[The following is the full raw transcript for a LEADx Podcast interview, which has been lightly edited for space and clarity.]
Kevin Kruse: How does this guy only work 12 hours a week? Hello everyone. I'm Kevin Kruse. Welcome to the LEADx show where we help you to stand out and to get ahead. Will you do me a favor? A personal favor? After today's episode, take out your phone and text your best friend and say, “Hey. Check out the free course of the day at LEADx.org.” It would mean a lot to me personally because I am on a mission to democratize leadership. I don't care what country you live in, how much money you have, who your parents were. If you want to become a better leader at work, at home, in your community, I want to help you to fulfill your full potential. LEADx.org.
Today on the show, you're going to hear from an entrepreneur who started an online job board to connect talented workers in the Philippines with companies all around the world. I've used that job board myself. We talk about what can and can't be outsourced and how to manage remote workers.
First, the tip of the day. The 10-6-2 engagement rule. Why should you care about employee engagement? How will you convince your managers, maybe your boss, to care about engagement? When employees care, when they're engaged, they go the extra mile. What does this mean for your company when they give discretionary effort? It means a salesperson will sell just as hard on Friday afternoon as she does on Monday morning if she's engaged. An engaged customer service rep will try just as hard to delight a customer at 4:45 p.m. as she will at 9 a.m. An engaged software engineer will weave the code cleaner than when she received it, and research supports this. A study done by the Corporate Executive Board revealed the 10-6-2 rule. Every 10% improvement in employee commitment increases employee effort by 6%, and every 6% increase in effort increases performance by 2%. The 10-6-2- engagement rule.
Our guest today is an entrepreneur who claims to work only 12-17 hours a week. He's the founder of onlinejobs.ph, a job board that helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and others to find talented Filipino workers. Our guest is John Jonas. John, welcome to the show.
Jonas: Thanks for having me.
Kruse: My pleasure. I want to get to your personal story in just a minute, but it's sort of a tradition on the LEADx show, we always ask our guest the same first question, which is, tell us about a time when you failed and what did you learn from it? We all want to learn from that failure too.
Jonas: For me, one of the things I've learned about myself is as I enter a market, as I create a product, as I do something, I need to understand the marketing that's going to go into getting that offer in front of people. There was a time, a couple of years ago, where I had this training product and it was really great. It reached a lot of people and I understood how to get it in front of people. I created an offshoot for it that was targeted at a specific demographic. The training was good, it was really good, but I didn't understand how to get in front of that group. I didn't want to do the work necessary to do it. For me, I've learned before I go into something, I have to understand it from the beginning to the end. I want to understand the full process and exactly what's going to go on where, or else I'm going to have a really hard time with it.
Kruse: That launch of that product didn't do well because you didn't understand the market? Is that what you're saying?
Jonas: That's right.
Kruse: Got it. Got it. I think there's a lot of young professionals out there, whether they're looking to be a lifestyle entrepreneur or whether they're just looking to have a great career in a big organization, they're just trying to get ahead. You've obviously had a lot of success early in your life. What advice would you give to others who are looking to get that?
Jonas: The advice I always give is to start a business.
Jonas: Start a business. It's cool to work your way up in an organization. What I was told when I was younger was—I always got really good grades and I thought I was going to be rich. I was told, “C students work for B students who run A student’s companies.”
Kruse: That's great.
Jonas: That's right. Except now, I own the company, but it's the company owners that get rich.
Kruse: As you say, you flipped it around. You've got to own it to make the money. If you're working for someone else, those Bs didn't really matter that much.
Kruse: Your primary company now is onlinejobs.ph, which stands for the Philippines. Tell us about it.
Jonas: Twelve years ago, I was talking with the owner of backcountry.com and we were doing some similar things. He said, “You know, when you're ready to start outsourcing some of this stuff, make sure you go to the Philippines with it.” I was like “That's weird.” He told me why and it was a really interesting conversation where I didn't—outsourcing was just a problem. It sucks.
What he told me gave me some hope that I might have a different experience than what I had had before in other countries. It was a weird thing where I didn't know the country would make a difference. I hired someone and it completely changed my life. This guy's full-time job was just to do anything I asked him to do, and it was costing me $250 a month. That's 11 to 12 years ago.
That same person today is probably $450 a month. I was hiring this guy. They're amazing. They're intelligent and polite and helpful and hardworking and honest. I just found myself talking to others about it all the time because people wanted to know, “How are you doing this?” At the time, there just wasn't a great way to find these people. That's when I started onlinejobs.ph, it was the kind of the marketplace that I wanted for myself to find more workers.
Kruse: Right now you're running the site. It's a job site, so like most of them, there's two sides. You've got the talent that's putting up their resumes, their experience, and they're looking to find work. Then you've got the clients who are coming on to find workers in the Philippines. Do you find most of the people who use the site from the acquisition side, are they big businesses? Medium businesses? Solopreneurs? What do you get?
Jonas: We have a big range, but most are small. They're solopreneurs. They're small business owners. They're realtors, insurance agents, doctors, lawyers, people in e-commerce stores. I have a humongous list. Agencies who do work for other companies. We have a large list. Usually, it's small businesses. You get the occasional Google or Uber using onlinejobs. Usually, it's small people.
Kruse: John, we were talking right before we launched this show, that I'm actually a customer of yours. You didn't know it beforehand. It wasn't like a setup for the interview. My own journey was I'm a fanatic about time and productivity. I wrote the book 15 Secrets Successful People Know about Time Management, so I'm all about being efficient like that.
My early experiences outsourcing weren't great, whether it was a software developer or virtual assistant, either there was just language barriers, cultural issues, or whatever. It just wasn't worth the cost. For awhile, I tried using some of those popular on-demand VA services, even staffed with people here in the States. I actually had a horrible experience, where—people are going to laugh at this now, but one of the people that got the job, she had some kind of mental breakdown on my task, and she ended up—she had all of my best customers—and she started emailing them from her own account, saying weird stuff about me and all kinds of stuff. I had to literally track down the CEO of the company to shut her down and threaten her and all this stuff. I had some really awful on demand experiences. I thought, “Look, I'm just going to give up. I'll just do all this stuff myself or hire someone local.”
Then, and I can't remember who turned me onto onlinejobs.ph, but they said, “Kevin, the key is you need to pick someone and hire them full-time.” I know you don't have to. I know there's other people that have other arrangements. I thought that sounded crazy at first. How could I justify someone full-time? They said, “If you really sat down and thought about all those things that you're doing that you don't have to be the one to do, with the price differential you're going to find that you get to pick someone and they're just like a remote worker, like anyone else.” It's not like I've got Sally on Tuesday and Joe on Friday. They get to know you. You get to know them. They learn the systems and it works out. It's been about two years now that I've been working with Edgar. I had to learn. The Philippines, I think there's a lot of advantages to workers in the Philippines, and for me, it was making that leap to actually hiring a full-time worker in the Philippines that made a lot of difference.
Jonas: What you're describing is exactly what I went through 12 years ago. I didn't know it then, but hiring a full-time worker makes all the difference in the world. There's a couple of reasons behind it that I've learned over the years. One is it forces you to run your business instead of to do the details. If you have this person whose full-time job is—you have to account for them 40 hours a week. If they're not working, you're kind of losing money, right? You will force yourself to come up with systems and things for them to do which grow your business. If you just hired an hourly person, if they're not working, you don't care, so you don't have to do anything to grow your business.
The other side of it is, because of the Philippines, because they're so loyal, almost to a fault, you have a full-time person. You have to keep him busy. They'll never quit working for you as long as you treat them well. Everything you teach this person is growing your business in the future. Your investment in it just multiplies, and it will multiply over and over and over again. You're totally right. That full-time makes all the difference in the world.
Kruse: What do you find—I'll give my list in a second—but what are people outsourcing? When they start looking for skill sets on online jobs, what are they searching for?
Jonas: If you go to the homepage of onlinejobs.ph and scroll down, there's a section. It says, “Browse more resumes,” I think. Those are the top searched things on onlinejobs. We put links to good search results of those things. What I have done, I have 21 people in the Philippines who work for me. They work full-time for me. I have programmers, designers, webmasters, admin people, customer support people, HR, social media people, content writers. I have people that run paid ads. What else do we do?
Kruse: That's quite a list right there.
Jonas: Yeah. To me, it's gotten to the point where I don't do anything in my business except for think. I am now the CEO. I don't ever touch any process, except to think through it and tell someone else what to do. Someone else is always doing the work and they're always in the Philippines. I have two workers in the U.S.
Kruse: I've never been to the Philippines, and in fact with Edgar, we did a Skype video once or twice two years ago. All of the communication since then has been email or Basecamp or something. How about yourself? Have you been to the Philippines? You're running the company, it might be a little bit different. How much interaction do you have with your team members?
Jonas: Actually, I took my family on a five-week vacation to the Philippines in 2010.
Jonas: We sat on a beach for five weeks. That was the only time I've been there. Really, all my communication is email and Basecamp. I don't Skype with them. They don't want to talk to you on the phone. They don't like it. Email and project management system. That's it.
Kruse: Again, I think similar things. When I've spoken to my author friends, my podcaster friends, my consultant friends, and they find out that I've got someone full-time in the Philippines, they always ask, “What do you have them do?” I don't think they understand. They think that there's things that you can't outsource. Literally, with Edgar, I think a common thing here in the States would be thinking, “There's going to be a language problem.” even though it is the Philippines. Just phrases or something might be a little bit different. I'm a writer guy and Edgar will edit my work, and he's the best editor I've ever worked with in my life. I just about dropped dead when very early on in the relationship, John, one of his first questions when I said, “Can you edit this document?” I just thought, “Read it for typos. Obvious typos.” He came back and he said, “Are we using AP style or Chicago manual style or something else?” I'm not making that up. I'm like, “What the hell is the difference?” Right?
Jonas: Okay. This is interesting. That's one of the first things people think about when they talk about outsourcing or virtual systems or overseas or anything, is communication problems. That's one of the magic things of the Philippines. You will never have a communication issue with the Philippines. Not everyone has as good of English as Edgar does. You do have to work to find that, although if you look at the onlinejobs.ph blog or my personal blog, I have written blog posts, I have people in the U.S. who have written blog posts, and I have people in the Philippines who have written blog posts. You can't tell the difference.
Kruse: Yeah. Right. Right.
Jonas: In fact, the first blog post on there that people in the Philippines have written and signed it with my name, I'm the author, and you can't tell the difference.
Kruse: It's amazing. Edgar hasn't been the one to do everything, but I've used folks in the Philippines. My last several book covers have been done by a designer in the Philippines, podcast post-production and editing, I'm thinking about doing some video editing there. When the file sizes going back and forth, it can just be another step to consider. Yeah, I really haven't found anything that I haven't been able to get done in the Philippines.
Jonas: Yeah. I have a video editor that's amazing. I had to work through it. This is a common experience. Just so people know when they go to do this, I had this video editor. I had something specific in mind that I sent him a video that I made, a screen capture video, saying, “Here's a video style that I like. I like what they've done here. I like this. I like that. Here's this video. Can you edit it like that?” He sent it back to me. It was terrible. But I worked with him through it. I worked with him through, “Change this. Change that.” I worked with him probably through four or five or six revisions of it. We got it right. I've done it probably 30 times since where I send it to him. The second time I did it probably twice. Two revisions with him. Every time since, I don't have to do anything. I just send it to him. Every video costs me $30 or $40. I don't know how much time he spent editing this thing, but I sent it and he sent it back. Super, super simple.
Kruse: This is the same process we would use if we hired someone new and they were sitting down the hall. We probably forget about that, or don't realize if we haven't managed anyone in a while, but you go through that process where you've got to show them what you're thinking of and how to do it a couple of times. Then once they're up to speed, then it's fine.
Jonas: Yeah. People often think because they're overseas, they're incapable. The first time they do something wrong, it's like, “This sucks.”
Jonas: Where, if you had hired that person in the U.S., it would have cost you $300, and you would have said, “This sucks.”
Kruse: Right. That's right. Are there any tips or best practices if someone hasn't worked with someone in the Philippines before and they are trying to increase the odds of early success? What would you advise?
Jonas: The way I do this is different than most people, and I think it's probably similar to what you have done. My best advice to someone is hire someone to do one task. That one task is something that you know how to do. When you hire them, you're going to teach them to do that one thing. You're going to work with them through it and you're going to give them feedback and you're going to correct them and it's going to take you a couple of weeks maybe. It might take a day, but more likely it's going to take a couple of weeks.
The purpose of this whole thing is to see, “Can I make this work? Is working with the Philippines acceptable to me at all?” Second, “Does it work with this person? Can I work with this person?” If you can get them doing this one task with you, then you can move on and you can do such good things with people. That's the best thing.
Find someone to do one thing. Teach them how to do that one thing. It's something that you already know how to do. Get that one thing off of your plate and get them doing it for you. Then you can move on to other things. My whole purpose is to cut my work week down. I only work, right now, probably around 12 hours a week. The purpose is to get time back in your life. Create some freedom for yourself by getting some time back, by getting some tasks off of your plate. Then, as you've done it more and more, you can start getting them to do that you don't know how to do, or you can hire people to do things that you don't know how to do. That's my best advice.
Kruse: That makes a lot of sense, to take it that way. I remember when you mentioned with that video project and you made that first video. One of the things we did early on that I think was helpful for onboarding Edgar is we would do screencasts of things that were computer-related that we knew how to do, that we were already doing. That way, he could watch it and watch it over again and always access it if he needed to. I bet he never watched it more than once, but we took the time to actually record it as we were doing it. Then he could just see exactly what we were talking about.
Jonas: It's more important than what you think, actually. It's more important than just giving them training. One of the biggest issues with the Philippines is, you hire this person. You say, “I don't know if I can trust them to, whatever.” Right? The Filipino worker says, “I don't know if I can trust them.” You never think about that. They feel the same way. They don't know if they can trust you. They don't if they can trust you in different ways. They don't know if they can trust you to pay them. They don't know if they trust you to not yell at them, not to berate them. They don't know if they trust you to not fire them. Creating those videos where they hear your voice and they learn that you're willing to help them succeed in their job builds that trust. It solves one of the bigger problems that people have with Filipino workers. That was double-sided, knocking two birds out with one stone. Getting them trained, gaining their trust.
Kruse: Yeah. I think that's a great point for any remote worker, whether you're using outsource workers or they're just remote on your team. If they're new on your team, you need to take that time to establish the trust, whether you take some time face to face or Skype or whatever. Then down the road, you really don't need to invest as much time in it.
Jonas: Yeah. Totally.
Kruse: John, what would you say is the best way our listeners can find out more about what you are up to. I know, of course, there's onlinejobs.ph. You mentioned your own blog. How do we keep in touch?
Jonas: I am available. I'm infinitely available through email. If you use any of the “Contact us” links on any of my websites and you say, “This is for John,” it will get for me. Initially, it won't, but the first person who gets it knows, and they'll send it to me. Or I am available on Facebook, even though I don't like social media. I make myself available there. Also you can learn more of what I teach and the full process of what I do at replacemyself.com, or onlinejobs.ph has an education link at the top, and there's a lot of really good stuff that I put together on my processes and how I hire these people, why, and how to make it work really well.
Kruse: Awesome. I'm just curious. If you're only working about 12 hours a week, what are you doing for fun all the rest of the time?
Jonas: I ride my mountain bike. I run in the mountains. I golf. I have five little kids, so I take care of them. I love to spend time with my wife and take care of my kids.
Kruse: I was going to say, I've got three, so you beat me on that. That will keep you busy, right?
Jonas: I love it. I love it. It's the best.
Kruse: That's awesome. Hey, LEADx listeners, I always challenge you to get 1% better every single day. I think the world is flat. We're becoming more and more global, and especially if you're a solopreneur, a small business, you need to be doing what you do best, and you need to be outsourcing the rest. The challenge of the day is just to go on onlinejobs.ph and start browsing around. Start typing in some different skills and see the matches. You might be surprised that you find matches in areas that you haven't about outsourcing before. That's going to be our challenge of the day.
John, thanks for coming on to the LEADx show.
Jonas: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author, host of the popular LEADx Leadership Podcast, and the CEO/Founder of LEADx.org, which provides free world-class leadership training, professional development and career advice for anyone, anywhere.