Building Culture and Connection in Remote and Hybrid Teams with James Simmons

May 8, 2023

The Back-Story

He shares the importance of investing in the right people, and using the right approach in hiring and delegation. He shares his secrets to finding the right leader for a team, as well as the decision-making process when it comes to paying senior hires.

As we look deeper into James’ business, we’ll learn more about his typical client and the industries he has succeeded. But we have fun, too – we’ll even hear what James needs in his jam room!

James is a technology-focused business leader with over 15 years of experience building teams, and delivering SaaS platforms in highly-regulated industries. He has a track record of driving product development and launches to Fortune 500 clients and millions of users across multiple markets. James is passionate about taking on big goals, bringing order to chaos, and leading teams to achieve incredible outcomes.

He specializes in SaaS products and web apps in regulated, quality-critical, and high-security industries. He has been successful in aerospace, defense, intelligence, logistics, supply chain, legal services, and elections. James enjoys traveling, skiing, and collecting whiskey when he’s not working.

Show Notes

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In This Episode:
[0:00] Intro
[0:18] Good note: Success in James’ business
[2:07] What didn’t go well, and how did they recover?
[5:00] How did you get more funding?
[6:46] People invest in people
[10:30] What James needs in his jam room
[20:20] James’ hiring and delegation process
[24:03] The secret to hiring a senior person
[27:18] How do you decide how you pay your senior hires?
[29:58] Hiring the right leader for your teams is key
[30:30] Guest Solo: More details about the business
[35:04] Who is their typical client?
[37:35] How to find out more about heyLIME?
[37:53] Outro


Read Transcript

James Simmons: [00:00:00] Are you a work at home rockstar or do you dream of becoming one? Then you found the right podcast. Your host, Tim Lanson, talks with successful work at home rock stars to learn their secrets and help you in your journey. Are you ready to rock?

Tim Melanson: Here’s Tim. Hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Work at Home Rockstar podcast.

Excited for today’s episode. He’s the founder and c e o of hay line. And what they do is they help remote and hybrid teams stay engaged, connected, and create an intentional company with great culture. Very excited to be rocking out today with James Simmons. Hey James, you ready to rock? Hey, Tim.

James Simmons: Absolutely.

Let’s do it.

Tim Melanson: So we always start off here on a good note. So tell me a story of success in your business that we can be inspired by.

James Simmons: Sure. Well, it, it, it started from, from a, a place of, of fear and frustration, right? I think, uh, we had a business that was at a point of, of, um, we, we thought we’d hit on an answer, but we had no cash.

Right? I think a lot of us have probably been there. Yep. And, um, And so my co-founder, who’s [00:01:00] also my brother and I, we, we sat down and, and we’re like, well, you know, how do we, what, what the hell do we do now? Right? I mean, we, we tried fundraising, but we didn’t have the, the, the numbers for it. And, um, And so, you know, keeping that business, we actually went and started another, another business kind of on the side, right?

It was gonna be a side gig, um, you know, doing services work, doing software development. That’s what I do. That’s kind of my background. And, um, and so we started doing outsource software development for other. Tech startups that we’d met along the way. Right. Help them out. You know, basically we would, we would, you know, lend a little bit of our expertise, uh, outsource some of the, the actual work to nearshore and offshore folks and e although that’s not our core business, um, we’ve actually scaled that thing up.

It’s, it’s, uh, so we started this a year ago. It’s got 50 employees. Um, that’s actually what’s paying the bills now. Um, so, so we’ve got the thing that we’re [00:02:00] very passionate about. It’s the startup we’re building. It’s probably what we’ll spend a lot of time today talking about. And this is the thing that I’m, I’m really working on.

But, uh, but along the way, we, you know, necessity breeds invention, right? And we, we spun out this other business that, uh, has actually allowed him to quit his job and focus on what we’re doing full-time and, um, take it from there. So,

Tim Melanson: Wow, that’s awesome. Right on. Well, okay, so now with the good notes, sometimes there’s some things that we don’t go as planned along the way as well.

Yeah. And I’m wondering, like, you know, through that journey, uh, was there some big mistakes, some big things that didn’t go well that you recovered from? And how, how did,

James Simmons: did you recover? Yeah. Uh, you know, I mean, some of it is tied into, to the first, you know, the first part of that story, right. I think we, um, You know, we started this business Hey Line, during the Covid pandemic early in Lockdowns.

And we initially had this idea of building, actually a gaming platform. Uh, it was [00:03:00] games over Zoom. Um, You know, kind of came outta this idea that we were stuck in lockdown. We were sitting on Zoom calls 10 hours a day. Um, and, and so we thought, well, hey, let’s build Cards against Humanity. And it was actually gonna be a fun side project, but let’s build Cards against Humanity.

Um, over Zoom. We built it. It got a lot of initial interest and attention. Um, Enough so that we, we did a friends and family round and then raised an angel round of funding, um, and, and, and kind of started taking off. We hit about 50,000 users pretty quick. Um, spent a lot of money pretty quick, got to where we were spending a lot of money.

I mean, relatively speaking, right? You know, for, for us. And then hit a point where we realized, well, crap, we’re, we’re pretty much outta money and nobody is paying for this thing. What. What the heck do we do now? Um, you know, because we, we’d hired folks, we had bills, we, you know, we’d invested our own money into this thing.

And, um, [00:04:00] you know, it was pretty much at the end. And I, I, I would say that, you know, we, we actually pretty much shut the thing down, um, and, and, and had decided, you know, this was it. And then, you know, I think the, um, As we talked about a little bit in the beginning here, you know, out of that came, um, a pivot into the company we are now.

And, uh, so I would actually say that our first business that the, the predecessor to Hayli, which was a different company, different name, um, essentially did fail. And, uh, and, and we stopped, took a step back, looked at the data, looked at what was working, what was, and what IP did we have. And, uh, and, and we found this, we found that, that the people who were using this platform were teams that wanted to stay connected, that wanted to, you know, we, we found who, who were our users, where, where our product was, the, the need to have, not the want to have.

Um, and then, and then how do we go get more cash flow to give this thing a, you know, to give this thing a try because we’ve raised [00:05:00] money. And we burned through it all. So going and raising more money wasn’t, wasn’t an option right away. Um, and you know, now we’re, we’re. Kind of on round two and round two is looking to be, you know, a much different experience than round one.


Tim Melanson: So can we dig into that a little bit more? So now you already went and got some, some funding and now you’re growing to get more funding. Did you go to the same people? Did you go to different people? Like how, I’m sure that there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that’ll like be in that boat at some point, because as we know, sometimes you don’t really know what you don’t know until you try something.

Yeah. And then you realize that you got something right.

James Simmons: So I, I do think that early, early stage investors have some tolerance for that, right? I mean, they do have some tolerance for the idea that we’re still figuring it out and, and, you know, they are somewhat investing in. You as a person, right? Are you willing to stick through it?

Are you gonna, [00:06:00] and, and that’s, so that’s what we’ve seen. Um, and, and that’s why, you know, when we demonstrated that we were willing to dig deep and keep going, that we were ready to go find other sources or create other sources of cashflow that don’t fund the entire business, but are actually funding. A decent chunk of the business, um, that we were willing, you know, willing and ready to go look at our data, to look at our customers, to talk to our users and come out of it and say, okay, we, we think we’ve got something.

Now, they’re not, they’re not quite ready to go and, and write a huge check, but they’ve been willing to keep things going. Give us a shot and say, okay, you know, if, if, if we can do X, Y, Z. Then let’s talk. And, and that’s really where we’ve been. And I think where we are starting to see the traction to where, um, you know, I’m, I’m hopeful, confident planning that, you know, later this year we’ll be, we’ll be back out and, and, uh, having, having another round of, of conversations [00:07:00] with these folks, hopefully a couple others.

Tim Melanson: Wow, that’s awesome. I love this story. I love this story because I know that I, I know that it’s probably. It was probably quite difficult, like getting it outta your head and going like, oh, I gotta talk to these guys again. Like, but, but you’re right. Are they People invest

James Simmons: in people, right? People invest in people and you know, I, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this game, cuz I’ve, I’ve worked in the startup space for a long time and I’ve advised other startup founders and I’ve been, I’ve been, uh, you know, a cto.

It’s kind of been my, my game up through now, um, in tech companies. But as. You know, the guy or the girl, you know? Right. As, as the founder. The, I think the biggest difference is the mental game. Right? When, when, when it’s your business. Um, of course the business is hard, right? It’s never easy to build a company.

It’s never easy to try and, and, and craft it. But, but yeah, the mental game, I think is the, the most overlooked and, and, and under talked [00:08:00] about thing in all this is just keeping yourself going. Um, you know, finding that energy to say, well, Hmm. You know, that didn’t work and, and that thing that didn’t work might have just been, you know, 10, 12 hour days for 3, 6, 12 months of your life and a big chunk of your own money or, you know, resources or sacrifices.

And it’s like, well, okay, that didn’t work. What are we gonna try now? Yeah. And, and, and then maybe getting in front of people, partners, investors, employees, and saying, okay, that didn’t work. You know, what’s next? Um, with enough energy to convince them to go try it again. And it’s like, man, this is, this is rough.


Tim Melanson: yeah, yeah. And there, and there’s like, the mental game is like, it, there’s opposites too. Like, it’s like rollercoaster where sometimes you’re super overconfident cuz you’re really close to it and sometimes you’re really hard on yourself cuz you’re too close to it. Right. So it’s like, there’s no middle, middle ground there where you need to be.


James Simmons: There’s no middle ground. There’s no middle ground. And I, I [00:09:00] I, I do feel like. You know, if there’s one area where I, I constantly will look at myself and say, man, do have, I got what it takes for this? It’s like, am I crazy enough? You know? And then maybe I am now, maybe I’ve been doing it long enough to say I am, but it’s like, you know, for a long time I, I worked for these, these different, you know, CEOs and founders and every one of them has something going on, right?

There’s some quirk of personality. Either they’re either, they’re just. They’re kind of crazy or they’ve got a massive ego, or they work nonstop or something. But there’s, there’s always something going on and I, I, I’ve kind of come to realize it’s that, it’s that, you know, there has to be that little bit of insanity to just be, be willing to keep going at it.

Um, Now, I don’t think that necessarily means that you have to kill yourself. It doesn’t mean that you have to be an insanely hard, you know, worker. You can build a perfectly good business not doing that. But, but you, you, [00:10:00] you have to have a certain willingness to roll with the punches and, um, and, and just thrive on, on that kind of, I don’t know, craziness and uncertainty.

Bet. Yeah,

Tim Melanson: absolutely. Well, I mean, if I can make an analogy with, even with, even with music, with writing songs, like who’s got the, like really my message is worth telling everybody in the world about, and that you have to listen to me say my message. Like you have to have a bit of narcissism in order to be even do that.

Right. And, and a business is a creation too. You’re literally creating something and telling the world. You need this,

James Simmons: right? Yeah. You don’t know it yet, but you need this thing. Yep. And you will pay me for it. Right.

Tim Melanson: And they don’t at first, but eventually. Yeah. Yeah. Right on. That’s awesome. Well, I love that conversation.

That’s really cool. So now you’ve been working from home for a little while, so tell me about your jam room.

James Simmons: Yeah, so, um, so I’m in a new one right now, actually. We just moved. Um, [00:11:00] so I’m, I’m, I’m in the, I’m in the thick of getting it set up and uh, and I’m a little bit obsessive about setting it up, right? Um, you know, cause I’m, I’m a huge believer, like, you’ve gotta have your space, right?

You, you’ve, you’ve gotta have a space set up where you can work, where you can be creative, where you can just think. So, um, I don’t know, man, what do you wanna. What do you wanna know? Like what do you, what do you wanna get into here? I, well, you

Tim Melanson: say, you say set it up, right? What does that, what does that mean?

What, what are the

James Simmons: components that need to be there? Yeah, so, so for me, one of the, one of the most important is actually the lighting. Um, You know, I, I, I will spend in this room I’m in now, I’m gonna be spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day, maybe in here. Um, hopefully not, not too often, but sometimes. And so, um, so I’ve tricked out all the lighting, right?

So everything in here is, is controlled, it’s on timers, it’s voice controlled, all that stuff. [00:12:00] Um, I, I do tend to get, I’ll get headaches if the lighting isn’t right. So, um, so, so everything, I mean, these, these, these shutters behind me will actually like, open and close based on how much sunlight’s coming in.

The monitors are all like low blue light, the lights will adjust. Um, but for me, I, I used to get migraines like five, five to, you know, eight days a month. And now that’s like once every two or three months. And so, so that was a big difference. Um, outside of that is just making sure that, that the tech is all set up and working right.

That, that, um, No, it’s weird. We had, apparently we had some little glitch when you and I connected today, but for the most part it’s, I click a button and I’m on a Zoom teams Google Meet call, like whatever it is I need to be on. And it works. And the video is always good and the audio is, you know, gonna be good and working.

Um, [00:13:00] so that is set up right. Uh, I, I have, um, I have different earbuds that are, that, you know, if I need to be on earbuds, you know, not on, not on a, a speakerphone that, that are paired to my phone versus my computer. So I’m never fighting with like, which device is paired. Oh yeah, yeah. You know, and it’s, it, it’s like, it’s stupid, but it’s, you know, it’s like all the minutes of the day that you spend fighting with your environment or any friction that it causes adds up.

And, and so, um, and so to me it’s, it’s, it’s. You know, making sure that it’s, it’s, it’s healthy, um, it’s functional. And then after that, that it just, is it, I dunno that you just feel creative, right? That it’s, it’s set up right. Um, I, I think that, uh, You know, I had, I, I got into a little bit of an argument with a, with a friend of mine who, who’s, you know, he’s working from home and just, and, and it’s not that he doesn’t have space, right?

I mean, at the end of the day, you can, you know, you have the space you [00:14:00] have, so you gotta make it work, but just had set up like a desk in a corner. And again, it’d be one thing if like, if that’s, if that’s all the space you have available, that’s all you. But, but it wasn’t that He was just like, ah, whatever.

It doesn’t matter. Like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna have a background image on, no one’s ever gonna see. I have, you know, you know, I have good headphones. So the noise cancellation is great and it just doesn’t matter. Like, no, man, I, I, I, I promise you, I don’t know how to quantify it, but you are, you’re losing productivity every hour of your day.

And. You know, I mean, this is what we do, right? Like, like I’m in, I’m sitting in this chair talking to people on this setup, probably six, seven hours outta my day. I’m talking to people. And then another, you know, 4, 5, 6, like sitting here working. I mean, I’m here more than I’m in my bed, like, yeah.

Tim Melanson: And you know what, you know what’s really sad about that is that, uh, your friend probably won’t realize it until he [00:15:00] changes it and then he’ll go, oh man, why did I not do that earlier?

You know,

James Simmons: it’s true. But, but, um, It’s true. All this stuff mattered. My uh uh, actually I haven’t set it up yet cuz again, cause we just moved, but, but for Christmas, my wife got, um, like I’m all into like smart home stuff and I just recently, like I I, for a long time I, I was like, that that stuff is all kind of dumb.

And, and, and uh, what got me into it was we had a baby. And so being able to tell. Like to be able to tell the house, you know, turn on noise machines, um, you know, turn on noise machines, like set lights to dim or be able to hit switches and, and lights would come on, like a very dim color to not wake the baby.

Like all that kinda stuff made a difference. But, um, she actually, uh, she, she got like a, like a scent diffuser. That, um, would actually like, tie into the [00:16:00] whole smart system. Wow. Um, and, and release like different scents based on all that. And I’m like, okay, why not? Like give that a try too and see if, uh, you know, see if you can get all five senses going, you know, and, and, uh, and, and tie, tie it all together.

Cause I’ve, I, I feel like over the last year, And, and this is actually tied into the work we’re doing actually. So it’s, it’s not, it’s not coincidental. Um, when I step back and think about it, the, the research we’ve been doing into, to, you know, remote work productivity, that, that the mental health piece really does, does play into it that, you know, wellness and focus and, you know, meditation and again, all things where I used to a couple years ago would us an ads bs.

Like, it doesn’t matter. And, and more and more I’m finding like if, if I can take a couple minutes to. Center myself and find focus and peace and all that, and like my next two or three hours are gonna be way more productive. Yep.

Tim Melanson: Yeah, I’ve noticed the [00:17:00] same thing too. And it, it is funny how you resist it for so long.

I don’t even understand why I’ve resisted it for so long. But after a while you start to realize that, yeah, this

James Simmons: things do work. You know? Yeah. Like, it, it’s, it’s weird, right? Like I think we all have a little bit of that. I don’t know what it is. Like, it’s just, I don’t know if we all either think it’s BS

Tim Melanson: or it’s, it’s gotta be programming is my guess.

You know, you see on TV that they’re all the kooky people that, you know, nothing ever works, but it works.

James Simmons: It really does. And, and and you don’t need to go overboard though. Maybe if you did, it would work even better. I don’t know. I mean, but, but I, I found, and, and, and, you know, have, have worked on things.

It’s like, it’s, it truly is. You know, you take. Even something like this, I mean, you know, like what we’re doing now, you know, you, you take two minutes before it to just pause and think or pause and actually clear your head and it makes a big difference. It really does. Yeah. It. And, and it, and it’s not, and it’s not that big [00:18:00] of an investment.

So it’s, I, yeah, if there’s one thing I would share with folks, it’s, it’s, uh, you know, tear down any barrier you have to, that sort of thing. Cause, cause it does, it does give you more time in the day. It’s one of the few things. It can give you more time in the day. Yeah.

Tim Melanson: Um, and I mean, I’ve now, uh, I think I’ve interviewed probably around 250 people so far on this podcast since I started it, and I, I’ve, it’s an overwhelming majority of people that are in business for themselves that take time for themselves to do some sort of meditation practice.

It’s amazing.

James Simmons: Hi, it’s Mark Ney from Natural Born Coaches, and I want to give two very big thumbs up to Tim Lanson and his creative. Crew agency. I have been using them for a long time and I am 100% happy. They get the job done right. They’re fast and they let me focus on my business. I don’t have to worry about anything.

So again, I want to give them two very big thumbs up. I have no problem [00:19:00] recommending them. I don’t give testimonials for everyone because my name is attached to it, but I gladly do so for Tim and the Creative Crew Agency. So use them. You won’t regret it and good luck.

Tim Melanson: Uh, and and that can’t be a coincidence, right?


James Simmons: it can’t. It can’t. I think it’s, I’m, I’m, I’m all for it. And I appreciate that, that that’s, that’s great to hear. That’s great to, to get kind of further validation that, that this stuff, you know, it matters, right? And it is, it is that, it is that, um, part of it is when we’re working, when we’re working kind of for ourselves, with ourselves, You know, there is no one telling you what you’re doing is right.

There’s no one right, there’s no one, there’s no one saying you’re on the right course. You know, I don’t have my, I, I don’t have like my manager one-on-one every week. With someone who’s saying, you know, do this, do this, and better yourself by doing that. And so, um, a lot of time it is like you, you need to spend time.

One, it’s great to get validation from, from, from other peers who are doing the same kind of work, but [00:20:00] also like the person you need to check in with is yourself, right? Like, that is your boss. So, Spend time talking to ’em.

Tim Melanson: Yeah, you’ve gotta keep your energy up. I mean, we talked about that a little bit earlier.

There’s a lot of reasons why, uh, you know, when when you’re working with your head down, someone gives you a list of things to do, you just gotta get it done. But when you’re working for yourself, you are creating that list and you know, you’ve gotta be in the right energy all the time in order to be able to do that.

And if you’re not, then you’ve gotta sort of recognize that and give yourself a little bit of permission to. Go take a break, right? Until you are,

James Simmons: yep, yep, for sure. Right on.

Tim Melanson: So now let’s talk a little bit about the band. So now, I mean, you’ve been in business for a while now. So tell me a little bit about your delegation process.

Like who, who do you look for and how and what do you

James Simmons: delegate? I. I mean, as much as I can to be honest, that that’s, that’s the easy answer. Um, you know, now within Hayli, I mean my, my brother Justin’s my co-founder, so he and I share a lot of the work. Um, [00:21:00] he’s really responsible for everything around building the product.

He’s our cto, I’m, I’m around kind of defining it and selling it. So that’s, that’s how we break apart the work within our company. But in terms of, you know, kind of a step back from that, Just with this business and, and, and other businesses that I’ve, I’ve, I’ve kind of worked on and built up over the last several years, I’ve just become such a huge believer in, in outsource anything and everything you can.

So, um, I, I, I do work. Um, Outside of this, and again, a lot of paying the bills while, while getting this thing off the ground as a, as a startup advisor, um, you know, fractional executive kind of have been doing that for a while now. And with that, I, I’ve come to believe quite a bit in, in the idea that you really can get a lot of value out of people with just a few hours of, of their expertise.

Um, again, I sell that, so, so of course I, I would [00:22:00] hope I believe in it, but, um, So we’ve, you know, we’ve, we’ve adopted that mindset in a lot of what we do where I want to go and get, you know, a fractional C M O that I’m getting for a couple hours a week. And then I’ll go hire, kind of either hire or contract a full-time marketing, you know, analyst, right?

So, so, um, you know, get, rather than, and, and, and it’s all kind of depends on your business and what you can afford and all that. But so, so I’m making up numbers here, but, but. I, I’ve now adopted a mindset where if I’ve got, if I’ve got a $75,000 budget for a position, I would rather hire a junior kind of entry level, you know, but, but hardworking type person and pay them 40 grand, and then take the other 35 grand.

And go find the best consultant I can and get them for a couple hours a week [00:23:00] and pay them, you know, three grand a month to get three hours a week for them to tell that person what to do. And I’ve found that that model has been really successful because, because for the really hard questions, the places where you really need expertise, you really just need to break through a wall or you really need like that one introduction or, or you, you know, it’s like you, you get the benefits of that, but then you also have just a hard worker who’s given you, you know, 40 hours a week churning out stuff.

Um, Instead of, you know, and I’m not, I’m not trying to knock any mid-career folks by any stretch, but instead of kind of a mid-career person who, you know, is, is really, really stretching sometimes to try and figure out, you know, this esoteric piece of. How, you know, Google optimization works, or how do you get a meeting with this one person somewhere, or how to, you know, solve this problem and [00:24:00] they’re spending a ton of time doing this hard thing, but then they’re also spending a lot of time doing work that is really easy for ’em.

Right? And so, so again, that’s, that’s kind of one of the tricks that I’ve found that’s been a real force multiplier for us. Um,

Tim Melanson: Wow. Absolutely brilliant. Like really, really, like, I’m so glad you mentioned that, that that is part of like, actually even my business model, like, uh, myself and my wife are we, we build websites and do marketing as well.

We both got 20 plus years of experience, and that’s how we pitch it, is we’re like, listen, you can go and hire somebody who’s a mid-level or a junior. And they’re gonna struggle to find time and to, to, and to find solutions. Or we can come on board and teach your team what to do. Like we can, we can literally shortcut that whole thing, work for you for, you know, a, a, a fraction of the amount of time.

Cuz that, that’s just it, right? I mean, uh, like when you’re, when you’re looking to hire somebody, if you are. Uh, you always want the best person, [00:25:00] but you probably can’t afford them full-time. Nope. You know, so, uh, like a lot of people will just give up on that and just go, well, you know, I’m just gonna struggle away.

Yeah. And we found that like some of our friends that have businesses that just are still struggling away with their junior person, trying to get them to the point where they’re, where, where they could have just hired somebody on a part-time basis and now, The way that things work with work at home jobs and all that stuff.

Like you can do that. You don’t have to hire a full-time senior person. You can hire

James Simmons: a part-time one. And, and for a lot of smaller businesses, it’s like you don’t need that, that senior person full-time. Right. You don’t need, you don’t need their expertise full-time. And, and honestly, you probably don’t have enough challenging work to keep them engaged full-time.

Like even if you, even if you found a way to afford ’em, they’re probably born. And, and, and, and it’s questionable whether or not you could retain them. Unless, you know, you gave them a huge percentage of your company and, you know, killed yourself to afford ’em. And then, you know, for, for 35 [00:26:00] hours out of the week, you’re overpaying for the work you’re getting.

Cuz they’re, they’re filling out a spreadsheet or they’re sh away in your crm or they’re writing low level software. I mean, whatever it is, whatever it is that that person does, whatever the thing is. You’re, you know, they’re, they’re underutilized and Oh, yeah. Yeah, man, I think that’s such a, a force multiplier.

The other place, you know, for anyone who’s going down the fundraising route, that’s also a game changer for fundraising because when you can say, this person is my, you know, this is who I’ve got as my head of marketing. Oh,

Tim Melanson: love it. Wow.

James Simmons: Right. Yeah. This is who’s, this is who? This is who my, my software arch.

This is the, these are the creds of my software architect or my sales guy, or in my case. And part of, you know, he is also kind of a good friend of mine who worked together for, but you know, you know, my CFO, F o, has done multiple. Eight and nine figure exits and has built these companies from the ground up.

And it’s a very true statement. And they, and he’ll, and he’s often [00:27:00] on the call when I’m raising funds, but you know, he’s only, he’s spending two hours a week with us. Wow. Brilliant. Right? I mean, yeah, so it, you know, it really kinda, it lets you, and, and, and, but, but then with that, I mean, you know, we’ve got, we’re represented by one of the best startup law firms because he knows all the partners over there.

Mm-hmm. And similarly, because he knows them, they said, yeah, you know, we’re basically gonna charge you one hour of our time, and then everything else is done by the paralegal. I mean, it’s like you, you start benefiting from their networks and it all kind of comes together in a really cool

Tim Melanson: way. I love it. I love it.

And, and it’s just a matter of really, um, getting through your own resistance to that, because, like you say, a lot of the things that you’re, that this person’s gonna be spending time on, do no worry. Sorry. A lot of the benefits that you get from this person is just about. Who they are and what they know.

And who they know. And that’s not an hourly thing. You know, you’re not gonna be like, you know, how many hours did you spend? This is just it. It’s just the person on your payroll that you just like, actually [00:28:00] that, that’s another question. How do you decide how much to pay

James Simmons: them? We just talk about it. I mean, most of them for, for, you know, and most of these folks, it’s, it’s, you know, they have some consulting rate, which is, which is typically, um, it’s, it’s typically the kind of thing where they’re on a retainer.

And if I actually boiled it down to ours, I would, y you know, I’d say, oh crap, that’s, that’s, that’s more than I can afford. But, but I know that, you know, if, if, if we did a funding round next week and I needed to go and talk to Bill and I, and you know, and we need to do a ton of work to get diligence ready and all that, that he’s not gonna go and send me a bill.

Um, you know, for 50 grand it would be, no, we get this taken care of and, and, and they’ve all got a little bit of equity in the company and all that. So we’ve, we’ve sort of got this fractional executive concept down. Um, right. So, and, and so it’s sort of, you gotta figure out how to scale it, right? I mean, if it’s truly sort of an executive person, then.

[00:29:00] Then they’re on a retainer, you know, pay ’em a couple grand a month. Um, give ’em a small, a small piece of equity so that they’re really motivated for the, the big stuff. Um, if it’s, if it’s more of just a true expert, um, you know, then, then it’s just, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re charging, they’re charging anywhere from 150 to 200 to 300 bucks an hour.

Yeah. But I’m only needing them for a few hours here or there. Love it.

Tim Melanson: Love it. Going through the whole thing right now.

James Simmons: That’s awesome. Yeah, no. So, but do that, but then, and then everything else, it’s like, it’s truly, you know, can, can we be paying, you know, $10 an hour for development work, um, overseas because, but, but it’s, but it’s well architected.

Um, it’s designed right. You know, all that stuff. Right. And, and that’s, that’s been our model and that’s where, you know, our blended rate for work is, is probably still lower than, than Well, it’s, and I know this, I mean, I, I know the development side cuz that’s what I’ve done, software [00:30:00] development and, and I know that on the whole, we’re spending a lot less for software development than most companies would.

Um, but, you know, I, I feel like the quality of the work we’re getting is, is, is, um, you know, competitive to anything. Well, and

Tim Melanson: then that, that speaks really to the leaders in those roles as well. Like you can, you can hire out cheaper labor if the right leader’s in place. Yeah. Because the leader knows what to look for.

They know. They, they, they just know what, whether they’re getting ripped off or not. Yeah. You

James Simmons: don’t, yeah. Their BS meter is, is, is finally tuned. Right?

Tim Melanson: Yep. Yep. Exactly. So, so that’s the, that’s another big benefit is now you can, if you have the right leaders in place, I mean, your laborers are, you can, you can hire just to vote anybody.

They’ll be able to lead anybody really. Yep. Wow. That’s awesome. Okay, it’s time for your guest solo. So I, I wanna know more about your business, but tell me about Yeah. Well,

James Simmons: so, so, you know, Hayli, Hayli is a platform for. Remote teams to stay connected and have fun. So the idea behind it, and again, it started [00:31:00] out its life as, uh, in a, in a prior iteration as a gaming platform, it, it still has a lot to do with games and gamification, but it’s not all about that anymore.

Um, but the, the whole idea is if you really peel back the idea, it’s that we build relationships through a series of, you know, casual social interactions. Um, right. You, you have to have emotional. Engagement with people to build a relationship. If you just get on a Zoom call, have an agenda, do your agenda and get off, you don’t have a relationship with that person.

You, you actually have to spark emotions. Um, it doesn’t actually matter. Turns out whether that’s a positive or a negative emotion, either one will build a relationship. Um, it’s not great if they’re all negative, right? Like, so we don’t, yeah, we, we’ve chosen not to explore that, that side of things. Um, and so, You know, the, that’s sort of the science, the, the practical nature of it is, hey, lime is a platform that you get onto, um, either the first few minutes of a regular call and you do [00:32:00] a little activity together.

It can be a little game, it can be a group stretch, it can be a group breathing exercise or a two minute meditation to help focus the call. You’re. You’re about to do, um, you can also get into a longer session. So you’re saying we’re just focusing on spending time together, getting to know each other and do like a 30 minute kind of dedicated thing where it’s not just part of another meeting, but it is the meeting.

And for those, we’ve got, um, you know, get to know each other. Team building activities. We’ve got all your kind of popular party games, essentially, you know, um, Um, riffs on Cards Against Humanity, taboo Heads Up, UNO, all that. Um, and then kind of the full blown is we can host full virtual happy hours, um, cooking competitions, musical performances, comedy magic shows, all that.

And, and it, it all kind of wraps it together in a platform. That lets you measure what you’re doing. So, um, it, it looks at who’s participating, who’s not participating. It’s like, oh, [00:33:00] Tim, you know, Tim has not participated in the last three months. What’s going on? You know? Is is, is Tim? Is Tim maybe a flight risk is, are you just not doing things for Tim?

Um, you know, or, or James only participates when you do things focused on, you know, you know, wellness and focus and he absolutely seems to hate competition. So, you know, if, if, if you wanna get James to be involved, have a better mix, you know, maybe, maybe he’s just not competitive by nature. So mix the type of thing.

So it’s really around, you know, trying, trying to be intentional. About creating those moments, and then, and then we don’t build the friendships. The idea is that you create the moments and then the, the relationships and the friendships and the culture kind of grow out of that. So we help plant the seeds and then see what grows.


Tim Melanson: James, this is a really great idea. Well done.

James Simmons: Yeah. Yeah. I’d like to try it myself, actually. [00:34:00] Absolutely. No, let’s do it sometime. Mike. Let, let’s just, uh, get on and, uh, we’ll invite you to one of, we have open kind of open nights where we just hang out. Have a little fun.

Tim Melanson: Okay, well, can, can anybody join on any of this?

Can we, can we share that? With the audience.

James Simmons: Absolutely. So, so, you know, hay and, um, and there is a link on there to join up and, and, and join kind of our, our, our come check it out. There’s also free trials, um, in that. And then one of the things that I would definitely invite folks onto is if you go in there, we, we offer, um, you know, businesses of any size, it does not matter.

We, we actually feel like, um, you know, you, you can do this if you’re working with people and, and it’s, it’s. Any, any group, any size, number of people, if you’re working with people, um, this can help. It can be a team of employees, it can be a team of subcontractors that you work with, right? You probably don’t know them, but they’re crucial to your businesses success.

It can be with customers. Um, but we are, you know, we, we have a program, [00:35:00] um, that we actually take you through that’s a 90 day. Onboarding pilot, um, that, that helps kind of assess where are you today and then kind of walks you through, like what do you do to start building friendships and relationships, um, with the people that you’re working with and connecting with online every day.

Wow. So,

Tim Melanson: so who would like, uh, you say it’s for, for just about anybody. Like what, what is the typical client that you’re looking for?

James Simmons: So the typical client is someone who’s managing a small team of people. So, and again, that can be, that can be, you know, uh, that can be a, a team lead at Amazon who’s coming in, or that can be a small business, you know, owner who’s saying, I’ve got this team of people that, you know, I maybe got one or two employees and a couple other contractors.

None of us have ever met each other in person. Yeah. Um, we barely know each other. One of the things I hear a lot from people is that, um, they feel like, like [00:36:00] their relationships, their work relationships are really transactional now. Like, I don’t actually know this person. I just feel like I’m trading time for money.

And, and, and I don’t know, I don’t feel or know whether they’re actually, they care at all about the success of my project, my business, the team. Um, and, and we’re sort of saying, can we, can we tackle that? Right? I mean, if you care about the person. You care about the team, right? I mean, that’s sort of, kind of a lot of research, right?

What, what’s, I mean, one, one of the most commonly kinda cited ones is they go, they, they, someone went back and, and interviewed Medal of Honor winners or recipients, not winners, recipients, um, throughout history. And, and you know, it’s, it’s, it’s rarely about, it’s rarely about, you know, country and honor and all that.

It’s, it’s about your fellow soldier, right? It’s if you have the relationship with the person you’re working with. You are going to work harder. You’re gonna give it more. Um, and you know, while [00:37:00] most of us are not out on a battlefield every day, it sometimes feels like it. Um, and, and so how do we build those relationships with the people that, that we’re working with every day?

Tim Melanson: Yeah. Amazing. Amazing. And you know what I mean? I’ve been part of companies before. I was self-employed, uh, big companies and they. They all have team building events. Like, it’s, it’s just one of those things. And then since I’ve been self-employed, it’s, it’s so funny that that didn’t really translate to the teams that I’m working with.

And I, I’m gonna make a change in that because Good. Well, cause it is one of those things where you don’t, you don’t think of it, but, but you guys have figured out a situation where you can work, where you can do team building events with, uh, people that are remote to you, which is, I, I’ve never heard of that before.

You know, normally you think, oh, well we have to go out for, you know, happy hour and, you know, Talk to each other, but this is a, this is a fantastic idea. Well done. I love it. We’ll bring

James Simmons: the happy hour to you. Yep. And so how do we find out again, more about this? Yeah, so it’s or um, hey Lime team on all the social, all the [00:38:00] different social, uh, channels.

Tim Melanson: Love it. Well, thank you so much for rocking out with me today, James. This has been a lot of fun.

James Simmons: Absolutely, man. Thank you. It’s been great.

Tim Melanson: Right on to the listeners. Make sure you subscribe right in comment. We’ll see you next time with a Work at Home Rockstar podcast.

James Simmons: Thanks for listening. To learn how you can become a work at home rockstar or become a better one, head on over to today.

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