent acquisition, however we want to call it what’s the level you’re looking at. And we can help
a variety of organisations not only startups with training on entrepreneurship, the future of work, and so on. We also have in regular times to say so we have, we curate getaway events and retreats in Bali for both founders and startup teams through a brand that is called Project getaway.
And since the pandemic started, actually, around the time the pandemic started, we also kind of started a reboot skills Academy where we teach Indonesians to work remotely and to kind of close the gap between the digital nomads that come to Bali and have the instagrammable life and the locals who usually end up in service jobs that are low paid and not very flexible, and they’re also subjected vanish in a situation like this. True. Okay, so Wow, a lot to unpack there. So I guess I probably start off with
With the hubs, I think so. Did the did the physical hub come first? Or was it the online?
Um, so actually, neither one. It’s funny. So, we are two business partners, my business partners called Michael boedeker. And he is from Denmark. And he came to Bali in the early 2000 10s. And he basically, he was what we would, I guess, call a corporate escapee, right, like he was running away from a corporate job. And he didn’t really miss the the meetings and the timesheets, and all of the things of the office life, but he missed, you know, being around great people and brainstorming, great ideas, and so on. So we basically, he basically initially started a co living community for founders, which eventually evolved into all of the things that live it is right now. Um, so
several years ago, like three, four years ago, he basically moved on to focus on a different business. And I took over and I sort of came up with the concept for livid hub Bali, which as I was saying, is one of our friends and one of our services. And, yeah, so initially, kind of drew it on a recycled piece of paper, and then proceeded to look for buildings that could be transformed into what we had in mind. Fantastic. And what did that look like? Was that just you kind of on the floor visiting all these all these locations, and, and kind of thinking what they could be turned into? Or is it very much like, you had a spec of things that the building and the facility needed to offer, and then you just kind of hoping that something came up that fit the bill.
I mean, there was no way something that fit the bill would come up. Because
what I had in mind was a variety of different types of spaces. Some of them for you know, fixed desks, some of them for collaborative spaces, things like nap or quiet room and Skype rooms, one of which I’m sitting in right now, and,
you know, kind of fun or relaxation spaces, and, and so on. So
I think it would have been a tall ask to look for a building that already had those things. So what I initially looked for was a building that could easily be transformed into what I had in mind. So the building that we are in right now is a former factory, they used to make clothing, they used to export to New York, and it would be the kind of clothes that you would expect David Bowie to make an appearance in. Very, I’ve arrived type of outfits. But they had gone bankrupt about four years before we walked into the mill.
And it was basically a collection of like four floors of giant holes, right, that could just like be partitioned and turned into
what, what grew to eventually be the mid hop. And yeah, so basically, we kind of the only thing that we kept were was the the shell of the building, right? Like we
redid the the plumbing, the electricity, the built a bunch of rooms, kitchen, lots of bathrooms and all kinds of stuff. So it’s unrecognisable if you would have seen it back then. Fantastic. I’m so pleased that you’ve been able to grow it. And I wondered if you’d be able to talk about how you actually managed to kind of get get customers to that whether you were able to tap into an existing base, or whether you just had to go out and kind of network or kind of use digital marketing. What does that process look like?
Yeah, so a lot of a lot of the companies that are teams that we work with right now come from companies that were developed in that cold living space that we had originally.
So as you can imagine, lots of ideas were floating around, lots of projects were being worked on. And some of them really took flight and started to, you know, need a lot of team members in a proper setup and everything. So we are very much a big part of our spaces business to business. So it’s teams working from the space. And then obviously we are open to to individuals to be to see on at the same time, I would say on the b2c side. Google Maps and Google reviews and things like that is a huge source of
coworker.com really helps being listed.
And having reviews there.
Word of mouth is probably the biggest one, you know, people just being like, it’s a really productive space people really nice go there if you’re going to Bali and so on. So, yeah.
And with with that side of things is it is it kind of like a drop in sort of situation, or is it very much like you have to book a space in advance,
it’s very much a drop in because this space that that we launched with is about a third bigger than we needed.
Perhaps even 40 50%, bigger than we need it. But it was a good deal. And we were able to kind of build it in the way that we want it. So it’s very much like we have a lot of availability right now, especially during this times where where a lot of people are still not very comfortable co working. So it’s very much a drop in
situation at this point. If you do want a fixed ask because it’s certain setup where you want a larger team to work there. Obviously, there would be some arrangements that need to be made. But, sure. And in terms of what you offer at the online hub, what does what does that comprise of? Is it like resources? Is it a membership kind of login? Mm hmm. So it’s basically separate services, I would say that most of the companies that work with us, I would say, right now it’s a portfolio of 10 to 12. companies, they take a variety of services, because they kind of make sense to be added to to each other. So what we do for those who want to run businesses in Indonesia, or open a company in Indonesia, we walk them through that sort of setup, and we can sort of manage things for them. Even simple things like visas, and so on, if you want to be here for longer time. And we basically have As I was saying, all kinds of training services, recruitment services, which are ran from Estonia, recruitment, talent, acquisition,
remote, most of it so. So that service has been very popular now.
Picton, um, and everybody’s like, Oh, where are those people who were doing that crazy, remote work team building thing? before? Um, so? Yeah, so those bits and then obviously, we have the, as I was saying, in regular times, and I do hope they return at some point, this curated getaway or retreat event, either for a company or for a kind of curated group of founders that we bring together, usually once a year.
So So yeah, and then consultancy, and education on a on a on a bunch of different services on a bunch of different topics. Free Online hub, obviously, you mentioned like lots of different services there. How did you decide which services you should offer and which services your company was best placed to offer rather than somebody else?
I would say it was a very organic process, where I’m so the community of founders that we’ve worked with, and that grew and evolved over time, they would need various things. And we would be like, oh, perhaps we can do this. And we would try it out. And then we would be like, Oh, yeah, that’s definitely something we can we can offer, right? And then a couple of things we have
kind of, yeah, definitely got in demand before having that sort of as people asking, Oh, do you do this? do you do that? And we were like, Oh, I guess we can explore right? If we can, and if it’s worth it. So it’s definitely very more organic process rather than, okay, this is kind of our business strategy. There was definitely a business strategy behind a few of the things, one of them being the hub, one of them being
the remote skills Academy and other other things. But lots of lots of them mostly evolved organically. I love I love that explanation, because I think that’s the way it was like 99% of businesses, there are certain things that you you kind of do some strategic thinking and actually sit down and say, okay, based on the skill set, based on the resources we have here and makes sense to offer, you know, if we do x that makes sense to offer why, you know, so like with me and copywriting, I based on my experience as a digital marketer, I started out, you know, with a copywriting just writing landing pages and emails. And then I thought, well, based on that people will need kind of a full funnel approach. You know, if they’ve got landing pages, they will need ads to use for paid traffic for that. If they’re doing that, then they’ll need email automations and that was very much kind of a strategic thing. But from the kind of organic thing again, with the copywriting example, I’ve had people just
Just say, Okay, do you do brochures? And I would say, haven’t done them yet. If you have, if you want to, if you want to try one, then we can do it. And then it’s about paid kind of taking those principles. Because if you understand what makes good copy and one medium, all you have to do is transpose the medium and work out what rules apply, and whether you’re best place to offer it or not. So I love kind of that mix of organic kind of demand lead, do you do this questions versus the more strategic? I think we should go there based on this? I love that. Absolutely, absolutely. And there’s something to be said about both approaches, right. But um, but I do think that people like to do business with people they trust. And if they bought something from you, and they’re happy with the result, they will most likely want to buy something else from you, because they trust you as a person not particularly as a high PR specialist of brochures in your case, right? And then also, there’s, there’s something to be said about the number of times you’re being asked about something. So we would have at the hub, we would very often have drop ins who were asking, do you offer virtual office services, right? And it was never in our plan, but then we looked into it, and we were like, Okay, what do we need to do to in order to offer that. And then we realised that a big amount of the buildings on the market do not have the proper paperwork to be able to offer that, right, like the building authorities ation and all kinds of stuff. And we were like, okay, yeah, we can that’s definitely like, it’s not, it’s not something we’re going to start advertising and really trying to make lots of money from, but it’s another thing that we can do and help clients who are looking for something like that.
How many people would you say it takes before you should start paying attention to these requests?
You know, I’m going to give the very unpopular answer of it depends, because it really does. It depends how to me, it very much depends how much work needs to be put into being able to offer that service at a very decent level, right? Because when once you’ve got a brand, you don’t want to flop right? Like you don’t want to offer something that is like, Oh, we had no idea what we were doing. So we just decided to offer this right? So um, so I always look at that I’m like, have we got the right business licences to do it? If it’s the case? How many hours of work would we need to put into, you know, to see,
to even decide if that’s, if that’s something that we want to do? Do we need to acquire or get anything any tool or any infrastructure or any permit that would that would need some kind of an expense. And then you take it from there, right? Obviously, there could be three people asking you about something that is quite low value and easy to, to implement, and you can do it, or there could be 20. And, and it could be a lot of effort and a lot of opportunity costs as well, which I guess a lot of us forget about, right? We’re like, what could we be doing with that time, right, that we’re investing into this, and could be 20 people and you’re still not going to do it? Right? So or hundred or who knows, I would say it’s very much based on
considering your own situation, your own business and, and the cost, the opportunity cost and the potential gain that you can have. That makes a lot of sense. So kind of just mapping out the opportunity, the potential upsides and the potential downsides. So you know, the the revenue that you could make the potential new clients you could bring in, in terms of the upside, versus the downside kind of how how long it would take you to implement it, how much resources would be required to do so. And then kind of all the different things that you I don’t want to kind of reiterate exactly what you said, but kind of all the different things that go into that making, you know, getting it to a good standard where you’re actually fulfilling the customer’s desire.
Absolutely. And I do think that while this sounds like a very organic process, right, like people asked about brochures, or they asked about virtual office and whatever, to kind of go into those things, you have to go a little bit into the other approach where you’re researching and and and you know, doing a little bit of that other like strategic approach, because for example, in our case, we would look at the you know, what other people charge on the market, are they able to offer the same level of service? You know, how many people there are around that one dad, like, do we have any data on that and, and so on. So you would, although it sounds like it starts with something organic, you would still very much go a little bit into the data driven, driven approach to you know, prize fit and so on. Definitely, and I think it should be said as well just because you do decide to offer something doesn’t mean that you have to offer it forever. So for
For example, for me with the with the same example I did one brochure. And did, it didn’t particularly well, me, I didn’t think that, you know, I wasn’t in love with the process, I didn’t necessarily think there was a big market there,
you know, to be a brochure copywriter. And so like, I don’t advertise it on my website, I don’t take up any space kind of talking to prospects about it. But you know, maybe in the future, if somebody comes to me and ask for one, I’ll consider it. But maybe I won’t maybe at the same time, I’ll go, No, I know what’s involved there. That’s not where I want to take my business.
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And I also very much think that, that way, you can also discover something that might be more lucrative and might be like, you might be giving up some of the things that you started off doing right to, to, to do more of that thing. And that’s the reality with a lot of startups, it’s very few startups are what they started, or what they set out to be right. They pivoted and they reinvented and they Yeah, sure, like not even, not even startups like established, established multinational companies fall into the same thing. So think like Nakia, the phone company, I’m pretty sure they started as a Rubber Company, arm, which has literally nothing to do with nothing to do with it. So just because you’ve been known for one thing, doesn’t mean that you should be known for that thing. And then, in most cases, as well, being tied to one thing means the death of your company, ultimately, that might not be in a couple of years, it might not be in a decade, but maybe in 100 years, people aren’t necessarily going to need what you offer. So there’s that kind of evolution there and not being tied to one service. But the brand aspect is still really important. That’s how you can move from one service to another is by being known for as a brand for being trustworthy for being honest for being somebody somebody wants to do business with, because they go Okay, well, you did that last thing? Well, there must be a reason for you kind of picking picking this area, I guess. Yeah, absolutely. Hundred percent and even investors, right, they pick the team, they don’t pick the product, they pick who’s behind it, and how much trust they have in those people? What’s the track record? Or what’s the indication that there’s a lot of potential. That being said, I do have to take a minute to say that there’s a lot to be said about
focus as well. So once you’ve found something that really works for you, and you see that there’s potential scalability, and there’s, you know, definitely a market that you want to explore, and so on, there’s a lot to be said about dropping everything else, and really focusing on that show. And I think that’s the same like in both in a professional sense, but a personal sense as well. Like, if you can see the big things that go into make that impact to make your life better to make your company better to make your relationships better. A lot of being successful is saying no, you know, like, you have all of these opportunities, and people like us get approached with various opportunities all the time, there are so many different businesses we could go into or streams of revenue, like knowing when to say no to things is just as important because it means if you say yes to everything, you won’t be able to do any of them. Well, for sure.
For sure, yeah, I think that’s one that a lot of us have, have trouble with, right? Because we get we get excited as entrepreneurs, we get excited about ideas, and we’re going after the next cute shiny thing that attracts our attention and, and sounds great, and so on. And there just comes a time where you need to say no, I’ve got this key things that are working really well and I’m gonna stick to them. Yeah, I found that quite tricky, because I get like a lot of my energy from from other people. And when I can see somebody who’s really excited about an idea, I tend to get quite excited about that. That one anyway. But um, so in terms of, you mentioned, some changes that you’ve had to make with the with the retreats, and obviously, like with Coronavirus, very, very understandable reasons why you had to make those Have you had to make kind of any other changes to the to the other side of the business to cope with COVID.
Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I would say COVID has very significantly affected
our business in both positive and negative ways. So there there’s a suite of services that are basically on hold right now because of Corona.
So the repeats and curated getaways are obviously off the table right now. There’s no entry to Indonesia for most foreigners on this
Have a residence permit. So even if we wanted to, that wouldn’t be an option. And then generally like larger events, which we use to host the hub, we used to run educational programmes for students here, like Startup Week type of events, and, and so on, those are off the table too.
And coworking is basically down at 90% in terms of, you know, membership presence at the hub, and so on.
And that is absolutely expected, right. In the current circumstances, I would say in any other country, that would be the case, for the bigger part. But Indonesia, relying a lot on people coming in as interim nomads, and so on ease is even more affected in that way. Right. Um, so those services over here are sleeping for the time being. But at the same time, a number of things that we are doing, and have been doing remotely for a long time, I was mentioning, recruitment, I was mentioning training, I was mentioning,
like business support, business development type of services, they have really been in demand, because people are trying to figure out a way like if we only think of our experience of building, scalable, remote capable teams over the last many, many years, we have learned a lot of things that work, many that don’t, and we’re happy to share. And there are a lot of people who thought this would take a few weeks, and then we’d be back with the office and no, no understanding that this is this might be a semi permanent change, right for for a lot of companies, because the tech startups are leading the way, and they’re saying remote work indefinitely, right. So a lot of other companies are following that. So it’s, I would say those things or training services on how to work, how to, to acquire skills that allow you to work remotely for Indonesians and so on, those have been
differently in demand. And we’ve been doing lots and lots of work on that. So in a way, it has kind of compensated, and something I’m personally really, really proud of is the fact that the our team, livid hops that would normally be, you know, interception, front desk would be running errands, operations, and so on. Has, we have worked really hard to kind of figure out a way to,
to transfer their skills and add more skills so that they can project manage remote projects, like courses online, they can teach, they can host events online, and so on. And they are doing amazing, and I’m really, really proud of them. Now, fantastic. I think that’s a huge achievement. And also not just an achievement to make it happen, but to have kind of the motivation and desire to make it happen in the first place. Because I think there were, unfortunately too many companies that would just say, Okay, this person used to do that.
That’s, that’s it, that job no longer exists. So we no longer need that person. So I think to put your hand up as a company and say, we’re working for this person for a reason, it’s because of who that person is. Like, we can train them up on other skills that they need, so they can fulfil other jobs. I think that’s really admirable.
And thank you for saying that. But it’s also
so much part of our philosophy, like we I’m a huge future of work enthusiastic, and I believe that
this is the future of work. It’s not us learning how to do front desk work and doing that for the next 30 years. Right? It’s being the kind of people who can start in a front desk job and then go into project management or teaching online or training or who knows what next, right? Um, all you need is the desire to learn. So. So it would have been very hypocritical of us to not to not act in that way. Right, it would have feel very, would have felt very inauthentic to say okay, just because our team is doing mostly operations and those will be on, on on on hold for a while, you know, what can we do? I had a very strong commitment to not let anybody go during this pandemic. And obviously, you can support that for a while, but you can, you can also like figure out how to create meaningful work, not only important work that is sustainable, but it’s also meaningful. So they’re walking out of this pandemic, whenever it ends, with their jobs, their full salaries and double the skills that they started with, and with a huge satisfaction of having
done something for fellow Indonesians that also want and deserve better opportunities. Hmm, fantastic. So, in terms of that, what do businesses need to look for in their, in their new hires? That sort of characteristics, the traits that will mean that they do have somebody potentially for life, no matter the role that they’re in?
I mean, I don’t think we’re gonna have people for life, it doesn’t matter what we do, because there’s, there’s something to be said about moving, there’s something to be said about new experiences, and so on. But I do think that you can significantly lengthen the retention that you have with people that you really like in your organisation, I would say a few things.
Definitely. attitudes and behaviours are more important than hard skills.
For example, the attitudes, the behaviour, the belief that, that you can learn anything, and you can do it fast is much more important than any technical or hard skills that any person could have. Because you give that person a couple of months or the right mentorship, or both, and they’ll just know that right. So that’s definitely one of them. Um, I love that quote that says, The illiterate of the 21st century are the people who are not able to learn, unlearn, and relearn. And I really, really think it’s, it’s very true, because none of us is in a job where we’ll just learn how to do it. And we’ll still be doing it this way. And 10 years from now, or even two years from now, right. And I think entrepreneurs in freelancers and digital nomads know that the best is we’re constantly reinventing what we do. And as an intrapreneur, in a company that is growing, you’re constantly needing to forget everything you’ve learned how to do in the past few years, let go delegate learn a new role, and go forthright with that. So I think that definitely this ability and this willingness to learn, and, and I would say is one of the most important things that people can can look out for.
And just a good for me personally, a good balance between being able to work to be good at teamwork, but also be a strong individual contributor is an important one, because we do need to do both. And you are missing one of those parts. If it’s a
you know, they’re cold in the startup world, but brilliant assholes, right? If it’s brilliant asshole, that like is really good at individual,
you know, contribution, but is blowing up your team or the other way around for somebody who can only function in a team and so on is probably not not a great, great combination for the future of work and where we’re headed.
And I think the ability to connect dots. So basically, all of the things that I’m talking about are very much right type of right side of brain type of skills. So anything that is left side of the brain, sort of sequential, analytical,
a, kind of a few steps that you have to follow, you know, very,
yet very algorithmic to say, so is being automated, right? As we speak, I can, I can hear the algorithms being run.
And everything that needs
anything that has to do with cross skills, cross platform, connecting things, more, have a more holistic approach, problem solving, creativity, and all of those things are things that are going to not only not only that, they are very exciting, but they’re going to be very safe for a while because, you know, robots are great, but my computer still sometimes can’t connect with the printer. So I think we’re good.
Nice. No, I was thinking about what you’re saying about the like, the characteristics and traits because we spend so much energy and time and resources in our businesses trying to find the right people. So when you have found somebody, you want to do everything you can to kind of ensure that you can keep them just from a selfish perspective because, like, you really don’t want high turnover, because replacing those people is a real pain in the ass to be honest. And so I’ve kind of always subscribe to like if we can find somebody good. And by good, I mean, like they share the characteristics that that I kind of want them to have not necessarily the hard skills. I think sometimes like the soft skills, the communication and stuff like that is more important.
So when I work with people, that the kind of things that I I look for proactivity is incredibly important to me, like people who look for jobs to do, and look for ways to improve like the company, but also them and themselves.
So that’s something that I’ve always been very good at. So I probably value that in other people, because of my own experience, like, I’ve always looked for additional courses that I could go on, or training or scenarios and wondered, okay, maybe I could do that. But like, honesty, and transparency are incredibly important, but also really good communication skills.
I think you can have all the others, but without good communication skills, it all goes to pot anyway, because people have misunderstandings and things don’t happen, because people make assumptions that somebody else was going to do that job because it wasn’t communicated properly, and things like that. So they’re kind of the things that I look for, I think, for the most part, and lots of other jobs, I’m not going to say, all jobs can be taught, there is some kind of characteristics and experience that experiences that people have that are only capable,
you know, for them to do a really, really high level, because the training that they would have to go through would be so significant. And they might never get to that level. So kind of the things that I’m thinking about here. And stuff in the hard sciences, and certain types of programming as well, in terms of the experience that’s needed, there is so significant that it doesn’t make sense to find people who who have these traits, and then train them up. You also, you basically just need to flip it on its head and find the people that already have those skills and try and find the ones that have the characteristics within that subset.
But it’s really, really, and I think that’s the challenge of scaling, right? how to how to find both once you need like a significant technical, hard skills, and you want the soft ones as well. Hmm. So once we have those characteristics in our head, of, you know, this is what we want, and we’re going to train that person up, for example.
How do we go about finding, finding those people or, you know, if we have them in the traditional kind of job application, routine, you know, interview that sort of thing? How do we actually find out whether these people have those characteristics that we’re looking for? Mm hmm.
Yeah, I think listening to you, and I think you’ll have a lot of, yeah, you had a lot of great points on that. I think it also, there’s a lot to be said about initiating your values to yourself and to other people. And
let’s put a strike through on values and say behaviours, because you say in integrity, but that can mean five different things for five different people, or 10 different things for casino people, right. Or we can say,
high performance teamwork, which is one of our values. But if you don’t break that down into behaviours that are encouraged or expected in your organisation, that can mean very different things, right. And so, so one thing, kind of a side note, but very much related, what we’ve done is that we actually went through that process of enunciating those values, and then breaking them down and behaviours. And our entire performance on performance and feedback process is kind of centred around them, right. So we don’t even have them in the hub as a like a poster or something like that. They are very much things that are at the base of what we do. I would say
if you are serious about building a company, the best thing you can do is to build an employer brand. So two in the same way you sell the experience of being a customer to your customers, you would sell the experience of sell to say so the experience of being employed or working with your company to potential talent, right? Because it is a word for talent, like we we’re not, we’re not looking for like the next data entry person that can just sit there and and enter data, right? It’s, again, this there’s probably somebody automating or outsourcing, right? So we’re looking for people who can actively and smartly contribute to our companies. So the best way to, to hire to attract great people.
is to be known as a great employer. And there are many, many different ways that you can do that. Some as simple as, you know, owning the Glassdoor profile, which a lot of candidates look look up to. And it’s free. So you can kind of, you know, start replying to what people say there, you might discover you already have some that you didn’t even know have some reviews because people can do that without without you knowing.
Two things like word of mouth, which again, is very important, right? Like, what what do people who work for you right now say about working for you with the the famous NPS score, right, which people work for you or with you right now recommend the same thing to others. I think a lot of people don’t think of that, you know, they, and they don’t take the time to hear the other side of the story, they might think they’re a great employer, but if you ask the team members, they don’t, they don’t particularly agree. Um, and, and things like, sort of talking about how it is to, you know, on the blog, or on your social media, and so on, obviously, not making up stories, but talking about how it is to work at or for your company,
kind of introducing the team members, there’s always a lot to be said about, like putting faces on, you know, the people that your customers might might be talking to, and so on. So I would say that’s definitely the strongest, the strongest, like best strategy to attract people that fit in your organisation, because it’s a pool effect, right, it’s like, people will head your way who might already be a great fit, right, having a referral programme running a referral programme in your company, or amongst your clients, or partners or people that know your culture? Well, right, that’s also a great way to go. In terms of selecting people that might be applying and so on.
Again, I could talk about this for a while. And there, yeah, there are, there are a few ways to to look at that. So
you know, you might be working with a recruiter, especially a certain company or so on to get those people on board, which will take a part of, you know, screening people through for those specific things that you’ve, you’ve sort of communicated with them. But they’re also also things like, there’s this little
bot called astronaut that allows you to automate
screening interviews, right, they, they can take a lot of time, if you have a lot of applicants, right. So you can, you can basically ask people to record themselves giving answers to a number of questions, and then pick the answers that are really important for you and decide based on that, instead of spending entire days, you know,
going through screening interviews, and at some point, just being like, I don’t want to do this anymore, let’s just get this one guy here. Um, so so there are a lot of a lot of different ways of of doing that, I would say if you’re a small company, and if you’re just starting to hire, definitely being clear on those things that are important for you. And asking your potential collaborators, freelancers, existing team partners, clients to recommend you people might be one of the safest and
free free ways to get great candidates, right. And then just being a nice person to work with is probably
the best hack to see. So yeah, so just being kind of the the type of person that people want to work around as well. And I think I just want to because I feel like it got I got missed, because your answer was so so comprehensive and wonderful.
The thing that you said most, like at the beginning of that answer was probably the most striking part to me, this kind of separation between values and behaviours. So looking at what values and actually writing them down, and being explicit about the values that you find most important, both in yourself and your company, and anybody who works with your with your company, or for your company. But then distilling those values and looking for examples of those behaviours and practice in whoever you’re interviewing. So, you You gave kind of you mentioned integrity at the beginning, and I can think, Okay, well how would we look for a behaviour that that shows kind of integrity or lack thereof? So one question might be
when did you miss make a mistake in your previous in your previous role, and I can think for me, like the answer
So that comes to mind is, when I was working at a previous agency and I was heading up a paid campaign, the dates changed. And I basically overspent by quite a bit. And the client, the clients money accidentally, because one of the paid campaigns, the date range, the flight and launch dates changed.
And then you kind of ask, Well, how did you handle that, and kind of listen for the steps that they went through, and whether they immediately told somebody, or, you know, who they told and what manner in crime, trying to pick out those actual behaviours, rather than just like, as you said, which is an incredible, incredibly valuable point. values is one thing, this is kind of, you know, the thoughts that we have our belief system, but what we actually need to find examples of those belief systems being carried out those values actual actually taking place, and that is the behaviour aspect of it. Because I think anybody can say that they value honesty, and transparency and communication, like those all sound like really great interview answers, but until you kind of look at the actual behaviours, and whether somebody tick those off, or, or made a mistake in that error and didn’t follow through with what they supposedly believe. We’re kind of just taking them at their word.
And that’s one of the issues that I find with interviews, as a concept, like anybody can come across really well in an interview, and then be absolutely awful to work with, or bad at their job. And conversely, unfortunately, some people don’t do very well in the interview situation, and miss out on jobs and roles that they’d be fantastic at.
Other than kind of, and I don’t want to put you on the spot too much here, because it’s a huge question. It’s basically kind of like reframing the whole hiring scenario. But other other things that people can do, and companies can do to move away from just focusing on interviews to hire for the people that we’re talking about the people that, you know, are capable of doing lots of different roles, the people that we do want to stick around for a long time.
Yeah, so I would say, I very much agree with you that there are people that just interview well, and you will then be very surprised what you’re so so obviously, you can interview in a more mindful way and in a more thoughtful way and well planned way. Or you can just ask some generic questions. And obviously, the The first option is better. But there are definitely quite a few things you can’t pull out no matter, you can be a professional recruiter, and there would just be people who are just very skilled applicants, very skilled candidates, right? Like they’re very good at getting jobs.
So obviously, relying just on interviews is probably not a great idea. I would say if the job can be a more entry level type of job, I would really recommend working with, let’s say internship programmes, or kind of fresh graduate programmes. There’s one notable one that we actually work with is called start me up careers is actually
started by a British woman. And and she basically trains people and places them in remote internships, that then very often turn into jobs, right. So that’s a very good way of getting somebody that is a little bit supervised and mentored by someone else already, and had gone through a vetting process and can have a potentially unpaid internship with you. And then if you’re happy, you turn that into a position that obviously needs a bit of a time commitment and investment of time. But it’s a very valid way of doing it if you’re into nurturing talent, right? Like the job is not super sophisticated, as you were saying you need to study years and years to even get started on it. If it’s a more senior position, I would say always try to look for, for referrals for genuine referrals from people that have worked with the person tried to do short term work with them if you can, right, work with them as a contractor, collaborator, have a limited contract with them, and see how things are going.
Uh, we, you know, we recruit a lot we’ve recruited for about 250 rolls for clients so far, and we still make mistakes in recruitment. And we there’s no way to eliminate those as we were just saying, right, there are some people that just fly under the radar.
or above the reader? Um, so, so yeah, so basically, again, asking for recommendations for referrals, trying to work with those people in some sort of capacity before, you know, throwing everything in and so on, would probably be some of the best ways to avoid that. For me, nurturing talent is a massive one. So just like investing that time to train people and shape them in the way that, you know, you kind of see the potential there, and then you shape them in the way that, that, that your organisation kind of, is and and and needs people is
Many of the people in our team have been the core part of our team has been with us for five years, or five plus years. Fantastic. No, I love that. And it goes back to like, you find somebody good, why would you let them go? Like, do everything you can to keep them and make use of their skill set, because you already know some of the most important things about them, you’re hurting know, like their character, you already know how they perform under pressure, you already know what happens when they’re put in the situations that they’re going to be experiencing again, but in a different in a different role. So I love that.
Fantastic, I think at the same time do not depend on people staying with you forever. So there’s a lot to be said about organisational memory, like, get serious about documenting your processes and the things especially the repeated stuff, because you do not know right, you do not know when people need to leave you without wanting to or, you know,
sure now like slps, and just really, really valuable tool to document this. And it’s something that I’ve kind of started doing in the last year really those repeat tasks, it’s literally as easy as just firing up loom or zoom and recording yourself. And just going through it step by step, it doesn’t need to be a big, detailed thing, because I tend to find with people the more detailed or the more time it thinks that they think that it’s going to take, the less likely they are to do it in the first place you wit and they don’t feel as justified. So I would say short lose totally with you a great way of doing it. Another great way of doing it is
sort of Asana or whatever use your project management software of choice templates, right. And then like a little bit of description, sending to the right links, or the rights documents or whatever, even something like that can go a long way. And it doesn’t take you more than 20 minutes to put one together. Or if you like writing just a long list of bullet points or whatever. If you’re more sophisticated and into into you know, you’re going to want to scale something like train you will can help a lot where you have all of the things in an actual system and it saves you so much time. So this kind of projects are some of the things we’ve we’ve been working on with with clients to help them be able to scale.
While it seems like you’re you’re doing a fantastic job with limit of improving things for entrepreneurs and their teams and, and how they hire and how they run and scale their businesses. But I think you’re also doing great things for for kind of the Indonesians and people kind of in the local area as well. So I think that’s really commendable. Where can where can people go to find out more both about yourself and live it and what you guys are accomplishing?
Absolutely. So our website is pretty straightforward. Li ve dot i t so
that’s I’m guessing you put that into the show notes as well am and so our website has a lot of the things we do and links to other websites that that are related to what we do.
And I’m always happy to hear from people or connect via LinkedIn. So it’s my name, I guess you’ll have it you’ll have a direct link in the notes as well. And then connecting via social media for accounts to two stay in touch and
perhaps see what we’re up to. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Lavinia I think our audience will appreciate this episode. I really do. So thank you again, and speak to you soon.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure. You’re quite welcome.