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EFP 105: Debate – Local Vs. Distributed Teams

Justin Cooke August 7, 2014

The great debate, local vs. distributed teams. Although our business doesn’t require our local presence to run and we’ve hired outside of the city before, we’ve never taken ourselves out of the physical sphere of influence.

The potential for us to physically remove ourselves is there and we’re only now moving that direction.

Which is More Effective? Distributed or Local Teams?

Today, Joe and I will be debating the advantages and disadvantages to building local vs. distributed teams. Do we need to be able to meet up with our team in person over hot coffee or is Skype all well and good?

Check out our best points for both sides.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

 Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • Getting things done faster with a local team.
  • Fun environmental factors you miss while being remote.
  • The limited pool of potential candidates when looking to hire locally.
  • The “management by walking around” problem.
  • Locational benefits to a distributed team.
  • Timezone advantages of having employees work around the world.


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Spread The Love:

“Managing is easier in person. It can’t be done as easily when you’re remote.” – Joe – Tweet This!

“Having a distributed team gives you access to higher quality and a larger potential pool of team members.” – Justin – Tweet This!

“If you’re looking for distractions then you’ll always find them.” – Justin – Tweet This!

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you notice when running distributed teams or local teams? Which do you find most effective when running your business? Leave a message on SpeakPipe or join us in the comments below.


Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire Podcast Episode 105.

Speaker 2:           Good Morning Vietnam.

Justin:                   We’re coming to you not quite live today from Saigon. Today Joe and I will be debating the advantages and disadvantages in building local versus distributed teams. This is something we’re actually dealing with right now as we plan to journey abroad a bit and build teams that are around the world. Alright let’s do this.

Speaker 3:           Welcome to the Empire Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that E-Book you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits. Without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts Justin and Joe from Empire Flippers.

Justin:                   All right Joe. So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room buddy. I said I was leaving the Philippines a couple of months ago, and you’ve been dropping hints to me since then about how it’s so much better to get the team together. “Oh my God, see, we couldn’t do this unless we were able to get the team together.” So I thought it’d be interesting to have a show where we actually, we hash it out man. We debated kind of the benefits of being local over versus being distributed and maybe we’ll get some value out of it, because it’s something we’re dealing with right now, and maybe our listeners will get some value as well.

Joe:                        And I promise to be a little more calm for my Vietnam coffee.

Justin:                   Yeah man. This stuff is strong huh buddy? It’s good stuff. But they put that condensed milk in there too and you just feel like you’re drinking just sugar, and then it hits you.

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   All right man. So, I found out you’re looking at leaving too, right? I mean, you’re going to get out of here. Maybe September or something? You’re doing a Macau trip, and then moving on?

Joe:                        You really put me on the spot here.

Justin:                   I am. I’m putting you on the spot man. I have to do it, and just because it’s really becoming an issue for us. I mean, as we grow our expat team, we have more and more foreigners that are kind of coming out to Southeast Asia and working with us. We’re going to be away from them. It’s something that we need to deal with. I think some of our listeners are dealing with as well.

We’ve discussed this with some of our entrepreneurial friends that run these distributed teams and it depends on who you talk to. But the ones that are doing it of course, are pimping the distributed teams. “Oh, it’s fantastic, it’s amazing.” But you and I are most familiar with local teams. So, I think it’d be interesting to discuss this. We want to put it in a debate format so basically so you and I could kind of hash it out and see what shakes out basically.

Joe:                        Uh oh, debate tactics.

Justin:                   Debate tactics. How it’s going to work is we’re going to have three to four main points each. You’re going to be arguing for local. I’m arguing for distributed, and then we’re going to have an opposing viewpoint that we actually thought was pretty good and kind of discuss that. So, we’ll go through that. Before we get into this episode, we’re going to cover hot money’s featured listing of the week. What you got buddy?

Joe:                        So it’s a health and fitness affiliate site making almost $8,000 a month. $7,781 in profit a month. The thing about I love about this site is there’s really no upkeep. He’s got it on shared hosting right now at five or ten bucks a month. Other than that, he does no marketing. He doesn’t even add content, nothing. So, it’s been very steady the last three months. It uses a private affiliate program for a very popular supplement. Yeah, it’s just pretty flat line, and I think someone looking for truly passive income that, a lot of massive income, would find this appealing.

Justin:                   Yeah the affiliate scared me a bit when I was looking at this and I was like, “Okay well, I might be scared.” But there are a ton of affiliates in this space. So there are other people that you could use and you’re not stuck with that one. It only gets around 7,000 page views a month. So you’re looking at about a dollar per page views, which is awfully high.

Joe:                        Yeah, the affiliate pays out pretty high for each confirmed purchase and I looked into that. I was a little worried because this is a first time seller, but we looked through all the records and details, and figured out that yes the affiliate does pay this much. And the affiliate program is transferable to the new owner. So, that’s all good.

Justin:                   Alright, site was created in November 2013. It’s pretty cool. He created a $155,000 site in less than a year. That’s pretty exciting, and aspiring for other people that are looking to build out similar sites. I know, and there’s been some chatter about, “Oh you can build a $20,000 site in six months or nine months.” Talking about $155,000 site. That’s some serious cash.

Joe:                        Yeah it is. It’s an interesting way to build something, but just shows you that if you find the right affiliate program, especially those private affiliate programs. Your monetization change from something like AdSense or Amazon would be significant.

Justin:                   Alright man, let’s dig into the heart of this weeks episode.

Speaker 3:           This is the Empire Flippers Podcast.

Justin:                   Alright Joe, put your debate hat on buddy. We’re going for it. You’re going to be laying out your case for a local team first man. What you got?

Joe:                        Alright go easy on me though here, because I wasn’t part of debate team when I was in high school.

Justin:                   Debate club man. So let’s just knock it out. What you got? What’s your first point?

Joe:                        So my first point here is that local teams get more done faster. I really believe this, I mean, especially when it comes down to crunch time. Just being in the same room with people physically. It motivates you. It helps you get stuff done. I mean I think we saw that in our lead up to the launch, which we have delayed.

Justin:                   Just didn’t happen, but yeah, yeah.

Joe:                        But we got a lot done in those three days that everybody was physically in the same office. So, I think that’s something to consider, especially if you are doing launches or you do launches on a regular basis. Having a physical location or having at somewhere where people could come in once in a while, might be a good thing to have. Communication is just quicker in person. I mean you could just go over it to the other person and talk to them, show something on your screen, hash something out. One on one communication is just faster.

Justin:                   So I’m going to argue the hell out of local teams get more done faster. I’m not sure that’s necessarily true. I do kind of agree with the communication though. There are tools that ain’t good or helping with that we’re going to get into a little bit later. But I mean, what about all the distractions that come with being local too man?

Joe:                        Yeah no, that’s definitely something to be said. I mean, the paper airplane around the office kind of thing. The pizza lunch break, but we’ll get a little bit into that later. There are some benefits of those breaks as well. The last thing, and I think you’re going to have a really hard time arguing with this sub-point is, training is just way easier in person. I mean, instructing someone, even with all the tools we have today; video, screen share, Google Docs. All that stuff is great and I think it’s awesome to have that documentation on hand so that people can refer to it at a later date, but the initial training and using our step-by-step training process; skill transfer, is better done in person.

Justin:                   So I hate the fact, just like you do, that there are certain communications or certain things that should’ve been done maybe in an hour that took a day. Took 24 hours because of time zones, because of different locations. I mean that’s definitely something that’s been frustrating for me, but I wouldn’t say that’s always the case. I think that might be more of a management issue, right? So if you’re properly using the communication tools that you have at your disposal, it shouldn’t take that long.

Now the training, I tend to agree with too. Can be difficult with video and stuff. I mean it’s not quite the same as being there over the shoulder and being able to work things out quickly. Then you get, if you have crappy internet, that definitely makes it worse though too, which we’ve dealt with in the Philippines or Vietnam where it just doesn’t really connect the internet. It’s a little sketch. So trying to have that communication can be difficult at times.

Joe:                        Aw yeah. When you’re struggling with technology issues, that really makes it. But you touched on something that brings up my second point Justin, and that’s managing is just easier in person. I think you can have a quick impromptu meeting for clarifying objectives. You can correct people easier in person. These kind of things just are easier done from an office with a local team. It’s not something that can be done as effectively when you’re remote.

Justin:                   Yeah, I don’t know man. I agree with you that there are certain aspects of being a local that makes managing a bit easier, but I think it also brings in the problem of, “I’m going to set a meeting today, and we’re going to have another new meeting tomorrow.” So you get all these inefficiencies because you’re in meetings. Think about in our corporate days Joe, how we’re just trying to get stuff done with our team. We’re calling these meetings that are drawn out, and much longer than they need to be. I feel like that’s a loser more than a winner sometimes.

Joe:                        Yeah. I see what you’re saying there, and you definitely could over meet and do that, but that would be a management thing I think. That you are not using your management skills effectively, but when you think about it. I mean, being able to … You could micro-manage too, and make a mistake that way. If you’re a good manager, you can compare your workers style and results a lot easier in person, because you can find out what they’re doing wrong. I mean if you-

Justin:                   Yeah, so if it’s remote, it might take you months to kind of figure out one person versus another. Whereas if you’re seeing them on a day to day basis, you know who’s getting it, who’s not. You know your A team versus your B team.

Joe:                        Yeah, especially if there’s just easy things that you can tell them to be more efficient in their work style. That’s something that I think is easier seeing when you’re overseeing them. Even if it’s a knowledge worker.

Justin:                   I’m not sure that you made the case that you can’t do that remotely, but I think maybe it makes sense to me that you might be able to do it a bit faster with a local team.

Joe:                        And then, I think, one of my last little things here about managing is easier in person is, being physically accessible will just bring a higher demand for decision making. And yes that can be time consuming. Everyone stopping by your office for little nitpicky things, but it also can make the communication style a lot faster. So when there’s decisions that need to be made, someone has to look you up on Slack or Skype or whatever, and you’re not there. Then they have to wait 30 minutes to an hour for the reply. So they go ahead and they do it themselves and it’s wrong, and so you have to re-correct. Especially when you’re initially bringing teams on. I think physically being there so you can make quick decisions for them and help them out is an advantage.

Justin:                   It’s funny Joe. As we’re going through this, I’m thinking about our different management styles, but not just our different management styles. Also our roles in the organization. And I see what you’re saying, if I can make quick decisions and get things done, that’s better. I’m thinking from my perspective, if I’m interrupted for these quick decisions, it might take me 15, 20 minutes to get back on track. Now so I’m thinking, if I’m constantly being bombarded with these things, it’ll take me 10 hours to do what should’ve taken 60 minutes, 90 minutes.

Joe:                        I agree with you if that was a long term thing. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about you have a new initiative, or you have a new employee, and you’re trying to get them up to speed quickly where you’re trying to get over this hump and achieve the general outline of some objectives with the project. I mean think about Mike, the new apprentice that we brought on board. It’s so much easier to have him side by side right now. I mean he’s basically been, quote on quote, “Working with us,” for a month, but he really didn’t learn much. He didn’t really do much, because he wasn’t sitting side by side with us to see and be there in action. I think that’s what’s so much more effective.

Justin:                   I don’t argue that we gave him Slack channel access and stuff, but I kind of left him alone for that month or whatever. I wasn’t training him. I wasn’t doing anything.

Joe:                        Well we weren’t paying the guy, so.

Justin:                   I wasn’t even involved though. I was like, “Oh Mike, when he gets out here we’ll figure it out.” So that was just a prep thing. I think it would’ve been different if we were actually trying to train him remotely to see what the difference was, but I do get you. I feel a little bit, that being local, you’re just going to get up to speed faster. And we’re not only local, he’s in my house. So that’s really close knit and he’s going to learn our business extremely well in a very short period of time.

Joe:                        Yeah, like I said, long term, yes you have to let people take the reigns. You have to let people make their own decisions, but especially initially, or especially when starting a new project. Think about when John Meyers came down and helped us with the design. It was so much easier to have him there for even just a couple of days to get the initial stuff out of the way.

Justin:                   Alright man, not sure I agree with managing always being easier. I think it can be, and I think you can figure things out a bit faster, but I’ll take your point. What’s your third one buddy? What you got?

Joe:                        So, it’s more difficult to hide in person. What I mean by this is, unfortunately some workers tend to do this. They tend to be less efficient. They have down days maybe. Maybe they’re a good worker but they just have down days, and they tend to hide online. Tend to avoid work. They tend to do the minimum viable approach, and I think-

Justin:                   You talking that lifestyle backpacker that’s like, “Yeah man I’ll get to it,” and he’s too busy hanging on the beach, sipping his Mai Tais?

Joe:                        Yeah. He’s checking his email twice a week. That four hour work week.

Justin:                   Oh, little four hour work week punch right there huh? Check your email twice a week, yeah, not going to work for you.

Joe:                        Yeah, four hour work week slam. No, but I mean I think you have to pull your weight more when you’re in person. When you’re in the own office, you can’t just do the minimum. Other people on your team are going to see that. Your manager is going to see that. I think it’s more obvious. Now, don’t get me wrong, distributed teams, you have good ways to track people. You have good ways to compare people, and long term-

Justin:                   I think you should have those in place either way.

Joe:                        Yes.

Justin:                   If you’re not measuring the correct stuff, you’re business is being a problem anyway.

Joe:                        But you can get away with a day or two of not being around when your virtual. Whereas, when you’re in the office, people notice the empty chair. I mean you just can’t avoid that.

Justin:                   Isn’t that okay though? I mean isn’t it okay to be away for a day? Isn’t it okay to unplug for a bit? I’m not sure that’s so bad.

Joe:                        Yeah, I see what you’re saying, and I think maybe it is. But it just shows a lack of consistency.

Justin:                   Enough for our employees dammit, they got to work. No I hear you man, I hear you.

Joe:                        Yeah, so. Yeah, and then it comes down to something just as specific or as minor as lateness and absentees. That kind of stuff just won’t go very far in an office setup.

Justin:                   So okay, it can be a bit more difficult to hide in person if you have an office setting and people just start not showing up or leaving early. I can see that, but really, I don’t care so much. I think that’s caring about the hours they work, and not necessarily the goals they’re accomplishing. If you’re set up to measure the goals, I think that’s really the most important. I don’t care if it took them 4 hours or 14 hours to get it done. As long as it got done and done correctly.

Joe:                        I agree with you. I agree with you, and that’s not what I’m talking about here. But what I’m saying is, if they do miss their objectives, if they do miss their goals, it’s much harder to do that in an office setup. You can’t show up and just play poker all day from your office computer and then things not get done because other team members, manager are going to be able to see that. Whereas online-

Justin:                   But think about this, that’s what people do though. Let’s say it only took me 4 hours to do it, and I’ve got an 8 hour shift. I do it in my 4 hours and then I sit around and play poker. I mean that’s exactly what people do in an office.

Joe:                        Yeah they do, but what I’m saying is if you don’t do it at all. If you miss your objectives. If you miss your objectives, there’s more accountability in a local setting.

Justin:                   Oh because I’m going to take you into my office and scold you.

Joe:                        Right.

Justin:                   Whatever, yeah, go through the rigamarole. Okay. Alright man, I don’t know buddy. Better wow me with this fourth point. What you got?

Joe:                        My fourth point is kind of my wild card here, and I think it’s a little more fun in an office. I mean these few days that we were in crunch time with development team, although it was stressful and although we even missed the deadline. I still felt like it was a little more fun. I felt the comradery. People just like collaborating in person. I mean there’s a reason why we’re social animals.

Justin:                   The team based, work together kind of approach?

Joe:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Joe:                        And then I think there’s the little bit of the water cooler. The chispas chispas factor there. People like to chit chat, and you can do a little but yes it can be distracting. Yes it can be over the top, but that’s something that an office definitely has over people just working online.

Justin:                   To hell with the water cooler stuff man. I think you’re bringing up what I think is a horrible point as a good one. You’re like, “The water cooler guy. Thank God for the water cooler.” I don’t know man.

Joe:                        It’s a minor point.

Justin:                   Yeah, yeah. I get the collaboration, because that’s the one I think that resonates a bit.

Joe:                        Yeah, but look, I’m not a big water cooler guy either, but I’m just saying Sally the secretary is probably going to find it more appealing to be in an office. So she can chit chat with James from accounting over the water cooler, rather than just sit at home and look him up on Facebook once in a while. I think long lunches with coworkers is good for team morale. Once in a while you got to take people out. You got to have those kind of abilities to have the once in a while getaway. The order pizza lunch kind of thing. Then of course, there’s the one thing that you cannot argue with me, which is, the off-site team building event can’t be done remotely. It just can’t.

Justin:                   Yeah, you can’t hang out at the beach together on Skype. It’s not really going to work out that well. So I mean, okay I get the off-site team building, but it depends on how often you’re doing that. I mean if you’re doing that once a week, sure. I’d argue that you’re doing it too often. If you’re doing it once a quarter every 6 months, I mean I don’t see why you couldn’t get people together to do that.

Joe:                        That’d be expensive.

Justin:                   Yeah, but think about the money you’re saving by being remote too. I mean, that’s some serious cost savings that go into that. We’re going to get into that in a bit but-

Joe:                        But I think still, you could have these spur of the moment sort of lunches or even dinners, or drinks after work kind of thing. These help build morale, and I think people start to depend on each other a little bit better, and work together a little bit better when you have these kinds of things.

Justin:                   Alright man, so let’s move into my arguments for a distributed team rather than a local team. My first point, is that having a distributed team is going to give you access to higher quality and a wider ranging pool of potential team members. I mean this is something that we’ve struggled with before, even in Davao, we’re trying to find the right person and we just can’t find him. So we end up picking someone whose okay, maybe kind of fits those skillsets, but just isn’t fantastic.

Joe:                        Yeah, I mean I can’t argue with that. If you’re on the end of the earth in Asia or even in rural America, I’d imagine you’re probably going to have trouble attracting the right kind of talent.

Justin:                   But it’s not just that dude, it’s not just rural America. Let’s say that you’re in a bigger city, let’s say you’re in San Diego or something, and trying to find the right person. I mean, it’s a big city. Maybe you don’t have the reach, and the right person for you happens to be in San Francisco or happens to be in Manila or wherever. You have that reach as long as you can get out to them.

Joe:                        Yeah. My counterpoint to that would be relocation though. I mean, especially in Asia. If you were going to hire someone, you could easily relocate them.

Justin:                   Well actually the second bullet point or whatever here is that forcing someone to relocate means you’re cutting down in your pool to choose from. Because not everyone’s willing to relocate. We had this issue with an apprentice. Where we reached out to a previous applicant and said, “Hey. We’d love to have you,” and he couldn’t do it because he was set in the city that he was in. I wonder how many people listen to our podcast, or read our blog and go, “God I’d love to that but I just can’t because of X, Y, or Z. I got a wife or husband. I’ve got kids and there’s just no way I could do it.” But they would be a fantastic addition to our team.

Joe:                        Yeah. I like your point here. I definitely can’t argue with it, but in the end, I still think that you could relocate the vast majority of people in order to work with you.

Justin:                   You could. You could force them to relocate, but some people just aren’t gong to do it. So you could relocate them, unless their not willing to. You can’t force them to relocate. So if they’re not in a good position to do that, then they’re not going to want to do it and they’re not going to want to be part of your team.

Joe:                        Yeah, but then they’re not going to be the perfect candidate for you.

Justin:                   Here’s another thing too, is that if they want to be near you to get more shit done that’s great. I mean our guys right now, they want to be closer because we can work together, but then they can go off and they can remote too. And I think having that as an option or having it as a choice is fantastic. Because we can still bring them in and have closer knit events and that kind of thing, but they have the option.

Joe:                        Yeah that’s the kind of local team that I love. That works out of the same locality, but maybe does have the option of working from home.

Justin:                   Alright man, now you said that local teams get more done faster. I’m going to argue that local teams get less done slower. Basically, local meetups can be time consuming and wasteful. Offices are a constant source of interruption for me. I have people coming in, banging on my door, asking me questions and it sets me back 15, 20 minutes every single time they do that. It takes time to get back into it. So what would take, as I mentioned before, an hour, takes me a full 8 hour day because of constant interruptions. I think that’s a problem. I think also you have tools now, software communication tools like HipChat, Slack, Yammer, that make us much more efficient. We were talking about this the other day. Slack right now has cut down our email dramatically, and I don’t see why that can’t be used be remotely.

Joe:                        Yeah. To take your first point though, interruptions. I mean, you could argue that there’s more interruptions at home. There’s the TV. There’s the refrigerator. There’s you just sitting on the couch reading a book. There’s the guy coming to the door. There’s the phone. I mean there’s plenty of interruptions at home. There’s plenty of interruptions when you go out to the coffee shop. The extra noise and stuff. Some people find that motivating. Some people find that thrilling.

Personally yeah, I love the quiet of working at home. I think I do get a lot more done that way, but I can see how someone who doesn’t have the discipline would definitely struggle with that. Now to come back to your other point about software tools. Yes, definitely they’re changing the way we work and Slack has been a huge … I mean today I checked my email and I only had 18 emails. I don’t think I’ve seen that ever. So we’re going really a long way there with our technology, but I still think that personal communication is a lot more efficient.

Justin:                   I think if you’re looking for distractions and you’re working at home, and you could read a book or something, of course you can find them. There’s always going to be some form of distraction. Where I think it gets into trouble though is when … Those are distractions that I can go out and find, but when distractions, problems come up, issues come up or whatever. Like you were saying, as soon as they can be resolved faster and that’s true. I’ll give you that point, but it can also interrupt what you’re doing. So you have, I think management or owners that are bombarded with minute details that I think can be not good.

Joe:                        Oh come on. You have to say the era of instant messaging, that’s very true as well.

Justin:                   I just ignore it though. If someone walks in my door I’ll ignore it. If I’m busy I’ll ignore it, where if someone walks in my door. I have actually, but it’s not great man. You know what I mean? It’s a little different.

Joe:                        Yeah, but I feel the same way about the instant messaging. Especially if it’s relatively important. You’re basically, they’re knocking on your door and you’re just ignoring it.

Justin:                   Well okay, I’ll give you an example. Sometimes we’re doing this podcast, and I see you’re Slacking with someone. It’s important. Someone needs something, you got to pause or whatever. But we’re recording the podcast dude, like you know. You can’t be chatting with someone about … No.

Joe:                        I don’t think I’ve ever chatted during one of our podcasts, yet.

Justin:                   Not during, but you know what I mean, like in between or something. Yeah, I don’t know. My third point is that larger distributed teams have some serious wide ranging locational benefits. So, we’ve run into the time zone problem, where no one’s on at some crazy hour. Four o’clock in the morning or something in the Philippines, and that’s prime time in the US. I think having a distributed team, you’re going to generally have people in different timezones that are more able to take on those clients at a reasonable working hour.

Otherwise, you have people working all through the night, crazy off shifts, and it gets a little wild. I also think it’s easier for someone on your team to connect with customers or potential customers locally. So, if we have someone in New York, they can go grab a coffee with a potential customer. They can answer questions, whereas us, we’d have to fly halfway around the world to do that.

Joe:                        Justin, normally I would agree with you, but this only works if … I mean the world is a very large place. You need to have people all over the place in order to do this, I mean-

Justin:                   Yeah, but I’m talking regionally. So let’s say that I have someone in Australia. It’s a lot easier to get that someone in Australia to fly over there and meet with someone than it is to go from the US to Australia. If I’m in the US, it’s easier for me to fly to someone. If I’m in Southeast Asia, you know what I mean? It’s a regional thing.

Joe:                        Yeah, but the vast majority of distributed teams are not all over the world. They don’t have a guy in Eastern Europe, and then a guy in America, then a guy in Asia.

Justin:                   Depends on how big your team is.

Joe:                        It does, but most people are like, they’ve got a few people on the east coast, a few people on the west cost, and then maybe one guy in Asia kind of thing. They don’t have everyone everywhere. So I think the cultural relation thing, and the time zone thing, I don’t know if I agree with you so much there. I mean I think that’s always going to be an issue. You’re always going to have people work a night shift if you want to do 24 by 7 customer support.

Justin:                   I like the languages though too. I think the fact that you have people that are able to speak different languages. We get people all the time that are saying, “Look, I found a ton of success building a site in Russian or in Spanish,” or something, “And we simply don’t have the team of people that can actually do the vetting. That can’t do anything with those sites.” I think there’s a whole lot of opportunity there that us specifically that we’re missing out on.

Joe:                        Yeah, it would be interesting to see how much value bringing on a true South American sales rep, a true Eastern European sales rep, in order to buy and sell sites for that area of the world would be. My guess is, is that we’re not missing out on much of a market there.

Justin:                   So this is not really a fourth point, but I would say this, is that it’s pretty hypocritical of us to talk about the benefits of being location and dependent and then handcuff our team. Like, “Oh look how amazing it is,” but, “Yeah I need you to just come and be local and just stay here.”

Joe:                        But let’s be clear. We’re not handcuffing our team. I mean they can work from anywhere.

Justin:                   Well can they?

Joe:                        Well yeah. Right now I mean, we did have Mike come all the way to Davao. He’s working there, but we’re having Vincent move around Southeast Asia. I mean I think we have some of our lower level agents that work remotely from Davao. They work on the outskirts in different cities.

Justin:                   And they travel there in Manila or Savu or whatever and they’re still able to get their work done.

Joe:                        So I think for us-

Justin:                   That is a distributed team.

Joe:                        That is a distributed team.

Justin:                   We don’t handcuff them.

Joe:                        We’re not handcuffing. So we’re not being hypocritical, but you’re right, if I did enforce this action on our people and then I flew off to Vietnam to live here. It would be very hypocritical.

Justin:                   Alright man, so let’s talk about some of the things that you said that I think resonated with me. I mean I think the training, for example, I think is pretty critical. When we do bring out apprentices. I think having them local for a period of time is pretty important so that they can get a feel for our company, for our organization. They’re going to learn a lot faster. It might take them a month what would’ve taken them three or four months remotely.

Joe:                        Yeah I think-

Justin:                   It’s not just a management issue. It’s actually just being there and being connected. I think there’s a really good idea there, and the problem that comes with that though then, is that we need people that are willing to relocate. At least for a period of time. So we are going to force the relocation, which does put a barrier on the people that we can accept. But if it’s a shorter term relocation, I think it is what it is, that has to be done.

Joe:                        Yeah, and I think culturally it makes them fit into our company a little bit better. If they’re willing to travel halfway around the world to come work with us, it tells me that culturally they’re going to fit into our corporation a little bit better. No matter where we are in the world Justin, whether we pick Bali or Vietnam or something like that to move on from Philippines. I think having them come and meet with us and work with us in person, at least for the first few weeks, that they’re onboarding with our company, is important.

Justin:                   So it’s the more fun thing too, resonates with me a bit. I mean, I want to have a fun company. I want people to be excited, and I know that when you mentioned to our local team in the Philippines that I was going to leave and you were potentially leaving. They were like, “Well what do we do? We don’t get our fun trips anymore. How does that work?” And I think it’s going to be really important that we still allow them to do that. [Isa’s 00:27:31] been the party coordinator.

I think that’s going to pass on to Joanne, and she’ll be the new party coordinator and set up stuff for the team locally so they still get that. I think if we can actually have meetups, maybe in Savu or Manila, and bring other pieces of our team together in that city. Maybe they’re somewhere else in southeast Asia, and we can bring people together. That’s a way around that. I think we can still get that benefit.

Joe:                        Agreed. I think the biggest point that I liked about your argument was definitely the wider range pool of candidates. I hate the idea of having to handcuff ourselves, and only say, “Yeah, we only hire people from Mindanao in the Philippines.” I mean yeah, that’s just too restrictive, and I think if we do find someone that’s great from Vietnam, from Thailand, from Kenya. I don’t care where it is, but if they fit in well with our culture, with the skillset that we have, that we need, I think that’s something that we should definitely leave open.

Justin:                   Alright man, enough about that. Let’s get into our news and updates.

Speaker 3:           You’re listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   We are in Ho Chi Minh City for our first ever Empire Workshop. I’m really excited to take this show on the road, and start doing some local workshops. Some meet and greets. Some really digging into the details, some case studies. I think this will be fantastic for us and the people that are attending.

Joe:                        Yeah by the time you people are listening to this, we’ll probably be stumbling through our first presentation. Hopefully we’ll come off great and we’ll be able to refine it as we go through.

Justin:                   Yeah we’ve been working on it. I think it’s looking good. We got the slides ready man. We’re doing a little prep this afternoon. I think it’ll be good, and I’m really excited to get it rolling. We’ve got a confirmed Chiang Mai meetup in October. We’re also possibly doing Bangkok, and maybe even toward the end of October, Vegas.

Joe:                        Yeah I’m really excited about meeting buyers and sellers in person, and really putting faces to the names, shaking hands, doing that kind of thing. I think that’s going to go a long way in terms of trust. In terms of developing the brand, and in helping people understand exactly how they can move their sites with us.

Justin:                   It’s like we can’t bring all of our customers to where we are, but we can definitely go visit them. I think that’s the local component to our traveling around, is that we’re going to be able to meet them in person. Second point I want to bring up is Spencer over at sold his first website with us. That was really exciting. We got it done in what? Just a week or something, really really quick.

Joe:                        Yeah it was quick. It was a $5,000 site. He was able to sell that pretty quickly. Those sites sell very fast on our marketplace. He’s actually going to do a little bit of a writeup on it. He’s working on that, and expect that out in the next couple of weeks.

Justin:                   That’s cool. I’m also looking forward to him sell more with us. I know he’s looking to clean out some of his inventory with those sites. So it’d be fun to get them listing, and get them sold for him. He also mentioned on his latest monthly report, he mentioned that he had his best month ever with Long Tail Pro. That’s aside from that crazy launch period he had, but that software is crushing it dude. I called that, year, year and half ago I was like, “Dude this one is going to take over Market Samurai. It’s going to be really good.”

Joe:                        Yeah, I mean he has his fingers in a lot of pies too. Domain Java, and his communication company, and rank hero.

Justin:                   He’s doing some local stuff. I forget exactly what it is, but I think it’s setting up a development company or something locally. He’s getting involved in Washington which is pretty cool

Joe:                        Yeah, some startup community kind of stuff. So yeah, it’s good to see that even with all those other diversification things he’s doing, LTP is still the way to go.

Justin:                   And it is the way to go. It’s so fun though to watch him develop in his business, business of Niche Pursuits, develop as he goes along. The last thing we’re working on in terms of news and updates. We’re working on getting the new apprentice, Mike, up to speed with a marketplace. So if you’re a seller or a depositor or a buyer with us, you should be hearing from him soon. He’s going to be setting up some of our seller interviews and tier to for tickets and getting back to people. So it’s fun to start getting him integrated into our company.

Joe:                        Yeah, we’ll still be communicating directly with you guys. So don’t worry about that, but Mike is going to be helping out. So if you do see him answering tickets or emails, what not, be sure to give him a hard time.

Justin:                   Alright man. Next up is our listener shout section. First up, we got Dave over at Gave us a five start iTunes review, says, “Love these guys. Justin and Joe kill it every time. They’ve also mentioned me twice so I just had to leave a review. Keep up the stellar work guys.” Alright Dave, we got you your third mention and thanks for the five star review.

We’ve also got Taylor Pearson, who I actually love his blog posts over at He says, “Five stars. This is where all started for me. I remember reading Justin and Joe’s stuff over two years ago sitting in my parents kitchen trying to figure out how to install a WordPress site. Since then, I’ve been around the world. Met them in the flesh in Bangkok. I’m now in the process of starting my own podcast, Concierge Medicine Radio. True pros, these guys tell it like it is and operate with a sense of transparency and honesty that gives the rest of us something to look up to.” Thanks Taylor for probably my favorite iTunes review. I really appreciate that.

Joe:                        Yeah Taylor, thank you and keep writing, and I’m looking forward to the podcast.

Justin:                   I love these stories too, where people are … You were saying, “There mom’s basement,” and they’re trying to figure stuff out and then they figure a little bit out and they just go for it. They make some leap of faith and they start doing some really awesome and amazing things. They’re traveling, they’re meeting other people, and they’re expanding their understanding of online business. It’s awesome. We got a couple of shouts on Twitter from some of the people that are attending the workshop here in Ho Chi Minh. We’ve got Derek Zito, we’ve got Noah Everton. Be fun hanging out with them. We got Matt Paulson on Twitter, said, “Love the latest Empire Podcast, learn to identify and kill sacred cow parts of your business.” Matt Paulson of course has a new book out; The Forty Rules for Internet Business success. I know you gave that a read as well, like a preview or something right Joe?

Joe:                        Yeah it was pretty good.

Justin:                   That’s cool man. God I need to do more reading. I listen to some podcasts and stuff. I just, I don’t know man. Time gets in the way. Podcasts are just so much easier, because when you’re in a taxi or you’re on a plane, you can knock it out.

Joe:                        Audible man. I mean I’m almost doing a book and a half a month on audible. So, that really helps.

Justin:                   We’ve also got Martin Greenberg says, “Hey Justin. Loving the podcast man. Looking to buy my first website. Can I email you with a few questions? Keep it up.” We’re always happy to help new buyers of course Martin, and you can definitely email me. For new buyers, one of the things we love to do is guide you towards sellers that we think would be a good fit for getting up to speed. They offer a bit more training, or they’re willing to step you through the process a bit more. Our team would love to support you as well, as would Joe and I. Thanks so much and we’d be happy to help you out.

We got a great mention on a blog from a girl named Raweewan. I think she’s Thai. Her websites, and she did a bunch of site flipping case studies. Mentioned a bunch of people that sold with Empire Flippers. A couple people that had sold their sites with Flippa, and it’s pretty interesting. You can give that a read. I’ll link to it in the show notes, but it highlights a bunch of seller case studies that are pretty interesting. People that made 10, 15, 20, 25,000 dollar websites and were able to sell them. I’m really looking forward to meeting her on Empire workshop in Chiang Mai. She’ll be there. We’ve chatted a bit on Twitter so, be exciting to meet her as well.

Joe:                        Cool.

Justin:                   That’s it for episode 105 of the Empire Podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at Make sure to follow us on Twitter at, EmpireFlippers and we’ll see you next week.

Joe:                        Goodbye Vietnam.

Speaker 3:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.



  • Thanks yet again for the mention guys and hope the workshop went well!

    • It did — we probably need to tighten it up a bit and offer more details on the selling process, but overall people like it. That’s encouraging especially since everyone said they were willing to pay to attend. Next stop Thailand.

  • Gunnar Bengtsson says:

    I personally would have a hard time building a local team since I’m based in Sweden. Both because salaries are prohibitively high for the talent I need – web developers, content writers and graphical designers – and because I’d have a hard time finding the right people. So distributed is the way I’ve been doing business. Some full time, but mostly part time employees or independent contractors. Works well for me.

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