3 Interview Questions For Hiring Remote Workers

Hiring onsite employees is tough enough, but when it comes to hiring remote workers don’t overcomplicate it.

Before considering to hire remotely, trust is monumental. Without it you’ll fail.

Managing people virtually shouldn’t be much different than in-person since what works face-to-face tends to work over video/phone.

Keep in mind retaining workers is costly when the wrong person is hired, so use the following three questions as a guide to weed out the amateurs and hire the best:

1. Why?

Start with a candidate’s character. Why questions get to the motivation behind an answer. You won’t be physically present to witness how someone spends their time during work, so figure out how driven, self-aware and organized they are ahead of time. Why questions hit at the core of who someone is. Asking past behavior scenarios tend to be the most popular during interviews, but past success doesn’t always translate smoothly to new endeavors. If you need more context watch this Simon Sinek video on why.

2. How?

You can have the most knowledgable person working for you, but if they don’t fit your culture you’ve made a bad hire. Without downplaying competence, style questions are a must when it comes to hiring the right people. If you’re unsure how to define your culture, stop and figure it out before hiring anyone. How questions really come down to identifying personal strengths. The best leaders in any industry are self-aware. That means generic answers on an interview just don’t cut it. As an employer you want to know how they prioritize, interact with others and communicate orally/written just to name a few. Most of a manager’s time is spent dealing with interpersonal issues, so if you’re seeing red flags when it comes to personality quirks don’t proceed. Another helpful exercise is hiring based on your company’s core values. They can be even more powerful than mission or vision statements because they are measurable in behaviors. Zappos is a good example if you need a place to start.

3. What? 

Typical interviews start here. Tell me about your last job. Describe a time you failed a task and what was your response. What is your biggest weakness? Candidates can rehearse these answers and interviewers can critique every detail. The truth is what questions don’t reveal nearly as much as “why” or “how” questions. When asking “what” questions find out: experience, industry knowledge and their decision making process. Interviews are just a preliminary phase to understanding on-the-job performance. Even the best questions can’t possibly cover future mistakes by workers. A judgment call must be made here: do you want to hire for experience (less training, higher salary) or potential (more training, lower salary)? The answer to this question comes back to your core values.

Consider this: treat all your future interviews as potentially remote hires. Not only is that the way our economy is headed, but if you can trust someone working virtually you definitely can in the office.

Hire the best. Don’t settle for less.

The Presidents Cup: Millennials At Their Best

Golf is an individual sport, but annually the best golfers in the world gather to play team competition.

Similar to playing doubles in tennis, team competition brings out the best (or worst) in you.

This year Team USA dismantled the International Team so badly at the Presidents Cup it was over before the last day of competition.

Strategy can be debated, but what was clear is this team dominated by Millennials showed what happens when personal strengths are unleashed.

Chemistry and connection trump competence.

The US team was heavily favored, but in the Ryder Cup (played alternate years from the Presidents Cup vs. Team Europe) the Yankees have struggled in a similar scenario. Talent provides a huge advantage, but without camaraderie you can get beat by lesser foes.

What’s evident in sports and business is Millennials thrive in teams. Whether a professional athlete or young professional, Millennials are better together.

Team USA has struggled for several years in team competition where their individual talent did not match their team unity. The difference this year was the off-the-course friendships were the foundation for victory.

Millennials take a beating from the media (mostly from other generations) and even if some of the criticism is justified, you should choose to focus on the positives.

Veterans can play the mentor role in any setting, but results not style, should be emphasized.

Age shouldn’t be a prerequisite for leadership roles.

This year’s US team led with enthusiasm, togetherness and execution.

In sports or business to maximize Millennials focus on creating a strong, team culture based on accountability then step back and let them go to work.

Losing Motivation And 3 Ways To Recharge

Everyone plateaus.

No matter how motivated of a person you are, there are days where you find yourself in a funk.

It’s easy to brush it off, take a break and do what feels good, but that can also be laziness masking itself.

Regardless if you work for someone or you’re the boss it happens.

Here are 3 ways to combat it:

1. Look for inspiration

It’s easy to work hard when you’re inspired, but what about when you’re not? Since we’re in the information age there’s no shortage of stories, videos and articles to inspire you. Make personal development a habit and ideas will come flying at you. In fact, they don’t need to be original. The most successful businesses make their money by bettering an existing idea.

2. Don’t let your feelings drive your decisions

If you’re more of a “feeling” or emotional-based person you experience highs and lows often. If you’re more logic-based and a “thinker” this may not be an issue for you. Data proves that most of our purchasing decisions are based on emotions. Think back to when you made your last purchase. Assuming it wasn’t a bill, it probably falls into the “want,” not need category. This translates over to work. The reason why people aren’t more successful in general is that they don’t do the little things daily because it’s not fun. Ask anyone who’s climbed the corporate ladder or monetized a business and they can tell you how the continual, monotonous tasks are what really moves the needle.

3. Focus on the end goal

Have you lost sight of what you’re pursuing? As much as #2 is about doing the little things, don’t forget the big picture. Simon Sinek says it best when he challenges you to identify your why. Once you lose sight of that you’re lost. Inspiration comes from knowing where you want to go. The journey may be long and difficult, but nothing worth pursuing is easy. What you’re doing and how you do it may lack excitement at times, but if the end goal is aspirational you can always go back to that for motivation.

Ultimately it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” you lose motivation. Hopefully the above suggestions will help you get out of your funk sooner than later!

Digital vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better For You?

Digital is the obvious choice for many reasons: optimal reach, price, speed, flexibility, etc.

But this post is less about tactics and more about philosophy.

Recently I took a Digital Marketing class at General Assembly and got a brief introduction how it works. This was an intro class so few strategies were shared, but it was still helpful.

Although traditional marketing has its limits, there’s still value in it.

Talking with a friend of mine Rachel, who owns Bite Sized Media, emphasized building relationships and creating partnerships still trump all.

To answer this question it really depends on two things: your customer and type of business.

If it’s an e-commerce site then it’s clearly digital, but for my online tutoring company I’ve started more traditional because I’m leveraging my network.

At the core digital marketing is more ideal if you can master it because of this simple premise: customers are shopping for you.

That’s key because people who are searching for an answer are more ready to buy.

Traditional marketing is more about bringing attention to your product/service in hopes they can be convinced to purchase.

In my opinion both are valuable and have their place. I admit I’m no expert in marketing and am trying to learn myself, but truly understanding who I am serving and how I can meet their needs is essential.

So the more important question than “Is digital or traditional marketing better for me?” is: who is my customer and where can I find them consistently?

Once you identify that, go forth and start marketing!

The Learning Curve Of Acquiring A New Skill

We are all creatures of habit.

No matter how adventurous or a risk taker you are, it’s natural to hover around what’s comfortable.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn and change. In fact in today’s society, you either: adapt or die.

Growth isn’t handed to you, nor should you expect it to be. Instead you are solely responsible for your personal and professional advancement. That doesn’t mean with a new skill set comes a new job or promotion, but you’re either growing forward or going backwards in life.

Throughout my adolescent years I feared public speaking. The climax of my horror was a speech class I took at a community college where we had to video ourselves speaking in front of the class 3 times during the semester then watch and critique it together. That experience still haunts me and for years it made me want to quit.

But in the past several years something changed. My goal isn’t to be Tony Robbins or my good friend Joshua Fredenburg. Yet as an entrepreneur I know it’s crucial to my success to be an effective communicator orally and in written form.

The lightbulb moment for me was to shift my mindset.

If I think I’m a terrible public speaker then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore the self-talk in my head changed to: I want to be a better public speaker (note: I didn’t say great or best).

That was the first domino to fall…

Next, I needed to put in the practice. In fitness terms: more reps. One habit I started 10 years ago was blogging. At the time I didn’t have a desire to do it, but felt it was necessary for my business so I just started writing. Over time I really began to enjoy it and it’s had a huge influence on how I prepare, deliver and evaluate my public speaking today.

I hosted a monthly network event geared towards professionals for 2 years. I did workshops and training sessions at companies. I volunteered to speak at church every month. What happened over time is I got better. My style, structure and storytelling has improved immensely.

There are areas I can still improve upon, but like acquiring any new skill it takes time to master.

But let me emphasize the most important piece to learning any new skill is your attitude towards it.

With most skills there is a huge learning curve and there will be points where you hit a wall. It’s during those times that you have to step back and evaluate the big picture/purpose. The journey to get better is rough, but if you stick to why you’re doing it and see the value in your effort you’ll eventually get there.

New skills are great tools to accomplish your dreams, but the pre-requisite to starting is your mindset/attitude before you begin.

3 Ways To Generate New Ideas

Most people are drawn to entrepreneurship because of the potential of new ideas, but what happens when you run out of them?

It doesn’t matter how creative you are, your mind becomes a blank canvas at some point (yes, it even happens to the best of them).

So when you’re looking for new ideas, but can’t find them what should you do?

1. Read

Most ideas are not original, so don’t put added pressure on yourself to be an inventor. My ideas tend to be inspired by what I read on platforms like Medium. Whether it’s an article, book or video tutorial, “bettering” an idea is much more efficient than creating one. Certain authors will resonate with you and you will follow them more because of their similar mindset. If it makes you feel better the most successful companies rarely create their own industry, they just dominate it with a differentiating point. When all else fails read…

2. Network

To build off reading, people are where ideas come from. Some of my best networking experiences focused less around trying to sell myself and more about just listening. True networking is simply connecting. A friend of mine said it best: “the people you keep in contact with are the ones whose point of views you find stimulating.” Networking can be the best way to learn about an industry you don’t know about. Understanding someone’s process can be a game changer. Also, if you’re a sole proprietor one of the worst things you can do is stay in isolation. No matter how introverted you are, make it a point to connect with others in person, on the phone or through the internet. Nothing great is accomplished alone so don’t be a hermit.

3. Do

People have asked me, “how do you know what to write about weekly?” My honest answer: I don’t. I just write about what I’m learning currently. I mean isn’t that what a blog is? It’s a public journal of your thoughts. Sure, I like hearing success stories and formulas that have worked before, but it’s as inspiring to hear people’s journeys. I like the idea that you’re never ready; the choice is whether you’re going to start or not. I admit I’m not a ready-aim-fire guy. It takes too long. I’m learning to get better at aiming, but my natural instinct is to stop talking about it and just do it (potentially at the core of my obsession with Nike). If you wait for the perfect idea, you may never act. Failing is what the most successful companies have embraced better than others, not success.

So the next time you’re struggling to come up with new ideas try reading, networking and taking action. Chances are the idea will come to you during the process, not prior to it.

The Curse Of The Entrepreneur

People who dream about one day owning a business tend to latch on to the potential, nothing else.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing your dreams, but it’s a lot more glamorous than it looks.

Imagine if I told you entrepreneurship includes working longer hours and getting paid less. Sure you can control when you don’t work, but you can’t control when you get paid. Freedom has it’s price tag and for some until you experience it, it’s too much.

But for those who have dipped a toe into the entrepreneur’s pool, there’s one area that’s extremely hard to go back to: having a boss.

I can’t tell you how exhilarating having complete flexibility is. Recently someone told me working a 9 – 6 with benefits isn’t desirable anymore. To each their own, but the tradeoff between time and money is a crucial decision everyone is faced with.

Coming off a 9-month stint at a company makes me appreciate my workdays much more now. It didn’t help I had a micromanager of a boss on top, but I learned a lot about myself during the process.

Things like my optimal working hours are 9 AM – 3 PM, when deciding whether or not to pursue a business idea identifying the market matters most and running a company solo is plain stupid.

Being an entrepreneur is a blessing and a curse. It affords you more control and flexibility, yet loss of structure and a steady paycheck. All the books and articles published that highlight successful ventures represent less than 1% of reality.

There’s no formula to the madness, but valuing your lifestyle over income will push you over the edge.

The funny thing about entrepreneurship is the “what” will change frequently, but as long as your “why” and “how” stay the same you’re fine. If you’re bored at your current job you can do two things: stick it out or look elsewhere. Most choose the former because it’s comfortable, but you’ll know it’s time to move on when it lowers the quality of your life.

Call me crazy, but part of the intrigue of entrepreneurship is the chase. It’s going after something you’re not sure you’ll catch, but willing to take the risk because failure is more acceptable than regret.

The New Marketing Paradigm: Wants, Needs & Expectations

Marketing to customer’s needs is dead. Wants are the new needs.

Wherever lies a successful industry the perceived “need” is really a want.

Take for instance Uber. The average person does own and can afford a car (need), but some prefer not to pay for insurance, repairs, gas, etc. because ride sharing provides convenience (want).

I’ve applied this concept to my new venture, online tutoring. There is a huge market for this due to competitive parents/students. Colleges do take into account SAT/ACT scores and any advantage a parent can give their child is welcomed. Tutors aren’t necessary to get high school students into college, but they do have the inside track on test taking skills. Parents/students want to attend their dream school so hiring a tutor is a leg up on the competition.

Expectations, on the other hand, are determined by experience. Yelp is known as a food review site, but what it actually reveals is the customer experience (CX). Read any Yelp Elite member’s reviews and you’ll learn how the business made them feel. This is key to selling any product/service.

Nike, Apple and Disney all market experiences, a.k.a. how you feel interacting with their brand.

The hospitality industry lives and dies by customer reviews.

Marketing today depends on identifying what your target audience wants, then meeting or surpassing their expectations with a phenomenal experience. That means no matter how technologically savvy your company is, what matters is how “soft” your touch points are.

That doesn’t mean you need a customer service hotline for your mobile app you create, but it does mean when something goes wrong you’ll be judged on the response time and solution offered.

Artificial intelligence, robots and technology make our lives easier, but the need for human connection is at an all-time high.

For your current or future business idea make sure you are meeting a want and exceeding expectations from your customers. Do that and you’ll be converting your marketing investment into sales.

The Best Manager I Ever Had

The criteria for “best manager” is quite subjective, but hopefully everyone’s had (at least) one by now.

As I mentioned in a previous article, managing people is a completely different skill set than technical job skills. Just like food, what you think is “best” can differ tremendously from someone else’s perspective.

For this post I’d like to share who my best manager was and how he treated me. It wouldn’t work for everyone, but besides being my own boss, I haven’t ever felt more free under someone’s care.

Back in 2002 on my first official day as Youth Director, my supervisor at the time gave me a job description, yet instead of saying look it over and sign it he said “edit what you like and don’t like about it.”

A bit dumbfounded I started reading over the bullet points, highlighting areas I wanted to tackle and crossed out tasks I felt were outside my wheelhouse. I remember giving it back to Keith and he was, “ok looks good, let’s get to work!”

Most people dread meetings, but because I’ve experienced some great ones, it really comes down to how the meeting is run. Keith and I differ in terms of our leaderships styles, but weekly check-in meetings usually consisted over lunch. As a guy, let me tell you, there’s no better way to talk business than over food. The meeting actually has a clear ending time (unlike most) when the check is signed.

I was given tons of autonomy which I appreciated. There was an excel sheet that I tracked all my hours in different categories. Programming was up to me as long as I explained what I was doing to the staff, parents and students. Office hours were at my discrepancy also, which was great because I believed the more I was out on the field with the youth, the more effective my work was.

Now Keith and I did have a friendship years before when he was my Youth Director and when he moved back to Arizona for many years I did visit him a couple of times and stayed with his family. That may sound soft, but I can’t emphasize how much “liking” someone outside of work makes a difference in how hard you work for that person (see my last boss).

Most managers scoff at the idea of giving away trust freely in fear they will get taken advantage of, but that’s completely tainted by your personal worldview. For example as a remote manager, you actually don’t have a choice when it comes to trust. You either give it and expect it back or withhold it and it’s never gained.

This experience of having almost complete autonomy faired extremely well for me, even influenced me to start my own business years later. Others may have preferred more hands-on leadership from their manager, but not me.

Like most things in life, you never fully appreciate things until they’re gone. Less than 2 years later Keith moved on and I was placed under his boss. Things were definitely not the same (including the relationship) to the point where I would often skip team staff lunches because of the awkwardness around the table. (Note: if I pass up free food, there’s a problem)

A manager’s job is to bring out the best in his/her team which usually takes a style adjustment for each individual to some degree. Leadership is truly an art and if you’ve ever experienced a masterpiece environment treasure it because it won’t last forever.

Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow The Market

Follow your passion. Follow your heart. Monetize your hobby.

Trust me, I’ve heard it all.

In an ideal world, you’d find your ideal clients and sell to them like crazy, but that’s not realistic.

I’ve learned over time that is has less to do with passion, but more about identifying what’s thriving in the market.

Now thriving isn’t a code word for trendy. It means industries that have staying power.

Just like there are very few new ideas, don’t be overly concerned with competition. The same reason why gas stations and fast food establishments purposely open locations near each other proves this point.

Each industry tends to have a giant or market leader which signifies a strong want (perceived need) in society. With so many options to choose from, positioning your idea boils down to uniqueness.

In most instances it’s your brand story, featured benefit or “patented” process.

Whatever your unique selling proposition (USP) is, it’s much wiser to bring to a visible market than an invisible one.

Take for instance coaching. I’ve been doing it for 10+ years, but it’s still not part of a thriving market. Coaching is more of a “how” than a “what” therefore I’m more focused on ideas that utilize coaching in the process, but it’s not the main offering.

Coaching is an example of being in an invisible market because every time you approach a prospective customer you’re faced with a “double sell” proposal. That means the initial sell is educating what you are selling, then you have to follow up with a secondary sell to get paid. It’s not an ideal situation to put yourself through.

Market research becomes invaluable since you want to enter an area that’s already hot. No matter how great your idea is, the uphill battle of trying to educate people about what your product/service does isn’t worth your time or investment.

We’re fortunate to live in a time where information is readily accessible at our fingertips, so take advantage of it! Don’t be discouraged about developing your idea, but before moving forward make sure there’s a clear market for it’s entrance.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, it’s already been created.