In this first episode, Wayne Turmel and Marisa Eikenberry discuss what The Long-Distance Worklife is all about, what they hope to accomplish in upcoming episodes, and their personal experiences working remotely.
Question of the Week:
What do you find so fascinating about remote work?
Wayne Turmel: Hi, everybody. Welcome to the Long-Distance Worklife Podcast. For those of you who don't know us at the Kevin Eikenberry Group or the Remote Leadership Institute, my name is Wayne Turmel. I am the coauthor, along with Kevin Eikenberry, of The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership and The Long-Distance Teammate: Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere.
This podcast is designed to help us navigate the long-distance work life. We're going to look at remote work, technology, leadership, and generally surviving this new world of work where we're not all in the same place at the same time. And speaking of not in the same place at the same time, I am joined by my co-host.
Marisa Eikenberry: Hi, I'm Marisa Eikenberry. So I'm the web developer along with a lot of other tech things at the Kevin Eikenberry Group. Wayne and I have been coworkers for six, seven years. I think we just determined. So we've been working together for a long time and I've been thankful that this whole time I've been on a hybrid team.
Wayne: Yeah, and it's interesting because I am a 60-year-old cis white guy who started work long before the remote work thing was a thing.
Marisa, of course, is a digital native and I hate to call anybody a millennial because that's become a dirty word, but it's what she is, darn it. And so she's going to bring a fresh perspective to this old man as we do this. And in this first episode, we thought we would just talk about how we came to be here.
Wayne: Marisa came to us six years ago, whatever it was, and, you know, and since has been caught up in COVID and everything else. I have been in the game a very long time studying remote work, long before this, as much as 15 or 16 years ago. And I thought today Marisa could ask me a question. Anything she wants to know about how I got here. And what I bring to the party. And I'll do the same for her.
And hopefully at the end of our time together, you will be sufficiently intrigued to continue following our adventures every week. So, Marisa, I am a little nervous about where you're going to take me, but have at it. What do you want to know, lady?
Marisa: All good. Don't be nervous at all. So obviously you've been doing this a lot longer than I have, and you have a lot more experience. So for our audience at home, what's the biggest remote lesson that you've learned while you've been doing all of this?
Wayne: Yeah, it's interesting. I started in the world of presentation skills, you know, stand at the front of the room, whatever.
And then about 15 years ago, I got fascinated by tools like WebEx and now Zoom and it and the way that we communicate. And so that was my initial entry into remote work was through the communication piece. But maybe the biggest aha for me and a lot of people are now having this aha. As we talk about what some post-COVID world look like and what is a hybrid team look like in all of those things is I think I learned very early on that effective remote teamwork whether it's a project team or, or a hybrid, whatever that looks like is not merely trying to recreate the office with webcams. I think that way lies madness.
That's how you wind up with beginning of day to end of day Zoom meetings. I think that's why email is such a nightmare because we're trying to recreate something rather than create something new. And I got this 'aha'- I've told you this story, I'm now sharing it with our listeners. I got this 'aha' maybe 11 or 12 years ago watching my daughter, who is exactly your age, deal with technology in a very different way than our old man.
So what happened was in her junior year, she was a cheerleader and their team was not great, but somehow they had won this competition and got invited to another one the following week. So they only had a few days to come up with an entirely new routine.
And I'm working from home and I have on a Monday afternoon, eight cheerleaders, teenage girls in my house. There is no work getting done. The volume level is the volume level downstairs-
Marisa: Yeah, I've been a teenage girl once. I get it.
Wayne: So I was kind of lurking in a very non creepy dad kind of way. And here's what I saw.
The kids are in the living room and they're not all there because the meeting was called on very short notice, and so there were several that weren't there. But what was happening was one was stealing my Wi-Fi to download music from iTunes. My daughter being Little Miss Bossy Pants was coord-, was choreographing the dance moves, and then the girls would get up and they'd do it together.
One of them would pull out their phone record. It uploaded to YouTube so that the people who weren't at the meeting could see it and- See, I love that. If you're not seeing this on the video, Marisa is nodding like, "Yes, old man, that's how it's done."
Marisa: It makes sense. It's genius.
Wayne: I'm sitting there with my mouth open like they've invented the fire and angered the gods because I know that me and my compatriots would still be sitting there with our calendars trying to coordinate when we were going to all get together and I realized that those who live in who who are digital natives think about technology differently.
And if we're going to change the way we work, if we're going to really create something new out of this hybrid mix, we have to rethink our relationship with technology. We have to rethink what it means to work together, what it means to collaborate and find new ways to do that that aren't simply, let's book a meeting and get on Zoom.
Does that kind of answer your question?
Marisa: Yeah, no, I think it does. And it does actually kind of remind me of some things, you know, while I was growing up and some of the experiences I had too. You were talking earlier about how we're trying almost recreate the office and all that. And it reminded me a little bit of when I was in college.
And so, you know, it wasn't that long ago that I was in college. This is my first major job out of college and the only one I've had. But I did have some online classes. Now for some people, you know, depending on what the class was, they were trying to like recreate the classroom experience and well, you got to be online at this specific time and da-da-da. Like, okay, that's fine.
But some of the best classes for me were the ones that weren't like that at all. They they had all the information, you could read the books, read the text, you know, watch the videos that you needed to do the discussion questions, whatever, but you could do it on your own pace. So, you know, there was one time there was a snow day at like right at the beginning of the semester.
I completed an entire class in a day because they had everything available already. And it was nice not having it try to recreate this classroom experience and you could just go in, learn it at your own pace, do as much or as little as you wanted to at the time. And it wasn't trying to be something that it wasn't.
Wayne: You know, I think that's so important and it's something we try to do to be blameless- shamelessly plug at Remote Leadership Institute and the Kevin Eikenberry Group, is create a new experience for learners because the way that we all learn is so different. Technology enables us to do things, and some of it is really good and some of it is not great, says the grumpy old man.
You know, e-learning, my whole frame around e-learning is I have taken plenty of courses that added value. But back in the day before I got in the training business, I sold cars for a brief, horrible period of my life, and I took the "So you want to be a Chrysler salesperson" training, which was back in the day on laserdisc I mean, I can't even- your eyes are glazing at the technology of laserdisc.
Marisa: I mean, I've heard of laserdisc.
Wayne: It's this giant thing the size of an LP that you put into a player about the size of a Chrysler and you would watch. It was purely video, it was purely one way. And then there was a test that you took by satellite and they would record your answers. And I hold two records at Van Nuys Chrysler, as I think about the effectiveness of this training, one was highest score ever for that dealership on the "So you want to be a Chrysler" salesperson.
Wayne: Yeah, thanks. Second record was lease number of cars ever sold at Chrysler because in terms of compliance, academic knowledge, it was great. They transferred the knowledge to my head. What they couldn't do is when it was 110 degrees in the San Fernando Valley and my Celtic Canadian skin was bursting in the parking lot and somebody said, "Well, this is great. I need to go home and ask my wife."
Did I know enough or did I learn enough to overcome that objection? And so my relationship with technology is both being a child of my generation, but also being a little skeptical about a lot of a lot of things. And I think over the next few weeks, we're going to interview some people who are experts in technology.
And, you know, from time to time, we're going to bring in people who do certain types of tools and technology, and we're going to talk about it. And frankly, I am not wholeheartedly enamored. So those are going to be some interesting conversations. I think what I want to ask you, and this will help folks get to know you, but also I think it's very relevant to the audience for this podcast.
You are literally a millennial. I mean, you know, that's your age group. And I would suspect that you kind of expected at least a semi traditional employment path, including things like going to an office and having a job. And the world hasn't quite worked out that way. Can you tell us a little bit about what you're, from employment on, kind of record with remote work has been?
And then I have another question that I want to follow up with.
Marisa: Absolutely. So just to give some, you know, disclosure for some people. So I'm technically a younger millennial. So I was technically alive when, you know, Google came out, but I'm young enough that I don't remember pre-Google, if that helps it all. But you know, before we get to my exact employment, I do want to talk about my interview process for the Kevin Eikenberry Group because being that that company was already hybrid.
So I met with Kevin. I actually had an interview in the office, but all of my subsequent interviews were all either over the phone or over Zoom. And it was so strange to me because I was interviewing with another company at the same time and I was on campus. I didn't have a car. I was, you know, an hour and a half from Indy.
But the other company that I was working with, they could have picked up the phone and called and talked to me. But instead somebody drove all the way to my campus just to interview me in person, which at the time I was flattered, like "Oh my gosh, you want to come all the way just because I'm in between classes and you want to talk to me, that's great."
But I'm realizing now how ineffective that was when all they could have done was open up Zoom. Let's talk face to face. You can still see me, we can still have a conversation and he wouldn't have had to waste the gas.
Wayne: Well, it's interesting because there's a part of me that says that flattering you was an intentional move.
That human beings have certain needs that slightly met certain social needs. And, you know, we the fact that we can do everything electronically raises the question of whether we should. But go ahead. So once you got hired.
Marisa: Yeah, so once I got hired. So being that I was already down in Indy, my experience was I went into the office every day and I expected that.
Well, okay, I didn't go in the office quite every day. Because everybody else was off at a conference. So the office was actually empty that very first day that I came in. So I learned very quickly this whole idea of, yeah, you're probably going to be in the office every day, but if everybody's traveling and they're off somewhere else, you're not going to sit in the office by yourself.
So I was already kind of used to this idea of as long as I have a laptop and an Internet connection, I can do my job. I don't have to be in the office. Even though I was there, for the most part, every day. But what really changed everything was when I got married. So my husband lived, you know, three hours away-
Wayne: Full disclosure, just, you know, in case anybody thinks your last name is a wild coincidence, indeed, you are actually married to Kevin Eikenberry's son, Parker, correct?
Marisa: Correct. So I'm Kevin's daughter-in-law, and yeah, obviously not planned, but my husband and I were dating at the time that I got the job. So you know, full disclosure. But anyway, so he was working 3 hours away from Indy and his job, he can't go remote. He worked at a news station like he had to be on site.
But when we got married, there was no reason for me to quit my job because if I just need a laptop and an Internet connection, it doesn't matter where I am. So I went from going into the office all the time, every day to I'm moving 3 hours away and I'm now remote all the time. And it was definitely an adjustment for sure.
I know that some people have some of the same experiences that I had, you know, when 2020 happened, just this idea that I'm working in my apartment, I'm, you know, living and working in the same place and trying to find those you know, stops, I guess, or the separation between, you know, here's where I'm working and now I am no longer working and now I am home.
I am a wife. I am, you know, being social and all of that kind of stuff. Thankfully, we had an apartment where I actually had a separate office and shut the door every day. And I know that not everybody is quite that lucky. But, you know, I did have to learn some of those lessons before this pandemic happened.
Wayne: Well, that's probably a good place for us to end today's conversation, because your experience is, of course, what so many people have experienced. It's also interesting that you say 2020, the way we say 9/11.
Wayne: It's become a thing, right? It's become a defining point and it has forever changed the way we work. And so the purpose of this podcast going forward is to try to make sense of that.
If you have enjoyed what you've heard today, and would like to hear more, we are going to have interviews with people who are experts in the space. We are going to take your questions and Marisa's questions. The episodes are going to be alternated. There will be like a little bit of a different style each week. Please, like and subscribe.
We would love you to join us next week for this. Also, if you want the show notes or you want links to anything that we ever talk about, you can find that at longdistanceworklife.com, which is the home page for this podcast. And you can reach either Marisa and I through KevinEikenberry.com or RemoteLeadershipInstitute.com.
Marisa, anything you want to say before we release people into the wild to get on with their workday?
Marisa: If people would love to give us a review, I know that we've only had just this one episode, but that would really help people find this podcast and tell your friends.
Tell them about it. Send them an episode. We'd love to hear your guys's feedback and improve this podcast as we go.
Wayne: So on behalf of Marisa, my name's Wayne Turmel. If you haven't read The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership or Long-Distance Teammate: Stay Engaged and Connected Anywhere, may I humbly suggest that's not a bad place to start? Our goal is to help you keep the weasels at bay. Now go. We release you into the wild you know, and hope we can help you survive your long-distance worklife.