That is typically the crux — alignment is more important than the video conference calls, meetings, schedules or decks. So, stay aligned and repeat that strategy and that mission as frequently as possible.

Johnny Quach

About Johnny

Johnny Quach is the CPO/CMO at Hostelworld PLC Group where he leads over 160 people across a variety of functional areas including Product, Growth, Social, Technology and Design. Previously, he was at AirHelp, a Y Combinator startup from 2014, where he helped scale the company from 400 to 800 people while creating over 400% growth over his 3 years there. Before that he was at Rocket Internet where he launched three companies in 8 countries in the span of 6 months. He believes Product Managers should be relentlessly resourceful and possess analytical intuition so they can be adaptable in the most chaotic of environments. Growth is a creativity arms race where the best companies scale through repeatable processes. 

Johnny was also a professional poker player for 2 years, his dance team won America’s Best Dance Crew Season 2, and he was a Master ranked Starcraft 2 player.

Creating growth: tips for effective remote product management

Product management requires a unique combination of strategy, technology, design and the ability to find opportunities that will create impact—a crucial role that drives the success of modern companies.

In 2020, the global travel industry was hit heavily by COVID-19. Legacy travel booking company Hostelworld saw this disruption as an opportunity and used the time to get to work, mobilising their remote offices and teams in order to accelerate all the things they wanted to improve about their OTA product, an immense effort which resulted in one of their most productive years to date.

At Hostelworld, Chief Product Officer Johnny Quch leads a distributed team of over 150 people and chats with Maddie on The State Of Work about the importance of distributed team alignment, why strategy is so crucial for product managers, and how his multitude of external hobbies inspire growth and iteration across the board.

 

Shownotes

 

View the entire transcript

 

Creating growth: tips for effective remote product management

with Johnny Quach

 

Maddie Duke  00:03

You’re listening to The State Of Work, the podcast by Lano. The State Of Work is about finding your place in the changing world of work as an individual or an organization. In each episode, we dive into some of the benefits and limitations we face when it comes to remote and flexible work. We discuss how we work, how we hire and manage people and how we live in this increasingly global workplace. I’m your host Maddie Duke. For this episode I spoke to Johnny Quach, currently Chief Product Officer at Hostelworld, a leading global online travel agent focused on the hostel market. Johnny shared with me how his entrepreneurial mindset led him to working in product. He spoke about what product really is at its most basic and about some of the key qualities and values he looks for in a product manager. Since joining Hostelworld, Johnny has led a distributed team of over 150 people all working from home in a huge effort to bring Hostelworld’s product offer in line with the solutions that their customers are looking for, during a time when the travel industry has been disrupted by the pandemic and with new younger companies having entered this space, Johnny and his team have worked hard to execute some big changes for Hostelworld. And like many companies, Hostelworld have seen that not all jobs have to be done in the office, and that a hybrid or remote model is possible for them. The State Of Work is brought to you by Lano, an important tool for building and scaling remote or hybrid teams. Lano makes it easy to hire the best talent on the planet, wherever they may be. 

Hi, Johnny, thanks so much for joining me today on The State Of Work.

Johnny Quach  01:59

Pleasure to be here. 

Maddie Duke  02:00

So one of before we get into things, one of the first things I noticed when I read your bio and took a look at your website is that you appear to be extremely good at making a career out of hobbies, and you’ve played professional poker, you’ve worked in gaming if you’re also a pro table tennis player. Are there any other hidden talents we should know about? 

Johnny Quach  02:22

I’m also a breakdancer. My team actually won America’s Best Dance Crew season two. And my recent hobby is chess. And I’m also near-master level in multiple video games since I was a kid so I played Street Fighter at competitive level, StarCraft, Warcraft, I’m just a huge nerd when it comes to gaming. And funny enough, it’s just it’s the way I approach all things. 

Maddie Duke  02:51

Okay. 

Johnny Quach  02:54

Because the the way in the structure and the way you kind of learn a game, I kind of follow the same principles since I was a kid. And whether it’s product management, technology, startup business, investing, whatever, it’s very similar. And so that’s kind of my approach to life in general.

Maddie Duke  03:07

Between all of those hobbies and everything you’re learning and working on and your current role as CPO at Hostelworld, do you have any free time? 

Johnny Quach  03:17

I have a ton of free time, which is why I have so many random hobbies. And so I pick up all kinds of random stuff on the weekend as well. I think the last six weeks I started getting into sushi. So now I’m starting to take sushi classes because, you know, cooking is your one joy in this period. So I’ve put a lot of effort into learning all kinds of crazy cuisines including sushi. 

Maddie Duke  03:42

Wow, that’s amazing. A great skill. I have tried it once, as in I’ve tried to make it once and what didn’t go so well. So tell me how did you get into product, I mean, you’ve kind of already given us a hint when you talk about your background in gaming and how you approach your work. How did you end up working in product?

Johnny Quach  04:02

I actually worked in fashion for about 10 years. And then right around I think 2007ish, a few things happened. The iPhone came out, which literally changed the entire world in front of my eyes. And in close to 2008, there was like a huge financial crisis. So a lot of the world just changed. And companies that were unprofitable, just start disappearing. And so between all those things, there was also a huge, huge increase in poker and the popularity of this game. So I come from a gaming background and I was really burnt out from working in fashion. So I just said to myself, okay, well, I want to do something that I’m completely independent. It’s my own thing. I don’t have a manager, I don’t have a boss. So I started playing poker professionally. And I had a coach and all this stuff had a really strict system. But during that time, the growth of the iPhone was so prevalent in my life. I just felt like wow, this is such a way to get rich, you should build a company, you should build an app. Back then the concept of product management. It was probably around, but it wasn’t commonplace, I would say. And so I started building apps with a really good friend of mine. My really good friend ended up moving to Shanghai, in China. And at that time, so many interesting tech companies were being built in the era of web 2.0. So we thought, wow, there’s these new companies building these websites with super cool user interfaces, we should kind of copy these products in China. So then we started building the startups between me, myself and him. And we hired one or two developers. And we actually built three different companies. One was a Dropbox clone, one was a chatting app that was way before its time, and one was a photo sharing app. And somebody has reached millions of users. And during that period, it was I mean, like three or four people working on these things, I learned a ton of things. Well, it was a bit hard to actually run a company based in China. So over time, I wanted to get a job and work in a company and have a fairly stable life. And so that’s actually when I started applying for jobs. And my first, I still remember my first product management job, I applied at Match.com, which is the world’s biggest online dating company. And I remember in that interview, I was preparing for it like two, three weeks before it and I was extremely nervous. I had no idea what product management was, as I was reading the job description it sounded generalist. And I felt like okay, well, look, I can’t write code. You know, I guess I can manage this stuff. So the prep for that interview, I spent a lot of time researching all kinds of terms that are just, you know, like, the vocabulary I was not familiar with. So I didn’t know what a KPI is, at the time, I didn’t know what a metric was, I just didn’t know these words. I didn’t even know what a PRD was, which we don’t really use that term anymore. But that’s a product requirement document, which just means product requirements. And so I downloaded, you know, Microsoft Azure. And I wrote my first requirement at home as a practice, you know, just to get familiar with it. And it turns out it was just a Word document. And what I realized during the interview, and for that prep process is that these terms, even though very unfamiliar to many people, they are very fundamentally sound concepts. And I felt a lot more confident in the interview when I was talking about my startups, rather than the job because what I was doing at my startups, was exactly what a company would do when they have a product.. 

Maddie Duke 07:39

Right. 

Johnny Quach  07:41

And what I also realized was, I knew more about my startups and my companies, then most of the employees at a bigger company would know about the entire product, which is, which is super interesting. 

Maddie Duke 07:51

Yeah. 

Johnny Quach  07:53

And so that’s kind of how I got started. And, you know, it just felt natural after that. 

Maddie Duke  07:58

That’s really interesting. And just to add a little personal anecdote there, I used to work in product management, but for automotive, so it was cars that we were dealing with. And when I moved to Europe, I mean, I’m from Australia, and it’s not a startup scene there. So I was looking, I remember first looking for jobs here in Berlin, and thinking like this, this isn’t like, this isn’t what I know, as a product manager. And it is so true that there are all these concepts and things that can shut people out a little bit, that may still actually have those skills that are relevant to the role, but they just don’t know the acronyms or the you know, the latest terminology. Maybe we can, you know, use that to talk about what it is, what is a product manager, what, like at the core of it, what would you say a product manager’s role is?

Johnny Quach  08:44

I think, if you strip away all the details. So let’s go off your example of an automotive industry or even a company that makes bread, they also have product managers. And then you take any technology company, and you look at that title, though they are dealing with very different categories, very different spaces, the initial responsibilities in your day to day look like shockingly similar, I think. So if I were to summarize it in just one sentence, it would be you know, you’re always, as a product manager, you’re always looking for opportunities to create impact. And impact comes in many different forms. Sometimes it’s revenue, sometimes it’s some key metrics. Sometimes it’s efficiency, sometimes it’s stakeholder management, and these kind of things. So that’s kind of like the higher level approach I would take to product managers and just the expectation I have of my team, I think in a more traditional sense, and then more maybe, detailed or vivid view is, I think a product manager sits between kind of four functional areas. So there’s technology, which means you understand technology, you understand how things are built. You don’t have to write code, but you do understand the architecture of how pieces and applications work together. There’s the design, which is understanding UI and UX. So you don’t have to be able to move pixels around yourself. But you do know and you do recognize what is a good and seamless user experience. And you also are able to think in the mind of a user, when you’re going through a UI experience, then you have a kind of what I would call business strategy, which is an overall understanding of the category in the space in the industry, you or your company is in. So just kind of a marketplace understanding of the environment. That’s what I would call a strategic mindset. And the fourth one, which is by far the most rare, and, but yet the most important factor when moving forward in your career. And that is what I call influence. So some call it stakeholder management, some call it some other silly words, but at the end of the day, it’s your ability to, you know, create a group of people that have different skill sets and different interests, and align them onto one single goal. And that by far is the hardest thing to master because it’s not technical, all the other three are. But that one really creates a junior, a senior, a group, a director, a VP, a CPO. And I think the strongest product people, regardless of their seniority, are able to kind of mobilize between those four quadrants, depending who they’re speaking to. And that’s kind of the key is like, you’re able to go deep into all those topics, but you’re not actually able to execute on any of those yourself. 

Maddie Duke  11:29

Mhmm, thank you so much. That’s really what’s such a comprehensive overview, and hopefully helps a lot of people who are maybe considering or maybe a little bit in the dark about what product management involves, and maybe early in their careers and not sure what skills to focus on, so thank you. I’d like to talk about Hostelworld. So we’re also on The State Of Work, we’re really also really interested to hear from people about how the world of work is changing, and, and maybe we can talk about that with working in product at Hostelworld. And from what I understand Hostelworld, which is a company that was founded in 2000, sorry, in 1999, has gone to work-from-home during the pandemic and is moving towards a more remote distributed model. What’s this transitional period been like for you?

Johnny Quach  12:21

So Hostelworld is quite an old company, for a technology company. And we have roughly four offices, we have an office in Dublin, we have an office in London, we have an office in Porto, Portugal, when we have an office in Sydney, and we have an office in Shanghai, it’s actually five offices, sorry. And so the weird thing is Hostelworld, was completely able and ready to work fully remote from home, but never ever considered it during quote unquote, the normal period. And that’s really interesting. Because when you naturally have multiple offices, you are, by definition, probably working remote. Because no one is sitting in the same place, or let’s say a significant amount, people are not in the same place. 

Maddie Duke  13:07

Yep. 

Johnny Quach  13:09

And a lot of companies don’t realize that, that if you have multiple offices, you’re all pretty much working remote. So when the pandemic forced us to all work at home, it was almost too easy. Like it almost felt like everything just worked. We already had technology set up, we had video conferences set up, we had teams we had, you know, everything was set up. The only thing that we weren’t prepared for was some of the physical files that our finance and HR team had. But that’s an easy problem to solve. You just put them in storage in a safe, secure place. So that was actually quite smooth for us. But I realize it’s probably smooth for most companies that have multiple offices and where the balance of number of employees are fairly even across those offices. So that challenge just showed that you know, in the company, we have a spirit of adaptability, and we’re really able to be flexible during that period.

Maddie Duke  14:01

Yeah, that’s awesome and you’re right, that when there are multiple offices already, there is an element of remote yeah, you often already have these tools in place. And some people are already used to working in different time zones or calling in on a video call. So it’s good to hear that, yeah, it wasn’t such a huge shift for you. I know it was for some other companies. And has your approach to managing your team changed at all, even if there were similarities already. If you’re not in the office, has your approach to managing such a large team changed since going remote. 

Johnny Quach  14:38

I think my overall perspective of how to manage a team has not changed, though I wouldn’t imagine that would change for anybody because those are kind of the principles you find yourself living. So typically those things aren’t changing for environmental or landscape reasons. I think what dramatically changed is actually the kind of rituals and cadences you have your team go through, I feel, and it is a feeling. But I’m pretty sure I could compare the data on my calendar, I have a lot more meetings now than I ever would have in the office. And that’s because you don’t bump into people, you don’t catch up on things, you don’t ask random questions. So those little moments they do disappear. And because you’re not able to walk by someone’s desk and go, Oh, how’s it going with x, you have to set up meetings, because if you’re pinging everyone, and calling everyone all the time, it’s super annoying, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. And maybe it’s a good thing, because you’re really optimized, you’re optimizing for those kind of key decision making meetings, though, I would say I’m pretty sure every company went way overboard at the beginning, and then found themselves clawing back some of those meeting times and starting to implement new things. So for us, the first, I think, eight months, it was like 100% of your calendar is booked, you’re going to talk to someone like every moment. And at some point, we’re like, this is insane. So then we implemented no meeting Wednesdays, and for the most part that gave a lot of peace to a lot of people. And then people could focus and all that kind of stuff. But given human nature every two, three months, I had to remind everyone, this is a rule, because meetings will just start filling up. So like two weeks ago, I literally said, Okay, we’re gonna stick to this rule at the executive team level, we’re going to stick to this rule on my direct level, and we’re gonna make six across the company. So now every Wednesday, I’m blocking my calendar entirely out. And I’m gonna invite the entire company, so that everybody’s calendar is blocked every Wednesday, going forward. So that’s kind of, you know, you have to mandate these things, because human nature is just a terrible, terrible assimilator of new habits.

Maddie Duke  16:53

And I guess, well, we are recording this on a Wednesday. So thank you for allowing us an exception, I’m coming back to Hostelworld, a company that’s been around for so long and must have gone through so many different changes in tech in what’s available and what’s been developed. I’m not sure how long you’ve been with the company, but maybe you have some insights to share with some of the biggest changes they’ve seen over the last 20 over 20 years.

Johnny Quach  17:22

I haven’t been here for, obviously, that full 20 years. But I’ve been here for one year and four months. Hostelworld has gone through many iterations. Though, I think the core spirit and the core, you know, product itself has always been the same, which is we’re trying to help customers find hostels at the right place at the right price. In the very beginning days, it was more started and focused as a B2B product for hostel managers somewhere for them to manage the hostels that quickly at some period turned into a consumer facing product that would let you search for hostels. And over time, that became what we now call an OTA, an online travel agency, which is a common kind of product. And I would say over the last seven, eight years, that has been a fairly successful business, from a P&L point of view, as well as a growth point of view. But as the space of travel becomes more competitive, and as our consumers want more solutions to more of the problems they’re experiencing when traveling, we’re starting to see a huge opportunity, the opportunity is that we want to find a way to help our travelers solve all kinds of problems when they travel, not just finding an accommodation. So that is our longer term strategy, which we’ve stated multiple times in the market. So 2020, when I first joined, and that was kind of the challenge I took on is to come and build this new iteration of Hostelworld that comes with a lot of challenges. Everything from technical debt, an actual technology debt in code, to also just process debts and, you know, poor documentation, things like this very normal for a company, this is successful, and this old, it is very normal. So for me, the first challenge was just understanding why things are the way they are, and what was the reason for not changing them. And this is not specific to Hostelworld, but it’s really any company that’s been around for more than a few years, which is why we just never had the bandwidth to do that. So 2020 I said, this is the year in which we accelerate all the things we’ve wanted to improve about the company from a technology point of view, from a product point of view, from a design point of view, plus, like really everything. And so we had this, you know, kind of cover of COVID to just go alright, let’s go dark and execute like crazy. And so that’s what we did. So in 2020 it was probably one of the most productive years as a company in regards to releases and changes and technology improvements and all this kind of stuff that came at, you know that that was hard, we had to put in the hours. And that was challenging for the team. Absolutely. But the team has proven to themselves as well as the rest of coming into the world that we can iterate. And we can execute as fast as any startup for a company with this much history. And so this year in 2021, we are really starting to see the fruits of all this work in different forms and factors, right. And by the end of this year, we will have a very different Hostelworld, we are really looking at every single pixel every single interaction, and we will improve all of that. And that’s really on the consumer facing side. Internally, we’ve created a lot more autonomy, we’ve given our teams a lot more freedom to do as they wish, we’ve given our teams the ability to create the features and the ideas and the roadmap they want to work on. That, of course, goes through your typical process of understanding the opportunity, and all this kind of stuff. But we do encourage your teams to be a lot more autonomous. Whereas before it was much more project focus. And you know, constantly this kind of environment, forces you as a company to repeat and reiterate your vision and your strategy over and over and over again, which is one of the things and biggest learnings I’ve learned is that, especially working remote, you need to be so clear on strategy and vision constantly.

Maddie Duke  21:17

So it sounds like you know, maybe there has been so much restriction and limitation to travel over the past year and a half even actually now, like that sounds like it’s been sort of almost perfect timing in a way, which is a weird feels like a weird thing to say.

Johnny Quach  21:33

It actually created this other kind of focus, which is, we thought we understood our customers really well, because we’ve been doing this for a very long time. So a lot of the assumptions that we make decisions on about our customers has always been the way it has always been. And COVID could have changed our customers a bit right? Could it change the makeup of our customers a bit? And of course, that forced us to re-investigate a lot of the things that we think are true. And what we would discover is there are new things to learn number one, but number two, there were just some assumptions from the past. That became untrue at some point. And because you as a company never looked at every single metric every single day, that would be silly. Things change, those assumptions change. And we luckily had this opportunity to not only rebuild things, but we all had a chance to reflect on our customer insights as well as our internal insights. And why do we do things the way we do? And so I think the change itself is a side effect of spending the time to review and reflect that actually gave us the obvious kind of decisions to make in terms of what to change. 

Maddie Duke  22:46

And I think taking that time is really crucial for companies to stay competitive and to stay relevant, particularly when they are a little bit older than some of the new companies that are popping up. What if we can talk about a real product and what the customer base is looking for, how that side of things might have changed over the years, and how that’s been reflected in Hostelworld’s product offer. If I think back to my time traveling, when I was young and a backpacker, it was like pre-Facebook. It was you know, I remember walking down to the internet cafe with a pound coin in London, you know, getting half an hour of internet logging into my Hotmail account. And you know, now it’s like if I were traveling I’d be looking for I mean, obviously, I might not be staying in a hostel these days. But I imagine people are kind of looking a little bit more for business facilities and good wifi. And is there a space where I can do my work? You know, hostels are accommodating not just travelers, but digital nomads and people that might be traveling for work, going and holding meetings and things like that. Is that something that Hostelworld has seen? And how has that changed the way Hostelworld works within that space of traveling and accommodation? 

Johnny Quach  24:09

You know, we’ve seen a growth in that topic of digital nomads and working remote, we do see that growth generally speaking in the travel space. It’s not extremely significant, but it is bigger than what it was without a doubt. But I think you have to kind of look at that as the general market to change that. Right. So the general market is a lot smaller, but that group is bigger. So then you had to kind of assess okay, well, is this truly a big opportunity? Or is this an opportunity that looks big? Because the rest of the categories are depressed? And what does that look like in a normal period? Will this continue to grow back? And the likely answer is you have more digital nomads today. But when travel retreat returns to normal levels, that amount, and that share will not grow at the same rate as the other ones as they go back. So then you’ll end up in a scenario where you will have, let’s say the majority of travel is non digital nomads, and still a small portion of percentage, which is a significant group, but small percentage will be that. So right now it looks bigger than it is because of the comparison. 

Maddie Duke  25:14

Right. 

Johnny Quach  25:14

Yeah, so what we’re trying to solve for, though, is a very similar thing. Our travelers who stay at hostels, 60% of our customers 60%, we’re talking about millions and millions, travel solo. And most of those travelers have, in many ways in many forms, communicated to us through surveys, and all kinds of stuff, that they are open to meeting other people. And a hostel has a few features that make it very unique. There’s a common room, typically where people hang out. There’s people who serendipitously and spontaneously meet each other and go do things. There’s the events that the hostel hosts, where other people in the hostel get to meet each other. There are these things, there are natural points of social interaction that exist in the physical world, in a hostel. And so when we look at our longer term strategy, and we look at our vision, which is trying to build an experiential kind of travel company, in the sense that when you travel, it should be more about than just the accommodation issue, the whole trip, it should be about the people you meet, and the memories you experience, and the things you feel and the adventures you go on. So when we look at that as kind of a, as a high level point, there’s a billion in one ideas to come out, everybody’s had in terms of cool features that and so we have a huge suite of things that we’re building, that will drastically change how it is to travel alone, as well as to travel in a more social way. So without giving too much details, that is kind of our main focus is to build a very social product at the end of the day. Because our customers at the absolute core are very social people. 

Maddie Duke  26:51

That’s interesting. And I’m keen to hear, I mean, I guess eventually I’ll find out what exactly you’re doing in that space. And it’s spent, you know, what a great example of really listening and learning from the data and information that you can get from your customer base and responding with an answer to their needs. 

Lano makes it easy to hire the best talent on the planet, companies of any size can hire and pay employees in more than 150 countries, backed by a network of top employers of record Lano takes care of compliant contracts, local tax law and international payments. From full time to freelance the Lano platform has everything you need to grow your global team, find out more lano.io 

If I can switch it back to how a Hostelworld will expand as a company that’s kind of from what I understand embracing remote work and remote and work from home, would you share a little bit about what your approach to recruitment and and building teams will be as Hostelworld kind of continues to operate in this space?

Johnny Quach  28:07

Yeah, so we’re certainly moving towards moving for fairly confident this is going to be the case long term, which is a very hybrid model, which is a few days in the office and a few days completely remote. There’s many benefits to this, of course. As much as a lot of people tell the fact that they really like working remotely, there is a decent percentage of people who just prefer to be in an office at least some portion of the time. And so we’re trying to find a model that kind of satisfies both of those things, which I believe there is a case to be there is a solution to that. And so what we’ll be doing is we’ll be offering some kind of hybrid model where certain days, you know, in and out. What we’ve also done is now we’re much more open to hiring people who are outside the cities that our offices are in, I think we’d be even open to some people being fully remote in the sense that they never come to office, we’re not against that. I think we’ve really learned that that isn’t critical for every role. And I think for certain roles, it’s just nicer to be in the office, it’s great to build relationships to build trust. Sometimes you need that for some roles. You don’t need to do that, right? And some people don’t need to be in the office to build a relationship. So I think for us, we’re just always trying to play to the strengths and the weaknesses of certain people and seeing what is useful, what is helpful for them to kind of like have a successful career at Hostelworld. So we certainly are very flexible. But from what we’re hearing, it sounds like a hybrid approach is where we end up with Hmm, 

Maddie Duke  29:36

Yep, you’re right. It’s not necessary for every role to be in the office. But it is a way for people to connect on a more just, it’s not. 

Johnny Quach  29:46

It’s just like, it’s just like it’s, it’s not like a business complicated, right. It’s just fun to be in the office with people you like. It’s fun to be in a room with people you like talking to. It’s fun to make jokes together. It is enough, no other way to Describe it that it is funner sometimes to work with people in person. 

Maddie Duke  30:03

Have you got ping pong tables in offices at Hostelworld? 

Johnny Quach  30:09

Sadly, we do not have the ping pong table in either offices, but right now we’re actually assessing offices. And they’re, you know, we’re going around collecting requirements. And I literally sent back one bullet point, which is a ping pong table (check!) So no, unfortunately, not currently, but maybe that will change in the future. 

Maddie Duke  30:30

Yeah. So for you personally, would you prefer a hybrid model or an in or fully remote? Or, if you can remember back to the days when you were a little bit lower in the ranks? What would you have pushed for? If you had a choice back then? 

Johnny Quach  30:44

Oh, I think it really, really depends on the team and the type of work you’re doing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a role where I really didn’t want to be in the office, right? Because that would probably mean I’m not super, you know, engaged with my co workers, I guess, right? 

Maddie Duke  31:01

Yeah. 

Johnny Quach  31:02

So luckily, I’ve never felt that I think there were days where I would wake up and I’d be like, it’s a little too early. It’s like, oh, man, I gotta wake up at eight to get ready and drive to work. And I live in LA. So commuting is just horrendous. And I think living in Europe, it’s a little less painful, because public transportation is generally better. But in America, this is horrendous. If I was living in Los Angeles right now, which is where I’m originally from, I would just work remotely forever. Because I just mean that the cost of driving to work every day is torturous. So the main reason I would work remote or now work remote is just the pain of commuting to the office, nothing to do with the actual job or the people I work with. 

Maddie Duke  31:42

Yeah, I think you’ve raised something interesting, because it’s definitely it points to it’s it’s very much environmental, and maybe more to do with flexibility than remote per se, like, yeah, I was I had a similar situation for a while there in Melbourne, where I was commuting every day for an hour, by car. I mean, I love to listen to the radio. So that part of it was great, but it was very exhausting. And it and it kind of really hits you in the quality of life. 

Johnny Quach  32:11

And it’s dangerous, I would say. And it’s dangerous…. 

Maddie Duke  32:15

Yeah. Yep!

Johnny Quach  32:17

It’s it dangerous, because you’re dead tired at the end of the day and driving back home?  

Maddie Duke  32:21

Yeah, that’s true. You know, it really depends so much what you value and if you value kind of the flexibility of not having to be there super early or, or it’s more the ability to be at home and put on a load of washing on your lunch break or whatever. Yeah, it’s really interesting to hear what everyone’s different kinds of wants and needs are in the ideal kind of work world. Yeah, before we kind of wrap things up, is there anything else you would love you would like to add? 

Johnny Quach  32:49

I think whether you’re working remotely, or whether you’re working in an office, or whether you’re working in a big team or small team, the things that break are typically not caused by those things. The things that break are always core and foundational. Things that break the most often, regardless of what those symptoms look like, is typically misalignment on strategy and vision. So regardless of how you conduct yourself and how you communicate with your team, the thing you have to always ask, and everybody should ask themselves this question is, do I know what we’re trying to do? And it’s surprising how easily that gets lost from an hour to the next. So yes, you know, and that that thing itself, that simple task of asking yourself and having your team members ask that question, what is the vision? What is the strategy? Why are we doing this thing? If you can answer this unanimously the same every time, it doesn’t matter. If you’re working 15 hour time zones apart, it really doesn’t. But yeah, if you’re working literally next to each other desk to desk, you can’t answer those questions in a very similar way. You’re gonna have problems no matter what, and it will come up in different things, disagreements, conflicts, dropping milestones, blah, blah, blah. That is, typically the crux alignment is much more important than video conference calls or meetings or schedules or decks or whatever. So stay aligned and repeat that strategy, that mission as often as frequently as possible. 

Maddie Duke  34:17

Awesome. That’s great. It sounds like you know, I mean, it sounds like you really know what you’re doing and for aligning your own team. Yeah, I mean, I’m sure that’s so important for managing a team that large. So thanks for that advice. And thanks. Thanks also, just for your time today and for sharing all your insights. And it’s been really great talking to you. And we really appreciate you joining us on The State Of Work. 

Johnny Quach  34:41

It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Maddie Duke  34:48

The State Of Work is available wherever you listen to podcasts. Find us also on Instagram or Twitter by searching for “the state of work”. We’d love to hear from you. For more information on anything, we talked about in this episode and links to further reading, check out our show notes podcast.lano.io 

Thanks for listening and see you next time on The State Of Work.