Stella Garber's flipped communication pyramid

Stella Garber's flipped communication pyramid

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Stella Garber, Co-Founder and CEO of Hoop, shares her flipped communication strategy.

If you're stuck in marketing meetings and have less time to do creative work, Stella Garber—Co-Founder of Hoop and former Head of Marketing at Trello—suggests you "flip your communication pyramid."

Today, Stella shares how your marketing team can become more productive and spend less time in meetings.

In episode 56 of the Marketing Powerups Show, you'll learn:

  • How Stella spurred creativity and collaboration with Trello's remote marketing team.
  • How marketers can excel at remote async communication.
  • Stella's transition from Head of Marketing at Trello/Atlassian to starting Hoop.
  • A career powerup that has accelerated Stella's career

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcast and Spotify now, or watch it on YouTube.

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⭐️ Flipped communication pyramid

Remote work has become increasingly popular and even more relevant in the wake of the pandemic. As companies embrace remote work as a long-term strategy, it's crucial to optimize productivity and collaboration in this new work environment. Stella Hoop, CEO of Hoop and former Head of Marketing at Trello, shares her tips to nurturing creative and collaboration remotely by flipping your communication pyramid.

1. Establish clear remote work expectations.

To kickstart your remote work journey, it is important to establish clear remote work practices and expectations. This involves:

  • Defining available times and response times: Clearly communicate the specific hours during which team members should be available for synchronous communication.
  • Documenting team practices: Create a working document that outlines remote work practices, including guidelines for communication tools, deadlines, and availability expectations. This document will ensure alignment among team members and provide a reference point for everyone.
  • Setting guidelines for career advancement: Clearly define what success looks like for each team member and provide guidelines for career advancement in a remote work environment.

2. Emphasize and over-communicate.

When working remotely, effective communication is key. Follow these practices to streamline communication and ensure everyone is on the same page:

  • Over-communicate when necessary: In the absence of in-person interactions, it's important to share information proactively and provide regular updates. Keep team members informed about project progress, challenges, and any other pertinent information.
  • Document everything: To ensure easy access to information and avoid the need for constant interruptions, document everything in a centralized location. Opt for tools like Trello, which enable you to create boards to manage tasks, collaborate with team members, and track progress.

3. Foster autonomy and outcome-oriented work.

Remote work thrives on autonomy and outcome-oriented work cultures. Implement the following strategies to promote autonomy and productivity:

  • Create a sense of organization and consistency: Develop structured systems, routines, and rituals that provide a sense of organization and consistency for your remote team.
  • Provide uninterrupted, focused work time: Deep work and creativity require uninterrupted focus. Encourage team members to block off time for focused work and minimize interruptions from synchronous communication.
  • Define clear criteria for success and accountability: Clearly establish what success looks like for each team member, and hold everyone accountable to their goals and outcomes. This provides a sense of structure and supports productivity in an asynchronous work environment.

4. Prioritize asynchronous communication.

Traditional office communication often heavily relies on synchronous interaction. To optimize remote work, flip the communication pyramid to prioritize asynchronous communication. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Reduce synchronous communication: Meetings and real-time chatting should constitute a smaller percentage of your day. Minimize unnecessary collaboration to avoid meeting overload.
  • Default to asynchronous communication: Make asynchronous communication, such as documentation, emails, and collaboration tools, the default mode of communication. This allows for more focused work and reduces interruptions in team members' schedules.
  • Focus on deep work and creativity: Flipping the communication pyramid provides team members with uninterrupted time for deep work and creativity, fostering a more productive and innovative work environment.

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    🎉 About Stella Garber

    Stella Garber is the co-founder and CEO of Hoop, a software company focused on helping teams collaborate effectively in distributed work environments. She was previously the first marketing hire and eventually Head of Marketing at Trello, where she helped grow the company from 5 to over 100 employees prior to its acquisition by Atlassian. Stella is a passionate advocate for asynchronous communication and remote work, drawing on her experience scaling high-performing distributed teams at Trello and Atlassian.

    🕰️ Timestamps and transcript

    • [00:00:00] How to Flip Your Communication Pyramid
    • [00:00:47] Why remote work increases productivity
    • [00:04:09] The Best Way to Be Creative
    • [00:05:47] Trello's Remote Work Influence in Atlassian
    • [00:09:08] Lessons learned from managing a remote marketing team
    • [00:14:33] Prioritizing Asynchronous Communication for Creatives
    • [00:23:33] Implementing a 4-Day Work Week
    • [00:29:32] Solving the Problem of Endless Chats
    • [00:33:43] Career Power Ups: Investing in Relationships and Working with Integrity
    • [00:35:49] Unlocking Your Career Power Ups with Stella Garber

    Episode transcript

    [00:00:00] How to Flip Your Communication Pyramid for More Productive Marketing Meetings

    [00:00:00] Ramli John: If you're stuck in marketing meetings and have less time to do creative work, Stella Garber, cofounder of Hoop and former head of marketing at Trello, suggests you flip your communication pyramid.
    [00:00:08] Ramli John: Today, Stella shares how your marketing team can become more productive and spend less time in meetings.
    [00:00:14] Ramli John: This year, in episode 56 of the marketing Powerup show, you learn, first of all, how Stella spurred creativity and collaboration with Trello's remote marketing team.
    [00:00:22] Ramli John: Second, how marketers can excel at remote async Communication.
    [00:00:25] Ramli John: Third, how Stella's transition from head of marketing at Trello Atlassian to starting Hoop number four, a career power that has accelerated Stella's career.
    [00:00:34] Ramli John: Before we get started, I create a free power up cheat sheet that you can now and apply Stella Garber's flip communication strategy.
    [00:00:41] Ramli John: Get it now, marketing, or find the link in the show notes and description are you ready?
    [00:00:46] Ramli John: Let's go.

    [00:00:47] Why remote work increases productivity

    [00:00:47] Ramli John: Marketing powerups.
    [00:00:50] Ramli John: Ready.
    [00:00:52] Ramli John: Go.
    [00:00:55] Ramli John: Here's your host, Ramli John well, Stella, thank you so much for joining us here at marketing Power.
    [00:01:02] Ramli John: I'm excited to be talking about async work, particularly for remote marketing teams and remote teams in general.
    [00:01:09] Ramli John: I know you've been working.
    [00:01:10] Ramli John: We were just chatting before we started recording around.
    [00:01:12] Ramli John: You've been working remotely for many years now at Trello Atlassian and now at your company, Hoop.
    [00:01:19] Ramli John: You wrote this really interesting article, actually, in Openview.
    [00:01:22] Ramli John: This is a while back, 2019, you wrote a blog, why remote work increases productivity.
    [00:01:29] Ramli John: And I love that because it's like a goose against the grain of like, oh, remote work will make people feel lazy.
    [00:01:36] Ramli John: And that's a lot of things that managers would say, particularly in more traditional dinosaur organizations.
    [00:01:45] Ramli John: I'm curious why that is your approach there around why remote work can actually increase productivity.
    [00:01:53] Stella Garber: Well, it's not just me anymore, and I was looking at that post, it was in 2019, and there had been some studies that productivity did increase during times when people were remote.
    [00:02:07] Stella Garber: And then obviously the pandemic happened, and there was way more data to show that.
    [00:02:14] Stella Garber: Even the crazy thing about it is that all of the data that was recorded during the pandemic about people having to work from home, they were more productive even in an environment where their kids were at home.
    [00:02:27] Stella Garber: And there was all this existential angst about being sick and not being able to leave the house.
    [00:02:34] Stella Garber: So I think it just goes to show you that remote work can be, when set up in a way that promotes autonomy and outcomes, it can be much more productive.
    [00:02:49] Stella Garber: I think the challenge is that people, it's a different style of working, and it's a different style of management, and so you can't just copy and paste what worked in an office.
    [00:03:01] Stella Garber: Was talking to someone a few weeks ago who used this term managing by walking around or something like that, where managers walk around.
    [00:03:12] Stella Garber: I had never heard it, and it sounded to me kind of crazy, but apparently that's what people do in an office.
    [00:03:21] Stella Garber: And I think that there's so much research and data about what people, individuals, and teams need to be the most productive, and a lot of it goes against the way that we've traditionally worked, and I can give lots of examples.
    [00:03:38] Stella Garber: Probably the most controversial example is the idea of brainstorming in a group setting that trying to get best results.
    [00:03:48] Stella Garber: You should never brainstorm in a group.
    [00:03:50] Stella Garber: You should brainstorm individually and then come together and discuss as a group.
    [00:03:55] Stella Garber: And nobody does that, even though there's been multiple studies shown that that's the best way to be creative.

    [00:04:09] The Best Way to Be Creative

    [00:04:09] Ramli John: What is the best way to be creative?
    [00:04:10] Ramli John: I'm curious.
    [00:04:12] Ramli John: Is it more like async?
    [00:04:15] Ramli John: We're getting into this, but what is the best way to remain creative?
    [00:04:18] Ramli John: I guess.
    [00:04:19] Stella Garber: Well, I think it's a mix.
    [00:04:21] Stella Garber: And again, I'm relying on a lot of research, but it shows that if you give people the opportunity to think by themselves before coming together as a group, that's where you get the most creative ideation, because people are not influenced.
    [00:04:40] Stella Garber: There's all of these biases that come into play when people are together.
    [00:04:45] Stella Garber: For example, the fact that certain people may not feel comfortable speaking up.
    [00:04:54] Stella Garber: People may not feel comfortable speaking up in front of their boss.
    [00:04:58] Stella Garber: The loudest voice is not always the most creative.
    [00:05:01] Stella Garber: Sometimes people benefit from writing things down versus speaking.
    [00:05:05] Stella Garber: And so the best way to be creative is to give someone a prompt outside of, let's say, a meeting or a creative session, have them come up with ideas, and then they come together.
    [00:05:19] Stella Garber: And when you're in a group, there's this thing called burstiness that happens, which is that sort of back and forth magic of sharing ideas and building on each other ideas.
    [00:05:29] Stella Garber: And so that's where you can have the benefit of being in a group.
    [00:05:35] Stella Garber: But it's a combination of both individual thinking and discussing as a group that works that produces the most sort of creative outcomes.

    [00:05:47] Trello's Remote Work Influence in Atlassian

    [00:05:47] Ramli John: Is that what you saw?
    [00:05:49] Ramli John: I know for people who don't know, you're the first marketing hire at Trello Grew, that team got acquired by Atlassian.
    [00:05:55] Ramli John: Is that what you did with your team?
    [00:05:57] Ramli John: As you were Trello?
    [00:05:59] Ramli John: Correct me if I'm wrong.
    [00:05:59] Ramli John: Trello and Alassian were remote first, even before the pandemic, which is amazing because you have all of these things that you wanted to share to the world that a lot of other companies, is that how you, especially in marketing, where creativity and collaboration and that whole brainstorming is so important, is that some of the stuff that you did with your team to induce that creativity and collaboration in that teams, marketing teams, particularly.
    [00:06:25] Stella Garber: Yeah.
    [00:06:26] Stella Garber: Well, so Trello was remotely distributed basically since the beginning.
    [00:06:31] Stella Garber: We had an office in New York City where we would sort of come together for offsites, or there were a handful of folks who lived in New York and worked from the office.
    [00:06:42] Stella Garber: But when we were acquired by Atlassian, Atlassian didn't really believe in remote work.
    [00:06:47] Stella Garber: They were very office centric.
    [00:06:50] Stella Garber: And one of the things was that they wanted to learn about how Trello grew remotely, because we had, at the time of acquisition, we were a little over 100 people, and we had such a strong culture, really strong business, obviously really loved product.
    [00:07:11] Stella Garber: And so Atlassian was really interested in learning how to do that with a remote team.
    [00:07:17] Stella Garber: And it turned out that after the pandemic hit and Atlassian, everyone had to be remote.
    [00:07:23] Stella Garber: Atlassian was one of the first companies to adopt a fully remote model, partly because they had the blueprint already from Trello, but also because they saw Atlassian is a very data driven company, and so they saw from their data that people were equally productive, more productive working from home.
    [00:07:43] Stella Garber: And so it didn't really make sense to continue being an office centric company.
    [00:07:48] Stella Garber: And now Atlassian is like 10,000 people globally distributed, one of the biggest components, remote work.
    [00:07:58] Ramli John: That's amazing.
    [00:07:59] Ramli John: I did not know that.
    [00:07:59] Ramli John: I think Trello usually is the other way around, where the larger organization saw was a small startup, and they forced their culture on the small, but it seems like it was the other way around, where the influence was like, hey, Trello team, like Stella, teach us how you did async communication and manage your team remotely, rather than the other way around where they force you to come to hubs, is what I'm hearing here.
    [00:08:31] Ramli John: Exactly.
    [00:08:31] Stella Garber: Yeah.
    [00:08:32] Stella Garber: To their credit, they allowed, after the acquisition, the Trello team sort of operated independently of the rest of the Atlassian organization.
    [00:08:44] Stella Garber: And so we were able to continue doing what was working.
    [00:08:50] Stella Garber: And obviously, I think there was a lot of learning on the Trello side and a lot of learning on the atlassian side.
    [00:08:57] Stella Garber: And then over the years, as integrations become more tight knit, they sort of became adopted parts of each other culturally.

    [00:09:08] Lessons learned from managing a remote marketing team

    [00:09:08] Ramli John: What were some of the stuff that you shared with your marketing counterparts where this is how to run a marketing team remotely or run a team remotely versus what they were doing.
    [00:09:22] Ramli John: Was there anything specific that comes to mind or some of the lessons that you and your Trello team shared to the atlassian team about managing remotely and doing remote work better?
    [00:09:34] Stella Garber: Yeah, absolutely.
    [00:09:36] Stella Garber: I mean, there was a lot that we shared a lot of best practices that have become sort of best practices at the company overall now.
    [00:09:44] Stella Garber: But I think there's so many.
    [00:09:49] Stella Garber: The first is that there's a huge emphasis on communication.
    [00:09:55] Stella Garber: In marketing, you have to repeat a message seven times before people internalize it.
    [00:10:01] Stella Garber: So it's the same thing with internal communications.
    [00:10:05] Stella Garber: So we always say that if you feel like you're over communicating, you're probably communicating the right amount.
    [00:10:12] Stella Garber: The second thing is a real emphasis on documentation, so making sure that everything is written down, and that also people can find information on their own without having to bug people or try to dm people or schedule meetings.
    [00:10:34] Stella Garber: Third thing is being as a team to make some sort of an agreement about what the remote practices and expectations are.
    [00:10:47] Stella Garber: So on my team, my team started very small.
    [00:10:50] Stella Garber: I was the first hire.
    [00:10:52] Stella Garber: And then at the time that I left, my marketing team was around 35 or 40 people.
    [00:10:57] Ramli John: Wow.
    [00:10:58] Stella Garber: And so every quarter we had a working document that listed out our team's practices.
    [00:11:06] Stella Garber: So, for example, which tools do we use for what types of information?
    [00:11:11] Stella Garber: What are the expectations around times that people are available?
    [00:11:15] Stella Garber: What are the expectations of response times?
    [00:11:20] Stella Garber: What are the types of team meetings that we have?
    [00:11:23] Stella Garber: And all these sorts of things that I think in an office setting, you maybe don't need to define, it, can be a little bit more loosey goosey because people are around and there are certain things that you can look around and say, okay, well, oh, that person came in at nine and everybody's leaving around five, or whatever it is.
    [00:11:45] Stella Garber: With remote work, you have to be much more specific.
    [00:11:49] Stella Garber: And the really important thing about remote work, and I would argue that this is not specific to remote work, it's just good management practices that people really need to understand what it means to be successful at their job, because ultimately, everybody wants to be, most people want to be successful.
    [00:12:11] Stella Garber: They want to contribute and feel appreciated and advance in their careers.
    [00:12:18] Stella Garber: And so if you are not specific about what that means in practice and what the expectations are, then that's where all of these weird things come in.
    [00:12:30] Stella Garber: Like, people feel like things aren't fair or they're trying to understand what the rules are, and maybe they're a miscommunication between people.
    [00:12:41] Stella Garber: So the most clear you can be as a manager about what the expectations are and also that everybody on the team is aligned on how the team functions, that's going to be a much more successful, well oiled marketing machine.
    [00:13:00] Ramli John: I like that.
    [00:13:01] Ramli John: What I'm hearing is it's about communication and documentation and making sure that people understand what success looks like and making sure people know where everything is.
    [00:13:11] Ramli John: Because in an office setting you can be like, oh, just ask Bob about what tool we use where.
    [00:13:19] Ramli John: Maybe in a slack setting or remote setting it's much more challenging as to, you'd have to do multiple chats rather than being in the same space.
    [00:13:29] Ramli John: You can just shout over people.
    [00:13:31] Stella Garber: Exactly.
    [00:13:31] Stella Garber: I think there's structure and with remote work, if you were to show up in an office, you would be expecting there to be chairs and a desk and a place to have water and cubicles or whatever it is.
    [00:13:49] Stella Garber: You wouldn't show up and expect there to be nothing.
    [00:13:52] Stella Garber: Similarly, with remote work, the analog there is that it's not desks or chairs or water cooler.
    [00:13:58] Stella Garber: It's like the systems, the routines, the rituals, the expectations, all of those things need to be documented.
    [00:14:09] Stella Garber: People need to be able to find and understand them and managers need to communicate them to the team.
    [00:14:17] Ramli John: That makes tons.
    [00:14:19] Ramli John: I love that analog.
    [00:14:20] Ramli John: You're right.
    [00:14:21] Ramli John: When you join a remote team, hopefully there's some kind of repository with all the knowledge that you're talking about and where to find all the information and all the tools.
    [00:14:30] Ramli John: So I think that's really great here.

    [00:14:33] Flipping the Communication Pyramid: Prioritizing Asynchronous Communication for Creatives

    [00:14:33] Ramli John: We've been talking a lot about sync communication.
    [00:14:35] Ramli John: I want to talk something that you shared actually just a few weeks ago around this communication pyramid.
    [00:14:41] Ramli John: I know it's something that it looks like the image that you share.
    [00:14:45] Ramli John: I'm going to share that link in description in the description and show notes around this image from a business coach where you have to flip your communication pyramid, which is super interesting and I feel like you're already starting to get there.
    [00:14:58] Ramli John: I'm curious what that means for people who haven't seen it yet.
    [00:15:02] Ramli John: And what are the advantages of flipping that communication pyramid?
    [00:15:07] Ramli John: Essentially?
    [00:15:07] Stella Garber: Yeah.
    [00:15:08] Stella Garber: Well, so right now the default is synchronous communication on most teams.
    [00:15:15] Stella Garber: So that means that you and I have to be online at the same time to have a meeting for me to dm you in slack and you respond right away.
    [00:15:27] Stella Garber: I'm expecting a response right away and I need that in order to do my work.
    [00:15:33] Stella Garber: And what ends up happening with that is most people are pretty miserable at their jobs right now because they're stuck in back to back meetings.
    [00:15:41] Stella Garber: They feel like can't keep up with their slack or teams instance, and they don't have time for any focused work.
    [00:15:48] Stella Garber: Does that sound familiar to other folks that you've talked to?
    [00:15:53] Ramli John: It does, 100%.
    [00:15:55] Ramli John: Too many meetings, too many slack festivities.
    [00:15:59] Stella Garber: I think that people default to those types of things because that is what is expected.
    [00:16:05] Stella Garber: That's sort of what's easy, what's known.
    [00:16:08] Stella Garber: But the cost is really high because the reality is that work that is measured, and for most people, for most creatives, writers, designers, engineers, you need to be able to step away and think and focus and have large blocks of time to do that, can't be sitting in slack all day and expecting to get a lot of work done.
    [00:16:39] Stella Garber: And so when we flip the communication pyramid, what that's saying is that the default should be to try to, number one, figure stuff out on your own.
    [00:16:49] Stella Garber: And that's where having the documentation is really important, that you should communicate in ways that are more asynchronous.
    [00:16:59] Stella Garber: First, if you think about a traditional pyramid where the bottom of it is like a lot of meetings and stuff, when you flip it, what ends up happening is that meetings become a much smaller portion of the type of communication.
    [00:17:16] Stella Garber: And that's really what it should be, because it's really expensive to have synchronous communication.
    [00:17:24] Stella Garber: You're requiring people to, the opportunity cost is very high.
    [00:17:29] Stella Garber: So I think that's a really useful way of thinking about what percentage of your day should be spent talking and working in ways that are synchronous and working in ways that are asynchronous.
    [00:17:44] Stella Garber: I will say I think synchronous communication is really important.
    [00:17:50] Stella Garber: I would not be successful working in a completely asynchronous environment because I love people.
    [00:17:56] Stella Garber: I love talking to people.
    [00:17:57] Stella Garber: And I think that so much comes out of that burstiness of, like, you say something, I say something, we make some jokes, and then there's like a new idea that comes out of it.
    [00:18:08] Stella Garber: But that should be a smaller percentage of the day.
    [00:18:13] Stella Garber: Much smaller.
    [00:18:15] Ramli John: Right.
    [00:18:16] Ramli John: What I'm hearing is, especially for creatives, I love what you said it.
    [00:18:20] Ramli John: They require that deep work, and sometimes that deep work requires many hours or a block of like a couple of hours.
    [00:18:27] Ramli John: And if there's spots of meetings all over the space, deep work gets hard and then creativity gets abruptly cut off, essentially, with that.
    [00:18:38] Stella Garber: Yeah.
    [00:18:38] Stella Garber: And we're in the middle of this epidemic right now.
    [00:18:42] Stella Garber: Microsoft has done a bunch of studies.
    [00:18:44] Stella Garber: One of them showed that meetings have tripled since the pandemic started.
    [00:18:50] Stella Garber: Yes.
    [00:18:50] Stella Garber: And then the other one showed sort of.
    [00:18:52] Stella Garber: They did like this brain scan study of what it looked like when people were in back to back meetings versus being able to take breaks or not have to sit in front of, interact in front of a screen all day.
    [00:19:07] Stella Garber: And the brain scans were really frightening.
    [00:19:09] Stella Garber: And I think it shouldn't be surprising because anybody who's been in back to back meetings all day understands how your brain feels fried.
    [00:19:17] Stella Garber: And so if your job is to do creative work, you have to create the conditions for creativity and having to be responsive and distracted and interruptive.
    [00:19:29] Stella Garber: Like interruptive work is the real enemy of creativity.
    [00:19:33] Ramli John: Interrupted.
    [00:19:34] Ramli John: That's like a tweet right there.
    [00:19:36] Ramli John: LinkedIn posts.
    [00:19:38] Ramli John: Interruption is the enemy of creative work.
    [00:19:41] Ramli John: That's such a good line, right?
    [00:19:44] Stella Garber: Like, it's an interesting thing because I feel like managers are often painted as these evil people who want people to be in slack, like the green dot in slack.
    [00:19:56] Stella Garber: But I would argue that if you're managing a team that is supposed to be doing creative work, your job is to create the conditions that support creativity.
    [00:20:07] Stella Garber: So I'll give you an example on my team.
    [00:20:10] Stella Garber: Number one, I encourage everyone to block out creative time on their calendar.
    [00:20:15] Stella Garber: But we also had Tuesdays and Thursdays, I think as no meeting days, where as a team, culturally, we would not have meetings on those days.
    [00:20:30] Stella Garber: And I think it's really important for managers to give permission to the people on their teams to step away and focus.
    [00:20:39] Stella Garber: Now that comes with a lot of accountability, right?
    [00:20:45] Stella Garber: If you're not online, I'm expecting that you're working and doing what you're supposed to be doing, and there's accountability.
    [00:20:52] Stella Garber: Did you deliver the project?
    [00:20:54] Stella Garber: Did you deliver the blog post?
    [00:20:56] Stella Garber: And the good thing is that for most, especially in marketing, it's very performance driven.
    [00:21:01] Stella Garber: So there's not a lot of subjectivity.
    [00:21:05] Stella Garber: You can be pretty objective about people's performance, but you also have to trust that they're going to do their work.
    [00:21:12] Ramli John: Yeah, that's true.
    [00:21:13] Ramli John: That ties back to what you mentioned earlier about being clear about what success looks like.
    [00:21:18] Ramli John: Because now if that's very clear and they're not meeting that success criteria, then there's a question of accountability.
    [00:21:28] Ramli John: And the whole piece around, like, hey, we're trusting you to do creative work and to do the work that we to achieve the success criteria.
    [00:21:36] Ramli John: And if not, then there might be an issue around this potentially.
    [00:21:40] Stella Garber: Exactly.
    [00:21:41] Stella Garber: And that's why I think this is where the structure and the planning has to come in around helping people be successful.
    [00:21:50] Stella Garber: It's funny because it sort of mirrors my parenting philosophy, which is like that kids, especially little kids, they need a lot of structure.
    [00:21:59] Stella Garber: But once you've established the structure, there's got to be flexibility within that structure.
    [00:22:05] Stella Garber: So for example, we don't allow toys all over the house, but we do allow toys in the playroom.
    [00:22:12] Stella Garber: And I don't care what you do in the playroom, that's your area, but the toys are not going to be in another part of the house.
    [00:22:19] Stella Garber: So I feel like with managing teams, it's a similar thing where when people understand, for example, at Trello, we would have twelve to 04:00 p.m.
    [00:22:29] Stella Garber: As eastern as overlap time.
    [00:22:31] Stella Garber: So you have to be available within that time frame to respond to.
    [00:22:38] Stella Garber: Unless it's like a maker day, which is what we call the meeting free days, you would be expected to be available during those times.
    [00:22:48] Stella Garber: But the other times, I don't care when you're working, as long as you're getting your stuff done.
    [00:22:53] Ramli John: Interesting.
    [00:22:54] Ramli John: Did you just call it maker day?
    [00:22:59] Stella Garber: There's a great post by Paul Graham about maker versus.
    [00:23:04] Stella Garber: Actually, yes.
    [00:23:06] Stella Garber: And how managers have different schedules than makers.
    [00:23:10] Stella Garber: And what happens is that managers sometimes, because they're in meetings a lot, they tend to force that sort of similar schedule onto the makers.
    [00:23:20] Ramli John: Interesting, right.
    [00:23:20] Stella Garber: And makers, their calendar should be completely empty because they should be making.
    [00:23:26] Stella Garber: You know what I mean?
    [00:23:27] Ramli John: Right.
    [00:23:28] Stella Garber: So that's what we would call them.
    [00:23:30] Stella Garber: We would call them maker days.
    [00:23:32] Ramli John: Interesting.

    [00:23:33] Implementing a 4-day work week and blocking time for creative work

    [00:23:33] Ramli John: That's so good.
    [00:23:34] Ramli John: So that started in Trello all the way in the very beginning.
    [00:23:38] Ramli John: And I'm guessing you brought this over to your team at hoop now as well.
    [00:23:42] Stella Garber: Yeah, we work a little bit differently, but also because we're a very small startup and we're pre product market fit.
    [00:23:51] Stella Garber: So I think we operate mostly asynchronously with a two hour overlap every day.
    [00:24:00] Stella Garber: And we also do like a four day work week.
    [00:24:03] Stella Garber: So Fridays are like an overflow day where you can work if you want to or if you've done all the work you needed to do, then it's your time.
    [00:24:19] Stella Garber: I think a lot of us, like Friday tends to be my most creative day because it's a day that I don't have a bunch of stuff going on and I can just take a walk and think and come up with lots of ideas.
    [00:24:32] Ramli John: I like that.
    [00:24:33] Ramli John: I really do like that.
    [00:24:35] Ramli John: And it's something that marketers who are tuning in right now, it's something that they should consider talking to their manager about, about like, hey, especially ones that are in content or in creative space where they do need to make, maybe send Paul Graham's essay to their manager as well, to say, hey, I would like to book off, let's say, just one day Tuesday to create and make and build and analyze and things like that.
    [00:25:02] Stella Garber: Yeah, we actually.
    [00:25:03] Stella Garber: I'll send you a link.
    [00:25:04] Stella Garber: We wrote about it on the Trello blog very early on, like, maybe a year into my tenure at Trello.
    [00:25:13] Stella Garber: I think in that blog post, we talk about how we implemented it.
    [00:25:16] Stella Garber: I think if you're managing a remote team, you have to give your teammates permission to block time in their calendars for creative work.
    [00:25:26] Stella Garber: That's something that I would do if one of my direct reports was saying to me, like, stella, all these people are scheduling meetings with, you know, at a bigger company.
    [00:25:37] Stella Garber: Once we were at Lassien.
    [00:25:38] Stella Garber: Atlassian is a pretty meeting heavy.
    [00:25:42] Stella Garber: Know, they're seeking permission to say no to meetings, which can feel.
    [00:25:48] Stella Garber: It can feel like you can't say no.
    [00:25:51] Stella Garber: And so I would always tell my direct reports, like, if you feel like you can't say no, let's talk about it.
    [00:25:58] Stella Garber: You should have control over your time.
    [00:26:01] Stella Garber: And what ended up happening a lot of times is that if they declined the meeting, nothing would happen.
    [00:26:08] Stella Garber: Interesting people either would schedule the meeting later, during the overlap hours, or they would just figure it out without including someone else.
    [00:26:24] Stella Garber: I'm very passionate about this.
    [00:26:26] Stella Garber: I can say there's this book that I read.
    [00:26:31] Stella Garber: I have it on my shelves here.
    [00:26:32] Stella Garber: It's called beyond collaboration overload.
    [00:26:35] Stella Garber: And there's this idea that we collaborate way too much.
    [00:26:41] Stella Garber: It's making everybody.
    [00:26:43] Stella Garber: Yes, right.
    [00:26:46] Stella Garber: Because the boundaries for collaborating have gone down in the last few years with slack so easy to dm somebody, and so people end up being included on a lot of things they really don't need to be included on.
    [00:27:03] Stella Garber: And so if we can reduce the amount of collaboration even by, like, 20% or something, you would find that the output ends up being the same, but people are happier, and people have more control over their time.
    [00:27:20] Ramli John: That is so fascinating.
    [00:27:22] Ramli John: I think the whole collaboration and we're talking about, that's when you're with a team, working together.
    [00:27:30] Ramli John: And creative work sometimes require, often, most of the time requires that deep, solo work where you're crunching two things, collaboration.
    [00:27:41] Ramli John: We're too collaborative.
    [00:27:43] Stella Garber: Well, the thing is, collaboration is good.
    [00:27:46] Stella Garber: I'm not saying collaboration is bad.
    [00:27:48] Stella Garber: The problem is people get drawn into things, like people get added to meetings, or, hey, what do you think about this?
    [00:27:57] Stella Garber: And the cost of that is that, number one, now all of a sudden, someone has to attend another meeting, and that's 30 minutes that they're not working.
    [00:28:07] Stella Garber: And maybe if it's 30 minutes out of a two hour chunk, now all of a sudden they can't concentrate for 2 hours because they have this interruption of the meeting.
    [00:28:17] Stella Garber: Right.
    [00:28:18] Stella Garber: So it's just the fact that collaboration feels good.
    [00:28:26] Stella Garber: We want to help, we want to be helpful, but just like with all things, you have to consider what the opportunity cost.
    [00:28:36] Stella Garber: You know the real famous thing that happened recently, I think it was Shopify.
    [00:28:41] Ramli John: Yeah, Shopify.
    [00:28:43] Stella Garber: They put the cost of the meetings on their calendars to help people understand that there's a cost, literal monetary cost to the meeting.
    [00:28:53] Stella Garber: And that was in response to sort of this epidemic of collaboration that's going on.
    [00:28:59] Ramli John: Right?
    [00:28:59] Ramli John: Yeah, I think that makes a ton of sense, just meeting overload.
    [00:29:03] Ramli John: We're tying back to what you mentioned earlier with Microsoft study, and I think it's a function also of remote is new the last few years, especially for a lot of folks, and the way they overcompensate with that is like, let's make it look like we're working, and if people can't see that you're on meetings, then you're not working, even though there are some stuff specifically strategic, high level creative work that requires that solo thing.

    [00:29:32] Solving the problem of endless chats and ineffective meetings in remote work

    [00:29:32] Stella Garber: Yeah.
    [00:29:33] Ramli John: And I feel like why you're so passionate about this, you're working on a solution for this with hoop really around, bringing this endless chats and ineffective meanings back to focus and action.
    [00:29:45] Ramli John: Can you talk a little bit about how you and your team have been thinking about solving this problem, this problem that people are facing?
    [00:29:53] Stella Garber: Absolutely.
    [00:29:54] Stella Garber: Yeah.
    [00:29:54] Stella Garber: So we started Hoop, myself and my two co founders, who were all early executives at Trello, and we left Atlassian and we, number one, just really wanted to continue working together.
    [00:30:08] Stella Garber: And number two, we wanted to see whether we could take some of the lessons from building and scaling a remote team and help build software to really help teams work more intentionally when they're working remotely, distributed, whatever you want to call it.
    [00:30:25] Stella Garber: And so the reality is that most tools these days are sort of geared towards synchronous collaboration.
    [00:30:35] Stella Garber: So the chat, the zoom, and what ends up happening is that people end up responding to things that are right in front of them instead of understanding like, hey, this request is important, but it's not urgent.
    [00:30:54] Stella Garber: So I'm going to deal with this other thing that's much more important and slot this into my day for later today.
    [00:31:02] Stella Garber: And most tools don't allow you to do that.
    [00:31:04] Stella Garber: We sort of found that there's this window of when you need something by and when I can respond by that is inarticulated right now where it's like, if I just dm you, I say, hey, what do you think about this?
    [00:31:19] Stella Garber: Or hey, can you give me some feedback on this?
    [00:31:22] Stella Garber: And it's like, okay, when do you need this feedback by, how urgent is this for you?
    [00:31:28] Stella Garber: Is it okay if I get back to you before the end of the day?
    [00:31:32] Stella Garber: So there's a hole and it gets sort of snowballed.
    [00:31:36] Stella Garber: So at hoop, we are helping teams make requests and have conversations that are bounded by a bit more structure.
    [00:31:45] Stella Garber: So when do we need to make this decision or who needs to be included?
    [00:31:51] Stella Garber: So really making those things very clear.
    [00:31:54] Stella Garber: And then also we're helping bring conversations full circle, hence the name hoop.
    [00:32:00] Stella Garber: So that instead of having these threads and slack that go on forever without a clear decision or resolution, right.
    [00:32:08] Stella Garber: In hoop, there are decisions and action items that come out of every hoop.
    [00:32:14] Stella Garber: And so the idea is that there's certainly a place for chat, but the problem is right now everything is in chat and meetings.
    [00:32:24] Stella Garber: And most people benefit from having the ability to slot sort of requests into their day in a way that is both good for you, the requester, and also me who's giving you what you need.
    [00:32:41] Ramli John: I love that it's all tied back to why you're so passionate about this, like how you can end those endless chats and meetings without actually any actions and making sure that work is actually getting done.
    [00:32:54] Stella Garber: Yeah, work is getting done.
    [00:32:56] Stella Garber: And also, I would say personally, people are so miserable.
    [00:33:01] Stella Garber: They're also unhealthy because they feel like they can't step away and that their boss might ping them anytime.
    [00:33:08] Stella Garber: And it's just not a sustainable way of working remotely.
    [00:33:11] Stella Garber: And certainly since I've worked remotely basically my whole career, I've gone through this arc of learning about this stuff.
    [00:33:19] Stella Garber: And so right now, I think most people who are experiencing remote work outside of the pandemic for the first time in a long term format.
    [00:33:29] Stella Garber: And so all of these practices are going to evolve and the tools that they're using need to evolve alongside them.
    [00:33:36] Ramli John: Awesome.
    [00:33:37] Ramli John: Well, I'm going to link hoop.
    [00:33:38] Ramli John: I think it's hoop app for people to check out as well.
    [00:33:41] Stella Garber: Yes, please.

    [00:33:43] Career Power Ups: Investing in Relationships and Working with Integrity

    [00:33:43] Ramli John: I want to shift gears and talk about career power ups.
    [00:33:47] Ramli John: There's this amazing post that you wrote around when you left Trello.
    [00:33:52] Ramli John: You shared some amazing wisdom and tips around your career journey.
    [00:33:56] Ramli John: Like I mentioned earlier, first marketing hired Trello, you grew that got acquired by Lassien, and then now you've started hoop with a few other folks here.
    [00:34:07] Ramli John: I'm curious, first of all, what are one or two things that I call it a career power up since the show is called marketing power ups that has accelerated or given you a leg up in your career.
    [00:34:20] Ramli John: And by the way, I'll link that post in the show notes and description for people.
    [00:34:24] Ramli John: But what are one or two or three career props that sticks out really to you that's helped you in your career?
    [00:34:32] Stella Garber: Yeah, and I talk about this in my post, but for me it's always about people.
    [00:34:39] Stella Garber: So, like, investing in relationships and making sure that you are operating with integrity and that you are working with people who also share the same values and operate with integrity.
    [00:34:54] Stella Garber: So I've been very fortunate to have been part of several successful startups, and most startups fail and people are always like, well, oh, she got lucky or something.
    [00:35:04] Stella Garber: And certainly I think luck has a role in it.
    [00:35:08] Stella Garber: But I also think that a lot of times people will join a startup because of the hype around something or because they have a fancy title.
    [00:35:19] Stella Garber: And I think for me, I've just been really focused on working with people who have a lot of integrity and again, share the same values.
    [00:35:30] Stella Garber: And I say that to people all the time.
    [00:35:32] Stella Garber: And it's amazing how often people sort of chase after things that are, at least to me, that aren't like the core of what we're trying to accomplish, which is do our best work.

    [00:35:49] Unlocking Your Career Power Ups with Stella Garber

    [00:35:49] Stella Garber: And then maybe another career power up is to I've seen a lot of people this sort of goes in line with what I just said, but I've always been very passionate about remote work as an unlock.
    [00:36:06] Stella Garber: I have two small children and I get to be the kind of mom that I want to be because I can work remotely and I don't need to sit in traffic and I don't need to be attending happy hours five nights a week.
    [00:36:22] Stella Garber: That don't matter.
    [00:36:23] Stella Garber: You know what I mean?
    [00:36:24] Stella Garber: Like the things that don't matter.
    [00:36:26] Stella Garber: So I have always felt that remote work is just an amazing unlock and helps you as an ambitious mom to sort of do it all or to have a better chance of doing it all.
    [00:36:43] Stella Garber: So I've always sort of gone after the things that I'm passionate about.
    [00:36:49] Stella Garber: And again, I think you have to find the thing that you're passionate about and just go all in.
    [00:36:56] Stella Garber: Because then my dad always has this expression of like, if you do what you love and love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
    [00:37:04] Stella Garber: And I definitely agree with that.
    [00:37:08] Stella Garber: I think you have to do things and work on products and projects as much as you can economically allow that you feel very passionate about.
    [00:37:19] Ramli John: If you enjoyed this episode, you'd love the marketing Powerups newsletter.
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    [00:37:54] Ramli John: Thanks to Mary Sullivan for creating the artwork and design.
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    [00:38:00] Ramli John: And of course, thank you for listening.
    [00:38:02] Ramli John: That's all for now.
    [00:38:04] Ramli John: Have a powered update marketing power ups until the next episode.


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