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About the episode
Callum Adamson CEO and Co-Founder of Distributed sits down with Matthew Mottola Author of "The Human Cloud: How today's changemakers use artificial intelligence and the freelance economy to transform work" They discuss the book, how freelancing will become the dominant career path for many; and how leaders need to adapt to take advantage of a fully digital, remote and outcome-based workforce.
Callum is your host and the Co-Founder and CEO of Distributed, building the platform and process to make working with expert freelance teams as easy as local teams.
Callum: We are recording Snapchat. So hello everyone, and welcome to another distributed fireside chat. I'm Callum Adamson. I'm co-founder and CEO of Distributed a platform that helps enterprise organizations build software better, faster and cheaper through the use of on-demand elastic teams. I'm joined here today by Matthew Mattola who's a co-founder and CEO of venture L, but from that helps freelancers scale.
But he's also the author of the human cloud which is now available on all major platforms, both physical and digital. And I'm going to let Matt say hi, introduce himself. Let you know what the human cloud is all about, and we're going to spend the next, probably 60 minutes talking about the book, the themes within it.
And kind of what Matthew and his vision of the future look like. So Matt, take it away.
Matthew: Hey yeah, thanks for having me, Callum. So in terms of my, in terms of myself, I'm going to skip the professional credentials. You can probably check my website or all other, other ways to find that. But, my life's been everything freelance.
I started early as a freelancer and that sort of changed my life in terms of when I saw the alternative, which was traditional work. I you know, couldn't believe it. And so I've sort of been a freelancer and led freelance teams, helped companies hire freelancers and then also building the software behind it.
So, you know, whether it's the book, whether it's the companies that I lead, it's really all about how do we make the freelance economy real and how do we use the freelance economy to redistribute opportunity?
Callum: Hey, that's great. And that's a good place to start, right. Is you're a career freelancer. it's where you spent most of your professional career.
[00:01:33]I guess the question is why?
Matthew: Okay. So there's, there are different whys for everyone, right? And there's even been different wives for me as I've gone on through this journey. And so at first, the, why was, it was a faster way to jump into the workforce and what I mean faster, I mean, accelerating sort of that career feedback loop.
And so my, my entry into it was totally by accident. I was a student-athlete in college. That's how I paid for college. I couldn't work a full-time job. And so freelancing was literally the only thing available. So I went business to business asking how could I help did usually competitive analysis?
And that was sort of my foray into freelancing. And to be honest, I didn't know it was called freelancing. Like I wasn't sitting there being like, Hey, I'm a freelancer. I'm going to go freelance. I was literally like, I need to make money. I can't work 40 hours a week. And all I can do is work on a contract basis.
So that was sort of my start. And what it did was I met with decision-makers. I wasn't sitting as sort of an analyst. I was sitting as a decision-maker on the table, learning how to meet with executives, talk with executives and really, really run projects at scale. And so that was the first thing. The second reason though, which has been sort of the most impactful one was actually how to run freelance teams, which can, you know, you know, more than anybody, the power that comes with hiring freelancers instead of an agency or full-time.
And so whether it was building the book itself, whether it was leading a product to Microsoft, whether it was doing Wedgewood at Gigster and then even for my clients when I was a freelancer. Hiring freelancers was like this kryptonite, the secret. And there were a couple of different reasons, but the big ones were, it gave me access to a talent pool that there's no way a 23-year-old would have had access to specifically the location, the costs.
And even then, I know it now, but the speed, like I didn't go open up a headcount and literally just met a freelancer and started working ASAP and paid what I could, which at the time was usually like 200 bucks or 500 bucks or a thousand bucks.
Callum: That's that's, that's really, really, really interesting. So by accident, and then by choice.
Matthew: still by accident because when I was hiring, when I was, when I was in, in roles of, okay, how do we go build these teams?
I didn't at first, I didn't have the money to go hire a full-time like a, a good example. We will get deeper about it, but in the book, my co-author, I hired him to vet a technical report on this. This book was a report called the future of work, the freelance economy in artificial intelligence. And I hired him for 250 bucks.
It is technically vetted basically to just say, Hey, can you make sure this is technically feasible because his background's AI and he was the CTO.
Callum: Okay. I just had to put my phone to do not disturb there. There's too many people trying to hire freelancers. Apparently, they're trying to encroach on this meeting too.
So if you spent most of your career on the freelance side of the table, What, what gives you license? What gives you authority, to have a chapter that says the “office is broken” and that's how that, that's how the human cloud opens right? The office is broken. So what, where does that license come from?
[00:04:23] Where are you making the call from? What position?
Matthew: I love it. So I've sold out twice, meaning I sold out to a startup and out to a large company. And I think one of the huge themes across the book is this. We're not saying everyone will become freelancers. We, we actually fervently don't believe that's true.
We're saying that the mindset of freelancing specifically working in a digital remote outcome-based way. Whether you are a freelancer or a full-time employee, that mindset is where we're going. And so when I was in sort of a startup, although I was, I was actually in sales is what I started, but then it turned into more innovation.
Cause I grew up product at a Gigster, but so when I was in Gigster and then even when I was most recently at Microsoft, The problem statement was still, how do we scale the freelance economy? And I still worked like a freelancer. So when I jumped into Microsoft, it was not a payloads going to the office every day and have a bunch of head count and get a bunch of budget.
It was let's make sure I have enough budget to hire freelancers. I worked usually 90% remote. And it was let's commit to outcomes and do the same thing that I would do as a freelancer except with the full-time contract, because legally there was things that I couldn't have done as a freelancer within a large company, legally that I needed to, to sell out to the dark side.
Callum: Okay. Okay. So you've, you've seen it from there, from the corporate, from the traditional side too, and you've, you've seen the problems that causes what's. Hmm. What's been touched on twice so far is the mindset of a freelancer, which I think is very important. So there's a lot at stake when you're freelancing, right?
You're only as good as your last job. You largely get work based on reputation and based on you know, it's a meritocracy effectively. And I guess is that what's most attractive to corporates when working with freelancers is that mindset, the autonomy the drive, the. I guess the accountability and the responsibility that freelancers take on.
Matthew: So in my experience, corporate necessarily, it doesn't talk about a freelancer's mindset strictly because the, how do I say this in a nice way? They don't really care about what's in it for the freelancer. They only care about what's in it for them. Right. And the two things that they would always talk about was access to skills that they couldn't have in the building nor with an agency.
And then also the speed, like those were the two things that just kept getting hammered. Cost efficiency was a big thing, but coming out of from a, from a, from a COVID impact right now, it's all about access to skills and speed because you know, business models are having to be fully reinvented right now.
And it's that access to tap into skills that your competitor can't, or that you just couldn't get into headquarters, but then also the speed to be agile and be flexible. So those are the two things that, that, you know, corporations really jumped out. And then from a leadership side, when we would actually be, you know, on the other side with the leadership team, it would usually be better, faster and more cost efficient or the three buzzwords.
Callum: And so you mentioned COVID we, we just had an announcement last night to basically say, look at the rate of vaccination at the the current trending of cases and severe cases, et cetera, this, this country, the UK should be open. By August, right. We should be ready to go by July. So I'm now hearing already this morning conversations about, okay, where are we taking office space?
Yeah, we're getting the team back together. We're going to start to you know, we'll do three days in the office in two days, two days at home. How do you see the world changing? And on top of that, Because you must have you've re you wrote the human cloud ahead of COVID effectively. You were writing it kind of as COVID was ramping up.
It must've been with the publisher. So what would you change about the book and how do you see the world now? Adapting as, as we go back to the normal, after COVID.
Matthew: Yeah. So I would change nothing about the book and we actually wrote it three years ago. So we handed over the manuscript last January. And then what happened was I think when did COVID get nuts, COVID got nuts around March.
And so my coauthor night. We're actually, we weren't freaking out, but we were like, Oh my God, how does this affect the book? And I will give kudos to the publisher. The publisher was like, hold the phone. Don't change anything. Your book was written for a 10 plus year time horizon. It'll be timeless in a digital remote world.
And so, you know, let's not change anything. And I think it was the best thing we did because instead of every single corporate slogan was related to COVID right. And what we were able to say was. We've been here. Like we're going to guide you through the world. That's already been here instead of just making things up and overnight becoming a celebrity.
So, so yeah, so I would, I would change absolutely nothing. In terms of where we're going, it accelerates the trends that we're in your way. And remote is the big one. The, the remote, and obviously we always think digital remote outcome-based, but remote is sort of the catalyst that really, really, really moved the needle.
And what I mean by that is when we would go to leadership teams, the number one blocker would be this work can be done outside of these four walls. So the common thing we would hear it would be at a unit level. We love this, we love the prospects. We love the potential. And the case studies worked really, really great, or the POC worked really, really great.
But this big work with IP and that we actually care about. There's no way this can be done outside of these four walls. Now with remote, that's been totally shattered. And so the next thing that we have to break down is going from someone, needing someone full time to needing a freelancer. And that's where the speed and the access to skills really, really, really is kicking in, which is why your phone is probably going nuts is because now post COVID people are saying, okay, there's an opportunity.
And they know that they don't have the time to spend, you know, one month to six months to go find talent. They need freelancers to help them scale up.
Callum: Yeah. We were seeing ferocious growth at distributed. I, I think we compared to venture L we serve a different part of the, the the remote first, the distributed teams, the elastic team community.
But what the conversations I'm having. So as, as we. As we returned back to some sort of office work after, after COVID I'm speaking to two customers, right? Large government departments last night and this morning, and they were talking about how people are going to return to the office. And, you know, two days from home, three days in the office, that sort of thing.
And I had to impress upon them. Look, you've got people in lifeboats right now, and they've done an incredible job on your behalf. Right? They are all. Having back problems working from their couch or their kitchen table, or you know, their, their car garage or something like that. If you're gonna, if you're gonna do this part remote part office, you have to invest in remote infrastructure.
Remote is not work from home. They're going to need office space nearby their houses. They're going to need desks. They're going to need monitors. They're going to need cat six cabling. They're going to want to be as efficient at home as they are in the office. That doesn't mean, well, they can show to the coast, the cost of their own infrastructure at home.
You're going to actually be spending significantly more to go part remote part office. So you should probably decide on one or the other. Right, and just commit to it because it's better for your teams. It's better for your cost base. And it's better for the company as a whole. How do you see this? All we can do a bit of this in a bit of that mindset playing out.
Matthew: To be honest with you. I haven't seen it work. Like I haven't, I haven't seen it work at scale. I've seen little cases and I mean, my, the teams that I've run have been hybrid well that's false. The one team that I've run that's been really big, has been hybrid most have been a hundred percent remote with say monthly or quarterly, like in-person off-sites but now I.
I, I haven't seen it work. My thing is I'm scared because if you go hybrid first, there's, there's more problems. There's more risk. And unless she was,
Callum: the problems of both
Matthew: sides, right.
I know. Yeah. You get the bad and bad of both. It's it's, it's horrible. And so, and listen, we all, the, the, the analogy we can all relate to.
Is when you didn't go to the party on Friday night and Saturday, everyone's talking about how awesome it was. And you have to sit there just quiet because you didn't feel included, take that amplified to five days a week for eight hours a day. And what do you think is going to happen? And then put the most important thing in AK people's livelihoods and put that next to it.
Callum: Yeah. And so, yeah, you're exactly right. And I'm advising the same saying it's. It's okay to have your, your flexi day, you know, which, and this was, this was the stigma of remote work pre COVID, right? Oh, well, you know, we have worked from home days, which is it's vacation day, right? Your, your, your team are not actually working, which led to a distrust of remote, lower productivity of remote and more insistence on being in the office to do the work.
And that's, we're now about to see that stigma even more exacerbated when we go to hybrid models. I'm I'm strongly advocating a commitment one way or the other when they, when you're going forward.
Matthew: I, I do think the two, the two things I would add to this, this discussion around remote and what this looks like going forward, especially in post COVID is that there's going to be an added emphasis on collaboration, but then also on impact in terms of individual employees doing more with less.
And so what I mean by that with collaboration. Is that the office is not where you go and you sit there for eight hours. And I think in most cases, that hasn't necessarily been true. I know in technology, I mean, in startups in San Francisco, I think we did move the needle a little bit in terms of there was couches.
And all of a sudden we got rid of cubicles and the office just looked like a living room, all of a sudden. So San
Callum: Francisco's big contribution to the workplace.
Matthew: Yeah. 140 characters that can topple the society. Yeah. Thank you. Good job SF. You did it. You nailed it. Thanks. But no, so I think that's the first focus.
And then I was actually working in the beginning of the pandemic, helping a private equity firm in, in touch with real estate. And that's what they were focused on actually was okay. Spaces are going to shift more towards collaborations. So how can we. Enable that versus just having a bunch of people sit in desks.
And then the second thing I'd touch on which had happened pre COVID, but it's accelerated is that individual employees, instead of just being an analyst or instead of just being a project manager there, then they're empowered to take over outcomes. So they might launch a new product. They might take on a new campaign.
And the reason they're able to do that is because instead of just being one individual employee and having head count, be the main, the mode of scale, they are given budget. Right. And they're given say 10,000 to $20,000 to go hire freelancers. I think that is the second thing that I see coming out of this trend is that employers and mostly leaders and employers are able to say, instead of hiring 500 people, I can hire 50.
And these 50 people can each have a budget of 10 to $50,000 and they can do more than what a 500 team person team used to do. That's one other little, little hidden thing that I think is going to really, really explode post a post COVID.
Callum: That's a lot of trust being put in in teams here. You need a higher quality a team.
In the human cloud, you talk about the office being broken, right? And there's, I think everybody hates the office to a degree everybody's missing the office to a degree now at this point in time, but it's not the office they're missing it's collaboration and communication and human contact . And then the human cloud goes to talk about the employee perspective, right?
What is the employee perspective of the office being broken and how do you think that matches up to their current perspective of remote work being broken?
Matthew: Yeah. So I'm going to start at the end and then go first.
No, no, it's actually pretty good. It's not too bad. And we're gonna start with the end in terms of remote, remote, simply amplifies the problems that are already there. And what are the themes of the book? And I think it's the theme of technology is technology's value neutral. It's not good. It's not bad.
It's simply amplifies what we already value. And so remote simply amplifies the already, already huge cracks that we have in full-time employment. So that's end first in terms of what we meant by the officer's broken. If, if I'm being honest with you, I did not want to have those chapters in the book. I, I, so I did not want take away from the, for negative, right?
Yeah. It's super negative. And it's not really well. It is, but it's, I was, I was hyper worried about it. Looking like a Tim Ferris self-helpy crap thing where it wasn't like the, the hard tech and more of just the softie. Kind of, Oh, life socks. Oh. But so that, that we would preface with that. But what happened was, you know, in my personal experience, it's not, it's not like, Oh, the office sucks, like poor me.
Oh, it's. Instead the fact that when you are a change maker, meaning you really, really deeply value your work and are there to create an Impact the office isn't necessarily the ideal environment for you. And we don't mean every single office we use kind of the 80 20 rule here. 20% of offices are good, but 80% of them totally suck.
And when we look at sort of the modern corporation, if you are that person that's built for impact more entrepreneurial, more wanting to see the results of your merit. Then a large company just wasn't built for you. And so that was the basic premise and that's sort of been my experience. You know, when I, when I launched my first thing out of, even out of a startup, it was very, very hard.
Whereas when I was a freelancer, you know, you see the impact of your work ASAP. And when I was in it's, you know, it's related to entrepreneurship, but also freelancing, but so. That's sort of what our personal experience was. And we first wrote that chapter and we had a personal, and we were like, we really don't want to release this.
But then as we were shopping at Devela for Changemakers and just getting feedback and getting their advice. It kept popping up that they were like, Oh my God, this is what I'm feeling. This is exactly what I've experienced. And so we have in the book, the section where we play, never have I ever, and we say, if this has happened to you, raise your hand.
I honestly thought I was
Callum: potentially some of those now let's, let's play it on here, man. Do two or three of them on here.
Matthew: Thank God I have the book with me. So, so let's read them out. I so did not want to have them. That's the funny thing that, like, it was. I was, I was nervous. I was like, we're you know, we're the only ones and it just kept happening.
Everyone kept feeling them. Okay. So, okay. Showed up in a meeting to see your boss presenting your work as his own. He gets the edible in promotion. You fetches coffee. In the meantime, he's using corporate assets and resources to start a side business.
That was the first thing that we were like, Oh shit, I don't want to, I don't want to say that, but
Callum: my hands not up yet.
Matthew: But expect it to be at your desk from eight to five every day, scheduled into meeting after meeting and forced to respond to emails within minutes or fear of the wrath of LCC, your boss and VP.
I wonder if you see. Okay. Worked your ass off, paying your dues to demonstrate hard work, intelligence, empathy, and loyalty. Then in return, you're paid under market value. And instead of getting promoted, you watch a hot shot, MBA grad or boomerang who left the company, founded a competitive startup then was acquired back into the company, making twice what you did.
I'm still not your audience, Matt. Really? Okay. Yeah. Re Ooh. This one was received a text from an out of 10 partner asking if you're coming to dinner on Thursday, when you asked them what's the occasion you find out your leadership is having secret meetings, even though you've been running the relationship for the past year, it gets worse.
The next month you find out the same leader told the partner, every inquiry can only be run through them. Why, who knows all, you know, is he lost a friend and whatever trust you had in leadership? I have a feeling that one wasn't, you
Callum: know, that was not me. Okay, you ready?
Matthew: How about this one? A lot of people could relate to this one.
I've been told that you were not allowed to speak publicly or public published, blogs, articles, books, and such, even if it's only tangential to your work, you obediently follow only to follow that your boss did all of those things.
Callum: Yeah, I'm right there. That's my hand up now.
Matthew: I told you I knew there'd be one and see if there's another one though.
Yeah. So that's so that's basically it. And then the interesting thing now, which. So then listen, I'm younger. Right? So I was also very worried that my experience would come off as, like I said, Tim Ferris, young person, angry that just wants to complain and scream. But fortunately my coauthor is not, he's double my age, who is CTO and has the wisdom and the whoever you, you know, the sparks to look like wisdom.
But so when, when I. Yeah, he's got the glasses. I fake glasses. He has real glasses, but so when, when we brought this chapter up, seeing his experience, I also was like, Oh my God, this does have to see the pages. And I so didn't want it to, so yeah, it, and the basic reason for it, because deeper than like the.
You know, the, the, wow, this sucks. The reasoning we bring up is how technology has moved so fast. And this is where I'm going to give all the credit to Matt, because he's the one who really, really, really has been able to look at this historically technologies move so fast and the little cracks that were there, but weren't necessarily acute or painful 20 years ago.
Have now become totally destructive. And so you have this hamster wheel of people running around trying to save their company or trying to innovate. And we, you know, large companies weren't built to innovate. So that's sort of the main thesis is that if you were a change maker, meaning people like us that really care about the impact of our work.
We're not the ones who go in for 40 hours a week and expect to have great benefits and go hiking, you know, at F F after four o'clock, we're the type that works our ass off expects to really, really get deep and make an impact if you're that person. Large companies aren't necessarily optimized for you.
80% of them. The reason is because technologies move so fast. And so there's the thing is there's so many like lame academic stats about how, like, you know, the, the rate of bankruptcy, the ranked of companies going obsolete has significantly accelerated. And we could have regurgitated those stats, but the thing is, we all know that and if you're in product and if you're in leadership, you know, that you feel it.
And so we kind of just said, trust us, that we all feel this, and this is why now let's get to the real stuff of fixing this.
Callum: so we, you, you talked about 80% of the officers are actually pretty good. They're not bad. I don't say 80% suck. 20% are really good. So as THC, the human cloud. Is, is that for the 80%?
Is it the guidebook for understanding where you currently are, and maybe looking at the perspective for are a different perspective that will allow you to change it, that will allow you to adapt and kind of overcome why things suck.
Matthew: Absolutely. And, and deeper than the company, I'd say it's for the leaders in that organization that would want to turn it around.
And that's, that's actually the, the target user. It's the target user is the leader. That's other sitting in a company or freelancing, but they want to use the freelance economy and artificial intelligence to push their organization or push themselves in a positive
Callum: Yeah, because nobody, nobody wants to do a bad job.
Right? Nobody wants to run a shitty company. They, they, they, they, they want to affect change. They want to bring positivity and progress into their organization. Regardless how big, small, old, or new it is. Everybody wants to do a good job and improve it. So what, what we're saying is the human cloud gives you, you know, the younger millennial the zoomers perspective on how work needs to change from a workplace perspective.
Matthew: And I think one one major theme is this is not just young people and I and that's why I'm so fortunate to have you know Matsi as my coauthor is that this is not about the millennial who's 25 that wants to you know demand that they deserve a raise and that they deserve all this flexibility and all that crap This is so so so not that This actually is the 30 to 50 year old leader that has been a manager for five years or has been a VP and as a GM and is really really really wanting to drive change in a digital remote outcome-based world I E the human cloud
Callum: Well yeah look distributed right cutting-edge company disrupting so we're saying basically disrupting the how to build teams side of software development 35% of our team are over 45 All decades long experience and building software and large program design Right And they are still incredibly passionate about fixing what's wrong about this industry They've now joined our team and are part of bringing change to the industry which is echoes exactly what you just said It's not about millennials in their kombucha It's about change makers A hundred percent
Matthew: And I think that's where you and I really really aligned And one of the things that we do believe in the book is that there is still there's always says we need to have trust in our organizations I think there is this prevailing narrative and I'll you know I think my generation is to blame for a lot of this But it's like let's trash everything Right Let's throw the baby out with the everything sucks Everything sucks Yeah The world is horrible This is the worst country in the world This is a horrible no actually there's some great institutions And we made sure that with with you know publishing the book everyone asks us why didn't you go independent Like the world is becoming independent and democratized And we said Maybe but we actually believe that there's there's there's wisdom in the people who have done this before and there's things that we can learn And so we brought our fresh perspective but then we coupled that with Harper Collins and I think that's the perfect synergy And so in relation to distributed and sort of my past you know at Gigster The the beauty is really when you can take the traditional and the wise and combine that with you know w we could call it the human cloud And the analogy that we used to use for leadership was you can have the scale of a startup with the speed of a startup With the scale of an enterprise was the whole premise of using the freelance economy And I don't think we can underestimate that And even in things like to get really really practical in publishing if we would independent there's so many things we would have tripped up on because we hadn't done it before And if we sat there and being like well to publishers that democratize we wouldn't be sitting here with a book that was at the scale It is right now So yeah So that's a huge thing is let's not for the baby out with the bath water let's you know reinvent innovate and really scale up existing organizations versus just trashing everything
Callum: I think that's a very pragmatic reason to and balanced approach It's also again we're appointed with capita So probably the largest outsourcer in the UK right Three 4 billion a year in revenue lots of things they do terribly but there's a hell of a lot they've been doing really well for 30 years You know you would you would be idiotic to not sit there and learn and and be thankful for the seat at the table And getting to participate in or get into to suck up all that knowledge absorb let's use absorb and the and the human clouds you go from the employee's perspective we play you know negative office bingo And we also Oh you also talk about it from the manager's perspective right Because every team member especially when you're a junior team member yeah 19 2021 22 23 You're just like yeah I'm getting I'm getting dumped on here And this whole company sucks and you don't know what you're doing but it's not as simple as that Right There's your manager has a boss and they have a boss right
So from from the manager's perspective what's the messaging how are you speaking to them How do you want them to engage What's their existing mindset? What needs to be fixed?
Matthew: That's a really good question So I think there is a shift in the leadership and this is where me being younger I've had to intuitively do this but not because I was reading a much HBR post but instead because it just was the only only way to do it And what I mean by that is the shift in leadership goes from thinking that you know it all and you're going to give someone a checklist to being more of a coach or more of a visionary in terms of you set the intended outcome And you put the trust in those around you to deliver that outcome One of the big differences when I jumped into a company that I just couldn't understand was there was an office Everyone had an office and the expectation was that your butt was in a seat from nine to five I just I couldn't get over that Like it doesn't make sense to me because what if someone works really well from 8:00 PM to two am I E all developers pretty much which is you actually want usually 10:00 PM to find it but so
Callum: yeah Well I have to say mindset Are you paying me to be here or are you paying me to work Like I want to know which one of those is so that I can align
Matthew: Exactly So that's the first shift is sort of getting over the I don't know what you would call it right The the control factor of sort of having to control your employees The second thing though is the the outcome versus the checklist And I think this is where things are really different And this is where the speed of technology has really kind of eff things up is that for the past 50 years Management pretty much was here's this checklist I did this for two years now I'm sitting with the checklist Now here's your checklist You're going to do this for two years and we're going to meet once a week and we're going to meet once a month and let's just make sure you did that checklist you know above average Then I can tell my boss that you did above average and everything works right And the knowledge is predictable This is it MBA This is the modern MBA right We're going to use a bunch of really really fancy techniques and a bunch of yeah we're gonna have a bunch of logic and theory to basically just discuss how to optimize the spreadsheet which not to get too geeky but the whole frozen Frederick Taylor's the whole scientific management was all about how do we optimize What's already known to squinch that penny so that we have profit which technology we've shattered That because a software guys we know that we don't make profit for a while and it's all about user growth And if you have the right data then you can really really have things up in ways you never see before but that's
Callum: actually the checklist
Matthew: Yeah So that'll probably be the title of this but no So from a from a manager perspective that's sort of what we touch on is that you no longer can just have a button to seat there's also many applications in terms of the power dynamic where when you look at good freelancers or you look at good talent that's outside of the organization the talent has the power I was sitting with someone who's actually But but that's not no If you think about you know historically usually yes
Here's a stat
Callum: for you Matt so currently in the U S there are over 6 million job vacancies posted for software developers right With with four years experience or more 6 million vacancies posted with over four years experience or more I'm gonna I'm gonna let you guess here let's see how close you can get How many computer science graduates can every U S university combined output in one year?
Matthew: Oh wow I'm going to say 3000
Callum: 15,000 close 15,000 So there never comes a point in our lifetime where Supply meets demand So when you say talent has the power that's an understatement Yeah And when you're talking about good talent who small percentage of that it really really becomes a competitive edge If you can work with that level
Matthew: And that's not even hitting on the ancillary functions related to building software or related to digital transformation so that you're touching on software developers Right I think the
Callum: big thing that everybody will understand
Matthew: and we're not even talking to the product managers the SEO experts the community managers the things that make the software
Callum: Quality assurance InfoSec all these highly specialized skill sets that
exist within that
Matthew: Exactly Exactly So so that's the I would say the overwhelming huge shift though is that the sort of leverage has gone from the employer to the employee and my background actually I studied sort of finance and accounting And I I would say I grew up in a world where I was told you go to finance and accounting and you try to get into the big four and out of a thousand people only two of us got into the big four and it was this huge deal That is the employer having you know having the advantage whereas with software and you know if you're involved with the software you tend to know that if you're good You own the power or you have you have the power and now a freelance economy just amplifies that because instead of ownership you have an access economy So I'm saying Hey Callum can you work on this for a week two weeks two months maybe six months And that's a whole different conversation that Hey Callum can you come here for a full-time job Because now every single time that I need something I better have treated you Right Or else you're not going to come back after that first time
Callum: Yes that is very very important is actually the experience The experience of building software with and for your organization is is so so important And I guess how you you're managed So when we talk about the human cloud the changing of the workforce the changing of the workplace managers have their jobs cut out for them right Because to a certain extent senior management within an organization largely also fight in their view of the world Right But this upcoming generation of talent that like you said have all the power but demanding more than ever So the manager's caught between a rock and rock What's their experience like going to be like how is it going to change
What mindset do they need to adopt to to survive and grow as managers in this new human cloud world
Matthew: I think at a high level the most important sort of leadership change is going from ownership to outcomes And so I think that's going to be the overwhelming currency in regards to leadership is how well can you drive digital remote outcomes And I think whether it's full-time employees whether it's even going through agencies or whether it's going through freelancers it's outcomes that are going to sort of move the needle whereas before it was really all about fighting for head count like my at least my experience It's a corporate and I'm sure a lot of you leaders that have been in corporate for 10 plus years are feeling this You're just always fighting for head count And you're competing with fellow leaders about grabbing their budget about grabbing their wrecks And that just doesn't exist in a in a human cloud type world with that said the second trend that I think is actually good news for employers, And one sort of I guess you could say watch out for it So let's say you have a million millennials are millennials a million up and coming talent running it running into your company doing all these things but demanding. Here's my picture of freelancers of why to hire freelancers We're not that demanding, We just want our outcomes We want decent We want good pay Obviously we want good work but we're not going to go scream about needing free lunches and massages and yoga retreats and all this crap that a lot of my generation has been known for needing We're not going to go bitch to you about a 30 hour work week needing Fridays off No we don't care I'll be here What is the outcome So we're going to commit to doing a website for 15 K or doing an ad campaign for 30 K We're going to commit to the outcome but we're not going to you know really really really grill you about you better provide all this crazy crap so that's my pitch for for leadership of it's a good thing that there's gonna be a bunch of freelancers and all we care about is outcomes
Callum: Yeah Good So what's the manager's role in the new world then So you get lots of people that are career managers right They've they've this is like I'm going to put it into a software development frame Just so that it's simplified I used to code I stopped coding and I started taking care of coders Right What does my world look like?
Matthew: I so let me preface this by saying I think there's still a place for individual contributors In fact I actually think the individual contributor lens amplifies So when you look at most companies what is it like 70 30 usually management and an individual contributor proportions I actually think that might stay or potentially get even there even higher for enabling more individual contributors But so your role as the leader And specifically you're the one who's hiring or the one who's taking ownership over these outcomes It's going to be about setting the strategy And empowering the employees that you work with or employ empowering the people that you work with When I say strategy I mean it's up to you to shape the actual outcome that you're going towards to be able to accurately measure that And then be the one who's constantly making sure people are aligned in regards to that vision which is which is basically leadership right So this isn't like a re inventing the wheel The second thing that when I talk about empowerment this is not a you know cutesy feely Hey let's Yeah not to stress this but like let's do yoga every single Friday This is actually genuinely caring about the people you work with and putting them in a better place working with you than they would without you And the reason for that and to get really really tactical is because from a freelancer's perspective or from the talent's perspective this is not a I'm going to go change a job every single two years. This is going to be at the project ends but the relationships never do, And for a really good freelancer you don't want new clients every day You ideally want five to 15 really really good clients Likewise for me from a leadership lens and a management lens I don't want a million freelancers same thing I want five to 15 really good freelancers that I always turn to as sort of my Yeah Right-hand person right So
Callum: your on demand team you're at elastic workforce your wraparound skillsets your specialists you're A-team
Matthew: Exactly And that's what I love whether it's been you know gigster whether it's been Microsoft whether it's been the human cloud whether it's been other projects that I've worked on I take my team with me I can't imagine not working with the freelancers that I've worked with
Callum: Okay Interesting Very very interesting So What I what I've heard is throughout this whole conversation is the future really relies on depth of care, depth of knowledge, high EQ real leadership not just kind of managing by walking around not managing by checklist I guess what's going to be hard to fathom and hard to stomach for most organizations Is that Care is at the heart of winning in the future to deliver an outcome based based on inspiring people who you only really communicate with through a video conversation It's no mean feat It's actually a really hard task Most people have never done that before And a lot of people will find it difficult
The three things to focus on for the manager of the future for the remote manager what should they be And and how can you put them into very I guess understandable and actionable language are our skill points?
Matthew: That's a good question So the three things that if you're a leader right now what should you be What should you write down on a piece of paper put above your computer and make sure that you're reminding yourself every single day and revisit every day and revisiting every single day So okay The first thing I'm going to say and this is actually whether you're a freelancer leader individual you name it. Is I think the most important thing in this in this new world is aligning on a problem And continuously attacking that problem and that problem can be a specific skill or that can be an industry or a specific thing So like for me my problem is the freelance economy I've been focused on it for my whole career And so there's been sort of the law of exp exponential returns and compounding returns because I've been focused on it for so long And I think as we go towards a more human cloud world there's more opportunity But like there's probably millions of philosophers that talk about how the more chaos you have the more sort of organized you need to be Right It's like freedom isn't discipline So all that to say the first thing is really really focused on a problem or a skill that you want to be the best at and align everything with that That's the first. Second thing is I would say the people and what I mean by that is not necessarily people you're going to lead But people you want to collaborate with as well And so no matter who you are I think you need to have five people that do exactly what you do that you can turn to and you need to have 10 or 15 that you ancillary things And so if you're a developer go meet with 10 designers or go meet with a designer a writer an SEO expert just to be able to have a more sort of holistic approach so that you can have more more teams So that's the first thing is aligning a problem Second thing is the actual people And then the third thing is I would say start to quantify and improve on the outcomes that you can deliver And that can be if you are a writer or let's go stick with software If you're if you're a software developer this can be starting with a landing page or starting with a simple website and then exponentially sort of increasing those outcomes In terms of today I did just a website tomorrow I'm going to do an e-commerce website and there's going to be this functionality because the third thing that really drives this economy as you keep hearing about is outcomes Meaning what can you do How much is it going to cost How long And so whether you're a leader in an organization whether you're a freelancer you're going to be measured and your life is going to be a lot easier If top of mind you always have say two to five outcomes that you can deliver tomorrow So that's it I quit
Callum: I got no I'm I've wrapped up yours in buzzwords here; You got specialized, tribalized and visualized. Right, So get specialized, Get your tribe together get your community together and help the world see what it is you do very easily. So make sure it's visualized every time that's the measurement
Matthew: How did you how'd you spin up the what did you work at Bain before this that that's like that was the great buzzword synthesis and so so quick
Callum: So here you go My job is is Is to tell stories that inspire great people to build the vision that we have at distributed. That's really my core job right Whether that is inspiring venture capital teams to invest money in the business or great senior management to come in and and help us build into into the vision And so I have quite a narrow perspective on what people need to do but it's very closely aligned So to to the way that you've just described it. No no What you do and what the value you create in the world and double down on it make sure that you're in the right rooms So make sure that the people around you are making you better and you're all pushing each other to improve And yet make sure that every conversation you have is focused on what's our problem, What are we trying to solve, and and how are we solving it It's never about never about Oh this is too difficult The Hills too big the mountains to hide it The Valley's too wide It's it's what what progress did we make so better Not perfect So let's focus on improving those that would be my three I've not been able to buzzword bingo and arts you know synthesize a a three word mantra for you And in the time it's taken me to explain it to you but that that's my view on it And I'm sure I mean my team will have their own view on it too because their view of the world is actually quite narrow And I think that's one of the great things about the human cloud about any piece of literature of business or otherwise anything that gives you a view of the whole battlefield or gives you a view of the whole landscape is only going to improve your mindset and your ability to you know to improve within your narrow view of the world too so I I guess what's I'll go to two questions One may maybe quite difficult one one that's fairly easy So what does cause you've already started writing the next book
What is the human cloud part two look like. Why does the world need to get to for you to start writing the second book, Like what what what are the things that you're going to be able to say It's come true. We're at a stage where we need I need to write the next book now. What needs to happen in order for that to take
Matthew: I think you know and I would I would hypothesize in the next five years we're going to be talking about this might not sound sexy but we're going to be talking about the human cloud at scale And what I mean by that is in the book we do discuss in North America's largest motorcycle manufacturing A manufacture hiring over 25 to 30 freelancers to do their full digital experience I think what we're going to be talking about is opportunities like that instead of talking about the individual gig or freelance con And so you'll see in the book you know the stories are predominantly more sort of solo preneur individuals And I think the next book is going to be about how do you do this at scale Meaning how do we organize I mean and product teams how do we organize marketing teams How do we do that in the human cloud And it it's not sexy and to be honest I don't know what we're gonna do from a title perspective because we already took the human cloud which shit call it the collaborative plan Maybe that's it Actually that's not too bad The collaborative cloud yeah but I think that's what it's going to be about I think it's going to be about okay We've now set out the new path right Sort of step one is setting out digital remote and outcome-based infrastructure Step two is how do we then replicate what we've already done Because I think one one major weakness is this isn't new Like we talked about before when it's like not to trash them keep them trashing millennials and myself but we love to just destroy everything but we're pretty bad at building up And I think one of the things that we have to do is we have to look at the way we've organized work the past one 50 years And we have to say what did work And what really did work is we left our homes as individuals and said let's do this together Right Like you can't go build the example used to be go build the Boeing's seven but let's not use that example but you can't you can't build something like that You know scale as an individual in your garage your D you do need to have massive teams and we've seen you know whether it's use Google campuses whether it's Microsoft or huge campus we know there's a power of having organizations and having teams And I think that's the next status of the human cloud There's okay How do we replicate the good of organizations
Callum: Yeah but that's the question we're answering over the next five years is as we get this to scale how does it go beyond it How does it actually become capable of delivering a Boeing seven 47 You know the human cloud What what tools what workflows what mindsets what generational changes need to take place Yep Yeah Organizations need to rise and fall in order for this to happen because it's incredibly fluid up theirs does theirs There's a lot
Matthew: I literally the following distributed and I'll say the bank up there So I do think there's a next checklist Whereas as an industry we're going to say those players because we are going from one huge Houston that's going to change is we're going from sort of the talent marketplace to more of the how would you describe Yeah distributed it in one sentence
Callum: it's it's a vertically integrated software delivery solution that's powered by globally distributed freelancers. That's it.
Matthew: Exactly So we're going from a marketplace wild wild West which is like the Upwork Fiverr You name it We're all freelancers look the same And basically they just say go and have a marketplace Right
Callum: Well that's the problem with marketplaces as humans, One of the innate gifts of humans is the ability to exploit systems A human a human mind can spot a pattern and figure out a way to exploit it to get a fish or to get some deer or or water or whatever It's the thing that genetically makes us old the same right Our ability to exploit systems And that's what happens on marketplaces Oh these are the buzz words This is the profile picture Here's the logos I need to include to get the work That is not optimized for your outcome right That is optimized for the freelancer So yeah what we're what we're building at distributed is the evolution of the marketplace It's the the vertically integrated solution where we have no choice but to care deeply about our supply side to understand them their needs their goals their aspirations and to provide them with an experience that is better than having a permanent position somewhere But we're just one step On the journey to the human cloud All right And we'll we'll be building in this space for five 10 15 years This is a multi-generational effort that you're starting and you know I don't know we're all disciples of a philosophy you know Cause you got John out there you got Dr John younger who's who's been preaching this for for years and And th th there's lots of visionaries across the world that have been like you're saying saying the same thing for quite some time It's not old How do we measure our progress What how are we able to say we're getting there
Matthew: You know what one metric I really want to incorporate as an industry and people usually like they go Oh that's a good idea but let's never talk about it because we'd failed So miserably Is I want to I want to start measuring my employment And what I mean by that is if you have a marketplace and 90% of your signups are actually getting jobs or have earned income in the past year that's considered unemployed And we would have 95% unemployment if we started to measure that right now So that's one thing I I I hope to as an industry really overcome is starting to measure these things in ways that both Make us really come to reality about how badly we are delivering but then also make it easy for us to to measure at of course that works for everyone
Callum: So here's a question for you You extrapolate the human cloud out you extrapolate marketplace and freelancer dynamics Oh okay At some point in time you become the world's largest workforce You may be decentralized Which means you can then become the world's largest union which means you can then become the world's largest political How do you make sure that that does not happen and bring our own very very negative connotations on the tyranny of the majority there
Matthew: You hope it doesn't happen fast enough where you don't ask questions It's the only answer I have Right It's kind of like we didn't really necessarily think about Facebook before it became mainstream And we've seen the impact of that a lot of social media and I think with freelancing it's even worse because now we're talking about lab It's not just our insecurities and narcissism so yeah I don't
Callum: know I it's an interesting question right It's an interesting question
Matthew: I think maybe that's what you should start with Whenever someone says Hey I'm interested in the freelance economy I want to build a company in the freelance economy I think you should give them that I usually start with anyone that's interested I asked them what are you most scared of And if they say nothing this is great I look at it and I'm like you're not going to be around in two years and you probably just showed up And so because there's my fears instead of yet Is that we continue this model where there's two ways we can go right We can go on pro talent We can go pro pro customer side and pro customer is more of the Amazon mechanical Turk Where we simply just Uberization Right My nightmare is is that white collar knowledge workers become Uber eyes and then our whole so your your thing about Eva what's it called The workforce that turns into a union
Callum: tyranny of the majority Yeah You get the you get the the largest political power on earth is a decentralized Workforce
Matthew: Yeah Well here's my dystopia when she's kind of already real is what if all of a sudden people go full more into crowdsourcing They really really double down on this auction that model of a freelancing Then you get a bunch of little people at the top and then you get a million people that are just fighting for scraps you know doing the work hoping that they become in first place We're hoping that they win the bid That's what I'm here And if we don't change that we will create them So
Callum: Yeah That's yeah that that value based economy where actually it's completely devalued because there's so many participants Yeah
Matthew: And the customer loves it Right Like it really isn't a beautiful customer strategy because now you don't actually know it's it's literally taking the worst of the corporation like the the worst optimization model of the corporations and just making that real with technology Thank you It's a it's a genius strategy If you are a fervent capitalist that just wants to make more and more a little more
Callum: money Yeah Yeah Effectively there will always be an emerging economy that you can take advantage of right there there are knowledge workers there will always be an emergent working class And even though they are in tech which is not a working class employment sector let's say that well not in the traditional sense of working class We all work
Matthew: We work too much Yes Well
Callum: we want to that's the problem is this industry is filled with obsessive compulsive people that enjoy working so much It's there's nothing outside of it And it says it's a strange world to work in
Matthew: I will say And moving to Miami people do work less or they have less of an emphasis on it As San Francisco didn't feel like a hamster wheel of everyone Like Oh my God I have to hit a big big big Singapore was a little more disciplined in terms of not I have to hit a bank but I have to make a living and honor my family And then Miami has been a little more chill in terms that you do have people like us who are who are you know constantly grinding I could say Hey that works scribes scrap but you know people like us who are Okay let me start it Anyone that like gives an all support I'm just like I do it but I don't talk like don't you don't have to talk about it
Callum: I yeah like we have what are the cultural points here at distributed is make sure the entire team are tier one in performing and then in brackets that does not mean make sure everybody's working 65 hour weeks Like that's that's at the core of our business We are focused on the outcome It doesn't matter if it takes you an hour and a half The outcomes delivered Awesome Well done exactly but that can also be used as as an excuse so yeah like I I spent a little bit of time working from Spain last year I've worked in Scotland but you you see tribes emerging like th the Miami tribe Yeah maybe they do surf a little bit more you know the the the the New York tribe maybe they do go harder that's going to be something that the human cloud that the freelance economy is going to actually enable you you know you'll have you'll have your mountaineers your farmers you'll have your inner city late-night ramen tribe you'll have your your your your coastal body surfers I and I You know from my perspective I really really really encourage that And I encourage the cycling through the tribes to go out and see what life actually means to you makes you happiest You're going to bring a better self to work You're going to deliver better outcomes It's going to be better for business as a whole And I hate that about you know this this Growth of nationalism and the the you know the the leaving of the EU and you know the rise of of extreme republicanism in the U S I think global economies are stronger economies And I think freedom of movement only only benefits the planet and it improves life for everybody
Matthew: So so here's where I can relate to trends And I'm really excited about that It's gonna it's gonna support and challenge what you just said So the first one is globalization but not how do I say this Not necessarily in a way that's you know soft you have to go travel and do a Safari and go to Bali and take a bunch of cool Instagram pecs instead in terms of working relationships And so me personally we have freelancers on every single continent and you probably do instrumented as well And so I think that's one major trend is globalization actually working together The second thing though is I actually think there's going to be a resurgence of localization Now I'm going to preface this with I'm extremely biased because I came from a small town only 16,000 people 630 And you know everybody in your local high school you grow up with everyone And I loved it and I never ever ever wanted to leave And I think with the human cloud what we've been able to see is that someone can be in Ohio so it can be in Illinois so it can be in Mississippi and it doesn't matter As long as you have them the P address you can participate in the global economy And so I totally agree with the first trend of globalization I think that it's down to working relationships there in terms of you now have an opportunity to do business with anyone across the globe without having to be there But I also think there's going to be a prevailing notion of going back to localization where you really do embrace your local community and you kind of have your IP address community and then you have your local community And I I prefaced the ladder by saying I'm very biased and I I miss my small town and that's been one failing notion
Callum: I don't know what I just said I can't remember but you didn't disagree with what my intention what I intended to say was you know There's both benefits local communities and the global economy at the same time And we should very much open up to freedom of movement both from a employment relationships or an employment legality standpoint but also from a travel standpoint because like so for instance I worked from Spain for for a couple of months last year and I worked in a place called the hub The hub is literally little co-working space set up by Bye just to to founders out there And they saw a huge boom through COVID right people working remotely and and moving out to Spain for a couple of months while while quarantine was in place And he's a local business owner you know And it was culturally very different from the we works of the world It had its own personality it had it catered to like local tastes and cultures and it was a very very human approach rather than a very I guess mathematical and an entrepreneurial approach to to coworking spaces or to to the tech economy And I'm I'm we're going to see a huge lot Of growth in that space really small business owned or yeah local ventures are going to grow enormously because of remote work
Matthew: I, I fell in love with my Venezuelan coffee shop here in Miami. And to be honest, I had no intention of staying in Miami. At first it was purely time zones, but once I kind of got in introduced with like the independent local, like coffee restaurant, a store scene, I was like, yeah, this is incredible.
I have to stay for awhile, which is cool. And it's unlikely. You'd go to ESSA. You make a bunch of money and trash it, and then you leave. I think that's a model that we're all excited to hopefully not recreate. And yeah.
Callum: Yeah, I completely agree. Okay. So Matt, I'm going to I'm, I'm, I'm going to force you to wrap up here with a with a plug for the human cloud.
I only, I only got it a couple of days ago, so I've only managed to flip through it, but I'll have finished it by the end of next week. But I guess if you're, if you're this type of person doing this type of work, you should read the human cloud because.
Matthew: Yeah. If, if you're a changemaker, like literally down to that, if you're the type of person that gets meaning from your work and wants to make an enormous positive impact in the world, then the human cloud will show you how to do that.
It'll not be making you an overnight success story. It will not make you an overnight millionaire. This is not a get rich quick in any way, shape or form. This is a, you're the type of person that's going to work your ass off no matter what you don't believe in a 40 hour work week, you don't believe in this whole balance thing where you work 20 hours a week, go hiking 20 hours a week.
But instead you really, really drive meaning from your work. If that's you, then you're going to learn how to use the freelance economy and artificial intelligence to create more with less.
Callum: Yeah. I mean, I'm inspired. I actually, I said it on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago. You are an inspiration to me, dude.
And you're what you're building venture capital is helping freelancers scale. Right? So if you're a freelancer and you're watching this and you're like, do you know what? Yeah, I want to, I want to scale myself and scale scale scale what it is. I, I bring to the world, where should they go to, to get, take part in that.
Matthew: Yeah, so go to my LinkedIn start there. And then if you want to read the book using a search on Amazon and then wouldn't venture out, you'll see it's venture l.io, but listen, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. We'll be super responsive and we'll get you all hooked up.
Callum: Yeah. Matt's really active on Twitter too.
So yeah, we'll get this edited. We'll get it posted and hopefully you can all join the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you all. Thanks for your time, Matt.