We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better workplaces.
We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.
I went to med school, but my heart was always in World of Warcraft. During college, I spent all my free time leading 40-people raids twice a week while managing teams that wrote news & articles about video games.
After that, I was a dental surgeon and a productive member of society for nine years. I decided to quit that because a) I got bored and b) some people in my family were great professionals but disabled, and they weren’t getting the career opportunities they deserved because of their disability.
That’s when I decided to use my game and writing experience to crusade for remote work. That led to the creation of the internet’s top resource for remote work news, stories & guides—ThinkRemote.com
If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?
Internet geek. Coffee-obsessed. Cat memes. Probably a little bit crazy but mostly harmless. Probably.
Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?
My first boss was a natural entrepreneur, and he was the one that drove home the point that marketing and salesmanship don’t have to be icky. One day he took me aside and asked me:
“Do you believe we’re helping these people?”
“Yes, of course! We’re improving their health condition significantly.”
“So why are you so afraid to convince them to get the treatments? I’m not asking you to be pushy – I’m asking you to help them visualize the impact our help will have on their well-being.”
That stuck with me for the rest of my career.
What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?
Working one extra hour daily puts you in the top 20% of performers. I know it’s not fashionable—and I do care a lot about things like physical and mental health and avoiding burnout—but the reality is that hard work pays off, especially while you are young.
Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?
A world where work is more optional.
The idea is this: most bad client experiences come from the fact that the professionals aren’t engaged. They aren’t engaged because they don’t want to do their jobs—it’s something they need to put up with to pay rent and groceries.
A world where this is the norm will boost the quality of everything to levels previously unseen.
For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?
On a societal level, the whole educational system produces adults with a skill set that was useful back in the industrial age.
On a governmental level, the lack of plans to implement universal basic income.
On an organizational level—which I assume is the level at which most people reading this will have some agency—they are settling for low-engagement, low-cost people on any level of their business.
What steps do you recommend someone take in order to remove this blocker?
Be very strict about only hiring people who genuinely love their jobs. Then pay them well enough that they don’t have to worry about their bills.Luis Magalhaes
A person who a) has their comfort needs met and b) loves their job is someone who will always strive for excellence.
There’s this scene in the movie “Chef” with Jon Favreau that encapsulates this point. In the scene, he’s a chef teaching his kid how to man a food truck by serving free sandwiches to blue-collar workers. When the kid tries to serve a burnt sandwich because “Who cares? It’s free.” his father takes him aside and chides him, explaining that cooking is his life and it doesn’t matter if the client is paying or not, what matters is that a real pro can’t live knowing they delivered sub-par work.
Imagine living in a world where everyone thought about their work like this? That’s a better world of work.
What steps do you recommend someone take in order to put your idea (from the previous question) into action?
Don’t settle for a good CV and good references. Talk with people about their job, about how they do it. You want someone who would do this even if they weren’t paid to do so—I love hiring people with a background of volunteering in the field.
In addition to this, look for life-long learners in their fields. Ask for favorite mentors, books, major influences in their way of thinking and career trajectory. Ask about how they are actively learning new things in their field and upgrading their knowledge.
Anyone who’s not looking to level up their skills & knowledge outside of work is someone who doesn’t love what they do.
Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that is leading us towards a better world of work?
My team works best when I leave them to it.
I’ve seen the best results in remote teams come from giving them a direction or goal and then giving them the autonomy to organize and work toward it as they see fit.Luis Magalhaes
In this kind of scenario, leadership becomes more about playing a support role and helping people sync with others, plus identifying and bypassing roadblocks and bottlenecks.
I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?
I’ve recently met Sondre Rasch from Safetywing, and I’m impressed at his vision for the future, not only of work but of the world.
He envisions the Internet as its own country and is actively working towards creating a sort of internet citizenship with their rights & responsibilities.
How can our readers follow your work?
The best place to find me is on LinkedIn, and for my work, check out Think Remote.
Thank you for adding your voice to People Managing People’s interview series on How to Build a Better World of Work!
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