Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
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Why Remote Work Is The Future

Featuring Guest -

Maren Kate

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
June 9, 2020

Maren Kate is an entrepreneur, writer, distributed workforce expert, and serial founder who has launched four companies, including Zirtual.com which employed over 450 employees spread across North America and was doing $11M/yr in revenue. From starting her first business in college selling jewelry on ebay to her most recent boutique recruiting firm helping to hire over a thousand fully remote professionals, this leader in the remote work revolution earned a 5 million dollar MBA in human capital by spending 15 years in the trenches. With so much experience and expertise it is a natural next step for her to launch Inde.co, an online platform for remote workers.

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what you'll learn in this episode

  • What is was like for Maren to grow Zirtual 450 employees and $11 million in revenue in her 20's
  • How Maren dealt with the depression after Zirtual's fall.
  • How Maren found her identity after her startup failure.
  • Avra Talent's unique 5 person approach to recruiting remote talent for companies.
  • How Inde.Co is helping remote workers advance their careers and find remote jobs.
  • Why Maren is passionate about the positive impacts of remote work.
  • How to find remote jobs during COVID-19.
  • How founders need to approach hiring remote talent.
  • What Inde offers that is better than a resume or Linkedin.
  • How to build trust in a remote culture.
  • How Maren lives and uses extreme ownership in her business
  • The entrepreneur values Maren learned from her immigrant family
  • Where Maren see the future of work going
  • How education could better prepare students for the future of work.
  • How Maren contemplates death and how it drives her.

How we can push the world to Evolve

Well, I would say probably extreme ownership is actually starting small and, and pushing yourself to evolve. That's the biggest thing. That's all you really have control over. And then if you can do that and then it gives you a little more bandwidth to maybe help other people and raise consciousness that way.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode


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Brandon Stover: [00:00:00] Hey everyone, I have a special announcement today. How many of you struggled to find good podcasts to listen to you, to have the time to filter through the hundreds of podcasts that are on there, especially when you're trying to look up for something that's going to bring you inspiration or the next knowledge that you need, or just something to entertain you in those in between moments?

[00:00:19] Well, if you're listening to this podcast, you already have really great taste, but what if I could bring you. If some of the best of the best podcasts, um, that I've rounded up from the week before. So I listened to 25 to 30 different podcasts, uh, ranging from a whole bunch of things, from neuroscience to health to start ups to personal development, all kinds of things.

[00:00:40] And I want to bring you the best of the best of five to seven episodes that I think are really gonna move the needle for you. And I've gone ahead and put them into a pod class Roundup playlist, and I want to send that to you every single week so that you don't have to filter through this stuff. And you have the best of the best already.

[00:01:00] So if you text evolve to five Oh nine. Two, one three zero zero four zero I'm going to go ahead and text you the playlist, and then every week I'll let you know when the new plague list is up and when the new episode of evolve is coming out. So you'll be in the know every single week, have access to that as well as that's.

[00:01:20] An actual number. Like if you text that number back to me, you get direct access to me. You can ask questions and leave me feedback. I read everything again, that's a direct line to me and that's (509) 213-0040 and to get on this list, you just text evolve. That's easy. V O L V E to (509) 213-0040 I hope you guys will join me.

[00:01:46] Um, listen to some awesome podcasts and enjoy today's episode on this episode of the evolve podcast.

[00:01:54] Maren Kate: [00:01:54] I mean, in the next 10 to 20 years, we're going to see huge disruptions around automatic automation and, um, and robotics. So there's going to be a lot of stuff that are done by people now that will not be done by people anymore.

[00:02:10] Brandon Stover: [00:02:10] Welcome to evolve. My name is Brandon silver and I believe that evolution of the world requires evolution of the individual. I believe entrepreneurs are consistently changing that world, and we always will be. So with this show, I will bring you the people in ideas with tools necessary to hack your growth in your business and your life together lets us the world's biggest questions, build businesses to solve them and live happy and fulfilling lives in the process. It's time to evolve.

[00:02:35] Hey everyone, welcome to evolve. Today's guest is an entrepreneur writer, distributed workforce expert and serial founder, who's launched four companies, including zirtual.com which employed over 450 employees spread across North America and was doing 11 million a year in revenue.

[00:02:53] From starting her first business in college, selling jewelry on eBay to our most recent boutique recruiting firm, hoping to hire over a thousand fully remote professionals. This leader in the remote work revolution in a $5 million MBA in human capital by spending 15 years in the trenches. Having started as an English literature college dropout.

[00:03:14] I'm blogging about escaping the nine to five. She fought her way into the founders Institute, uproot in her life to Silicon Valley and spent four years building Zirtual to a painful exit and emailing hundreds of employees, including her own family, telling them to non clock in the next morning. She then spent the next four years in the wilderness.

[00:03:34] Working as COO with calm.com when they were just a dozen people and traveling the world with co-living startup called Rome. After launching average talent and spending the last half decade and the hardest years of her life, she had realized her life's work was with the belief that there is the right job for every person and the right person for every job.

[00:03:55] With so much experience and expertise, it is a natural next step for her to launch  indeed.co an online platform for remote workers and what an opportune time with the coconut pandemic and 23 million people unemployed in the U S alone underscoring the need for connecting great people with good work.

[00:04:14] She has shared her outstanding expertise in hiring, outsourcing, virtual work, and distributed teams for numerous conferences, including industry, but future work and founders Institute been featured in publications such as business insider, inc conventure beat and offering her first book entitled going remote, which is a no bullshit guide to stand out, get hired, and take control of your career through remote work.

[00:04:38] I'm honored to welcome founder and CEO. Of indy.co four time founder and a lover of pigeons marrying Kate.

[00:04:47] Maren Kate: [00:04:47] Hi. Thanks for having me.

[00:04:48] Brandon Stover: [00:04:48] Absolutely. Well, let's go ahead and start a little bit with your background. Um, and your first startup, Zirtual, which you grew to 450 people. You were 20 something CEO. What was this like for you?

[00:05:02] Maren Kate: [00:05:02] Um, I mean, in a lot of ways it was amazing because, uh, we grew really fast in the first few years, and it was just really exciting. It was a completely new experience. The businesses I had built before that were pretty, pretty small, um, from an eBay business that I had. Throughout most of college to, you know, helping, uh, other businesses build out websites and social media presence.

[00:05:28] So going to Silicon Valley and kind of doing the startup thing was, was really fun. Um, also really stressful, but all in all, it was a, it was a crazy time.

[00:05:39] Brandon Stover: [00:05:39] What were some of the biggest lessons you learned during the rise and then the eventual

[00:05:43] Maren Kate: [00:05:43] fall. I think one of the big takeaways is to be really clear on, um, what you're going to do with capital and what the reason for raising it is if you do decide to raise it.

[00:05:59] Uh, I was in San Francisco during a time where everyone was raising capital is kind of flowing. Um, and I didn't realize that. The, just because you could raise money didn't mean it's necessarily the right thing for your business. I just kind of assumed I was naive that if you could raise money, raise money, not understanding fully, just the, um.

[00:06:22] The full expectations that come with raising venture. So that was a really big lesson. Um, I mean, I'm planning on raising money with, uh, with our new venture indie, but I now have a much better understanding of, you know, why we're doing that and the goals that we would want to hit. And also understanding when you raise money, your, your making the commitment to, you know.

[00:06:46] Go big and do it relatively quickly, like in a 10 year span versus some businesses you want to keep private or not. I have to grow as quickly and it just really depends on what you're looking for and also the type of business

[00:07:02] Brandon Stover: [00:07:02] you're, I think you've learned a lot about, you know, finances and can take in control of your money as well.

[00:07:07] I'm having a little bit of a happenstance with the CFO that you originally had,

[00:07:12] Maren Kate: [00:07:12] um, working with you guys. Yeah. It taught me a lot about really understanding, you know, just like you manage your own checkbook and personal finances, or should being, not necessarily assuming that just because someone is an expert, that they always know what they're doing or that they're, they never make mistakes.

[00:07:31] So really digging in and when you have a gut, even as a green founder, um, you know, at the end of the day, it's your company and your responsibility. So even if someone's got their. CPA and went to Harvard, it doesn't mean that they can't make mistakes. So being able to, to kind of push back on that important,

[00:07:49] Brandon Stover: [00:07:49] uh, after that, it's kind of fall, you kind of reached a depression and traveling, you know, kind of saved you from this.

[00:07:55] What kind of struggles were you. Dealing with during those times

[00:07:59] Maren Kate: [00:07:59] when anything ends, it's really difficult, but especially when you've put, you know, the last five or six years of your life into a company and you're building it with the people that are closest to you, your co-founders, your early employees, um, you know, it's, it can, it can feel like a death.

[00:08:16] Um, right. In a lot of ways. Sometimes when you're building something, you put all the energy, it becomes like its own entity, you know, kind of like, it's like we, I always used to refer to Zirtual as my baby, and so when that, you know, when you have to step away, when you sell, even if you have a great exit. I know founders that have sold.

[00:08:36] Companies from millions to billions of dollars. And when they step away, it's, it's kind of devastating because it's just like, it's the momentum. It's what they've been doing for the last five to 10 years or more. So I would say kind of resetting and understanding, you know, understanding your identity outside of.

[00:08:58] A business is really important and no matter what you're doing, if you're producing art or business or whatever your career is, it's important to, to have your own identity outside of that, you know, you're not just what you do. And I think especially in, um, maybe the high pace, uh, venture startup world, sometimes we forget that and we get, we get so excited, you know, chasing a big dream.

[00:09:25] You're. Your whole life gets tied up into it.

[00:09:30] Brandon Stover: [00:09:30] How did you navigate those waters of kind of finding yourself, especially in the, in between projects?

[00:09:36] Maren Kate: [00:09:36] I mean, it took a lot, took time. It took a lot of, uh, reading. I read a ton. I did a deep dive. I thought potentially I might want to start a business in the death care industry because I had just gone through, uh, some losses and.

[00:09:54] It was actually one of the most amazing kind of things that I did because even though I was thinking through is there a business opportunity to help people more and better, um, I started digging into the philosophical side of kind of memento Mori and, and how we lead better lives when we're very cognizant and not afraid of death.

[00:10:14] And I think that was one of the biggest things that helped me, um, move on and kind of, you know, shake off, uh, the funk that I had been in for a few years. Um, but at the same time also traveling's amazing reading as amazing. And then just time, you know, letting yourself take the time to feel all the feels and to process through things and just to choose to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

[00:10:40] Yeah, yeah.

[00:10:41] Brandon Stover: [00:10:41] Well, you decided to return to the market of human capital and built your agency. How have you been helping employers kind of find that perfect fit for open roles?

[00:10:53] Maren Kate: [00:10:53] Yes. So, um, when I was at comm. I talked to the founders there and just some other entrepreneurial friends and I was kind of kicking myself for some poor hires that I'd made it searchable.

[00:11:08] And I had just assumed that it was because I didn't know what I was doing, but I assumed everybody else did. Um, cause that's often, you know, kind of how we think and. All the founders I talked to is like, Oh yeah, no, none of us know. Like in the beginning, it's always really hard to hire, especially when you're hiring for a role that you're not an expert at.

[00:11:26] So if you're an engineer, it's easier for you to hire engineers, but if you're not an operator, I think it's hard for you to hire a COO or CFO. So after comm, I actually decided that I wanted to only get really, really good at hiring. I wanted to be like within the 95th percentile. So I was like, well, how would I do this?

[00:11:45] I could try to get a job as a recruiter, or I was like, maybe I could start a recruiting firm, take my specific skill set around building remote teams and kind of breaking things down into systems and apply that. So at offer talent, which is the agency I started, um, we have actually taken the role of a traditional recruiter, they call it a full cycle recruiter, and we broke it down into these five distinct disciplines because as an entrepreneur, I was like, you know what?

[00:12:18] There's more efficient way than one human being doing all these different, um. Types of work and context switching throughout the day. That doesn't make sense. I talked to dozens of recruiters, I talked to dozens of founders and I was like, Hmm, I think this can be done differently. So by breaking one role into five distinct functions, we're able to have different people that Excel at different functions and were able to have teams that run in tandem versus kind of the more old school individual recruiter model.

[00:12:47] Yeah.

[00:12:48] Brandon Stover: [00:12:48] And just like when you're hiring, hiring for somebody, like you want somebody focusing on one task, doing what they Excel at. So breaking that recruiting role into five different areas completely makes sense.

[00:13:00] Maren Kate: [00:13:00] Exactly.

[00:13:01] Brandon Stover: [00:13:01] Well, how are you guys doing the flip side of this now with indie.co and helping the remote workers to match up?

[00:13:10] Maren Kate: [00:13:10] Yeah, so over the three years, so I'm still a founding partner at Abra, but my, my cofounders now running it as I'm focused on indie and over the years with offer, one thing we noticed is we helped, you know, dozens of companies hire hundreds of people. Is that we were always getting requests from actual candidates.

[00:13:29] Um, we focused a lot on remote recruiting and we would get dozens of emails each week. They were like, Hey, I'm in marketing at X company and I want to go remote, or I'm looking for a new job, but I really would love to have a remote one. Like, can you help me? And I always, cause I kind of had my blinders on was like, you know what?

[00:13:49] We were. With companies. That's not really what we do. Um, here's some resources. I used to write blog posts about it. I'd be like, you know, be as helpful as possible, but I never really, it didn't click until later that there's this massive opportunity to actually help professionals, um, not only navigate the shift to remote work, but actually how to help them.

[00:14:13] Learn, learn the process it is to getting hired. Um, it's so interesting. We spend over on average, 90,000 hours in a lifetime working, and there is so much time and money that are pumped into the, the world of work. Um. Whether it's the $7 trillion in private payroll that goes out every year in the U S or the, you know, hundreds of startups that launch in the recruiting HR tech space.

[00:14:43] But we're always focused on the employer. And at the end of the day. What I, the big gap in the market is that, um, how can we help people learn to, to thrive and remote roles, but specifically help them land find and land remote roles. And one of the problem with a remote job. Versus a traditional job. Is that because there are still a lot fewer though?

[00:15:11] This is rapidly changing, especially with Cobra 19. Um, you will get, because there's, there's no geography boundaries. You'll get 20 X as many applicants for a remote role. So instead of getting a hundred. Applicants in San Francisco for a customer support role. If your envision, you're hiring for CS, you'll probably get 2000 and most companies have a really hard time filtering through this.

[00:15:36] It breaks their traditional recruiting systems and most candidates, it's a frustrating experience for them, but most candidates don't know, haven't been taught how to actually stand out and how to run their job search like you would any other process like you would. Sales process like you would an investment raising process.

[00:15:53] So with India, where we're super early, but we're actually in the process of building out a prototype for this beautiful visual profile that will help people stand out, um, for potential employers and really highlight the things that, that the specific job, the specific. A employer is looking for, but also on the backend, creating, um, a flow, a user flow that allows that, that takes them step by step through the job search that allows them to run their job search.

[00:16:26] Like you are running a product marketing campaign. Track analytics get a really good sense of what works, what doesn't. Um, when people open emails, uh, finding the email for like the hiring manager and going directly to them. Um, we found that when you record a video, you could use something like loom and you embed it in an application process.

[00:16:47] The response rate is much higher. So we're building that in Indy and the analog version of what we're building is this book that I'm currently writing called going remote, and it's going to be about 200 250 pages, and it's literally a step-by-step tactical guide of this is how you get hired, and this is how you get hired specifically in a remote.

[00:17:09] Environment specifically in an economy that now is in a recession. So you're going to be competing with 500 a thousand people. But here are the exact ways to not only stand out from the crowd, but to start with taking a step back and understanding what are my real drivers, what am I, could I be best in the world at, and what do I really want?

[00:17:31] And then basing everything off that versus often what we do is. Kind of reactive when we think about, you know, what's our next job, especially if we're unemployed or in uncertain economic times.

[00:17:42] Brandon Stover: [00:17:42] Yeah. Well, I definitely want to dive into what India is doing and some of those tactics, but before I do that, why are you so passionate about, you know, the positive impact remote work can have and, you know, pairing these people together.

[00:17:55] Maren Kate: [00:17:55] So as a kid, I moved around a decent, not with my family, and my dad would change jobs a lot. Um, my mom was a stay at home mom. She homeschooled us for a good portion of our childhood, and because of that, you know, we struggled financially and there was a lot of instability. Um. Kind of on that side sometimes.

[00:18:14] And so I think it, it lodged in my head really early, a how impactful, meaningful work is. And when you're doing a job in and you feel valued and you feel like it's adding, meaning it really, it, um. You know, it's part of our wellbeing. It's part of who we are. Uh, but then the other aspect of, you know, thinking if my mom was really smart, um, you know, super hard worker.

[00:18:39] She's worked at, meet with me now at my last three companies. Um, but like, if she could have worked remotely while she was homeschooling, I was just, what a difference that would have made in our family. So that's something, it's, it's very near and dear to my heart. Um. And I just think that with remote work, the beauty is that it's kind of the great equalizer.

[00:18:58] Um, you don't have to be in the Bay area. You don't have to, it's, it's. Remote work is so much more about results than optics. And that's something as someone who didn't grow up, you know, with a silver spoon and who didn't go to a great college. So I got all this amazing network where, you know, I can call on a friend of a friend and like get a cushy job on wall street.

[00:19:22] I, I always bucked against the idea that. You know, I just, I love the idea of if you are good at what you do and if you work hard and you can pursue present results and then, you know, like meritocracy, pretty much.

[00:19:39] Brandon Stover: [00:19:39] Uh, I completely agree and I think that's a huge aspect of it. You know, getting away from the button, see hours to rather what kind of results can you do.

[00:19:48] And it doesn't matter who you are, as long as you get those results, that's what you get paid for.

[00:19:53] Maren Kate: [00:19:53] Yep. And I think the beauty that we're seeing with this, this rapid shift to remote work, just because of this global pandemic, is that people are starting to realize, wow, like, you know, this, it doesn't matter if I see my employee as long as they're working.

[00:20:09] I think, um, the disruption we're going to see because of a, you know, a horrible, horrible, global. You know, thing is going to actually be in the next 10 years. On the work front. It's really gonna put us, um, ahead.

[00:20:23] Brandon Stover: [00:20:23] What are some of the tactics that somebody could implement today when they're looking for work during this pandemic?

[00:20:30] Maren Kate: [00:20:30] Yeah, absolutely. So I think the biggest thing is, is starting with understanding your foundation, understanding what's really important. Um, like I mentioned before, the reactiveness we tend to, to kind of deal with, especially when we're uncertain or we need work. I mean, sometimes we just start going in, applying Willy nilly.

[00:20:52] You go on angel list sponsored recruiter, you know, um, you ping people, you submit resumes, but what. We need to realize is that first of all, the people at the other, like, you're, you are your product. Especially now. Um, we're changing jobs every three years at this rate, and it may be even more than that in the future.

[00:21:12] So when you're looking for a new role, it's really important to understand what. Is important to you, what I call it, your career drivers. You know, at different stages in your life, different drivers are going to mean more if you're already financially set. Money might not be as big of a driver, but maybe instead growth isn't big driver or I'm giving back.

[00:21:35] Um, versus if you are in debt or maybe you're. New to the workforce or even out of the workforce for a while. Maybe money is more important. So we actually help people stack rank those, um, you know, those drivers. So it's lifestyle, uh, are, is it more important for you? Will you take a pay cut or do a different type of work if you can have more flexible work versus more, you know, nine to nine.

[00:21:59] So being able to. Break all that down and really take a deep look at yourself and what you're looking for, and then where you want to go, like what your goals are. And it doesn't matter what they are, it just matters. Being honest with yourself, writing it all out. And then from there you actually think about what you're good at.

[00:22:16] Um, and I always suggest people ask those around them as such, if people they've worked with in any way, shape or form. People that have worked for them, people they've worked with, um, peers. Ask 10, 15 people if you can just hop on quick calls and ask them what they would stack rank. We call it your core four.

[00:22:34] Um, and I think I actually have mine right here. Mine are copywriting, recruiting scalable people's systems. And. Product, vision, slash, ideation, and these are all kind of very different, but what you do is when you start overlapping them and then you think about the industries that you're very interested in.

[00:22:54] So I'm interested in human capital, um, in things that are involved with remote work, you're able to not only get a good understanding of yourself, but you're able to craft a really. Interesting story of your product when you go out to hiring managers go out to the world. So what most people do and which is always backfires, is they start with the, I'm a Jack of all trades.

[00:23:18] I can do this. I could do that. You know, you put 10 or 20 things in your resume, um, you keyword stuff, your linked in and H S hiring managers, entrepreneurs just turn off versus the way I tell people to think about it is. When I'm looking to hire someone, I am looking to solve a pain, and I want the person who's applying to show me, paint me a simple picture, how they will solve my pain, how they'll take that pain away, or they, you know, and then, then what the good result after that is going to be.

[00:23:51] And if the great part is, it's like, it really is all about simplicity when you're so, so you say, okay. When you're a digital marketing manager and you're applying for a role, you say, Hey, I'm a company that has had to shift online because of coven. Uh, you've got all these great products and you, you know, and, and this big market.

[00:24:16] But what I'm going to do is I'm going to help us narrow into our best user, and then I'm going to. Take the sales or digital channels and I'm going to 10 X them and this is how I'm going to do it. And the reason I'm gonna do it is because this is my experience. Here are the projects I've done in this space.

[00:24:32] This is why I'm passionate about your business and your idea. That's such a more compelling story. Um, so, you know, I think what we forget when we're looking for roles is in, unless we're in sales, we're usually not very good at selling ourselves. And. That's kind of what I'm trying to help people unlock.

[00:24:51] Because once you do figure that out, especially once you understand your drivers and what you're really good at, it makes, it just unlocks the process you go like so quickly. You'll be within the top 5% of anyone applying for roles because you'll stand out so much better.

[00:25:07] Brandon Stover: [00:25:07] Hmm. What I love about this process is first just having people start with themselves and identify, you know, what are their values?

[00:25:14] What is it they actually want? And then aligning their work with that. Because I think so many people, especially in a time like this, you know, they're freaking out. They may need work right now. Um. They're just, you know, like you said, applying Willy nilly to a bunch of different places and it may not match where they want to go when you know who they are as a person.

[00:25:32] But then the second thing is taking those values, taking those goals, and then being able to market yourself just like a product because you are the product in this age and showcasing to those people why you are different and you're going to help their company and what you're going to bring to the table.

[00:25:50] And, um, you know, showing. The work that you will be doing. Not just saying I could do that, but showing kind of a plan as you were saying.

[00:25:58] Maren Kate: [00:25:58] And then also it's just at different stages in your career and depending on what your drivers are, what you're looking for, even what the market is like, you're going to shift the way you tell your story.

[00:26:10] So you may be applying for one role where you highlight your experience more heavy. You maybe you're praying for another role where you actually highlight the, some of the projects you've done or personal testimonials. That's another. Thing we tell people to do, ask for testimonials. You can, you know, you can request a testimonial on LinkedIn or something, but that's owned by them.

[00:26:30] Like I am always a big proponent of people building out their own, their own professional sites, um, and, and collecting testimonials and referrals for people. And then, you know, asking to use them and adding those to. Uh, an email. It's the same thing as you would do as sales. When we're closing a sale for Abra, I'll follow up with a potential client and say, here's our NPS score, and here is three testimonials from clients.

[00:26:55] Now, if I was applying to be the head of operations at a new startup, I would say. Hey, here's some followup information. It was great chatting. Oh, by the way, I wanted to let you know that Jason Calacanis, who's a angel investor and a former investor of mine and advisor, he actually gave me this testimonial.

[00:27:13] Here's a link to it, and then when I worked directly with Alex, who's the CEO of calm, he gave me a testimony on my operation skills, and here's a link to it. I'm happy to connect you with either of them. Nine times out of 10 someone doesn't even need to connect. It just is such a social proof of Oh, other people, and especially if there are people in.

[00:27:30] That are relevant that like have some sort of. Gravitas, but it doesn't even have to be, it's just, it's, it's helping people say yes, it's getting them to yes. And getting, and the biggest thing is like being able to get on the interview that first, you know, zoom or phone call. Because then if you, if you know your stuff, and we do talk about how to interview too, it's a lot easier, um, especially in remote.

[00:27:53] And it's all about results.

[00:27:54] Brandon Stover: [00:27:54] Well, so for the flip side of this, maybe, um, you know, for some of our early stage startup founders that are listening right now, you guys talk about, uh. Crafting a job description to, you know, attract the exact person that you want in that role in understanding, you know, what you actually need done in your company.

[00:28:13] How should companies go about, especially right now, go about hiring a remote team.

[00:28:19] Maren Kate: [00:28:19] So exactly the inverse is you start with the foundation. You start with really understanding the role and how that role ties into the company goals and the vision, vision, and the mission. We have a template that we use with opera, which is starts with high level company.

[00:28:37] What the company's about. The why of this role. And I got that from sign it, Simon cynics book. Start with why, and then what's in it for me? So three short paragraphs about the company, what you're doing, why, like why does this role exist? And the why ties into the greater good of the company and the greater good of the vision.

[00:28:54] And then what's in it for me, which should be super simple. So if I'm advertising for 'em. A founding marketing person for Indy. I'll be like, listen, you're going to work with the two cofounders who are repeat founders, one product. I'm operations. Um, this is a great opportunity to get on the bottom of the ground floor and be able to do X, Y, and Z in a potentially, you know, disruptive industry.

[00:29:16] So really quickly, the person was like, okay, that sounds interesting. Keeps going down. And then you tie out your core competency skill sets, the tie into this UK. Getting this information when you dig into why does this role exist? Um, and from there it's actually just building a recruiting funnel that that filters and that tests against what you're actually looking for.

[00:29:39] So. If we're talking about a digital marketing manager, you can set questions in the beginning. So it's the way most people go about it. And the old school way of recruiting is put a job description. Somebody submits a resume, you scan the resume and decide yes or no, are you going to phone screen them or whatever?

[00:29:57] And that's garbage. First of all, resumes are horrible. And second of all, it's just, it's not getting to the core. Um, so instead what we do, and especially with remote roles, is really necessary because you're going to get 500 or a thousand hours. Locations. If you have a good role. Instead you set maybe three to five questions at the beginning of the application before anything, before they even submit a resume.

[00:30:18] And then when whoever's processing the first glance, you can even set like automatic yes or nos, where if they have less than five years experience in blank, if they don't click this, um, you know, they're, they don't have experience with, let's say you need Zapier for something or whatever. Then it just immediately filters them out and say, thanks so much.

[00:30:37] This isn't. You know, the right fit, but we'll keep in touch or something like that. And then this next step is going to be a little bit more, so you're setting a level of hurdles that people have to go over. Um, and then for you as the hiring manager or the entrepreneur, you're going to go from a thousand people at the top of the funnel to maybe.

[00:31:00] 10 that you actually phone, screen and do a project with, and that is like, that's the goal. The goal is you want to get the best people who show an actual interest in not only your vision, but what you're doing. That's why the first question we ask for any role we ever hire internally or externally, is what draws you to X company and this specific role in why it is one of the most important questions you can ask.

[00:31:24] And if people do not right. A realistic, honest answer of why they're interested in Indy or your company, whoever, and why they're interested in this specific role. If it's boiler plate, I don't care how great their resume looks, whatever. Just immediately DQ them. I'm looking for people that are actually interested.

[00:31:44] You'd be shocked by how many people will say in this. Flips to the candidate side. Oh, I'm looking for a remote role. I really want to stay at home with my kid. Nobody cares. Like they're somebody who is, you care obviously, but the hiring manager doesn't, they want to know why you want to work at their company in that role.

[00:32:01] So it works. You know, it's an inverse on both sides

[00:32:04] Brandon Stover: [00:32:04] where you had mentioned, uh, you know, resumes being complete garbage right now, what are you guys doing. Cindy to basically go pass the resume and even pass things like LinkedIn that exists now

[00:32:15] Maren Kate: [00:32:15] what? We're building a, we call it a pro folio, so it's a professional site, but it's also has a lot of the visualized visualization of like a, a profile or a portfolio, and instead of the chronological way that resumes and that LinkedIn ranks, like, I did this, I did this, I did that.

[00:32:34] Which is not the way millennials work anymore, especially in the new generations. Normally we're working for a company, uh, with a side project. Sometimes we're working with multiple companies. None of them are full time. It's just a much more fluid way of working. Um, and depending on where we are in our careers and our goals, what we're doing is we actually.

[00:32:56] Are creating these, these profiles sites. So they're like a, like a Squarespace. But for your professional profile and each component, each box is a different thing to highlight. And at the, uh, like for your profile, you can only pick four. So there's maybe nine or 10 of them and they'd be experience. Be side projects, it would be references.

[00:33:18] Um, it would be, uh, maybe a video, an a about me that's more detailed. Um, different things like that. And depending on what your goals are and where you are in your career, you might. Uh, you'll put those in different orders. So sometimes for the role you're going for and for, uh, your background, putting your experience in one of the blocks is really important.

[00:33:43] Sometimes putting references is way more important if, especially if maybe you're young or you haven't had some, you have people that say great things about you, but that you haven't had a specific, you know, boom, boom, boom, resume. So it's just a much more dynamic way of. Of presenting yourself professionally.

[00:34:03] And then the goal with that is that you can actually create these unique links. So you can track, you can have a different professional Oh profile for different jobs you're applying for, and you can actually track how, how certain ones are. Um. Uh, performing over others and almost you think of like what we use HubSpot or Salesforce.

[00:34:25] We track the data, have your own dashboard. Um, and then after that, that's our first, our NVP, which we're building right now. But after that, we're actually looking to build. Resources and access to resources and community. So even after someone finds a job, how do we support each other in the remote community?

[00:34:44] And then how do we stay engaged over the long haul? Because one of the biggest complaints for remote workers is actually that feeling of social isolation, isolation.

[00:34:53] Brandon Stover: [00:34:53] How do you build culture in, you know, with remote workers, especially a level of trust between both you as an employer, but then you as an employee.

[00:35:04] Maren Kate: [00:35:04] Yeah, I mean, it comes back down to the core values that you have as a founder. Um, and you know, sadly, if you're, if the leadership team isn't, isn't all about it, then it makes it really hard. But, you know, it was talking about early stage founders. Um, the way you build a strong culture is by, by over communicating, by making your values and your principles really clear.

[00:35:29] And. Stating them over and over, tying about tying back, uh, everything to them, whether it's your hiring process. We use our core values in our hiring process. We actually rate people on them. Um, whether it's how you're deciding whether to give someone a bonus or, uh, give them a, a new position. Um, I mean.

[00:35:49] The, the idea is that you have strong core values. If you hire fire reward and recognize the RA on them. So those four things, if you do that across your company, you'll, you'll have the foundation for a strong culture. And then with fully remote, it's creating spaces for people to engage and, and hanging out and doing video calls versus normal calls I'm doing in person meetups when you can, uh, automatic, uh, WordPress's parent company's written a lot about this.

[00:36:20] And I think when companies are able to, even if they're fully remote, having team off sites and then company off sites is super important.

[00:36:28] Brandon Stover: [00:36:28] Well, one of your guys's core values is extreme ownership. So tell me what this means for you and how you live it and then how you're using it in your business.

[00:36:37] Maren Kate: [00:36:37] I think I got the idea of extreme ownership.

[00:36:40] It was, I was reading some book on the Marines, um, and I forgot the exact book, but, uh, you know, it's, it's just especially. This should be an all workforce workforce is, are workplaces, but especially in remote because I can't physically see you and see that you're working. What I need to know is that when I hand you something, so like when I pass the Baton to you, you are taking extreme ownership.

[00:37:04] I don't need to micromanage. I don't need to keep checking in. Um, the way I guess I try to do extreme ownership in my life is both personal and professional is just like. Taking responsibility, taking ownership of stuff, whether it's shitty or good. So, you know, if I'm experiencing something in life and I'm not happy with it, instead of saying, Oh, you know, well, uh, business's down because of Corona virus or a great, like a real life example is.

[00:37:34] In the beginning of March, we were just preparing for our pre-seed rage for indeed. I had flown out to San Francisco. I was staying, going to stay there for the whole month. I had a bunch of meetings lined up. I just started to take them. Momentum was starting to pick up. I was like, this is awesome. We're gonna close out our round.

[00:37:49] It's gonna be great. And then covert happened. Hit the States and literally, I remember being in San Francisco with my girlfriend, the, we were eating dinner the. Night before, um, the restaurants all closed. And I was like, huh. And then my meeting started canceling and I was like, Oh no. So I flew to Las Vegas where my parents live.

[00:38:10] I was like, I'll check on them. Um, I was living in New York at the time and I was like, and I, then I stayed in Vegas. I've been here for 60 days. My lease literally lapsed in New York and I just moved all my stuff here cause I'm like, I don't, you know? Yeah. And so, so. Taking extreme ownership of that situation.

[00:38:27] Like obviously it was shitty. I was not stoked. I was like this, I spent three months prepping for this fundraise, and now it's like, that ship has sailed at least until the fall, at least for our stage of company. So I was like, all right, well, we need to figure something else out. So me and my co founders said instead of.

[00:38:46] Doing what we were planning on doing, which is, you know, raising a pre-seed. We're going to apply for accelerators, um, which will be more dilution, but it'll also be more guidance, which will be nice. And then we need to bring in cash. So we spent a week or two really thinking about it noodling, and I was like, well, we don't.

[00:39:03] We don't have cash, so we can't build our product, right? Like, yeah, but we do know what our product is going to be. We're like, yeah. And I'm like, okay, could we create an analog version of our digital product? And that's how the idea for the ebook came. And that was one of those things where. Didn't go as planned, but actually I have a sneaking suspicion.

[00:39:24] This will be way better doing it this way than if we had been able to raise money because we're already going to be interacting with so many of our core users and probably finding out things we didn't even know, features we didn't know we needed and things that don't matter. So yeah, that's an example of extreme ownership, I would say.

[00:39:41] Brandon Stover: [00:39:41] I think this is so powerful, especially right now. Um, whether you are an entrepreneur or you're an employee and this crisis is hitting, you can look at it as something that's happening to you. It's out of your control. You have nothing you can do. Or you can take that extreme ownership and be like, well, yeah, this is a shitty situation, but I'm going to figure something out.

[00:40:01] I'm going to do something else. Um, and take responsibility of your life. And I think there's a. It gives you some, some clarity, but also some comfort knowing that you

[00:40:11] Maren Kate: [00:40:11] have control over your life. Actually. Totally. And it's true. You know, it's at the end of the day, um, there's a lot of things you don't have control over, but what we do have control over is how we react to situations.

[00:40:24] And that matters whether, where. In jail unlawfully or where, you know, in a unhappy relationship or we get fired. And I think it's really important for people to realize, and I think coronavirus is helping us with this, that, that, you know, everybody for the most part has it pretty good. Like people are, we are incredibly blessed no matter what the situation.

[00:40:48] There's always something you can look for and say that's a blessing. And I think that was one of the reasons, ways I kind of got. Got through after Zirtual and kept going is because at some point I was like, you know what? I'm either going to pout and be a baby about this or I'm going to like, it's either going to break me or it's going to make me, and that's really, that's a choice.

[00:41:10] And I think, you know, as a small business owner, early stage entrepreneurs, it's the same thing with, with coronavirus. This is either going to be like, well, you know, now we're great, we're in a, we're in a downturn and you can either. You know, be bummed about that. Or you can say what opportunities are there here?

[00:41:28] And as a professional too, you can say, most companies aren't hiring right now, so I'm going to 10 X my effort. Or most companies aren't hiring right now, and maybe my industry, maybe you were in travel or leisure, think about, go back to your foundation and be like, yeah. Okay. What drives me? What do I really want to do?

[00:41:44] Am I committed to travel and leisure? Cause if so great, there are still opportunities there, or am I like, you know what, I health tech looks pretty cool and that's going to be exploding in the next decade. So I think there's always opportunities. It's just, it starts with mindset and then it's just hustling.

[00:42:00] Brandon Stover: [00:42:00] Both of your parents were immigrants. What were some values that you learned from them that made you a better entrepreneur?

[00:42:06] Maren Kate: [00:42:06] Yeah, so to be fair, my, uh, grandparents, so my, my father's family's originally from Ireland, but like potato famine, and then my mom's family is from Armenia and Syria, uh, respectively.

[00:42:21] But yeah, I mean, especially on my mom's side, um, with my grandparents, my great grandparents, you know, their, uh, my grandfather. Family escaped the Armenian genocide when they got here, and my grandma's family had escaped a religious persecution in Syria. And so it's just like they had, they then they got here and there was the great depression.

[00:42:41] So like they just had a very kind of. You just, you get stuff done. Like you don't complain, you hustle like you work hard. The whole family works together. There's no excuse for, you know, it's just, it's a, it's a, it's a, a heartier constitution sometimes. I mean, I think immigrants especially make some of the best founders, employees, you know, because.

[00:43:07] The mindset, you have to have to leave your home and go somewhere new. It's it's risk taking and it's also, it just makes you gritty as a person.

[00:43:16] Brandon Stover: [00:43:16] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think those are valuable assets to have as a person right now.

[00:43:21] Maren Kate: [00:43:21] Absolutely.

[00:43:23] Brandon Stover: [00:43:23] Well, let's talk a little bit about the future. Where do you see the future of work

[00:43:26] Maren Kate: [00:43:26] going?

[00:43:27] Clearly, I'm betting on a lot of it becoming remote, uh, at least specifically for knowledge work. Um, I think that. I mean, in the next 10 to 20 years, we're going to see huge disruptions around automatic automation and um, and robotics. So there's going to be a lot of stuff that are done by people now that will not be done by people anymore.

[00:43:52] So I think what's really important is to think about what are. What are things that are uniquely human that technology probably won't be able to copy in the next, I don't know. I think about like the lifetime of your career. If you're just getting into the workforce, you're 21 then next 40 years, 50 years.

[00:44:11] Like, just think about that. If you're in your forties next year. 20 years or something. But think about how long you think you'll be in the workforce and then look into it. Say, where do, where do we think the things that will not be able to be disrupted in research? There's a ton of research about it.

[00:44:27] There's super smart people that talk about it from theorists to physicists to, you know, all sorts of people. And I think creativity, um, non re rote tasks, things that like, if I was. If I wasn't an entrepreneur of the way I would be building my career and my career skill set would be very niche and it would be around, I would niche down.

[00:44:52] I'm using the core four. I would pick an industry that I thought was going to be only growing over the next 30 or 40 years. And then I would pick a role inside that industry that was deeply tied to creativity, to things that will be much harder to automate or to, uh, you know, have AI replicated. And then another.

[00:45:15] A thing that I think will happen, I hope will happen. I'd love to work on this in the next decade or two, is that we'll shift from exactly what we talked about originally with the five disciplines of hiring and recruiting is that we'll shift from a world where I work for IBM or I work for comm.com as a blank.

[00:45:34] Into, I work with. So I work with comm. I also work on my own side project, and I work with the university of Texas at Austin, and I imagine a world where we actually have, where people get more highly specialized and almost work in crews. So you think in terms of TV production crews and movie production crews, everybody has a specific skillset.

[00:45:58] They come together, they get something done. Then they go apart and it's just a, it's a more efficient way of getting things done if everyone has extreme ownership and it's, it's run really well. And the great thing with that, um, and even the idea of micro tasks is it allows for people who maybe aren't that skilled or early in their career to learn.

[00:46:20] You can, I think there's going to be a shift back to the apprentice model that hasn't really been around since like the middle ages of how do people learn very specific skills. And provide value while they're doing it. Yeah.

[00:46:33] Brandon Stover: [00:46:33] I think one of the beautiful sides of what's going on right now is it's giving people kind of a look into the future.

[00:46:41] What's going to happen as, you know, we get replaced by automation or things taking over jobs and how can we spend the time right now re-skilling or learning the skills. I'm kind of getting training wheels right now

[00:46:55] Maren Kate: [00:46:55] for the future. Future proofing your career. I think there needs to be courses in school.

[00:47:02] I think, I think that we've done a very poor job as the world has changed to actually educate people on not only how to get work, but then how to, how to, how to shift, how to grow, how to, um, you know, pivot your career if needed, how to future proof your career. Um, I mean. My goal is that with this book that in the future or that we make it good enough that it can actually be taught to grad student or not grad students to like seniors in college and be like, this is how you get a job.

[00:47:33] Like you need to know this because there's going to be, there's I think 3 million college graduates this year that are coming out into a crappy economy. Like. I don't care if you spent four years or six years in school, if you don't know how to apply it to work. Like I just think the education system needs to rapidly evolve.

[00:47:51] Um, if it's going to do service to the people going through it.

[00:47:55] Brandon Stover: [00:47:55] Absolutely. And this is what I'm actually interested in, and I'm researching education right now in order to launch a new higher education model that basically marries passions with skill acquisition to solve complex problems in the world.

[00:48:09] How do you think, or like. How would you, if you had a magic wand, create a model for higher education that would teach some of these things?

[00:48:17] Maren Kate: [00:48:17] I don't know a ton about it, so I can't speak too intelligently, but I would say just back of the napkin magic wanding it would be figuring out what people, well, like understanding natural proclivities.

[00:48:35] Um, and then I think just like the biggest thing would. Having at least part of higher education or all education being more practical, you know, like the, I think that's a really big thing. Like I, I went to school for English literature. I dropped out my senior year cause I literally got to a point where I was like, I'm not going to do anything with this.

[00:48:55] I'm like, I'm an okay student. I go to a state school like nobody is going to give a crap if I have my degree in English literature and psychology or I don't like, they're just not going to care. And it wasn't until after college that I would say, I would say a lot of my education has been self. Um.

[00:49:15] Driven by reading, like reading and reading and reading everything from, you know, books, hundreds of years old to modern books. And that has been super interesting to me. It's just the way I learn. I think a really big thing is different people learn in different ways. Different people have different proclivities and an interest in letting people explore that and then letting them.

[00:49:35] I see like apprentice model, what that work actually looks like versus four years and kind of a, you know, a bubble and then dropping them onto the real world. Like I do think that, I think probably most of the benefit for college comes from like a social aspect versus an even you think really nice colleges like, uh, you know, Harvard or Yale.

[00:49:56] Like it's the people you get to know. It's the network. It's the connections you make more than even the education's I'm sure. Awesome. But. But it's, I just think it needs to be rethought.

[00:50:07] Brandon Stover: [00:50:07] Yeah. And I think I'm doing things in the real world, working on real problems, you know, uh, doing things like apprenticeships not only is going to allow the person, the student to see if they actually enjoy doing this work and you know, if they're capable and want to go down the path of mastery to get the skills for that.

[00:50:24] But it also vets on the employer side, like,

[00:50:26] Maren Kate: [00:50:26] Oh, these

[00:50:28] Brandon Stover: [00:50:28] actually do this.

[00:50:29] Maren Kate: [00:50:29] Absolutely.

[00:50:30] Brandon Stover: [00:50:30] I want to hire this a star person once they get done.

[00:50:34] Maren Kate: [00:50:34] Yeah, and that's something down the line with, with additional MVP or like additional features of indie is we actually want to, to have it so people can almost like a, like a trust pilot, but for professionals.

[00:50:47] So it's like when I say I can easily say I'm really good at building recruiting systems, but I could be full of it. Like, how do you know? I could have gotten lucky with a few roles and a few companies that were doing really well. I could be a smooth talker. I know it could be. Not good at it at all.

[00:51:02] Alternately, I could be not a smooth talker, which I'm not, and I could be awkward at interviewing, which I am, but be really good at that. So how can you have a quantitative way of saying Marin's within the 90th percentile of building remote recruiting organizations or operations and somebody being like, cool, like I need that versus is somebody maybe in the 60th percentile, how can they level up and learn.

[00:51:26] Or where is that beneficial? So

[00:51:28] Brandon Stover: [00:51:28] where you mentioned learning quite a bit from books along your journey, what have been the best books that you have read?

[00:51:35] Maren Kate: [00:51:35] Oh, such a hard question. Um, I read a ton. Um, one of my go tos is principles by Ray Daleo. Uh, used to be a PDF before it was a book. And I used to read that once a year for, I wanna almost say the last 10 years.

[00:51:50] Um. Another one, which is, it's called the magic of believing by Claude Bristol. It's like from the fifties. Uh, it's, I don't know why I've always loved it. I've read it multiple times, and it really helps you get in a mindset of like, I can kind of do this. Um, and then I, I, a lot of biographies, I always find, I just recently read the autobiography of Nikola Tesla, which like was, is very small.

[00:52:16] I think he ended up dying while he was writing it. It's like this big, and it's. Obviously written by like a, a scientist, like an inventor. It's not like fast and it's not, you're not, it's not riveting. But it was so interesting to see how he talks about his thinking process and how he's, like, most of my time I just sit and I just think he's an, I'm one of the laziest people in the world because I just think, and it was fascinating.

[00:52:41] I was like, wow, that's so interesting. Um. Yeah,

[00:52:46] Brandon Stover: [00:52:46] yeah. I think, uh, the time right now is allowing a lot of time for thinking. Um, early in the interview and I had seen, uh, research and you, you had been part of a memento Mori society and contemplating death and demystifying death. How do you contemplate death and how does this drive you in your life?

[00:53:06] Maren Kate: [00:53:06] Um, I mean, I think the important thing is just realizing that. That, I mean, when the whole thing was memento Mori is, is it's a, I think it was Roman generals would have someone follow them when they were in their victory laps walking through a city or whatever that would say repeatedly memento Mori, which is Latin for, remember, you must die and the goal is if you.

[00:53:33] If you remember that we're all mortal in that you're going to die, it will incentivize you to, to live life to the fullest. And then also it strips away a lot of kind of existential fear. Um, one of the best books I ever, ever read is when breath becomes air, uh, which is actually written from the perspective of a guy who was dying.

[00:53:54] It's absolutely fascinating. It's amazing just to, to, to look at a side of life. We don't think about, um. And then in terms of, yeah, I would just say it's, it's really freeing to not only examine the, you know, the flip side of the coin of life, which is death, but to when, when you declaw and when you become more comfortable with it and you become, it just part of life and everything has to die.

[00:54:19] That's the, you know, the great cycle. Um, yeah, it, it's, it's definitely a game changer. Hmm.

[00:54:26] Brandon Stover: [00:54:26] Well, before I get to my last question, where can everybody find you and all the projects that you're working on?

[00:54:31] Maren Kate: [00:54:31] Yeah, so I'm at Marin Kate on Twitter and pretty much everywhere. Um, Marin, kate.com and in D I N D E.

[00:54:40] Dot. Co. So, but yeah, I'm, I'm, my name is a little bit unusual. So,

[00:54:45] Brandon Stover: [00:54:45] uh, my last question is, how can we push the world to evolve.

[00:54:48] Maren Kate: [00:54:48] I mean, I think it's well on its way, uh, whether we want it to or not. But I think, I mean, in a specific way, do you mean,

[00:54:58] Brandon Stover: [00:54:58] I guess how can we take control of that and move it in a way that we want it to go?

[00:55:03] Maren Kate: [00:55:03] Well, I would say. Probably extreme ownership is, is actually starting small and, and pushing yourself to evolve. That's the biggest thing. That's all you really have control over. And then if you can do that and then it gives you a little more bandwidth to maybe help other people and raise consciousness that way.

[00:55:22] Brandon Stover: [00:55:22] Yeah. Well, that's a great answer and thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing everything that you had today.

[00:55:28] Maren Kate: [00:55:28] Absolutely. Thank you. Thank

[00:55:31] Brandon Stover: [00:55:31] you so much for listening. As you know, word of mouth is the number one way for things to grow. Evolve is not just a podcast, but a movement. And to help this movement grow, I would appreciate so much if you were to show this podcast episode with a friend, with another entrepreneur, with an early stage founder who needs inspiration and the tools and tactics to make an impact on this world.

[00:55:52] So please share this episode and until next time, my friend keep evolving.