176 FS Leadership and Management with Marcus Blankenship

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00:52 - Marcus Blankenship Introduction

01:38 - Moving Towards Management

  • Having Difficult Conversations/Don’t Hire Friends or Family

09:12 - Firing/Letting People Go

  • ABC = Always Be Communicating

20:04 - Growing your business doesn’t always mean hiring more people.

  • Being the “Lone Wolf” or “Small Pack”

26:16 - Quality Control

28:33 - How do you find, hire, and keep good people?

  • Try Before You Buy

30:52 - Trust and Communication

  • “Self-Managing Individuals” 48:26 - Checking In and Setting MilestonesPicks

Drip (Jonathan)100 Percent Up Front (Jonathan)Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco (Reuven)MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins (Chuck)Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans by Rush Limbaugh (Chuck)Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management by Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby (Marcus)The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister (Marcus)


CHUCK: Yeah, when Reuven smiles, babies cry.**[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 176 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello! CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from Devchat.tv and this week we have a special guest. That’s Marcus Blankenship. MARCUS: Howdy! CHUCK: You want to introduce yourself? MARCUS:**Hey! I’m Marcus. Is there more to it? There probably should be but –. [Laughter] I’m Marcus; I’m based in the desert of Oregon and I am – oh golly, what I am – I’m a management CEO coach for people who are learning to transition from doing programming or any kind of work they love to do to leading people who do that work on their behalf.**CHUCK: This is the part where we get on you for not having that elevator pitch memorized. MARCUS:**I know. I’ve already anticipated hate and slap for it. [Laughter]**CHUCK: So yeah, it’s an interesting topic because initially when we get into Freelancing, we aren’t managers; we’re selling our own services and we’re doing all the work and eventually some of us are going to get on a point where we either start telling it to go away or we start moving more toward that management role where we’re the CEO now of a consulting firm where we’re farming out work to other people. MARCUS: Yeah, that’s what happened with me. I definitely started when – I started when it was myself and one other person’s. So we were partners in the business but for a long time it ran as just two guys in an office that would work nights and weekends freelancing. Overtime we get bigger aspirations and you realize that you can only – one person can only take on so large a project. I think there’s some really practical limits and obviously it doesn’t scale amazingly. I’m sure you guys talked a lot about productizing things and other great topics that helps you to scale but at some point, you might meet another human being to be involved and to do that work for you or at least alongside you. CHUCK: So how do you do that? How do you move from ‘I’m going to do all the work’ to ‘I’m going to have somebody else do some of the work?’ MARCUS: Well, I don’t know. I know that there’s good and bad ways to do it but I guess I’d love to hear, Charles, you're clearly in a position where you said you’ll do a little bit of leadership stuff. Do you remember when you first did it? CHUCK:**Ugh, let’s see. [Chuckles] So the first person that I hired to do some of the work that I was getting paid for was probably my second or third client. I found a guy in Brazil on oDesk and he did a bunch of work and he did great work for about six months and then I don’t know what happened by he quit doing great work and started doing crappy work and so I let him go and I figured out that I wasn’t that great at management. But there was no way to know that he was going to start doing poor quality work.**MARCUS: That’s a great point. I think that happens all the time. At the beginning of relationships, it’s always rainbows and unicorns, like beginning a project. So you had high hopes, you probably saw his initial work and you were super excited about it. And then one day you came in or you looked at it and you were less excited. You felt a little let down. CHUCK: Yes. A lot let down. MARCUS: A lot let down – sounds like it was pretty dramatic. CHUCK: Yes. MARCUS: It wasn’t slowly overtime. I think that that is an incredibly common experience and a lot of people I know who are freelancing with – hire friends or people in their network to do work for them. It always start out great. You never start dating somebody thinking, “Oh, this is going to be a terrible relationship,” or you don’t date at all. CHUCK: Yup. MARCUS: So you always start out very optimistic and I think one of the things that I’m curious if you did was when you first saw the decline in his work, did you walk to him about it? CHUCK: Yes. MARCUS: And did you know immediately it wasn’t going to work out or did that give you any optimism back? CHUCK: I knew pretty much after talking to him that I was going to wind up letting him go. He just gave me a bunch of excuses about why he wasn’t doing it right. Ultimately, I was telling him, “This is how you have to do it and this is what it’s got to look like,” and it was, well, that’s not the way I work and that’s – for me that’s what I promised the client so that’s what’s got to happen. MARCUS: How much longer was it before you let him go? How many weeks? CHUCK: About two. MARCUS: About two. Yeah, I talked to people so I think that’s – a lot of people I talk to will tell me they saw the work declining and they won’t say anything. They will be optimistic. They’ll think, “Well, maybe this was a one off problem, right? CHUCK: Uh-hm. MARCUS: And I think that’s one of the fundamental errors is that you don’t – you become very conflict- avoiding, didn’t you? You just hoped that people are going to behave a certain way, the way that supports you and what you want and so you're overly optimistic so you don’t say anything to them and you just let it go. I’m really glad to hear you didn’t in that case because you probably could’ve imagined things wouldn’t have changed if you haven’t said anything. In the end, the change was he went away. CHUCK: Yes. MARCUS: So I think one of the hardest things and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t encourage people to hire friends is there’s got to be times you have to have difficult conversations with people and being willing to do that is part of taking on the responsibility of hiring somebody else. CHUCK: Yup. I completely agree. JONATHAN: I say all the time that you are not ready to hire someone unless you're ready to fire someone. MARCUS:**I have a similar saying. I say you're not allowed to hire anyone who you can’t terminate. For example, I would never hire my kids because even though there’s a lot of pressure in my house – “I just hire the boys, hire your daughter. You have a business! Just hire them.” I’m like, “If I hire them I might have to fire them and that’s going to make Thanksgiving super awkward.” [Laughter]**CHUCK: I had a friend several years ago that once I started my own business – I start to get business, he was saying, “Well, I’d be happy to jump in and help out,” and we’ve been friends since we were 13. He wasn’t a coder but he was saying he was willing to come over to my business. And I told him ‘no’ and I just said, “Look, if it ever comes down to keeping our friendship or you keeping your job, I just don’t want to be there. I don’t ever want to wind up there.” It’s one thing to be friends and go see movies and go to a football game and it’s another thing to have to make a decision that ‘I don’t need what you're offering anymore’ or you screw up to the point where I don’t have any choice but to say ‘sorry, you're gone’. MARCUS: Yeah, I totally agree and once you own the business and you start making client promises, those have to become the most important things. CHUCK: Yup. MARCUS: And on a tangential note, that’s why I don’t do business with friends either, which sounds weird but I don’t build – when I have my company I wouldn’t build websites or mobile apps for friends. Do you guys – do you work for people who are your friends? JONATHAN:**I wouldn’t even do work for local companies. [Laughter] I don’t want to run into them. [Laughter]**CHUCK: That’s hilarious. I have two uncles. One of them is a commercial appraiser and the other one works in the online security business but both of them had the best business idea ever and ‘I’m going to make millions of dollars’ and ‘can you build it for me?’ And I look at them and I go, “Sure,” and they're like, “Okay, then what’s you're rate?” And so I tell them that it’s $300 an hour and they're like, “Really? You charge your clients that much?” And I’m like, “No,” and they're like, “Well, is there a family discount?” And I said, “That is the family discount.” And then they give me another confused look, “Well, if you don’t charge your clients then how is that a family discount?” I said, “I charge 200% for family and the whole point is it’s not worth it for you to work with me because there’s a higher risk and I’m going to account for that on my rate.” That didn’t make them happy. MARCUS:**I love that I don’t think I’ve ever thought of the family rate that was dramatically higher. I offer [inaudible] risk going along with it.**CHUCK: Yeah, however you want to look at it, it’s a -100% discount. In other words, I doubled the rate. So yeah, they ultimately talked to somebody else and figured out neither of them followed through on it but it just wasn’t wort it because they're both married to my mom’s sisters, they both live here in town and there’s just no way to get around it if something goes bad. MARCUS: You’d be crafting your own personal hell there. CHUCK: Yup. MARCUS: So the guy rated this guy – was that challenging? Was that hard for you to do or did you just call them up and say, “Hey –,” Donald Trump style – “you’re fired.” CHUCK: Yeah, I basically – I talked to him and he gave me all those excuses and I said, “Well, if you don’t change it, I’m going to fire you.” A couple of weeks later, nothing has changed so I fired him. We have been communicating over email. He was in Brazil so I didn’t call him, I just communicated with him the way that we had the entire time and then I left the review unnoticed – that wasn’t very favorable either and that really ticked him off. MARCUS: Yeah, I bet. So then did you ever hire anybody else? You probably did. Did you do anything different? CHUCK: So over the years I’ve had other deals where I’ve hired freelancers that I know. I have a guy right now that does a bunch of work for me. He’s worked for some of my several client projects. He actually took a Rails course from me and is a long time listener to my podcast and we just hit it off and started chatting. It became very apparent that he wanted to work with me and that he can do the kind of work that I needed him to do and he’s been working for me for two years now and that has worked out splendidly. He communicates with me; he does everything that he needs to do. The work is top notch and I don’t have any problems with it. MARCUS: And you're not friends? CHUCK: We’re friends. MARCUS: You're associates? CHUCK: We’re friends but that came later and when we have those discussions, it is pretty clear that I am paying him to do a job and I have no compulsions about firing him if I don’t need him anymore. MARCUS: I love it. I think that’s such an important part of it is being clear about the relationship. When I used to hire people when I was my company, first we wanted – probably a lot of people who talk about, “Oh, I’m going to start this digital agency or consultancy,” kind of want everybody to be bros, kind of want everybody to be friends, right? You get to ping pong table or the dart board and you think you're all going to do fun stuff and it’s going to be great. You get confused or at least it can be confusing to you as to the true nature of the relationship because you start to act like you're not the boss. CHUCK: Right. Well the thing is you want to like the people you work with. You want to get along with them. You want to have those relationships. I can tell you that I’ve had some angst over other people that I’ve hired because we became good friends and didn’t have that parameter set where I felt like I could fire them or that I could cut back on their hours. And so I have gone through emotional turmoil over whether or not to stick it out and just deal with it; whether or not I am better off just letting the status quo run. Sometimes, I would’ve been better off letting these people go and sometimes it worked out when they didn’t so sometimes that’s a hard call to make. MARCUS: Yeah, it is. REUVEN: No matter what if you got to fire someone, I can tell you for experience it’s painful no matter what. Although if it’s someone close to you then it just adds to that angst. CHUCK: Yeah. MARCUS: Reuven, it sounds like you're speaking, like you said, from experience. Tell me about the time you fired somebody. REUVEN: So I’ve had my company for almost 20 years and the second or third year I started getting enough work that I got to that point where I had to decide, “Am I going to stay small or am I going to grow?” And I had these dreams of The Lerner Consulting Office Towers in the skyline. So I said, “Okay, I’ll grow,” and I hired someone part time to help me out. Basically, for a number of years I had people working for me. It would usually last for about a year or two. Probably about 15 years ago – yeah, exactly, so it was like 2000, maybe ’99, I hired a few people. I actually had four people working for me at that time – no, six people were working for me at that time and I went to the department used as an office and things were doing great because it was, of course as I mentioned, ’99 and the .com era was happening. People were calling me all the time to do stuff. And here and there I had to fire some people. There was a guy whom I hired after he takes technical courses so I thought he may build a pickup that we needed but there was way more experience necessary than I really could and that he really could provide. But the big thing and what’s affecting me to this day is when the bottom dropped out of the market in 2000 and I had a bunch of people working for me. I said, “Uh-oh.” I saw what was going on and I did exactly what Chuck was saying which is, “I’m sure it’ll get better. I’ll just hold on.” And that was bad because these were full time employees. I promised them I’m specially obligated to give them a salary and the assumption was I was going to send help bringing the money. I laid them off in waves. First, there were the first two who were clearly not as good as the others. And then a third person and that was painful just because – I knew for the business it had to happen but it’s never pleasant saying to someone, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t have enough work for you. You’ve got another month. If you need help getting another job I’ll help you but I can’t provide you with that anymore.” A third guy, basically he was hired away by the company for whom he’d been doing consulting and they called me p and said, “We really liked him. We want to hire him full-time.” I said, “No way! He’s a fantastic employee. I want you to do that.” And they said, “Well then we’ll just drop the other consultant.” I said, “Okay, let me talk to him,” and we worked out a deal there where they paid me as if I were a head-hunting service. And the last one – that’s right, I went to the US and I got a call from the client saying, “So, what’s going to happen now that so and so is in a hospital?” And I was like, “He’s what?” So it turns out he was in a hospital and hadn’t bothered to tell me or let me know or anything. And so when I got back to Israel, I fired him. I don’t think I even had to say it but he sent a friend to pick up his stuff. So I’ve had a variety of different experiences but all that is really, really affected me such as nowadays I do have an employee now and I’ve had people for the last few years, they’ve all been – how do I put it – they're employees but I pay them by the hour based on what they do and that avoids making me hold a bag if everything goes away. If there’s no work for that month then they don’t get paid. MARCUS: So you really – first of all, those are really hard lessons to have learned. So your takeaway was I’ll hire people and I’ll pay them on an hourly basis as needed without the larger commitment that I’m going to feed your families forever, it’s what it feels like. REUVEN:**Right. What it basically comes down to is it’s in my interest to find them work because I make something off of that also and I can work on larger projects, but if I can’t for whatever reason then I’m not making any promises. And they are also, by the way, allowed to if they want to find other work on their own, do that. So my current employee – know that he does a few things on the side – and I though that’s okay with me so long as he’s available when I need him. He works flexible hours and I’m not on top of it anyway so it really works out very well. But you’re right, under no circumstances nowadays would I hire someone with a guarantee ‘I will give you 40X hours per week’. [Chuckles]**MARCUS: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you guys – have you found that you’re typically letting people go more for attitude or skills? CHUCK:**Attitude. I don’t even have to think about it. It’s attitude. Even though the guy that slacked off, he had the skills; it was the other way around. I had another fellow that I hired to work on – he subcontracted for me on a rather large project – we got about halfway done and the client emailed or put something into the system that we’re using to track our project, basically asking ‘how do I do this one thing and what was built?’ And he had built that part. And his response was effectively RFTM. [Chuckles]**MARCUS: Wow. CHUCK: And he said it with about that much kindness behind it as well. So I went back to him and I said, “I’m sorry but you got to apologize. You can’t just tell them in a tone that clearly says ‘you are a stupid idiot for not knowing how to do this or looking at the documentation that I put in there in the code’,” and he refused and so he got fired. MARCUS: Yeah, and he probably didn’t finish his day out there. CHUCK: Nope. He got fired, he got paid and I had a few other people reach out to me and said, “So and so said that he worked for you for a while.” I said, “Yeah, don’t do it.” REUVEN: See that’s very hard to do and I’ve had to do that also. The other guy who was technically brilliant, exactly what you were describing Chuck, technically brilliant and actually the client called me and said, “Please, never send him to me again.” He’s so unpleasant to work with. And yes, he gets the job done but it’s just not worth it. CHUCK: Yeah, the profit’s in that relationship. REUVEN:**Exactly, and I kept trying to explain to them, “Look, you can’t tick people off, you cannot [inaudible] you’re there to help them.” I kept saying the most important skill of being a consultant is not technical; it’s listening. Listening to what they have to say and what they want to do and then helping them accordingly. He just totally did not get that. So I’ve had calls from people saying, “So, he gave you as a reference. Can you actually recommend him?” And I had to say no.**JONATHAN: That comment was pure gold Reuven. That was – you should say that again. The most important skill is listening. CHUCK: Absolutely. It’s so funny because people ask me, “So what’s the trick to being a freelancer?” I said, “You want to know what ABC stands for freelancers?” And they go, “Oh I know that. It’s always be close.” And I’m like, “No! It’s always be communicating.” REUVEN: Yes, yes, yes, yes! CHUCK: If you weren’t talking to your client and you’re not listening to them to figure out what they need, you’re not doing a good job because you’re going to give them something that they don’t want or need and they’re going to wind up paying for it and that’s not being good freelancer or being a good provider of services. MARCUS: Service provider, yeah. Now I think that you said something else Reuven that was really important. When people think about having to bring this guy on to the project realize that everybody you bring in is a potential liability especially if they have any communication with the client which give an email and project management systems or whatever, that’s almost always the case. REUVEN:**People have said to me now, “Oh, you’re doing all this technical training. Why don’t you hire some people and then you can grow and you can make tons of money?” I was like, “I know what it’s like to be the lecturer and [inaudible] there.” And I actually had this; I had someone work for me and he did a course and an hour into I got a call from – this was not the same guy – a call from the company saying, “We sent him back home. He had nothing to tell us. This was awful.” It’s my reputation on the lie. It’s my company and my profits on the line. So for me to hire someone to go and present for half a day or a day to that company and me not being there, no way, not at this point. It’s just too risky.**MARCUS: That’s right, it’s nothing but risk. You might think ‘well, I make a bunch of money lying on a beach somewhere’ but you’re going to have to get that money back more times than you can count because you have unhappy clients. You’re certainly not going to have repeat customers. JONATHAN:**Right. There’s a theme that keeps popping up here which is that the way to grow your business is to hire people and I fundamentally disagree with that. That is one way to grow your business because the concept is that you’re leveraging lower paid resources and marking them up and that you can sit on a beach and drink margaritas based on the very anti-Karl Marx attitude of ‘these people aren’t smart enough to [inaudible] about their worth’ or I’m adding some value in the sales department or something that they would never do. But there’s another way to grow your business which is get bigger clients that you’re adding more value for and charging more money. You don’t have to hire people to do that. There are pros and cons to both approach. I’m a fan of the lone wolf approach but I know that’s my personality. So my question for Marc is how do you know if you’re the type of person who’s going to be able to grow their business by hiring their way out of ‘too much work’ situation? And when do you know when to start doing it?**MARCUS: Well, I’m going to turn this back on you just for a second Jonathan; how do you know you’re the lone wolf person? JONATHAN: Because I’ve done both and I just drastically prefer not worrying about ten people’s mortgages. I just want to worry about my own mortgage and it’s just never worked out for me. You know what it is? Here’s the answer – I don’t really care about getting better at it. I want to work with people who do not need me to manage them. I want to work with people who are professionals, are self-managed and execute what they say they’re going to execute. And they – maybe this makes me sound like a jerk but I just don’t really care about worrying about someone’s morale. MARCUS: Reuven sounds like you are also a lone wolf right now. Is that right? REUVEN:**Well, I’ve got my one employee. And I actually have for the last few months, thanks to this friend I’ve got a dozen clients I’ve had for over the years where they rent up work. So he’s had, I would say, two thirds to full time work for the last few months which is just fine but I’m also a very light manager. I basically give him huge latitude. He’s talking directly to the client; I’m talking to them certainly but he does the day to day [inaudible] stuff with them. And I can – well I own him 100%. He’s demonstrated that time and again which makes him unusual.**MARCUS: Okay, so if Jonathan’s the lone wolf and Reuven’s the small pack –. REUVEN: Yes. By the way, I cannot imagine growing even if I would have the opportunity, maybe hire one person or another two but I think that small pack is a fantastic description because I have totally given up on the skyscraper idea. MARCUS: Okay Charles, how about you? What are you? Are you a Jonathan? Are you a small pack or are you a lone wolf or something else? CHUCK: So currently I’m probably fit into small pack. We had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about the direction that I want to go with my consulting and that is going to require me to ramp up probably to have at least a reasonable size team to be able to handle the work that’s coming in. Now, I’m going to be doing a lot of the consulting myself but a lot of actual turning the crank to get code out, to get apps built are probably going to be done by other people whom I manage or whom I find somebody to manage. MARCUS: Okay. CHUCK: So, I’m going to be moving up. MARCUS: And I’ll tell you Jonathan, I’m a lone wolf guy, too, which might seem crazy because I’m sitting here talking about managing people. JONATHAN: Right. MARCUS:**But the reality is I left my corporate job where I was assistant department manager of software and we had sixty people in the company – I’m sorry, in the department – and I went to start my own company with just two of us and we’ve expanded to between 11 full-timers, maybe 20 with contractors and managing people was basically all I did after we got rowing. I had a very similar experience to Reuven where, honestly, it was actually at Christmas time. [Chuckle]**REUVEN: Oh God. MARCUS: I had to go in a week before Christmas and call everybody. Some of them were actually on Christmas vacation. CHUCK: Oh man. MARCUS: And I had to say, “I’m sorry; we’re out of work. I’m closing the doors.” REUVEN: Don’t come back basically. MARCUS:**Yeah, don’t come back. I’m like, “This sucks and we’ll ship you your equipment. You can come back and pick it up or blah, blah, blah.” But the reality is I had to do that big layoff and I did it all at once and that was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do. The stress building up to it where I was worried about it for so long and I lived in this space of denial that it was ever going to happen, wanting to be optimistic that I’d get a sale. We all have stories but then in the end I realized once I was just me, I – just like you Jonathan – I never want to hold someone else’s livelihood in my hands that way. I never want to be responsible for it again. I’m so much happier now as a solo guy but that doesn't mean I don’t see that some people, probably Charles here, is going to make scaling really work for him. It just didn’t work for me. So your question about ‘how do you know if it’s going to work?’ Everyone of you guys, your answer is based on experience and my guess is people are just going to have to try for themselves to some extent but in order to know if you’re a lone wolf guy, a small pack guy or ‘I’m going to build an empire’ kind of guy. But I think there’s some things you can do in there to decide that little test you can give yourself. Experience is great but for example if you hate talking to other people, you’re probably not going to be a great manager. [Laughter]**CHUCK: I hate talking to other people. I avoid it three times a day for Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m just kidding. MARCUS:**If you hate – if you are scared to give feedback, you’re probably going to be a pretty crummy manager. I think the whole thing is realizing – and if you’re afraid to quite coding, if you think that the most valuable job in the company you’re going to own are the software developers then you’re probably not going to be a very good manager because that’s what you’re always going to be drawing back to is that the [inaudible] of the keyboard.**CHUCK: Can I push that button a little bit? JONATHAN: Yeah you got to do that. CHUCK: Bring it. JONATHAN: Yeah, that’s the good one. CHUCK:**So here’s my issue is that I have clients and I want to deliver them the highest quality thing possible. The highest fidelity way that I can guarantee quality is to do it myself and I’ve run into this before and I had to get over it [inaudible]. I’ve also run into this situation where I’ve hired a subcontractor or hired somebody who was basically was contractor – it just had my name on it. They did all the client interaction and everything and I just got a little bit off the top of what they’ve got paid where they didn’t do a great job. So I worry a little bit – not that I necessarily that’s where I can have the most value but I have a little bit of trouble giving up the quality control that I know I get when I do it myself. Does that make sense?**JONATHAN: Totally. REUVEN:I can totally understand that but my current employee, part of the reason why I love having him work on my [inaudible]; part of the reason why my clients love him is, in many ways, he’s better than me – more detail oriented. He has fewer bugs. I don’t think he necessarily – we compliment each other very well because he doesn't always see the big picture and he can always debug as fast as I can. But when it comes down to getting things out and getting it done, quality and security, I know he’s better than I am. So while I have that attitude for a long time he would be like, “Why don’t I just do this? Stop trying to do it yourself because I’ll just do a better job.” And after a while I realized, he’s rightJONATHAN: If you’re not delegating your micromanaging, you shouldn’t even have the person. CHUCK: I agree. And I have to say that this is where I was for a long time and it just so happened that I hired people like Mandy and Federico and some of the other people that I have working in my operation here, I have a subcontractor that I did turn loose on the client. And I didn’t hear from them except for getting invoices and hearing from the client that he was happy. So I know these people are out there but initially that was a big hang up for me. MARCUS: I think this is so important because when I went out to hire people initially, I started with the premise that I was pretty darn good and I was going to hire somebody whom I could teach. Instead, if I had thought to myself, “I’m going to hire somebody who better be better than I am because I’m not going to do this at all. I’m going to delegate it to them and get out of the way. I would’ve been in a much better position. REUVEN: So how do you hire people? I think a lot of what we’re saying leads to the need which is almost an unsolvable problem but could also be some degree or another. How do you find, hire and then keep good people so that you don’t have these tragedies in your business life? MARCUS: It sounds like you’ve got to keep it right now, Reuven. I have some general rules and I don’t shop on oDesk, that’s one of them. But things like I always do a ‘try before you buy’ if that makes sense. I always start people on something small, controlled, that I have a very clear idea of what the outcome should be. And I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and making sure that I’m going to be clear in handing the piece of work off to them. And I always expect to spend more time that I thought I would’ve answering questions and explaining things at first. So I start with something really small and I do a ‘try before you buy’ and I try and limit it to ten hours or less, something where you can say, “Let’s just try this and what I want to do is test a few things. I want to test and see if we click from a communications perspective.” And I want to test and see whether they keep their promise. For example if I say, “Here’s a ten hour task. When can you have it done?” And they say, “End of day tomorrow,” I say, “Great!” Well, if I don’t hear anything and it’s 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, I now it’s probably not going to work out already. In fact, if I haven’t heard anything within a few hours around questions or clarifications, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to work out because the last thing I want is a developer who goes in a whole and makes a bunch of assumptions about what I would want. Sometimes, I’ll actually give requirements that have areas which should be red flags and see if they catch them and they come back to me and ask me these pointed question. Because I think it’s that idea of testing for communication, willingness to communicate, ability to clearly and professionally communicate. And of course, just like you guys have talked about, I look for somebody who doesn't come back and try to bully me technologically or make me feel stupid because there’s a lot of those arrogant attitudes out there and I don’t want to work with those people. JONATHAN:**Yeah, [inaudible]. So [inaudible] keeps on coming up and coming up and coming up and I think we’re all in agreement that it is way more important that somebody’s ability to debug an app cache or whatever. It’s like the dev skills are almost the commodity and the communication skills, the soft skills, are so much more important that you click with someone. Your chosen choice of communication, whether it’s Slack or email or whatever, is comfortable for the both of you just like swimming in it like fish – swimming in it like fish in the water. But I want to add one thing to Marcus’s recommendations for knowing whether or not you’re fit for this or what you can do to test drive the relationship, I am exposed to people who do an amazing job of building a team. And I noticed that they do things that I wouldn’t have thought to do or don’t have the patience to do. A lot of them revolve around trusting the team to do what they’re good at but actually, there’s something that happens first. First they hire the most expensive best people they can find, where they are steadfastly devoted to being the dumbest person in the room and they say it. There’s no ego, there’s no nothing from the CEO; the CEO is like ‘I want to hire the smartest people I can find’. It’s worth it; I know it’s worth it. They get those people and they trust them to do what they hired them to do. I’m not always great at that. It’s not a huge weakness of mine but I’m not great at it. There’s this devotion to it that is – you know what I am bad at? Oaky, here’s the thing I’m bad at which is creating. I see these same people get out of their way, spend hours a week making sure that the relationships between these high end people who all have egos, they spend hours a week making sure that those relationships stay positive because there’s a lot of elbow throwing and disagreements especially with the remote team. A lot of people are operation not in person at all – not even on the phone – they’re operating over email and Slack and text based mediums and when somebody gets insulted –. I see these CEOs get into it and they spend a lot of time being almost more of a shrink to make sure that the team is happy and the team is positive and functioning. It’s a huge commitment. It’s not the way I want to build a business but I can see that quality in other people and it impresses me. I don’t think it’s a bad thing; it’s amazing actually but there’s a certain commitment to it and it speaks back to Charles’s thing about not wanting to relinquish quality control to people that maybe he doesn't trust 100%. I guess the trust thing and the communication thing and the dedication to making sure that the team is working in harmony.**MARCUS:**I think – first of all Jonathan, literally we can just close right now. Everybody should just listen to everything you just said and that would be the end word on that topic. I have nothing to add but I always almost do – almost always do. [Laughter] The thing I was thinking about the other day was when I was a software developer, it was my job to produce working software but when I became a leader of a team, team lead was the position, it became my job to produce software teams. And it sounds like those CTOs understand that the thing they create are teams of people who make software. You’re right in the thick of psychology and human relationships and ego and conflict – you’re absolutely right. One of the things I’ve come to realize is, people ask, how do I find time to do my real work if I’m supposed to be a manager? And of course my thought is your real work is being a manager and in fact it actually doesn't matter if you’re sitting down writing code; if you are the manager of a team, if you own a company, you just hired your first employee, everything you do is setting an example for that other person. Every check in becomes an example of how you want things done. Everytime you communicate with them, you’re telling them you’re inferring how you expect them to act and how you’re going to act and you’re willing to give lots of little course corrections privately behind the scenes so that hopefully you never end up with the big blow up where you have to find somebody. And Reuven, my guess is you’ve got this amazing person working for you but it’s not because you never made little course corrections along the way but it’s because you made lots of little course corrections along the way and you found someone who is willing to receive those corrections to do things differently.**REUVEN: To some degree. To some degree, I would say, I definitely managed him much more heavily at the beginning than I do now. We’re now on our third year of working together and there’s a lot of trust and a lot of communication and we like each other also. And I think part of what he likes is that I give him so much autonomy which he would never get anywhere else. But yeah, I’m sure at the beginning when he first started working with me I was saying – I remember, in fact, I would say, “You know, you really should try this, you really should try that and you really should do test in this way, you were checking things in that way.” And after a while then they give us what we needed and now it’s just smooth. MARCUS: Exactly. I think that’s exactly right, having investment on the front end of a relationship. I love how you said you give him a lot of autonomy but you don’t do it because you’re a nice guy, you do it because he earned the trust. And he earned the trust because everytime you said ‘why don’t you do it this way’ he listened and he changes behaviour and he already pushed back and he had a good question about it. But you didn’t just assume that he was going to – whenever you saw his work and you didn’t like it, you didn’t say, “You know, I’ll just redo it myself,” because that’s what I see a lot of bad managers are doing. REUVEN: Oh my God, that’s just like the kiss of death. CHUCK: Well then what’s the point? REUVEN: Right. I can imagine that a lot of people do that, but even if you can code better than your employee doing that first of all, at a certain point your clients are not going to want to be paying twice for the code. And so it’s true, either of them are going to get angry or you’re not going to charge them meaning that you’re not really getting the financial benefits of having an employee that you should. Second of all, you shouldn’t be spending your time doing that. Hearing that, I think I did that in the beginning like maybe a month. I think I even said I want to review all your code before you commit it or before you deploy it. At a certain point I realized, “Oh my God, I don’t have time for that.” MARCUS: And you don’t need to. Trust was built, right? REUVEN: Right. Exactly. MARCUS: Now, do any of you guys have kids? CHUCK: Yes. REUVEN: Yes. JONATHAN: Yup. MARCUS:**Do you ever tell your kids to clean their rooms? [Chuckles]**CHUCK:**Over and over. [Chuckles]**MARCUS:**As parents, we’ve all told our kids they need to clean their rooms. Do you imagine going in like, “You didn’t clean your room very well. I’ll just spend two hours doing it for you and not say anything.” [Laughter]**CHUCK: Yeah, that will never happen. MARCUS: It would never happen. It’s ridiculous, right? But what sent – message would it send your kid? It would send your kid the message that if I do a crappy job, dad will just come in and do it anyway. CHUCK: And I still get dinner. MARCUS: What was that? CHUCK: And I still get dinner. MARCUS: And absolutely ‘I still get all the benefits’ and I see managers who look at their employees work and they go back and they grumble to their spouse or their partners but they don’t take the time to correct; they just think, “Well, I’ll come in late and redo it.” And then they categorize them with their employees in this bucket of ‘they just don’t get it’ and I think that’s really unfortunate because a lot of times we take perfectly good, sound, human beings that are developers and we train them into really bad employees and subcontractors because we give them almost no feedback and we just let them drift. And when they’re so far away, we just get pissed and we fire them. JONATHAN: I got to chime in there because I have learned over and over – I’ve managed a lot of people. I’ve had to fire people; I’ve done it. It’s in my past, I’m not going to do it again. But I learned a lot from it and going all the way back to leadership roles in karate class school and music school, all these other things, it has been drilled into me that I overestimate how obvious what’s in my mind is to everybody else. I do it over and over and over. And I almost think you cannot go overboard with explaining how you – you can go overboard with micromanaging but the communication thing in saying what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable and what your expectations were, it’s so easy to think that everybody can read your mind. People will just take it in these wildly different – in the absence of any actual information, people make up the weirdest stories lie control freak or they hate me. I’ve go into one-on-one’s where people – where I was about to give somebody a glowing one-on-one and they’re like, “I thought you were about to fire me.” And the ESP thing is way overrated. People – I don’t think it’s just me. Marcus is the expert but I don’t think it’s just me. I think it’s so easy to assume that something so obvious to you is obvious to everyone else that you might as well double check and make sure that the thing that’s obvious to you is obvious to everyone else, as well communicated as you can possibly make it because if you’re going to be in a situation where you manage people, it’s going to solve a lot –. God, it was pure communication, the whole thing. REUVEN: Jonathan, not only do I think you’re right but this is not just true in work, this is true in family, marriage and also in some other places. JONATHAN:**It feels so much easier in personal relationships to me but maybe I was just going to be the best dad and husband of all time [laughter] which I have a t-shirt that says that.**MARCUS:**I was going to say ‘I bet you have a Best Dad Ever mug’. [Laughter]**JONATHAN:**I’m drinking out of it right now. [Laughter]**MARCUS:**Oh, you’re [crosstalk] exactly right.**REUVEN: What does that mean? MARCUS:**One of the thing I tell people who are newly managing other people is I –. For example, I had a client not too long ago who’s hiring a copy writer and they’re a copy writer and they were like, “Oh, I managed people before. I always hated it, I’m always bad at it but I’m sure it’ll be fine because I’m going to hire somebody who’s perfect this time.” [Laughter] Clearly this was going to work out. And I told him, I said, “So everytime they submit something to you, I want you to find at least three things wrong with it.” And they were like, “That’s a big jerk thing to do. I’m looking for what’s wrong. What if there’s nothing wrong?” And I said, “Hold on; you are going to find three things wrong and you’re job is to pretend you’re a batter in a baseball game. You’re not going to let a pitch get by you.” You’re going to find three things wrong, no matter how small, and you’re going to learn to start communicating from the very first pitch about helping this person get comfortable receiving feedback because if you wait two months and never say anything, and then start pointing stuff out, they’re going to be like ‘what the hell, why are you so picky now?’ But if you start right off the bat communicating and giving feedback in a way that’s gentle, corrective, non-confrontational, it becomes a normal part of the relationship. They hand you work, you give feedback and give it back. They get better; it’s all good and people actually love feedback. They don’t hate it like we sometimes imagine. I really like that idea of, even if it’s a little artificial, find three things that the person could’ve done differently or better and from the very first piece of work they turn in, start giving that feedback. And as Reuven said, you’re going to have to do this more one the front end but then you’re going to build trust and you’re going to see how they respond to that feedback and that’s really going to determine how good a relationship is going to be.**REUVEN:**One of the things you’re saying Marc, and I don’t think it’s bad, is see what you just described as [inaudible] needs to do. They need to be correcting, they need to be communicating – these are not the same skills that a fantastic software developer needs. They should be communicating for us but that’s not what they’re being judged on. They’re being judged on how do they produce great software? Suddenly, they’re being asked to do new things. One of the things I discovered when I started hiring people is management is a skill; it’s a skill that you need to learn and it’s a different skill that you might have had until then. You’ve got to concentrate on learning and growing those skills, not just saying, “Ah, I’ll just now look over who’s most skilled more,” or I’ll stop looking over my code; I’ll look over everyone’s code. That – it’s more than that.**MARCUS:**Yeah, I feel like you’re just pitching my list right now Reuven [laughter] it’s such a – no, that’s exactly right.**REUVEN: Which is, by the way, excellent. MARCUS: When you make that transition, I talked to so many people who don’t realize that they actually transition to lead other people but their head is still back in the ‘I write code and I do a little light management’. And Jonathan, I’m just going to press on something you said a minute ago, these ideas of self-managing people, I think it’s a myth. I’m sure there’s great professionals who can take a project from start to finish but my guess is if your job is to create a team of people who produce software, then you absolutely are in the people work business. And there’s – no matter how good they are, they’re not self-managing because they can always be better, they can always see things from an outside perspective. They always need your context to be able to make better decision and I think that’s a lot about what management is. CHUCK: I want to jump in on this because one thing that I’ve seen from a management perspective – and to give a little bit of background on where this comes from – first of, I’ve worked in companies where I was the manager and essentially, I was responsible for the output for the whole team. So if I had a team member that wasn’t delivering then my job was to let them go and find somebody else who can make stuff happen so that the output from the team was what was expected. We were solving the right problems in the right way to meet the expectations of the company. Another really poignant example of this is the way that we run things at the school. I sit on the board of my kid’s school and so the board has where you share your responsibility over the school and the way that we worked is we actually work through policy delegation practices. So the way that it works is that the board has delegated all of its authority to run the school to the CEO or the director of the school. He’s essentially the principal. And then he is required to work within the guidelines of the policies that we put in place. So he’s responsible for the outcomes that the board puts forward for the school so students will be literate, students will be numerate, students will have presenting skills. This is an elementary school so a lot of this is pretty basic – they can read, they can write, they can do that. And then they’ll perform to a certain level or the school will perform to a certain level. Then the director, the CEO, is responsible for the outcome that the school has, so he’s responsible for making sure that the students are numerate, literate, that they’ll learn a foreign language and all of those things and the board isn’t. They are somewhat responsible to the state for that kind of thing but they have some leeway as they’re evaluated and most of that falls back on the director and if the director doesn’t do his job then he can get let go. And so what he does is he hires teachers. We don’t hire teachers; we don’t tell the teachers what to do. We delegated that all to him and we don’t do it because simply put, we can’t because we’ve given that responsibility to him. If he wanted to bring everybody into the gym and he could do a fun little jig that will teach him everything he needed to know. He will be needing all of the requirements that we put in place and that would be fine. But he can’t and so he hires teachers and he’s responsible for hiring and firing and he’s done both of that and he reports to us about it. But at that point then we as the board are only really then as aware as he makes us or as aware as we are as parents with kids in classes in the school. So most managers are in that same position. They are put in place – my client does the same thing. If I hire a team, they’re coming to me and they are paying me to make sure that they get the outcome that they want and the fact that I’ve hired people to work on it is secondary knowledge that they don’t – almost don’t need to have because ultimately they’re going to get the outcome that they expect. MARCUS: Yeah, I think that’s exactly true when you hire the principal not to go into the classroom and teach or to do the jig but you hired him to build a team, an educating team. CHUCK: And that’s what he’s done. MARCUS: Right, and that is, as you said, it involves adding new people, removing people and correcting people who were on there with hopes to turn them from north to south. To improve their behaviour, it involves recognizing good work and it involves recognizing bad work, and it involves actually looking at the outcomes which are inside the brains of these students and measuring the team and being able to take good and bad feedback and report it to the people he’s accountable to. It’s exactly – it was a very classic management structure and I think that when we talk –. If you’re a freelancer right now and you’re listening and you’re thinking ‘I don’t want to be on the management business, I would almost tell you you are anti-management and you think those people are jerks and ‘I hate that’ and ‘all I want to do is code’, really be careful not to jump in to hire a buddy to help you or an oDesk person and think that they’re just going to do an amazing job because I just can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that sad story. It never goes great. CHUCK:**The other thing is that, and this is something I want to put forward, too. So as a board, we have certain things that we put in places – ways to check in on it and I think that if you set that up in the beginning or explain to your employees, “Look, I’ve been reading this book or listening to this podcast,” I got this idea that I want to set targets every quarter or every month and then I want to get a report back on how we did. So you add that structure and it’s – just make it a communication thing then you can start to really evaluate that stuff and you can make it part of the relationship to begin with so that it’s not a shock and the [inaudible], “Well, he doesn't trust me anymore,” or anything like that but it’s just so that we can all do our jobs better and so that we know we’re in the right direction. What I guess I’m saying is just set up a structure so that you can actually check on the things that you care about and make sure that you’re doing the right stuff. And if you put it to people that way and just say, “Look, this is my business and this is the direction I want it to go and this is how we’re going to make sure we’re going that way.” A lot of people are reasonable enough to pick that up and then you can just work within the framework of that and if something’s not working, then you bring them in and you collaborate with them as part of your team to say, “The way we’re running things right now isn’t working. What do you think or how can we do better?” and then it’s not this adversarial relationship where it’s, “Oh he’s always checking up on me because he doesn’t trust me,” but it’s, “We’re on a team; we’re trying to row the same direction and he just wants to know the ship’s pointed the right way.”**MARCUS: Yeah, I bet with education, it’s not obvious walking around the school if the things that are supposed to be happening are happening. You have to take a test, look at test scores, do something in order to evaluate them. CHUCK: Uh-hm, and we have a monitoring schedule is the way that we do it so the director knows that he has to bring in certain reports on certain months for the board meetings to show us that he’s doing what we asked him to. MARCUS: So how does that equate to software where in my experience, when you’re in a middle of a software project or you have a team, it’s also not obvious. If the right things are getting done the right way, that to me the outcomes. CHUCK: I think one of the things you can do is set milestones. MARCUS: Like functional milestones? CHUCK: Yeah. MARCUS: Yeah, I agree. CHUCK: And not all of these things are always going to work for all teams but that’s one thing that worked for me now is we’ve made a commitment to the client and we’re going to deliver in this timeline and we have this milestone and we’re going to evaluate whether or not we meet that milestone on the date that we’ve set for it. Another way is with different processes. So it’s – well, we’re going to try doing this this way and having retrospectives. So then it’s not ‘you aren’t working for us’ but ‘this isn’t working for us’, this practice, this tool, this that which is part of Agile. Finally, I hate the idea of performance review, but one of the things that one of my bosses did that was drilling ice was he would call us in every quarter and we would just talk, just make sure, “Hey, what I’m doing is working for you, what you’re doing is working for me,” and just make sure that you’re on the same page. And the last thing is make sure that the objectives are clearly stated, the expectations are clearly stated and that everybody knows how you’re going to measure it. And honestly, that kind of communication makes a huge difference. MARCUS: Yeah, everybody wants to know the rules of the game. CHUCK: Yeah. REUVEN: Yeah, Marcus, I’ve been a realist for a while but I know you have something in there. You wrote at some point about performance reviews which is – everyone hates them but no one should hate them. I just remember so much my first job at HP. Whenever we would be – performance review time. First of all, I was young, I was a new employee but it was just painful, terrifying and surprising. Every year would be like, “Really? That’s the problem?” And it was just like, “Why didn’t they tell me this earlier?” And so of course, as you said earlier, we are the product of our experiences especially when it comes to management and dealing with other people. So now if there is something that bothers me with one of my employees, I will really try to say it right away. I won’t always necessarily succeed but I really try just because I was so burned by that. CHUCK: The other thing is that I’ve been in work situations where they had the annual or semi-annual performance review and there was a field in there that had to be filled in was ‘where could this employee improve?’ And the middle management would get crap over turning something in that didn’t have something in that blank. And I actually had it happen where my boss puts something in that field, he winked at me like I have to fill this is and so I’m writing something here that doesn't look bad. Then I had the next tier or two tiers up manager walk by me in the hall and he stops and says, “So how’s it going with?” What my boss had written in on my form. And I’m just sitting there going, “Well, it’s not really that big an issue,” but I can’t tell him that because then he’s going to think that I’m blowing it off and not taking it seriously. If you’re going to make it a frank and high value communication between yourself and your employee, that’s one thing. But if you’re putting all these rules around it and then using it to beat people over the head with, no wonder people react to it. MARCUS:**Yeah, I am a huge fan of the employee evaluation. As Reuven said, I talked about it on my list but you guys are describing some pretty horrific wrong ways to do it. My motto has been – I really stuck to this rule ever since I started and I think I learned it from my manager. I basically committed that you would learn nothing new in your evaluation. There would be no surprises. It was an absolutely like, if I had not brought it up in the past, we are not going to talk about it in your evaluation. It’s just not the right time because you are already stressed out, worried and tensed so I have a responsibility. Just like Reuven said to make sure that there’s a problem, as a manager, I need to come talk to you immediately. Little things, big things – whatever – I believe that you should never hear anything new in an evaluation, especially new bad stuff. The other thing is I’m a big fan of it because I think employees who – it makes them feel like they know where they stand to have these things happen but employees don’t need – don’t rely on them as much with management just as honest with them just like Reuven is, right? There’s a problem, I take it to the person. That’s how you can trust somebody that you have a relationship with is when there’s a problem, they talk to you. If my wife waited and annually she brought to me all the problems [laughter].CHUCK: I’m sorry, I know you were trying to talk but oh my gosh. MARCUS: Well, I probably would spend 364 days pretty stressed out wondering what was going to happen on whatever day we’ve chosen and that doesn’t make me a very good husband. I can’t relax and do my best work. We’ll use that phrase. CHUCK:“Oh, we’re two weeks out. I’m going to get it. Happy anniversary!” [Laughter]**CHUCK: I don’t remember where I heard this or learned this but someone defined the manager as the person who helps the people who were working for them to do their jobs. This would be the person to clear away the problem. I heard it so many years ago – I told my employees this over the years – I’ve said to them, “Listen, my job is to make sure you can work as efficiently as possible. If there’s a problem, if there’s something getting in your way, tell me. If it’s buying something or talking to someone then I’ll do it.” I don’t know how often in the company has said, “I can’t work because I’m doing – because of X,” but I think it changes the environment. That’s no longer me checking up on them being mean but it’s me making sure, again, giving them as much autonomy to move forward and try to solve problems. MARCUS: I used to think about my team as like a Garden I was responsible for. I needed to protect it from external harm of bugs or weather or whatever but I also needed to protect it from internal harm – some plants shouldn’t be near other plants. Some plants need to be pulled out. Weeds need to be pulled up. They could be thought of as a plant in the garden but not every plant is the right plant for the garden. So I think that idea of protecting the team and you’re play up locking role to make sure the team not only has what it needs but gets protected from external pressures or politics or crap because especially with software development, it requires a lot of intensity. And if people are worried about their jobs, they’re frustrated with politics and stuff, it can be a huge derailer. JONATHAN: Can I turn around for a second to the flipside of the freelancing situation? So we’ve been talking about maybe you’re a freelancer and you’re upping your game, you’ve got too much business and you’re thinking about maybe scaling up by hiring people, what about the reverse? Maybe you’re a freelancer who is in a situation where they’ve been hired by someone who’s doing that; this person is creating a virtual agency. What can they do, if anything, to help manage up as I’ve heard it called before? So what kind of freelancer who’s in a situation where they’re not getting the kind of communication that they need – do to help their so-called manager do a better job? MARCUS: I’ll just try to chime in. I think managing up is a real thing and I think it happens – if you’re a freelancer and you’re working for somebody, managing up is very important. It’s important to manage up to your client and if you’re not a freelancer, it’s important to manage up to your boss. In my mind, the way that they can do that is primarily through communication. Even if their boss doesn't ask for things, ask for communication, that doesn't mean they don’t need it and want it. And the person can – if you’re a contractor, you can be sending status reports. You can be sending red flags of problems that you see on the horizon. You can be letting people know proactively when a task is taking longer than you thought it was going to. And I think everytime you do that, you’re investing in the trust bank a little bit, that somebody else is going to trust you more and that at the very least, they can’t say that they didn’t know where you withheld something from them because they never asked. JONATHAN: Yeah, again it goes back to communication. In fact, the people that I had great relationships with were sort of independent contractors who are teamed up to do a particular thing. Whether I initiated the team or someone else did, whenever it’s a huge success there was great communication. All different channels – all different type of channels and different things but just great communication, lots of mutual respect. Also, there’s another thing that I don’t think has cropped up where each person almost says like – got veto power in their area where someone is kind of like the trusty deck. They might not be the boss or they might not be the person who spun up the project or landed the deal but everybody’s kind of the captain of their little area. So in a situation where there might be a lead developer and they get the last say on how the GitHub repo gets pushed to the server and there’s a designer who is the last say on how the Photoshop documents gets sliced up and all that. I think the thing you just mentioned, the trust bank I think is super interesting. And I would probably be a dead horse at this point. Communicate more to people, that’s the solution. MARCUS: I think that, probably, that’s indicative of good management that lets people – it starts from a position of trust. They extends trust in which buys them trust but then those people who they’ve hired become more trustworthy because they’re entrusted with it. JONATHAN: That’s awesome. CHUCK: Alright, well this has been a terrific episode. Really, a lot of good stuff here. Let’s go ahead and get to the picks. Jonathan, do you want to start us off with picks? JONATHAN: Sure. I’ve got two this week. One is Drip; I’m sure we’ve mentioned Drip a hundred thousand times on the show before but I am really getting into a rhythm with Drip which is a powerful yet somewhat simple email marketing tool. And I just love it because it creates a two-way communication with people who are interested in the stuff that I’m interested in. It’s what I use to use my website for, the problem with the website is it’s not two-way communication. There’s a bunch of anonymous people on your site and get this page to use – don’t know how to ask people like, “Oh, did you understand that blog post you write?” There’s no great way to do that; comments aren’t great for that. So I am really, really digging Drip and anybody who’s trying to build an audience or create some authority for themselves in a particular niche, you should really think about signing up for Drip and you’ll be just getting the basics under the belt. It’s a great tool. The other thing that I’m going to talk about is I published a blog post just the other day about charging 100% upfront on your software projects and why it’s good for you but also good for your client for you to charge 100% in advance. I urge people to look at that especially if you’re billing by the hour because I think it might change your mind about the way that you’re billing for your services. And I went to that; it’s expensiveproblem.com/100 and we’ll get a link to that in the show notes and that’s all I got. CHUCK: Alright. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: So if we’re talking about managing software folks, so there’s a book that was written a long time ago called Peopleware that I remember hearing it, recommended. I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I hadn’t read it in a while but it was excellent it was an interesting way to approach how we talk to people, how we talk about management, what are the ways in which we can communicate. It’s an oldie but a good one and I definitely recommend it to people to take a look at it. CHUCK: Alright. I’ve got two books that I’m going to pick. The first on is a book about money and it talks about – it’s mostly about investment but it talks through a lot of the different ways that you can invest your money in order to be able to support your lifestyle later on when you retire or – I don’t know that I plan on retiring but let’s say I get disabled or something, you can maintain your lifestyle and what it takes and how to save and invest that money. It’s called MONEY: Master The Game and it is by Tony Robbins. The second book that I’m going to recommend is a book that my father-in-law bought for my daughter for Christmas last year and I read it to my kids. It’s a historical fiction. It’s about the pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving. It’s called Rush Revere and the Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh. Now, I know that some people are going to react but it is not a political book. It is simply and exploration of the history with the fun elements to keep the kids engaged. So I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for something educational and fictional and interesting for the kids to read, I’ve taken to reading to my kids every night and they just really been enjoying it. So those are my picks. Marcus, what are your picks? MARCUS:There’s a book I really liked called Behind Closed Doors about leading software teams by Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby. It’s been around maybe ten years and the premise is if you’re a programmer, you don’t necessarily know what goes on behind those doors of management that you’re not [inaudible] to. And so it’s the idea of show – they kind of opened up the doors and talk through how managers – especially managers and technology folks think about and keep doing their work and how they do their work and I really enjoyed this classic. The other one is I’m a big fan of Harvard business review which, if you’re a freelancer, you should not be intimidated by the name but it’s one of these magazines that always makes me think. The other thing is when I talk to my clients, I can always quote some HBR article and they’re like, “Oh, that’s impressive. You read that.” [Chuckles] I think it’s one of those things that stretches me a little bit especially when I was just doing development. I would start to read it and it really made me think how businesses think about things a little bit more that I had then.CHUCK: Alright. Well thanks for coming Marcus. This has been a lot of fun. MARCUS: Thanks for having me on. CHUCK: Alright. We’ll go ahead and wrap this up and we’ll catch everyone next week. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Want to support the show? 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