Dan on creating a positive work environment:
“The more that you make the workplace an enjoyable place to be, the less you think about how much you’re getting paid”
A brainstorm on how to learn the skills of being a good boss. We discuss everything from the hiring process to discipline, office culture to employee welfare.
On this episode Sam Priestley is joined by guest host Dan Lim. Dan is not a natural leader but puts a lot of work into his personal business development and has been working hard to improve his management skills. He now runs a team of seven at his software firm and has some great insights and wisdom. Even better is that he sees his development as a work in progress and is actively looking to improve his skills as a manager.
As a terrible manager myself. Being both a people pleaser and an introvert, I found this conversation really useful.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:
01:10 – Improving life 10x in in 10 years
02:40 – Soft skills can be learned
04:01 – Dan’s experience with management and being a boss
05:45 – Outsourcing work versus hiring in-house
06:35 – Stanford University experiment: The Tappers and the Listeners
09:30 – Fire quick hire quick
10:25 – Dan’s realization 2 weeks into a 6 month hire
12:01 – The similarities between Dan and Sam’s project
14:33 – Difficult business staff decisions
17:39 – Being the boss
21:56 – Active rehiring versus hire-fire model
23:58 – How do you build the culture that you want in an office?
25:57 – Benefits of a personal vision statement
27:54 – Carrot or stick reinforcement
30:49 – Why to avoid assigning open ended tasks to employees/contractors
35:00 – Thoughts on improvement
37:55 – Asking incomplete questions to gauge initiative, intelligence, and clarity of communication
40:15 – Recommended reading
SAM: Hello and welcome back to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur I’m your host Sam Priestly and today I’ve got a guest has on and that’s Dan Lim.
DAN: Hey how’s it going.
SAM: I thought Dan would be a good person to get on this episode because I want to talk about how do you learn how to manage people, how do you become a better leader, and become a better boss. Dan is a bit like me in that this is something he’s worked quite hard at but I think he’s also doing a bit better than me because while all my real attempts to manage people have been slight failures, I’m not really doing much at the moment, he is managing more more people and his business is growing. And also we’ve been friends for ages, we used to live together and whenever I get together with him we always have a great chat.
DAN: Yeah we’ve known each other for about 11 years now, it’s gone pretty quickly.
SAM: Yeah hopefully hopefully better now. Is life better now than it was 11 years ago?
DAN: Yeah I’d say in fact it’s funny that you bring that up, I was thinking about it yesterday that my life is ten times better now than it was even five years ago.
SAM: Really ten times? Has every year been better?
DAN: Yeah I think so, I feel like I get a lot more done in each day, now I get the same done in a day compared to what I’d get done in a week.
SAM: Well this is something that’s got nothing to do with leadership and managing people. When we first moved to London, we would both mince around all day, we’d go for coffee, get up late, we wouldn’t really have much structure and I still don’t have much structure but you’re now working quite a traditional day.
DAN: Yeah really have shifted from kind of being a night owl and staying up till 3:00 or 4:00 every night to now mirroring a normal person’s working schedule of getting into the office for 9:30, doing exercise in the morning.
SAM: Yeah because not only do you get into work for nine thirty be also going to the gym beforehand. You voluntarily have done something that I’ve tried my best to avoid, the complete opposite to the lazy entrepreneur podcast.
DAN: Yeah you started off by saying that we’ve got a lot in common that we’re very similar but hasn’t seemed that way so far but I think I would agree that generally we are very similar in many ways and also I’ve really enjoyed listening to your podcast so far so I am excited to be part of it and hopefully contribute a small bit.
SAM: Thank you very much, well one way we are similar is I think we both agree that soft skills can be learnt, that it’s not just stuff like maths or programming or languages or music. The sort of tangible skills you can measure yourself getting better at. There’s other things such as managing, leadership, I think that even just being a normal human being, being a ble to hold a normal conversation with people.
DAN: Yeah well there’s a book, how to win friends and influence people, and there’s a whole book on that which kind of suggests that you can learn these things as well as hard skills. Yeah I
SAM: I suppose maybe that’s true because there I think there’d be more books about management than there have been about any other topic but do people do people work at becoming a better manager?
DAN: I certainly say that I have and in fact that’s one of the ways that I feel that my life is ten times better now than it was even five years ago in that, for some reason, maybe two years ago it occurred to me more that you can actually specifically try to improve your skills, improve the way that you are at work, you identify having conversations with people or dealing with conflicts as an area that you’re weak at that you can go out and find a book or a course that deals with those things and that’s something that have gone out and tried to do myself.
SAM: So tell me a little bit about about your experience with management and being a boss.
DAN: I found it difficult and I still find it difficult and say one of the areas that I’m still very much working on is not being a people pleaser and being prepared to do things that people wouldn’t like and there’s actually a book I’ve got my own. I think it’s called something like the courage to be disliked so yeah that’s some way to read list.
SAM: That’s funny I literally written down here you know one of the reasons I think I’m not a great leader or manager is because I’m an introvert and I’m a people-pleaser. Those two things, it’s something about wanting to be friends with people that is in some contrast to being a boss because you run a company with a friend. There’s two of you and you’ve got how many employees do you have in a moment.
DAN: So there’s five employees so 7 of us in total and yeah we’ve been running that business for about two and a half or three years now.
SAM: Because you started off if my memory serves by outsourcing those roles to like an external company you sort of did a tender and got a few different companies to bid on the contract and then you didn’t really have much success with that and then decided to move to having people in-house to work on it.
DAN: Exactly so maybe a way again that we are similar is that I tried to procrastinate and get out of doing some hard work the hard work that we tried to get out out of was hiring and managing people so also to take a step back, so it’s a software company, so we tried to avoid having our own team, we hired a software consultancy instead to build our our products, and yeah we tried to cut corners. We thought that we could give them some fake specifications and that magically somehow they would give us what we wanted and it definitely didn’t work out that way.
SAM: I think there’s something about hiring a contractor like an outside company that’s an an expert right that means you feel like you don’t need to do the hard work of monitoring exactly what they do. When I have hired them before you have a project manager from their side who often doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. It could be some programmer four or five rows back who you might never speak to.
DAN: Yeah because you don’t have the same quality of communication that you have when you have a team in-house and actually that reminds me of something I definitely wanted to bring up when you mentioned that would be discussing about this and then and it’s this experiment done at Stanford University called the tappers and the listeners and what they did in this experiment was they got half the people to be tappers and half the people to be listeners and they got the tappers to tap out to tune to some well known tunes, so what happened in this experiment is they asked the tappers what percentage of tunes the listeners would get right and the tappers thought that the listeners would get 50% of the tunes so one in two whereas they actually only ended up getting one in 40. So the principle here is that as someone giving information, we massively overestimate how much of that message gets across. That problem gets worse when when you’re outsourcing.
SAM: It’s all about chinese whispers right.
DAN: Exactly and you have less of a chance to verify that the other person has understood the message you’re trying to get across and that’s the benefit of going through the hard work and effort of hiring, bringing in people with your own team.
SAM: Because there’s two sides on that, one of them is getting a firm to do it all for you, you feel like they should have done all the hard work already, they should have a really good project manager, they should have found the best program or whatever, they should know the questions to ask you in order to get it right.
DAN: Yeah the software consultancy we worked with, the product manager really didn’t do a good job at all you’re exactly right we had that thing where we felt that we’re hiring these guys. Of course this guy’s gonna get do a good job yeah and he didn’t do much of a job at all in terms of understanding our requirements and this project went on and on and on and actually another thing that we learned from this is that we should have made a decision much quicker to abandon it because the very first bit of software that we saw that they built really was terrible and they had kind of indicators that they didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t understand the current best practices that it’s such a difficult decision to make and again just trying to get away from doing any hard work and making any hard decisions and we let this project roll on and on.
SAM: Yeah that’s true isn’t it because we both come from a computer science background we studied at University so we know when something is just not gonna work out. I’ve definitely had these this exact same experience where someone’s given me a bit of software and I kind of looked at the code and been like terrible.
DAN: This person doesn’t know what they’re doing. At that point you should instantly say that you’ve got a huge scrap of evidence that suggests that this person isn’t suitable for the job but it’s a difficult decision to then make so quickly but that’s what really needs to be done.
SAM: There’s a Silicon Valley mantra isn’t there that you should hire quick and fire quick and is that kind of where you went wrong then with those contractors.
DAN: Yeah for sure for sure.
SAM: It was fine to hire them like you didn’t make a mistake there well maybe you did but the real mistake was sticking with them for six months a year or whatever when you should have at that first deliverable realized this wasn’t going to work out.
DAN: Yeah could’ve so the whole the whole project was meant to take three months originally, which is stupid for many reasons but we won’t go into that because quite rightly you were raining me in for jumping around too much so I’m raining myself back in but as you were saying a minute ago about how you can identify very quickly that someone doesn’t know what they’re doing, we should have seen that within two weeks because when we saw this first bit of software that was that should have been enough. I haven’t learned anything since then I didn’t know at that point even two weeks in that they weren’t the right people.
SAM: Well how long did you get.
DAN: Either six months to a year that we ended up working with them and yeah we should have made that decision very quickly within within two weeks.
SAM: And did they finish the project in the end.
DAN: After the three months which we’d kind of paid for so we paid a fixed amount for a fixed deliverable. After three months they sort of took more manpower off the project so it kind of dragged on and on and on until we finally had to say enough was enough and that’s when we moved over and started hiring our own developers.
SAM: So did did you end up paying them?
DAN: We did.
SAM: And did you pay them more than the fixed amount you’d originally agreed to?
DAN: No we paid them the fixed amount.
SAM: Yeah but then once you factored in all the extra time you spent and the losses and the earning.
DAN: And the opportunity cost.
SAM: Yeah everything involved with it and then you got someone in-house and were they building the exact same project again?
DAN: Well that’s another decision that maybe we should have made then is to just start the project again from scratch but we got them to carry on the shaky foundations and even today maybe four or five years later from when we first started working on this bit of software, we’re still on those terrible foundations but again it’s always difficult to just say let’s start again. I know from one of your previous episodes when you talked about your tech startup, how you basically had to throw it out and do it all yourself in a couple of days.
SAM: It was actually the exact same story, started off by hiring a contractor who worked on it this contract was actually fine, but then when we wanted the follow up work he just disappeared and so we made a decision. We got people in-house and we made a decision to just continue working on this foundation that someone else had built but we didn’t really understand and it was terrible and eventually it proved to be untenable and we have rebuilt it from scratch and it wasn’t a complete rebuild, but we should have rebuilt from scratch in the first place it was absolute nonsense. It’s the same story and I imagine there are so many computer programming projects that are exactly like that but it’s probably not just true with computer programming. There’s probably so many other areas where because you’ve hired someone because you paid someone, you’ve committed to someone, you’ve almost bought into them.
DAN: The sunk cost fallacy there.
SAM: But there’s also the emotional cost of having to break that relationship which.
DAN: That touches a little bit on the sort of people-pleasing side of things as well.
SAM: Yeah exactly. How do you tell someone they’re fired. It’s alright to say hire quick fire quick but how do you actually do that firing?
DAN: Especially when in the hiring process, you probably should have tried to build up some kind of relationship with them, a personal relationship and you try to become part of each other’s lives and spent so much time together. Then it’s quite difficult to just say, I’ll see you later, it’s over.
SAM: Especially if you got to know them, their family, you know the financial problems they might be in and the consequences to them of losing this job and all that kind of stuff. There’s so many layers that by being someone’s mate means that you have a very different, it might not be best for your business but you want to be best for them. It’s weird and one of my businesses, I don’t want to talk about which one because I don’t want to tell everyone who this person is but one of the key people in the business had a mental breakdown while they were working for us and it meant they couldn’t work anymore so we had to make a decision, do we continue paying this person, it’s a small business we don’t have any money. Do we keep paying them their salary while they can’t work? Like where does the cold-hearted this is a business versus we care about this person, where does that intersect? And they were off for about six months but it was one of these ones where we kept paying them but then all the other staff felt cheated that this person was getting paid for not working. They didn’t really know all the details of the mental breakdown or whatever, how do you balance all that when you’re kind of friends with someone at the same time?
DAN: You have to spin a lot of plates and there’s only so many moving parts because it’s not only your relationship with that one person which is complicated enough but then how everyone else feels about your relationships with everyone else, if that makes sense. So many relationships and that grows and grows and grows as you add more and more people to your team.
SAM: Yeah and you’ll probably a bit like me where you overthink these things and people would just be like whatever listen that’s the right thing to do let’s do it.
DAN: We’ve got a big meeting tomorrow our whole team is working together all day, but that only got decided today that we were going to be doing that and one of my colleagues and I got this boxing session booked in at 12:30 and it probably means that we’d have to take an hour and a half to two hours out of our day to do that which normally would be fine because we’re quite flexible and if you get the work done, it’s fine but now we’ve announced that we’re going to be working together all day. It’s quite inconvenient to have to go to this boxing class and I’ve been agonizing for ages like should I make us cancel it or I mean it but the obvious thing is yeah of course cancel it is it’s going to be disrupted to the day it sends a bad message to the rest of the team if we take such a big chunk out of the day. I don’t know why I haven’t made that simple decision. It seems so simple saying no it’s you but it’s just that problem of trying to be a people pleaser.
SAM: I think it’s like it’s someone who’s going through relationship problems with their boyfriend or girlfriend tells you what’s going on. Normally you can see the obvious answer. I think it’s a bit like that like once there’s a relationship involved it changes the dynamic quite a lot like whether a vowel whereas even if you talked to someone else there’s an obvious answer to things and how do you abstract yourself enough to always make the right decision some people break up from a relationship the advice that most people give is don’t ever talk to that person again and everyone says that until they were in that situation.
DAN: What was weird though is that I even had have had this self analysis about this situation earlier today so I even had this conversation we’re having now to myself and made the same conclusion and still dilly-dallied and deferred the decision until tomorrow morning.
SAM: So you haven’t made a decision yet.
DAN: No I discussed it with with my colleague earlier and I said oh yeah we will decide in the morning.
SAM: And you’re saying we’ll decide rather than I’ll decide yeah when you’re the boss, what has it got to do with him. Let’s talk a little bit then about hiring the right people, I’ve got this idea if you’re a really good manager it doesn’t matter if the people you’re hiring on are particularly good at something or don’t have certain skills. If you’re not very good manager, which I accept that I’m not, I need to be very careful about who I hire, so VA is virtual assistants this is something that Tim Ferriss and a lot of the other gurus talked about that you know get someone cheap from somewhere like the Philippines, you give them 40 dollars a month and they do kind of all the work that you don’t need to do you know, read your emails, that kind of thing so I’ve tried doing that a few times and hiring VAs for things from customer service to more recently editing the blog and doing updates that sort of thing and it’s never really worked out, and I think that’s because I was basically shopping by price rather than the skill set and I haven’t just been a very good manager. I’d say one of the main problems I’ve had with all of them is that they would do the job I’d give them, they wouldn’t do it particularly well, and then they wait for me to give him another job, so these people are working eight hours a day and I don’t have eight hours a day worth of jobs for them right so for me if I wanted someone to do that role given the personality that I am I would need someone who has the creativity and the motivation to go off and find, there’s a million and one things that could be done on my blog for instance that if I asked Emma to do this role, my wife she would like be busy all day every day because there’s a million and one things to do, she could be reaching out to people, trying to get advertising, trying to get links to the site, whatever, but when you hire someone who doesn’t think like that, it’s a bit different. So for me hiring someone who has that initiative is quite important whereas I think if you’re a great manager that’s a bit less important.
DAN: But do you think that VA exists?
SAM: Yeah I do and it’s probably I’ve talked about shopping by price but it’s probably nothing to do with price at all but it’s probably more to do with me having a better hiring process because I have kind of learned you can shop by price but shopping by price brings its own problems. You’re then getting people who are motivated by price which aren’t always the right people so it’s almost like you want to find the people who aren’t motivated by a high salary, who are motivated by something. I mean that’s really wishy-washy, do you remember we went on a holiday to Croatia quite a few years ago. In Hvar, we we met a girl who was at Cambridge and she worked at Waitrose in the holiday and you might not remember this but something that really struck me about her was how much she bragged about how hard she worked to Waitrose so she was working a minimum wage weekend job and was going above and beyond, like working extra time, she was talking about how useless everyone else was and how she would go and do their jobs for them and I remember thinking they know you’re going to do their jobs for them so they’ve been useless on purpose, right? But also that is someone who even though it’s a minimum wage job isn’t treating it like a minimum wage job, is treating it like something else so there are people like that I do think exist, that perfect VA but I probably need to invest more time in the hiring process and then invest more time in the training process of getting someone to understand what it is I want from them. Maybe VAs I had before would have fit that role if I had been better at telling them what I wanted and communicating.
DAN: Do you think you’ve learned anything since around how you might go about identifying or hiring a VA how would you assess them?
SAM: Yeah definitely I think for me hiring fast firing fast doesn’t work because I feel too bad about firing people what I do is I hire fast and then hold on to people even though I know they’re not right so I think spending a lot of time on recruitment and interviewing people and getting to know people and maybe doing try periods or probations where there aren’t the expectation that job will continue or set projects that I know that’s the end date and then I have the opportunity to give them more work if needed.
DAN: So it’s more of an active rehiring than a probation period
SAM: And I think I’ve really got to invest in them rather than look for people who are gonna take the weight off my shoulders.
DAN: Yeah so you basically don’t cut corners.
SAM: Well basically do what you do, go from mincing around drinking coffee all day with to actually working a 9:00 to 5:00 out of your own free choice yeah that’s a bit like this podcast isn’t it?
DAN: A bit yeah work hard.
SAM: But there’s a certain culture right that if you’re the boss and you’re not working hard, what motivation do the people under you have to work hard?
DAN: For sure that’s like a key part of leadership is setting a good example that trickles down
SAM: Yeah so you have an office where everyone comes in, if you didn’t really, if you turned up late half an hour each day and just kind of like wandered in and then left and you’re on Instagram posting pictures at a flat bar or something, I can’t imagine those people would be working particularly hard.
DAN: No definitely not and as a leader you’re the one last in the office and that’s gonna send them the message that you’re a hard worker and that will trickle down as well and an example of where things haven’t gone right on that front is we have we have a daily stand-up meeting which is supposed to be at 10:30 but my business partner and I often don’t make it in quite on time or we didn’t at the start and since then we’ve realized this ourselves and adjusted but by then the damage had been done and it kind of sent the wrong message to everyone else and then everyone else had the same attitude so we then had to take measures to re-establish those rules but we made things harder for ourselves then they had to be.
SAM: Yeah culture is an interesting thing it’s something else I’ve been thinking about a little bit that how do you build a culture that you want in the office and like again there’s something that that people have written hundreds of books about it’s building culture well I mean think about it a little bit, so say if you’re Elon Musk and you’re trying to get people to Mars, you’re hoping that everyone has that shared vision that people are willing to work 100 hour weeks because they have that vision of getting people to Mars and they see him doing that as well and they see him working hundred hour weeks as well and they’ve got that shared passion and then if you’re in the military everyone’s a patriot and they’ve got idea of duty right they’re willing to work really hard because of that love of country and if you’re in the city and you’re working in a law firm you work in a bank you got your eyes set on that partner position that huge income or whatever top of the ladder.
DAN: And that’s because you can see the people above you doing the same thing, your boss has got their eyes on that prize and that will trickle down to you that’s as that’s what’s aspirational in this business at this organization.
SAM: Because that is what you want right and everyone’s gone through that hazing of working really hard for hardly any money with the idea that they might get to that position or something then how does that translate to like someone helping me work on my blog.
DAN: I have thought in the past when I’ve read in in books are set the vision for your company and your mission statement but I think that you could have that even if it’s just for your own benefit even if you weren’t working with anyone else so you can have your personal vision your personal mission statement and even if you have one other person working with you, maybe that would help when you hire your VA, you can have that available then they might know what you’re about, it might help them take the initiative because if it’s just a blank sheet of paper then they’re unlikely to really be able to go anywhere with that.
SAM: That’s probably true and there’s probably truth to all the stuff that we think will motivate other people we probably need to motivate ourselves like why should I be working hard? You think of somehow turning yourself into a hard worker I’m not quite sure how. I haven’t. Like maybe if I had a great a good goal, maybe if I was trying to get to Mars I would be working really hard.
DAN: Although you did see behind the curtain there for a second for why you can’t make a 10:30 meeting.
SAM: So something I found quite difficult when I had employees was working out what it is they they should be achieving so it’s quite easy to give someone a role but how do I without doing that job myself, how do I work out whether they’re doing enough?
DAN: How do you measure success.
SAM: Right like if I give someone a job like go there and clean up the dishwasher, whatever it is I can that’s quite easy to measure. If I give them a more general job of like you should be developing this bit of software, like write in a report, how do I know how long’s given to write it how do I know whether they use that time efficiently? That’s something I’ve really struggled with.
DAN: I have as well. It’s definitely something that I’ve identified as a problem and I want to work on generally setting expectations, measuring success, and giving feedback which is another area of a blind spot for me. I don’t know if you’ve had much experience of giving feedback to people.
SAM: Yeah I’m fine with giving good feedback, it’s negative feedback I struggle with. So that brings us on to discipline carrot or stick, do you just encourage people or do you also tell them off when they’re doing badly?
DAN: I generally believe in carrot positive reinforcement works and have been shown by research that to be more effective.
SAM: So I don’t deal well with criticism. I’m very independent if someone tells me off it doesn’t it doesn’t help. I need more carrot, that’s probably not true for everyone, some people need a kick up the backside yeah and how to know when that’s the right thing so we talked a little about my tech startup before which you came and helped out a little bit with as well and there was a few people there who really just needed a kick up the backside I just never gave it to them. I’ve mentioned before, I’ve talked about a few times I’ve managed people, let’s go back to that and I’ll tell you a bit more about my experiences. So a bunch of different businesses where I’ve managed people, one of them was this tech startup where mistakes I made was I hired mainly friends and people I knew. They were friends first and employees second, totally the wrong way around, almost impossible.
DAN: Yeah I mentioned a bit earlier about trying to keep that arm’s length relationship deliberately to maybe guard against those issues.
SAM: And it kind of works when you’re friends and you’re partner’s but when it’s not equal anymore because a boss/employee relationship isn’t equal and that does make things quite difficult. So that was a tech startup I hired someone else to work on a business. I hired him on a one-year contract. Did you ever meet Pepe?
DAN: No I’ve heard about Bepe.
SAM: Yeah we wanted someone who was good at writing content for a website. We hired a maths graduate, a foreign language native math graduate who was terrible hiring all round and then terrible management once we had him because we had him on a year contract. We could have quite easily pivoted and got him to do something actually quite useful but we didn’t, we just ended up paying him for a year and he didn’t do any work.
DAN: But something I’ve learned and observed recently is I don’t think most people like having vague open-ended tasks and it might seem like an interesting proposition I would let’s have carte blanche to do whatever you like which may well be fine but only if as the boss you’re happy to take whatever you’re given but if you have a different idea than they do of what this work should look like. They do this work, this open ended task and then they give it back to you and you say oh that’s not what I had in mind, that can be demoralizing for everyone so I’ve kind of realized that this open ended task can actually be very demotivating.
SAM: Yeah and people want reinforcement that they are doing the right thing.
DAN: I was saying earlier that I feel a bit of a blind spot for me at the moment but at least I’ve identified them as something that I need to work on myself.
SAM: So how are you working on them?
DAN: I haven’t really come up with a plan for that yet, in terms of feedback I’m trying to provide that as soon as possible which I think has been a general trend in management. Best practices anyway moving away from a yearly appraisal period which when you think about it is kind of crazy that you’d have to potentially wait eleven months to hear it get some feedback about some work you did. So try and provide that as as soon as possible.
SAM: So the problem with giving feedback right is once you give good feedback what is the reward for that feedback and how do you how do you reward good work and how do you punish bad work.
DAN: I think the goal is that the task itself is the reward and that doing a good job in getting a positive feedback is the reward in itself.
SAM: And I think that is true and it’s definitely true for me. I do Jiu Jitsu and getting a new belt is so meaningless in the grand scheme of things and doesn’t affect my skill ever at all but it does actually mean quite a lot and I’m an adult, I’m not a kid but I still like look forward to working towards getting another belt and it doesn’t mean, I don’t get any more money from it, it doesn’t make me any better at Jiu Jitsu, it doesn’t mean anything but I like that visual representation I like being appreciated for doing well and putting in the work.
DAN: Yeah how good do you feel after a good solid day of productive hard work.
SAM: I feel great yeah and I feel terrible when I’ve wasted a day away.
DAN: And I suppose it is different for us to some extent in that we know that we’re directly reaping the rewards of our hard work so that probably does color it slightly differently from if you’re an employee, I still think that in general if you’re doing a job that you enjoy and you do it well then that is satisfaction in itself.
SAM: I think I agree and I do probably over think money has been a reward mechanism because it doesn’t actually matter that much to me so why should it matter that much to everyone else?
DAN: And something I do try to do is make working with me enjoyable and something that someone might look forward to to some extent.
SAM: That’s a big thing right? I remember you worked with a friend of ours for a little bit and you were just doing it for the experience so you didn’t really care about how you came across and there was someone who was doing the similar role to you who was doing it because he really wanted a career in our industry so they were working really hard to impress, making sure all the deadlines were done on time, head down and you were just like cracking jokes the whole time and always at the coffee machine, not paying too much attention to the work you’re doing and by the end of it everyone was loving you and the other person they kind of just looked over and ignored a little bit.
DAN: The more that you make the workplace an enjoyable place to be, the less you think about how much you’re getting paid. It’s just an enjoyable place to be.
SAM: Yeah I think that’s actually a bit more deep than I was expecting out of this because it’s something that’s so true for me like I’m not that motivated by money. I do think about money quite a lot and I’ve got podcasts about making money.
DAN: But on the other hand it’s totally different be pursuing money and to have a level of security and comfort versus pursuing money for itself which is a totally different thing which you’re quite clearly on one of those.
SAM: I think both of us have made decisions to prioritize certain other things versus just making as much money as possible.
DAN: Yeah for sure.
SAM: So we talked a little bit about managing people and our experiences and the problems that come with it, let’s talk about let’s try to be a bit constructive like what can we both do to improve improving anything so let’s say I want to get better Jujitsu how would I do that? Well I’d practice a lot, I’d watch back videos of me doing it and I’d reflect on what I was doing and then I would go and talk to experts or I’d read books or watch videos or get coaching from the best around and then I would get better, so how does that apply to a soft skill like managing or leadership?
DAN: I think it starts with I’m going to read this book about the courage to be disliked because that’s really one of the key things that we’ve talked about.
SAM: Even just the name.
DAN: Maybe be less likeable.
SAM: Maybe the takeaway from this is it’s also true about my blog or make this podcast a bit more controversial, I would probably do better. If I was happy like winding a few people up, being a bit more partisan about my opinions, well you’re obviously practising quite a lot, you know your everyday you’re managing people so you got the practicing and trying to self-analyze
DAN: And often discuss house and management events have gone with my business partner as well to try to sort of have a review of these kind of things obviously, there’s more you can do.
SAM: You’re thinking back and you’re saying did this work you’re doing a bit of trial and error yeah all that kind of stuff and then the other thing so you’re doing bit practice bit of self-reflection so that’s something I need to start doing and that’s what I can do quite easily right? I could hire someone to help me with my blog or podcast and I should do that, why don’t I do that? How do I do that?
DAN: Have you thought about what the hiring process would look like what the activities would be? Would it be an interview, would you get them to do any tasks that relate to what they would be doing if they came to work for you?
SAM: Yeah all good questions, all stuff I need to spend a lot more time thinking about.
DAN: Yeah because that’s something so in in the process of hiring, I probably interviewed maybe 40 or 50 people and have thought quite a bit about the hiring process and tried to make it involve as many of the relevant skills that the person would be doing while on the job so rather than talking about doing the job, actually trying to get them to do aspects of it which are relevant, so for example we’d explain, we’d give someone a scenario and say oh how would you go about building this and sometimes we’d make deliberate make parts of it vague to see if the candidate would probe us for more information, because again that’s going to be an essential part of working with someone so if you were hiring someone, Sam, you might leave a clue to a bit of information now and you’d want them to tease it out of you and have the initiative and the intelligence to see where there are holes in the instructions you were giving and tease it out of you.
SAM: Yeah so I think for me like initiative is probably the most important skill that I’d be looking for so I’d have to as you say devise questions or an induced style test that would tease out and work out if they do have that initiative.
DAN: You’re trying to simulate what it would be like to work with you.
SAM: Yeah that’s good point. All right yeah, I’m gonna hire someone.
DAN: That’s exciting
SAM: I do this every year and it always fails. But this time will be different but I said each time I think I’ll get better and I solve a problem I made before and then I solve a bad habit I was in before and do again. It kind of brings us back to where we started, you said you started off when you first moved to London living quite a lazy lifestyle and then at some point you ended up hiring people and getting an office and now you work 9-5 effectively. How much of having people under you having people that you manage forced you into that lifestyle change?
DAN: I think it’s mostly just a practical thing being together in an office in the same room is the best way of working together and that generally that would then boil down to us working regular office hours cause that’s the standard and standards are there for a reason so coming back to your question, I think it’s more of a case of necessity and practicality of why we have now migrated to regular office hours.
SAM: Well and I think there’s a thing that you want to be a productive person and feel like you’ve done a decent day’s work, I want that too and having someone who I know is kind of looking to me for leadership and an example set for how they should be working.
DAN: Well that’s hugely beneficial.
SAM: It’s hugely beneficial for me let alone everything else.
DAN: I hadn’t thought that that was where you were going with this but it totally makes sense that something that could benefit you was sure to give you that extra kick up the backside to use your terminology from earlier.
SAM: Yeah all right well that’s good, I think let’s end on the learning from experts and I’m sure you’ve read quite a few books that I should probably read, do you want to give me a few examples of some of your top ones that I should delve into.
DAN: Yeah there’s an interesting one called Crucial Conversations so you wouldn’t have thought there’d be a book on having a conversation but there is one there is one called Good Boss Bad Boss
SAM: What a title like Rich Dad Poor Dad but the boss version.
DAN: And I am going to read courage to be disliked. Yeah awesome well cheers Dan thanks for coming on, thank you very much and as always I got a good kick up the backside.