Co-founder & CMO | Time Doctor
Liam is the co-founder and CMO of TimeDoctor.com and Staff.com. After graduating with a masters in Sociology from McGill University, Liam opened a small tutoring company which grew to over 100 employees, and looked to solve a problem with remote employees not reporting accurate work data which turned into Staff.com. He consults on outsourcing and process design and is passionate about how to gain insights into the inner workings of how people work.
Liam’s video greeting:
My name is Liam Martin. This is Running Remote. This is the first ever well not first ever, this is the largest remote conference specifically designed for building remote teams in the world and I am one of the co-organizers Liam Martin.
And we’re going to be talking about a ton of stuff over the next couple days with really great group of speakers. But if you’ll indulge me I’m going to give you a couple of minutes about how this conference came together and more specifically a little bit about me
Some biographic facts about Liam Martin
So, I’m unapologetically Canadian and Steve is actually Canadian as well which is awesome. Thank you to a couple of Canadians in the audience. My day job is I work at Time Doctor and Staff.com and we build tools to empower remote teams to work better together.
So, we have employees in 28 different countries all over the world. This wasn’t something that just kind of popped up for us, this is about 10 years in the making. And it actually came from a bunch of failures that I had in building remote teams over the last decade.
So as I said before I’m Canadian and in Canada you do one of two things you either play hockey or you figure skate. At 1314 I just got more attracted to the figure skating side of the sports world. I didn’t want to get pucks in the face any longer. So I ended up competing internationally and ended up actually breaking my leg at 20. And I was completely out of the game. I was off of being an Olympic hopeful. It was literally and difficult time in my life.
And, thankfully, I got accepted here on a prayer. I didn’t even finish high school but they let me into McGill University which I’m always thankful for and I took my undergraduate and graduate degree in sociology there. I had been teaching, I had been a teaching assistant for about seven years and then in the eighth year, they let me actually lecture a class which was huge for me. It was that next moment of my life cause. I really wanted to actually teach.
And I remember the day before actually going in to the lecture hall. This was the first class of the semester and for anyone that’s been to university, you understand that you never actually teach anybody something in the first class of the semester. But I thought “Man I’m going to be so good”. I put together an hour and a half presentation and I gave it in that first class.
Long story short I started with about 300 students in that class and I ended up with a little bit above 150 students finishing the class. And I also got some of the worst-ever reviews in all of McGill history. Here’s just one of them worst profit McGill I think he enjoys watching everyone fail not super helpful or nice to students just horrible.
So, I walked into this guy’s office. This is Morton Weinfeld, my supervisor, and I said, “Mort, I don’t think I’m very good at this”. And he said: “No you are not”. And I said: “So what should I do?” And he said: “Well, you know you’ve got to really do this lecturing thing for the next ten to thirty years before you get to do something really fun. So either get much better at lecturing or figure out another profession.” And six weeks later, I threw one of the most horrible theses under his door and I was out into the real world.
And the lesson that I learned from university was I really liked teaching but I didn’t like lecturing that much. So I turned that into a business which was enabling people to be able to get tutors to work with them remotely it was a remote tutoring company. We had almost a hundred tutors throughout North America and Europe and it was a fantastic business.
However I was working about 12 to 15 hours a day. And I remember I chipped one of my teeth and I went into the dentist’s office to figure out what the issue was. So he opened up my mouth took, a look in and he gasped. And it’s never a good idea when a health professional gasps when they’re looking at you. He said: “Liam, which tooth did you chip?” You’ve chipped all of your teeth. What the hell are you doing with your life? And it was due to stress, that’s what we discovered. He said, “You either have terminal cancer or you’re way too stressed out.” And we found out that it was just stress thankfully.
And I realized that I had to do something differently inside of that business, otherwise I just was not going to succeed. Me personally, not necessarily the business. So, I think a lot of you might be in that same place right now, running remote businesses and figuring out, “Yes I know that remote work is definitely the way to go, but what barriers do I have? How can we get past them? How can we get to the next level?” And this is what this conference is entirely about.
And this guy is Egor. So he’s the general manager. Where is Egor? So Egor is Running Remote. And about a year ago we were in Boracay at our last team retreat and we were talking about. How do we get our team to collaborate better? How can we hire people more efficiently? And Egor said. There must be a conference for this. And so we started googling and about a day later we found nothing that could really solve our problem which was how to build serious remote teams.
So then I went to Rob, who is my co-founder for Time Doctor and Staff.com. He carries that gun around everywhere so be very careful. And so I pitched him the idea and I said, “You know, I want to do this conference in Bali and it’ll be awesome. And he said: “yeah Ok You won’t sell more than 20 tickets.” And So I put this slide up here just to kind of tell him formally that he can eat it, basically.
So one of the biggest questions that Rob had was “Okay, but we’re a remote company. Why do we need to go to a physical conference if we’re a remote company? Doesn’t that kind of sound weird? And I’m sure a lot of you might have had those types of questions, so I’m going to address that here.
So, number one, there’s no real information yet, particularly for larger remote teams which are the people that are assembled here today – on how to get to the next level. So there’s a lot of information on hiring maybe your first employee or your second employee, but hiring your hundredth employee or your thousandth employee is very difficult. There’s also not that much precision as well. So how do you collaborate on design properly? How do you build a support team remotely? Sales team remotely?
There’s not that much information. Secondly we want to really figure out where remote work can go next. So I know that everyone here understands remote but there’s a lot of people that don’t and we want to be able to figure out. “How can we get that message to them? And then third is collaboration. So we want everyone to be able to get in the same room and actually sit down and start talking about best practices to build that playbook that we’re really looking to come out of the next couple days.
So that brings me to the mission statement of what this conference is all about. So we want to empower workers to work wherever they want, whenever they want. And that’s actually tied through our own companies a version of it, and it’s also connected to this conference as well. And if anyone wants to talk about the mission statement for me mission statement is super critical to figure out the right direction for things like this and you’re all participants now so I want to get as much feedback as humanly possibly possible from you.
There’s a lot of positive stuff about remote work, there’s also a lot of negative stuff about remote work. We’re going to take an even look at each side. So number one, remote workers have a twenty-five percent higher retention rate than their on-premise counterparts sixty-five percent of people want to work remotely, by some reports, and it’s actually the highest employee perk for Millennials. That’s the one they want most, more than anything else. They’re about thirty-five percent faster to hire and remote work Is way up. Last year in the United States forty-three percent of people worked remotely in some capacity.
There’s also a lot of not so-good news about remote work. About seventy percent of remote workers feel left out in comparison to their on-premise counterparts. There’s an about forty percent more infighting in remote work by some studies in comparison to others. There’s an supposedly eighty-four percent slower rate of collaboration than on-premise counterparts.
And remote workers sixty-seven percent of them, say that projects change without their input in comparison to their on-premise counterparts. And that previous stat that I mentioned forty-three percent of US workers worked remotely in some capacity – only three percent worked full-time remotely last year. So there’s a lot of people testing the waters, but no one’s really jumped in yet. And I think that’s something that we can also change.
So our goals for this conference. Number one, if you’ve just got a couple remote employees or if you don’t even have remote employees and you’re really trying to figure out how to do that, we’ve got a lot of talks connected to just getting you up and running. So how to hire properly, how to structure your businesses properly, those types of things. Second if you’ve already hired people and you’re completely remote we want to get you scaling. We want to get you up and running and operating at a much higher level. So there’s a lot of talks can you connect it to that as well third is we want people to get clear on remote work. So if you’ve got an organization and you really want to just refine your processes. There’s going to be a lot of talks connected to that as well. And fourth, I know that everyone here has like his drinking the Kool Aid with regards to remote work. but we also just want to help you guys get your message out to more and more people about remote work because for us we see it as a movement not just necessarily a business model.
There’s a lot of people that are going to help us to be able to accomplish that goal today. We also have a ton of sponsors. We’re going to be talking about them throughout the conference, but one that I want to focus in on is Heetch. Does anyone know Heetch? One person, okay. So here’s the crazy thing. So Heetch comes to us and says: “We wante you to be a gold sponsor”. And it’s a two sided car sharing app right? And so we said: “Okay, well. We’d love to be able to work with you and see how we can, you know, make you some money or make this conference worth it to you.” And this was their response. We wanted to sponsor Running Remote because we firmly believe that remote will be the way to work in the coming years and initiatives such as Running Remote should be supported to spread the world. We are the biggest remote team right now in France and even though more and more people are asking me how do we do it, and they’re starting to show interest we in a way feel a bit alone in France. So sponsoring the conference is a good way to show that France is participating in the movement.
And that’s what I truly feel that we’re talking about right now. We’re talking about a movement. We’re talking about empowering workers to just be so much more happy and successful in their lives. And who are we all here today? We’re 257 companies. We’re representing about 25,500 employees. We’re also representative of about 11,8 billion dollars in company valuation. I actually forgot to change that slide cause GitHub just got acquired. Four 7,5 billion. So we need to add that on top of it. And companies here, fifty-six percent of them are majority remote.
And I also want to talk about the impact. So going remote is actually better than going vegan. It’s better than giving up your car. It’s one of the best ways that you can help the environment. And just in this room, represented by the employees that are here, we save about 150,000 tons of carbon. That’s like taking 32,000 cars off the road. And only one-sixth of the people, of our employees here, work full-time remote. So what if we could get that up to fifty percent? I mean, the impact would be would be huge.
I don’t want to talk about some of the attendees that are coming here. So there’s a lot of fantastic speakers. There also a lot of great attendees. Allen is an absolute behemoth at online marketing. This guy is killing it on Fluentu.com and he’s doing it entirely remotely. We’ve got guys like Rodrigo as an example, who’s an amazing UI/UX and designer. He builds fantastic web sites and web applications and he’s an expert at online collaboration.
So we are right here in Ubud Bali. However this is the breakdown of all of our attendees that are here today. So about 41% in North America and Australia, 4% in South America, 2% in Africa, 27% in Europe and 26% in Asia. However this is the real breakdown of remote workers today. So I also want to be mindful that we’re all here, we can afford to come here and stay in this beautiful paradise, but remote work is also about empowering people that wouldn’t have opportunities in their local areas and they can now access the global talent pool. And that’s something else that I’m really passionate about as well.
So if you have any questions, ask people with these t-shirts, they’ll be able to answer them for you. And our Slide question was “What’s the average size of the remote team that’s in this room?” And it’s actually a 108 people. So you’re here with your best in class I’m really excited about everyone that’s going to be here over the next couple of days. Please ask me questions and give us a lot of input on how the conference should be put together. And I hope you enjoy the next two days.
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