Lisette Sutherland is the creator of the Work Together Anywhere Workshop now offered in 18 countries and eight languages. She has recently published her long-awaited book Stories Of Remote Teams Doing Great Things, which is packed with stories and tips for those who want to successfully bridge distance.
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- Zoom and Sococo – Lisette’s small business resources
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- Stories of Remote Teams Doing Great Things – Lisette’s book
- CollaborationSuperpowers.com/fire – Lisette’s website
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- Have a safety net. Have your oxygen tanks ready.
- Nobody will try your product if they won’t get value from it.
- Think about the things you could
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:01] –Lisette is an American living in the Netherlands
- [01:10] – Lisette has been interviewing people and companies who have been doing great remotely
- [01:19] – Lisette turned the interviews into podcasts and books
- [01:45] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: If you’re going to work remotely, have great Internet, equipment, and video
- [04:13] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: When Lisette started, she only had 1 client
- [04:25] – Lisette had the opportunity to travel with the band as a merchandiser
- [04:40] – With little money, Lisette went to Netherlands and worked as a merchandiser in the evening and for her remote client in the morning
- [04:50] – Suddenly, Lisette’s client went out of business
- [05:40] – Lisette turned to freelancing platforms to start again
- [06:23] – Lisette’s grandmother told her to start again because she knows what Lisette really wants
- [07:10] – “Have some sort of safety net in place so if something happens it doesn’t hit you”
- [07:27] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: When Lisette hired a business coach and told her about the results-oriented language, Lisette flipped the language and her webinar started selling.
- [10:10] – “Make sure that you listen to wiifm radio. Always think about what is it for your client”
- [10:27] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Those who are fascinated and passionate can now move mountains
- [12:25] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? –Lisette didn’t know how to build a business so she surrounded herself with people who knew their field and Lisette copied them
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Just get something out there because it is better than getting nothing out there
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Listening to podcasts
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation –Zoom and Sococo
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Managing for Happiness – it has a bunch of management practices for the whole team
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter taken cared of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? –“Find my focus and interview people”
- [18:34] – “Don’t try to figure it all out by yourself. Go out and get support”
- [19:00] –Connect with Lisette through CollaborationSuperpowers.com/fire – she’s giving away a set of virtual team cards!
Lisette Sutherland: Bring on the Fire, JLD, I’m totally prepared.
John: Lisette is the creator of the Work Together Anywhere Workshop now offered in 18 countries in eight languages. She has recently published her long awaited book, Stories of Remote Teams Doing Great Things, which is packed with stories and tips for those who want to successfully bridge distance. Lisette, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Lisette Sutherland: Well, I’m an American living in The Netherlands for a long time now, and I have spent the last three years interviewing people and companies who are doing great things remotely in order to get their best practices and stories for how they’re getting it right. And I turned that information into a podcast and then just now the book and did the Work Together Anywhere Workshop, which is offered online and in person all over the world.
John: Well, Lisette, your journey is super cool. I’m excited to dive into it for Fire Nation, but before we do, what’s your area of expertise? Kind of break it down for us and give us this one big value bomb that entrepreneurs like us need to know but for some reason probably don’t.
Lisette Sutherland: Right. Well, more and more we’re working remotely for a variety of reasons whether we need to find talent elsewhere or cost or just we want the freedom personally. So I’ve been helping companies figure out how to do that, and what I’ve noticed is people really think that they want to be collocated but what they really want is high bandwidth communication. So my value bomb today is gonna sound basic, but I’ve given the workshop in so many multinational companies now that I know even though the information is basic it’s really important and hardly anyone is doing it. So the value bomb is (1) if you’re gonna work remotely, have great Internet. You just cannot skimp on the Internet.
If you don’t have great Internet, you’re doomed, and you also need to use great equipment and minimize the background noise and to use video always or whenever possible. I know there’s certain times when it’s not appropriate, but if you turn the video on it really helps. So when people get the basics right, they’re remote lives get a lot easier.
John: Yeah, we can even dig a little bit deeper into that because Fire Nation when the video is on and you’re looking at the person, they’re probably looking back at you and they know that you’re seeing them. So they’re not just dialing it in and listening and then muting the microphone and going to Facebook and ESPN.com, and believe me these things happen. I do them all the time on conference calls, but when I’m video conference calls I have to sit there and look attentive, and guess what it’s really better for everybody involved including me, so a lot of great tips and specifically about the Internet.
Having moved to Puerto Rico May 1st of 2016 that’s a huge concern for me, and it was a huge concern getting down here and seeing is this gonna work. And fortunately we did our research and we talked to people and it’s not only great Internet down here it’s actually faster than we had in San Diego, which is kind of mind blowing.
Lisette Sutherland: Wow.
John: But that sometimes happens in places they skip over like one or two big implementations that places like San Diego is doing every single time, and they just were able to kind of like leapfrog a couple of the lesser technologies. So yeah we’ve got 200 down 20 up pretty solid, but you know we lose power from time-to-time, so you’ve got to put in some other ideas to adopt some backup in place for sure. But Lisette I want to kind of move now into your journey. I mean we’ve talked about some really important things when it comes to all-in entrepreneurs having that communication and the Internet and the backups, but what would you say your worst moment is to date on the business side? Take us to that moment and tell us that story.
Lisette Sutherland: Man, I can still feel it like it was yesterday it was so bad. So, when I first started my business, I had only one client, and with that client we worked remotely. I loved the client they loved me we had a great relationship, and since it was a remote company I had the opportunity to move to The Netherlands to travel with my favorite in the whole world who had asked me to go with them as their merchandiser on their European tour and I had to go. So with very little savings I moved to The Netherlands and started traveling with this band and working during the day from the van and then playing rock star merchandiser at night.
And out of the blue I get a phone call one day and it says that my client has gone out of business overnight in this totally dramatic way. So I have $1,000.00 left in my bank account and I am in a foreign country, and I have to decide do I spend that $1,000.00 to go home, or do I stay and try something new. And the first thing I did was I called my dad who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and was not excited about the band thing I must say, and of course his response was very pragmatic and he said it’s time to grow up.
You have to come home and get a real job and I thought oh man maybe he’s right, and then I called my grandmother who was my best friend and a very savvy businesswoman. And what she said was don’t you dare listen to him, don’t you dare. Start again and if something goes wrong I’ve got your back. So what I did is I went online onto these online remote working platforms like Up Work. It was Elance at the time and I just crawled my way back to life. I started taking jobs $6.00 an hour. Well, it was more than zero dollars an hour and then $10.00 and then finally just really crawled back to life and then built up the business again.
So that was my worst entrepreneurial moment, but I did learn some things.
John: Well, before we dive into your lessons learned, let’s dive a little bit more into that conversation with your grandmother because I find that fascinating. So she obviously said a few things to you. What was the main reasoning behind what she was sharing with you? Were there any life experiences that she had or just dig a little deeper there.
Lisette Sutherland: Well, I think what happened was she knew how much I was enjoying being on the road and how much I wanted to live abroad, and I had been preparing for it for a long time even though I didn’t have a lot of money in the bank. That was definitely a lesson learned there. So she knew how much I wanted it and that to admit defeat so quickly and just move back home she thought I mean if she could have my back and I could give it a shot then why not give it a shot.
John: Let’s dive into that one big lesson that you want to make sure Fire Nation gets. What do you want us to walk away with from that story?
Lisette Sutherland: Have a safety net or as Jim Collins says in his book from Good to Great, “Get your oxygen tanks in place,” because you just cannot prepare yourself for what might happen there’s no way to know. So just have some sort of safety net in place so that when something happens it doesn’t tank you.
John: Lisette, let’s talk about one of your greatest ah-ha moments to day. Take us to when that idea came to fruition. Take us to that moment in time and then walk us through how you turned that idea into success.
Lisette Sutherland: It was shortly after I had created the Work Together Anywhere workshop, and I knew people needed it because the people who were taking it were raving about it, and I could see that it was really helping people. But I really had a hard time selling it, and oh I’ve tried everything, all the social media, I just thought of everything. So I finally hired a business coach, and she introduced me to the idea of using results-oriented language, which now that I’ve learned about it I see it everywhere. I mean Zig Ziegler talks about it, but what she basically told me was no one wants to join your webinar. You have to actually put it in language what do people get after they’ve joined your webinar.
People want to have pain-free meetings where everyone contributes. They don’t want to join your webinar. They want to have high bandwidth communication. They don’t want to go to your meeting. So as soon as I flipped the language around in my marketing and really started to focus on the value that I could offer people and what people could get after they took the workshop or did whatever you know joined my webinar, things started to turnaround, and the workshop started selling like hotcakes I couldn’t believe it.
John: I love that phrase no one wants to join your webinar. It kind of brings me back to I was in San Diego pretty recently and I went to this haunted house. I came out of the haunted house and I was doing a little snapchat, and in the background one of the guys that worked there goes, “Nobody listens to your snapchat.” It’s so funny because I caught it on the actual snap, and so like I definitely posted that because I knew everybody would find it hysterical because it was really funny. But his point is right like nobody’s gonna listen to your snapchat if you’re just snapping about random stuff. Like what are they going to get of value from consuming that content? Is it a laugh?
That is value by the way, so that’s a value. Is it something that’s gonna improve their life? Nobody wants to join your webinar. Nobody wants to buy your product listen to your podcast if they’re not going to get value from it. So start marketing and start using the language that way, and that’s why Lisette one thing I’m so big about is having one-on-one conversations with real customers, with real clients, with real people who maybe aren’t customers or clients yet but you know they should be or could be and listen to the words they use their vocabulary and use that vocabulary in your copy. That’s so important and so powerful. So let’s kind of sum up these last two stories.
No. 1: Have a safety net, have your oxygen tanks ready. That’s good because that worst moment is going to happen so have that ready. No. 2: Nobody wants to join your webinar Fire Nation. Think about what value they’re going to get and position it that way. So Lisette before we move on, what’s the one lesson you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your ah-ha moment?
Lisette Sutherland: Well, I would say take the lesson that Zig Ziegler says and always make sure you’re listening to WII FM radio which is what’s in it for me. Always be thinking about what’s in it for me as in me as in your clients.
John: What’s the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Lisette Sutherland: For me it is the fact that those of us who are motivated and passionate and love what we do we can now move mountains in ways that we never could before. I got this inspiration actually and I mean I’ve been fired up about this for a couple of years, and that company that went out of business it was an online project management tool. It was being built because the CEO of the company didn’t want to die and I’m totally serious. He didn’t want to die and he was really frustrated that longevity scientists from all over the world were not collaborating and sharing data.
And he was hoping that his platform would help them get together, share data, and solve this pesky problem of aging so that he didn’t have to die. I was like mind blown. It was such a cool idea, and I think about it now well what could we do if location weren’t in the way. Like what are the things if we could just get the best people working together think about the things that we could do.
John: Fire Nation think about the things that you could do when you keep your eyes open, your ears open, and you’re walking around, and you’re listening to problems, and you’re hearing problems, and you’re seeing problems. There’s just these things that are happening all the time, and again for the CEO that you were referring to, he saw a major problem in the world. No. 1 he didn’t want to die, so No. 2 let’s allow people who are working on longevity projects have better access to communication so that I could help myself out. Again, what was he doing? He was listening to WII FM like what’s in it for me. Like he was listening to that radio show as we all are, so keep that in mind.
Find those problems, fill those voids, make that happen, and now speaking of awesomeness, which we’ve been speaking about for the next 12 minutes now, we have some awesomeness coming up in the lightning round. So Fire Nation don’t you go anywhere. I want to take a minute first to thank our sponsors. Lisette, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Lisette Sutherland: Totally. Bring it on.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Lisette Sutherland: Basically I didn’t know how. I mean I hate to say that I had a lack of vision, but I didn’t quite know how to build the business. So what I ended up doing was just finding a whole bunch of people that inspired me and that were really good at business, and then I surrounded myself with them. So I would pick their brains whenever possible, I would connect with them wherever possible. I just took the opportunity to learn what they were doing, and then I just copied them because I didn’t know myself what to do. So yeah I found the right people and copied them basically.
John: Fire Nation you should remember this: good artists copy they do, but great artists steal. So don’t be worried about it.
Lisette Sutherland: Love it.
John: Also I kind of want to go back to the point Fire Nation that I think what Lisette said was just really important, but I even want to go a little bit more niche there. Like when you’re surrounding yourself with these people that are “successful in business” make sure that they’re successful in the areas that you want to be successful in, because I look at all the time – I love Richard Branson, Marquee was amazing, but they wouldn’t be great mentors for me at this point in my life because they’re not where I want to be. Like, I don’t want to be running an airline or a music studio or any of these things like I know what I want to do. So I find mentors who are where I want to be, and then I surround myself with those people.
So get really specific on that so you’re going in that right direction. Lisette, what would you say the best advice you’ve ever received is?
Lisette Sutherland: Start small and iterate, and I know a lot of people on your show have said this before, but I remember being in someone’s office when they said just get something out there because getting something out there is better than getting nothing out there. Once you’ve got something you can improve on it, so just get something out of it. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. Don’t wait too long. Just go, go, go and improve as you go.
John: Yeah, yesterday’s guest, Neal Pasricha, who is just amazing for a ton of levels New York Time’s bestselling author, The Happiness Equation. He said this quote that I love is, “It’s action that leads to motivation. Action leads to motivation.” So if you don’t have motivation like don’t worry about it just take action, take that first step. Now Lisette what would you say a personal habit is that contributes to your success?
Lisette Sutherland: I’ve got to say it’s listening to podcasts, and it sounds cheesy to say. But really I was a huge radio fan as a kid and was always listening to the radio, so when podcasts came out it was just a dream because you didn’t have to set your alarm for your favorite radio show and you can just listen on demand to everything. There’s so many good resources out there: Entrepreneur on Fire podcast totally helped me when building my business. I mean listening to all those stories and all that great advice it’s solid gold, and then the Tim Ferris podcast was also another of my favorites, but then anything that you’re interested in.
There’s a podcast for running and for knitting, I mean, anything you want, so I would just say listen to whatever it is that you like for your education is a good thing. But there’s so many resources available now.
John: What’s your Internet Resource? Like you Never Know with Fire Nation.
Lisette Sutherland: If you don’t mind I’d love to share two.
Lisette Sutherland: There’s two really good ones. One is a videoconferencing tool called Zoom.US. It’s one of the best videoconferencing tools out there absolutely fabulous. And the other Internet resource I’d like to share is a virtual office and barely anybody knows about it. It’s this amazing tool called Sococo, S-o-c-o-c-o, and it’s a virtual office where you can actually go to an office online and meet colleagues there. I used it for actually virtual co working because I work from home, and I know a lot other people who are working from home. And it’s a little bit isolating at times, and I don’t like to go to those co working places only because I like to have multiple monitors and my desk set up just right and my great coffee.
But I do like to be around other people, so this virtual co working sort of gives me the best of both worlds. I can meet people online, hang out, and we can work together on our own projects.
John: If you could recommend one book to join stories of remote teams doing great things by Lisette, what would that book be, Lisette and why?
Lisette Sutherland: There’s a great book out there called Managing for Happiness by Jurgen Appelo, and it’s a book that highlights a whole bunch of management practices for modern day teams. What I like about it is that it’s not theoretical but that it’s really concrete. It gives you tips and advice that you can use on Monday morning when you go back to the office or the virtual you can just start right away. Great, great, great book.
John: Lisette, this is the last question of the lightning round but it is a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Lisette Sutherland: Oh man, it really sounds like the time when the company went out of business it was a whole new world with almost nothing. So what I would do is really find an area of focus, and just focus in on what I’m good at, and then start to interview people. Because what I learned is everybody likes to be interviewed and if you have a specific area of focus you can just go and talk to people and ask them their stories. And getting that information, that information can be turned into gold somehow whether it’s a podcast or a book or a workshop or whatever it is, but going out and interviewing people is pretty much free because you can just use the great free online resources, and everybody wants to talk and everybody has a great story to share. So that’s what I would do in the first six days.
John: Love that. Lisette, let’s end today on Fire with a parting piece of guidance and the best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Lisette Sutherland: My parting piece of guidance is don’t try to figure it all out by yourself, go out and get support. There are so many books, there’s so many podcasts, so many resources. Find support groups of people who are like-minded and are doing what you’re doing. Attend workshops, hire experts like when I hired my business coach the world opened up. I couldn’t have done it without the business coach, yeah, and then I would say make enough to live on, enjoy what you do and just keep going.
John: And what’s the best way to connect with you?
Lisette Sutherland: The best way to connect I would say is through the website. I also wanted to have entrepreneur on Fire listeners have great online meetings. So I’ve set up collaborationsuperpowers.com/fire, and there the listeners of your podcast can find great tips for online meeting facilitation, and I’m also giving away a set of virtual team cards, which are cards that you can use during videoconference meetings. They’ll say for instance you’re on mute, so you can just hold up your on mute card when somebody starts to speak but they’re on mute. So there’s a whole set of cards with visual cues for people.
John: I love all of that. That’s so great. And again that was collaborationsuperpowers with an “s” .com/fire?
Lisette Sutherland: That’s correct.
John: Killer. Fire Nation you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you’ve been hanging out with LS and JLD today, so keep up the heat, and head over to eofire.com and just type Lisette that’s L-i-s-e-t-t-e in the search bar; her show list page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore. Of course her book Stories of Remote Teams Doing Great Things. Check it out if that’s of interest and for a lot of us it should be, and of course collaborationsuperpowers.com/fire for your gift Fire Nation. Take advantage of these great opportunities, and Lisette, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
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