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Embracing Asynchronous Communication

Published by Summit Marketing Team on 07 Sep 2023

The Virtual CPA Success Show: Episode 99

Laïla von Alvensleben, Remote Work Coach and Collaboration Designer,* joins Jody and Joey to discuss the benefits of asynchronous communication and the use of tools for effective collaboration. Laïla shares insights on setting boundaries, prioritizing work, and the importance of clear communication. They also talk about the importance of retreats for remote teams and the logistics involved in organizing them. Laïla emphasizes the value of soft skill training and building relationships during retreats.



intro (00:00:00) - Welcome to the Virtual CPA Success Show for creative agencies. The go to resource for agency owners looking to scale their business. Join us every week to stay ahead of the curve and position your agency for future success.

Laila (00:00:15) - Hi to both of you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm Lila, head of New Ways of working at Mural, a visual collaboration platform.

Joey (00:00:24) - Well, thank you so much for for taking the time to join us. This is an interesting podcast for me because we're coming at you from three different time zones. I'm in the Mountain Time Zone in America. Jody, are you Eastern time today? 

Jody (00:00:36) - Eastern time? Yep. 

Joey (00:00:38) - And Lila, you are currently in Switzerland, is that correct?

Laila (00:00:42) - Yes, I'm Central European, European.

Joey (00:00:45) - And that's kind of what we wanted to talk about today, is how you can use asynchronous communication and other tools and SaaS based tools to help your team communicate across time zones. You were recently at the running remote conference in Portugal where our director of marketing, Kelly Schneck, was, and she took a lot of really great takeaways from that.

Joey (00:01:06) - And she and I actually spent a good amount of time last week talking about how we can apply some of these techniques and technologies to service based industries, especially the accounting industry, because that's what that's what we're in. Can you talk a little bit about what you talked about at the conference and what you were presenting on?

Laila (00:01:26) - Yeah. So running remote was that when Lisbon This year and I was on a panel with three other panelists Darren Murph, Chase Warrington and Annie Dean, and we were talking about how to foster culture in distributed teams. And the main insight I'll share here with all of you that was shared between us four panelists was that, yes, we can work fully remote, but being in a distributed team doesn't mean that you should never meet in person. And so we were talking about the importance of also coming together, you know, once or twice a year, maybe depending on how big you're making a company retreat or an offsite and how meeting in person is important. And we were also sharing other examples of connecting and bonding with people and creating a sense of belonging in your teams when you're not seeing each other.

Jody (00:02:16) - So, so kind of curious, how big, how big is your company? So you said your company. So coming together as a, you know, outside of the actual virtual environment, they're coming together for team retreats. You know, how big a company are we talking about?

Laila (00:02:32) - So mural today is 700. 700 employees around the world in all time zones, all the way from Australia to Argentina, Europe, all sides of the US. So we have a lot of different time zones. And the last time we all met in person as a company was just before Covid began. So it was in December 2019 and back then we were about 120 people, just about. So that was a big company retreat at the time. And then during the lockdown times, we did two virtual retreats. So we created one which was three hours long, which was a bit of an experiment. And then we did it another 1 in 2021, which was with, I think we were 400 people at the time because we were hiring about 20 people a week.

Jody (00:03:22) - Oh, wow. Wow. Okay. 

Laila (00:03:23) - For about a year there was a high demand for visual collaborative tools like Mural. So we did these virtual retreat that we did the second one for three days long, and then we continued doing many social events online in different formats, smaller, bigger ones for different purposes, but meeting in person as an entire company. Again, we haven't done that yet. So we've done, we've started doing smaller off sites for specific teams, but we haven't organized a companywide retreat since we grew that big.

Jody (00:03:54) - Is that something that you're planning on doing down the road or is that just too big to do a company retreat?

Laila (00:04:00) - I think time will tell whether we can do it for the size of a company. Right now we're focusing on meeting regionally and meeting with teams because the need to meet is really high. I mean, there are people who joined me during the pandemic and have never met a single teammate their entire time. So I would say meeting as a company, the entire company is not the priority right now.

Laila (00:04:21) - Right now it's this let's meet whether we're 5, 10, 30, let's just get some people to meet in person again. Yeah.

Jody (00:04:27) - So, so it sounds like kind of breaking it up. So but in a sense, the entire team still meeting is just a matter of it might be broken up into smaller groups, maybe a group of 30, maybe group of 50 or 100, whatever it might be. But in smaller fashion there versus an entire team getting together and meeting as a retreat now. 

Laila (00:04:49) - Yeah, I mean, they're much easier. Yeah, they're much easier to plan and they're much more, you know, cost effective. I mean, if we're looking at something like 700 people, I kind of joke around that it's not a retreat anymore. It's like a convention, right? We're basically organizing like a huge conference. And there's so much that is involved with logistics and visas and accommodation and activities like how do you plan for 700 people? So I think it's just much easier even within a month and a half, you can say, okay, we're going to plan something for 20 people and that's feasible.

Jody (00:05:21) - And is it typically 1 to 2 times a year you're meeting in smaller groups or is it even more frequently or less frequently?

Laila (00:05:31) - It depends on the team. So maybe the leadership team will meet more often. They might meet once a quarter and they also have board meetings in person board meetings, so they'll need more often. Um, I think with the other teams, we haven't set a, let's say an official cadence yet. The best practice when it comes to company retreats is to do it at least once a year, if not twice. With smaller teams, I think if we can meet at least once a year, that would be great. If we can do twice that luxury kind of. And it depends where the teams are located as well. Right? So it's much easier for me to create an unofficial meeting like in Lisbon. When I went to running Remote, I kind of took that as an opportunity to call over other people based in Europe and say, Hey, whoever wants to come, come join me.

Laila (00:06:15) - And so we were about ten people in the entire Europe or maybe 100 people, but at least I brought ten people together. So it really depends. Some of these people might be more flexible. And, you know, it depends if you have children or if you're caretaking for somebody or like what else you have in your life to do those kind of spontaneous things. But at least I think once a year, I think we can all do that.

Jody (00:06:36) - Yeah, and I agree. I think once a year is even on the brink of disaster potentially with your team. Because I look at it, you want to have at least twice a year. So and because people start losing connectivity very quickly in a remote world, especially, especially newer folks that you're bringing on, if you're bringing on 20 folks a week, my gosh, they don't even know each other. Hard to hard to develop that friendship, that bonding and that sort of thing that really keeps people in an organization.

Jody (00:07:03) - And that's why I say, you know, at least twice a year is really kind of a you know, that's basically table stakes. If you want to be in a remote world, you've got to at least that you know, now, whether it's the whole company or not, that's another thing. It could be like, I like your idea of making breaking up into different departments or divisions or groups or units or however you want to define it. But I think that connectivity is so important. 

Joey (00:07:28) - What's fun for me to see about what you were mentioning there is if you have good culture, those meetups tend to happen organically. You know, you know, in terms of we in fact, Jody and I just met in San Diego a week or so ago with a client that we just all happened to be in the same town at the same time. And to me, that's a sign of culture that not only did we meet up like I like Jody enough to want to go have dinner with him, you know, on a Monday night and vice versa, You know, I think I we see this all the time with our company where people are driving through town and it's like, Oh, we met up for dinner and, you know, all of our spouses met and we all hung out.

Joey (00:08:09) - And it's to me that is a sign of the culture that's been cultivated. But you've got to do the work ahead of time to make that happen. So where that does happen organically and naturally.

Laila (00:08:22) - Yes. And I love that you bring that up because that's exactly what we did last year. We had a very spontaneous kind of reunion between people in Europe. We were 25 people based on something that someone said at some social hour, like there was this online social and someone was like, We should meet. And then somebody else said, My parents have a farm in the Netherlands and we can go there like, okay, next thing you know, we just like went do this farm three weeks later and it was super spontaneous and it worked out really well. So that wouldn't have happened if we didn't have a great culture already where people wanted to bond and actually meet in person with people that they were already connecting with on Slack and on Zoom.

Jody (00:09:02) - Yeah, you know, it's kind of funny because you go to these conferences, our conferences that, you know, basically are retreats and you said conferences earlier.

Jody (00:09:10) - That's why I repeated it there. But the retreats let me get that right. Retreats. It's not all about what happens during their tree. It's really what happens afterwards. And what I mean by that is I think people think, oh, if we're going to retreat, we're going to bombard people with all these technical stuff, you know, let's call it technical stuff. And it's like, well, that that might have a small place at retreat, but that should not be the entire retreat or even the majority of it. It should be mostly soft skill training, you know, getting to know people better, you know, how to deal with conflict, you know, all the different soft skills that you would normally kind of naturally happen during, you know, if you're a brick and mortar that you really kind of need to have that focus. But I think the big key is, is that afterwards, you know, breaking out in the small groups and getting a chance to meet people and talk to people that you don't normally hang out with or or or for some of those folks that you do, you do talk to all the time, but you've really never met in person.

Jody (00:10:06) - Develop that friendship. You know, it's kind of funny because it's, you know, we're a bunch of accountants, right? But, man, we, you know, they we're out to like 1 or 2 in the morning a lot of times after these retreats. That's why we purposely don't start until 11:00 the next day to give you a chance to gather ourselves before we go back into more, more workshopping or whatever. But I think it's just that bonding is ginormous. And I think probably the biggest reason for the retreats themselves. What's your thought on that?

Laila (00:10:39) - Well, it makes me think of this twitter thread. I forgot who posted it, but this person was asking advice for a retreat that they had to organize and they were like, What is the number one tip that you would give to somebody who's doing this for the first time? And I think most of us, including myself, replied something along the lines of giving free time, just not scheduling, not over scheduling everything. Leave a good chunk of time where there's just absolutely nothing planned and people can spontaneously decide what to do.

Laila (00:11:09) - So maybe people who need to kind of detach themselves from the group who need to. Introverts or not just introverts. Somebody might just be tired because they're jet lagged or whatever. They might retire to their room and just kind of get some energy back. Or they might have to reach out to a customer or whatever they need to do. And other people will do what you just said, right? Like bonds stay up till two in the morning or whatever that is, and where those kind of spontaneous connections happen. I feel like that's where the real bonds are created, the stronger bonds, right? Because you can have all these team building activities and some of them can be really lame and they're kind of like forcing a relationship on people. We're like, Oh, okay. Like I don't need to like become buddies with every single person. But if you can just let people naturally, organically take their time, that time in their own hands, they can do wonderful things. And I think that's that's the tip everybody was putting.

Laila (00:12:04) - The thread that really stuck with me was like, yeah, just we overthink these times. It's true that it's a lot of money. It's a, you know, we think, what can we do? But the best Before joining Mural, I also organized company retreats for my previous job and the best ones were the ones where we did not talk about work. It was just one of them was like a yoga and surf retreat where we just did yoga every morning and surfing and like we spent one hour a day. I think we had to, like, convene at the pool a really nice place without screens, without computers, none of that. And it was just like, we're going to spend 1 hour or 2 hours max by the pool to talk about work stuff. But it was more about, you know, where did we want to go with the company and all that. And then the other retreat was we simply had no plan. There wasn't even a surf camp or a yoga camp. It was just like, We're just going to Valencia in Spain.

Laila (00:12:52) - And we had, I think, 4 or 5 days there to just naturally meet and be like humans, you know, without having all this stuff in place. I think obviously if you have like 100 people, you need to plan some things, right? Because you also need to book. But that was that company was much smaller. We were like seven, eight people. So it was a totally, much more manageable kind of retreat to do. And it was the best idea. It was just don't, don't over don't do like you don't necessarily have to do a design sprint during your retreat or do a I don't know. I mean, I'm talking for people who are like a hackathon or whatever. It is like a workshop. You know, you don't necessarily have to do that.

Joey (00:13:29) - I think it's a Jody has some great advice that he gave us early in the trip, which is good for companies that are either a growing, you know, we've got a lot of new people here or in the case of our company, two companies merged together with two different cultures.

Joey (00:13:43) - And we had to figure out how to make that work. As humans, we tend to naturally, naturally gravitate towards our friends, right? Like when we go to a retreat, like first thing I do, I want to go say hi to my friends because I love my friends. 

Jody (00:13:56) - He didn't mention me. He just said friends, just so you know. Yeah, go ahead. 

Joey (00:14:00) Well, it was implied. Jody implied friendship. But Jody's Jody's point is always, hey, you've got to go out there and intentionally talk to people that you don't normally talk to. Go sit next to somebody that you don't normally talk. Go to dinner with somebody that you've never really hung out with and just get to know them. And I think, you know, Jody, you spread the seeds of that at our two retreats last year where the team was really coming together. And what I was noticing this year was at our most recent retreat, we had groups that were going out and doing hiking in the morning.

Joey (00:14:35) - We had groups that were going out and doing things from Legacy Summit and Legacy Enders are two legacy companies that came together. It was all across the team, not what it was in the prior years where it was normally the summit folks hung out and the Andrews folks hung out together. It was much more integrated this go round and that was a direct result of the intentionality that you set at our previous retreats about making sure to be intentional with who you're talking to. So I think that's a great tip as well, is try to hang out with folks that you don't talk to because you never know. You'll make a new friend. 

Jody (00:15:11) - Yeah, kind of taken a kind of taking a turn with retreats and kind of going more towards meeting focus now, you know, with when you're all in the same geographic area, meaning probably within one to 2 to 3 different time zones, it's fairly easy to have have retreats in person, you know, where everybody can attend, you know, that sort of thing. Some people, it's tougher than others depending upon which geographic area you're in.

Jody (00:15:33) - But how do you do it for countries all across the world? You know, obviously, you don't want somebody getting up at one in the morning to attend a meeting or maybe you do. So how does that typically work?

Laila (00:15:47) - Yeah. So there are companies I have seen and spoken to people who say, Oh yeah, you know, I'm in Australia and I can get up at any time and I'll have a call with you, which is interesting. I mean, it's the person volunteers should do that. That's their choice. But that's not how we do things at Mural. We have a flexible hour policy. You do the hours that you have to do to do your work, but it's not like a set amount of hours. And definitely there's no fixed schedule. Like you don't have to work around Eastern Time no matter where you're base or something like that. So and I know, but there are some companies who do that. So with us it's really about either we find ways to overlap 2 or 3 hours a day and those hours are where we'll be able to communicate synchronously, maybe even meet synchronously.

Laila (00:16:34) - Um, but considering that we're all over the world, what tends to happen is we have this like 4 or 5 hour slot and all our calendars, which are just kind of like booked with meetings. If we do that, because those are the only times where we can kind of overlap with everyone. So if we have to have like a team meeting with everybody from Europe to, you know, Pacific Time, it will be in that usually for me will be around like 3 or 4 or 5 p.m., 5 p.m. onwards kind of. And and so what we try to do is, is become much better asynchronous communication, asynchronous collaboration, which is really about you can be in the same, you can be in different places or at the same place, but you are not expecting to receive an immediate response when you are communicating with that person or when you're collaborating with them. So, um, and I also use the word place very in a very broad way. So we're all online, right? Like we're all, we may be like now, like we're all online, but assuming that we weren't on this video call and you'd send an email that's already asynchronous communication.

Laila (00:17:37) - So I think email is like the most easy way of seeing it. But of course there are so many new tools out there who allow us to do that. And so we really try to create these practices. We have an internal remote work playbook where we define what are we expecting, especially when we're onboarding new people. These are the expectations. This is how we work at Mural. We do not expect immediate responses if we send something on Slack and and then different teams may have different communication charters. So when I was in the People operations team, we did a charter as well to help us understand how we wanted to use every single communication tool, what it was for, how we would use it. If something was a priority, how would we use it if it wasn't a priority? What were the expectations around it? And so forth. And different teams have their different charters as well, so we don't all have the same needs. So it's kind of hard to have like a company wide.

Laila (00:18:30) - I mean, we have company wide guidelines, but then different teams may have different needs. So that's why we have different charters as well.

Joey (00:18:37) - Have you found some best practices that work really well or alternatively maybe something that you thought was going to be great that just for whatever reason didn't work? Well?

Laila (00:18:49) - Mm. So I find something that works really well is setting your boundaries and learning how to say no. I think sometimes, especially if you're new to a company, there's this expectation that every time somebody sent you an invite to a meeting, you should. You should say yes. Or if somebody sends you a message, you should reply instantly. And I think it's easier for people who have been at me for a longer, perhaps like myself, to be like, I'm not going to reply now because I feel maybe more, um, more secure in my position at the company, you know, like I've been there a bit longer and I know that I, if I know how to distinguish what is urgent, what is not urgent.

Laila (00:19:27) - And so I find that what works really well is to decline sometimes and say, I'm not available or even, you know, I'll come online one day and I'll suddenly see that my day has 5 or 6 meetings, like back to back for 3 or 4 hours. And all of us, I could do them. Technically, I can do all of them, but that means one, I'll be sitting at my seat without even like a bathroom break for four hours, which is a problem and not healthy for my legs. But also I notice that I won't maybe get that much work done right. And I have other things to actually do besides being in the meeting. So it's really about learning how to decline and reschedule. And I do that whether I am the event organizer or even if I'm not, I'll reach out to the person and say, Can we reschedule? Or if it's a team meeting, I'll say, Hey, I won't be there. Can you record it right? So I think learning how to say no and setting boundaries is super important.

Laila (00:20:22) - I also block out my Fridays, as I call it, JOLT. So JOLT, which stands for Joy of Lyla Time knows what that why it says Jolt is just like Jolt. It's on my upright. Everybody's like, Oh, you're busy on a Friday. I'm like, Yes, I'm so busy. But it's really it's my joy of my own time. Um, so yeah, blocking out your calendar, declining things and that all really works Well, now I'm thinking of the second part of your question, which is, has something not worked? Well, we tried maybe two years ago at Mural to launch this best practice, which is every single meeting should have an agenda. And if it doesn't have an agenda, you are allowed to decline that meeting. Do not like just not attend the meeting. Right. And so for people who were at Mural at that time, they know about it. But because we hired so many new people and we didn't overcommunicate this many times, I think that has kind of gone out the window or like I still have meetings sometimes.

Laila (00:21:25) - Usually they're one on ones where we don't have an agenda because the agenda will just kind of come up when we speak in the one on one. But I do think that's the best practice that we should become better at and just be more comfortable in saying, well, if there's no agenda, I'm not going to attend.

Jody (00:21:41) - And so an agenda like published agenda or I mean just an agenda itself because I guess why would you have an agenda? Like I guess I'm kind of confused on that one.

Laila (00:21:49) - I think everybody has an agenda, but they don't publish it. So I think sometimes we're in a hurry and we just or we have like recurring meetings where sometimes people don't publish an agenda, but there is an agenda. Maybe once you go there, they have a mural open and it's like, this is what we're going to talk about today. But I think we could take it a step further. And some people do, like I try to do and I know other people do it often is share the agenda ahead of time.

Laila (00:22:13) - It also helps people to mentally prepare to know why they're coming to the meeting. And if you have something like, I don't know, monthly, something recurring meeting for X team, sometimes there's no agenda there because it's like, well, we're meeting only monthly anyway and we're just going to give you updates of every, every team in this department is going to give you an update, right? So that's okay. But sometimes once we come, there is an agenda. But it hasn't been communicated before, like it could be published a few days before. And sometimes what happens when you do that also is people might realize that they could contribute to that agenda right? Or they might reach out to the organizer and say, I'd like to contribute to this. Or sometimes you realize that it's not necessary to discuss that topic in that meeting because you could just send a video, for example, where you record yourself and we use loom a lot in Mural and you could actually send a loom and then you could remove that topic and make space for something else or just shorten the meeting.

Laila (00:23:14) - So there are so many advantages to sharing an agenda ahead of time. But I think that best practice of like, you don't have to attend if you don't know what the agenda is. I think people generally they maybe they might feel uncomfortable also telling the organizer, hey, you haven't you haven't published the agenda, Can you share it? Otherwise I won't attend. So you need to feel a certain sense of like psychological safety, I think, to be able to say that. And I think if you're new, you might still feel like, oh, you know, I'm just going to join the meeting. Yeah.

Jody (00:23:50) - So question on the. Maybe, some of the technology that's being used. So you use mural for for most of your meetings, correct. So can you tell us a little bit about how that actually works and kind of compare it to, you know, maybe some of your competitors so that if you're not aware of Mural, they can kind of get an idea of what we're talking about.

Laila (00:24:12) - Right. So if anyone is familiar with an online whiteboard or just the concept of whiteboard. Right. The whiteboard is a space is canvas where we can all contribute ideas, whether that's written or images. And mural is an online version of that. So the idea is to really create this online canvas that you can share with anybody or an online mural, right? Like mural, like the wall, um, that you can share with anybody that you're, you're, you want to collaborate with. And we can collaborate synchronously, meaning we're all in there at the same time and I can see what everybody is doing at the same time as I'm adding things in different parts of the mural. So similar to perhaps a Google doc where we can be multiple people in a Google doc typing stuff. We can be multiple people in a mural adding content and we can also do it asynchronously where I may add something when I'm starting my day and I can share the link to the mural to somebody in my team and then they can continue building on my ideas.

Laila (00:25:10) - So I like doing a lot of async brainstorming or async retrospectives or there are a lot of async ways of working in a mural. And the idea is to really make it visual and continue building on it so everything is saved automatically. You don't have to save anything on the side. It's saved, it's in the cloud, so it's updated all the time. And you can leave a mural and create another one so you can have infinite, you know, as many murals as you want. And when you do have an account and share it with people and duplicate them, We also have a lot of templates. We have methods. And I think one thing that has really separate us from our differentiated, what we've done at Mural, at least in the beginning, was having facilitation features. So we understand the importance of having somebody leading those collaborative sessions in a mural and having a facilitator who's guiding you through the process, especially if it's something like a workshop. But even if it's a meeting, having somebody leading that they can have features as well in the mural which allow them to guide the session better.

Laila (00:26:13) - So this could be a timer, this could be something to like a voting to create a voting session. And these are things that only the facilitator would have. Um, they can also let people add things anonymously. And so these are things that our competitors over the years have picked up on as well, slowly and adding their own facilitation features. So yeah, this, this kind of gives you an idea of what mural is and how it works. And it's really changed the way that I collaborate because it's a very non-linear way of working. It's much more organic. So if you think of like a Google doc where everything starts at the top of a document and you type and you kind of go to the bottom and it's very wordy. With Mural, I feel like my brain over the years has become a lot more visual and colorful and playful at the same time. And it's also allowing me to think in a more if I think of a visual like a network, right, with, with things going in all directions rather than going from like left to right or top to bottom.

Jody (00:27:09) - So do you typically like is the agenda in each one of your, your boards, I guess, or how does that how would I know that your agenda is there? Because you mentioned that you wouldn't come if you didn't know the agenda is there. Is it actually published on the board itself or.

Laila (00:27:23) - So you could have it on the mural for sure. And what I meant by publish is you can have it in the mural and then share the mural, the link to the board, right with your team ahead of time. Or what you could also do is just I tend to, for example, put an agenda on my Google calendar events. If I would invite you using Google Calendar in the description of the calendar invite, I would write the agenda there because it's much easier. I don't I try to reduce the number of clicks that people have to do, although I do we do use mural a lot for async pre work. So I do find that we want to use meetings in a in a way that is it feels productive for everyone.

Laila (00:28:01) - We don't just want to use it to inform people about something, but rather to maybe resolve a problem that we're having, right? So any kind of pre work that we can do before. So let's say that we have to meet to share some ideas about an event that we just created together. I could send you guys a link to Joey and Jody and say, Hey, can you add in the mural? What did you think about the event? What worked well? What didn't work well, What can we do better next time? And that way when we meet, we just can look at these things. We can read them before the meeting and use the meeting simply to focus on the next actionable steps that we're going to take, rather than spending 15 minutes adding our thoughts there, because I think that's what meetings tend to do as well. Synchronous time is not always used wisely and people are really having meeting fatigue or feeling like they're not productive in meetings. We sent this collaboration report. We did a survey with 4000 people in both remote and hybrid teams this year, and 51% of the people who participated in the survey said that they didn't feel like they were being productive in their meetings or using, you know, that meetings were used in a good way.

Laila (00:29:10) - And part of that problem is. Really, because they're not teams are not optimizing async communication to get work done before the meetings and also not there's no sometimes there's just no need for meeting at all. Right. If there's that like that saying that this could have been an email, but that could you know, it could have been a mural, it could have been a slack message. Whatever it is, it could have been something else. But there's this old way of thinking that we need to have everybody in the same room and we need to be communicating constantly synchronously, and that that's just not the case. I think we've all experienced that kind of meeting fatigue by now.

Jody (00:29:48) - Oh, for sure. 

Joey (00:29:50) - So one last question here on asynchronous communication, then we'll get to our fun question at the end of the show 

Jody (00:29:56) - We forgot to tell you, we have a fun question for you. 

Jody (00:29:59) - We do. And by the way, I've been racking my brain thinking about what what I want to ask here, but related to and I get this a lot from from service based industries, particularly accountants, because a lot of our work processes tend to be very linear, which to a lot of people's minds doesn't lend itself to asynchronous communication.

Joey (00:30:16) - What's your response when someone tells you, Hey, I just don't think asynchronous communication could work for my industry or my company or my team or whatever pushback they might have to thinking that that isn't something that they can do.

Laila (00:30:32) - The first approach I would take when somebody tells me that, or even if they say, you know, remote work doesn't work, which is what I usually hear, but let's say they say that about async communication. I would ask them first to ask their employees how they feel about the way they're currently communicating. So I'm a big fan of sending out surveys or polls or things like that just to get some feedback in an anonymous way from the people you're working with and seeing like understanding, getting that data and understanding what it is, what is it that people want and how do they currently feel about the things that are the way that work is being done at the moment? And then based on that, I would probably the many times people would say they don't have enough time to do the deep work, the deep focus work.

Laila (00:31:20) - So based on that, I would recommend setting a kind of communication charter, which is what I did as well with my past team, which is going through every single tool. And maybe some tools you'll realize we don't need this tool anymore, right? Going through every single tool. And then once you've established new norms of communicating or using those tools, testing it out, doing a trial period, and really also calling each other out when we're not respecting our rules of engagement. So setting up that kind of new rhythm of collaboration, I like to call it, and then seeing the results maybe in a quarter and then you can send that same survey, that same poll again and seeing if that data has changed or not. Because I think often when people say it hasn't worked, they haven't been very intentional about it. And so they're kind of. Throwing things at people and best practices, but nobody's really leading. And especially when I say leading, I think especially comes down to managers role modeling what they're expecting and how they can work.

Laila (00:32:23) - And if managers are not doing it, then their direct reports are not going to do it either. And that's where you see a lot of inconsistencies, right?

Jody (00:32:31) - Yeah. Love the conversation. So, Joey. Question. What's the question? 

Joey (00:32:37) - Let's hear your question of the day. So I'm going to pull back the curtain a little bit and share a fun, fun fact about Jody that I learned this past week. And this is something I'm going to try in my personal life. Jody, I need to do this. So we were at a restaurant in San Diego with a client, and Jody is the last person to order at the table and get waitress gets to Jody, and he looks at her and says, yeah, surprise me. Just bring me something, bring me whatever you would get or whatever the chef would do just surprised me. And it got me thinking a lot about food. And so here's my question for everybody. As we've all gone on various retreats all across the country, all across the globe, is there a meal or a thing that stands out in your mind is the best thing you've ever eaten? 

Jody (00:33:22) - Wow.

Joey (00:33:23) - And if you need time to think about it, I can. I can go first with my. Yeah, go ahead.

Laila (00:33:27) - Yeah, I'd love to hear yours.

Joey (00:33:28) - When I was in college, I got to spend a month and a half in Florence, Italy, and I went to culinary school when I was there to learn how to cook Italian food. Um, culinary accounting. Yeah. Yeah, that's true. And when we were there, what we, we did was we based out of Florence and got to travel all around the place. And I remember one meal in particular in Whittier, which if you've never been to Whittier, everybody should go to check Whittier. It's incredible. It's this little region of five towns in Italy that you kind of hike between. It's right on the coast and it's gorgeous. And there was a place that we had that served up lobster ravioli on the side of a cliff. And I think about that meal about once a month to this day because it was just the perfect location of food and setting and quality and just the company that was there, I was with my mom who, you know, that was a great trip that she and I got to take together.

Joey (00:34:24) - So that was the perfect combination of everything.

Jody (00:34:28) - Nice

Laila (00:34:28) - Wow. I think she was a spectacular there. I've been there, so I know what the views are like. It's really it's really special. And Italian food is hard to beat in terms of quality. Jody, do you want to go next? I keep thinking.

Jody (00:34:45) - Oh, yeah, yeah, I can go next. I'm going to take a twist on it. I told Joey this at when we were meeting in San Diego. There is that I let people pick all the time. So I let people in. My daughter just, like, cringes every time I say it. But it's like because she feels it's embarrassing or whatever. But anyways, the, you know, when I went to this firm, that firm retreat, but this client event or prospect event, we're meeting all these different prospects and, and we broke up into groups and we we get a chance to pick the location that we're going to go and and I was really up for a really good steak and we were in Miami and they had a really, really great steakhouse there.

Jody (00:35:22) - And I thought, this is awesome. And so we get there and I'm thinking, you know, what are they? Which one are they going to pick as being kind of the best, you know, the best cut and everything? And I told them, just go and surprise me. I go, I don't care what the you know what? How well it's done or not, you pick, you pick the exact food and you pick everything and, and, you know, so I'm pretty excited about it. And they come out and then they're delivering all the food, you know, everybody around the table. And they put not not a piece of steak in front of me. They put a lob, not a lobster, but they put a octopus in front of me. Never had octopus before. And it was ginormous. It looked there was like a potato as the head and the big huge tentacles there probably, you know, oh, probably three quarters, you know, probably close to two inches in diameter.

Jody (00:36:10) - And I'm looking like, well, I finally got. What I deserved all these years, my daughter was right. I probably shouldn't do this. And I started tasting it. And I'm telling you, it was probably it was one of the best foods I've ever had. It was awesome. It was. And the cool part about it was I would never have gotten it before, you know, it was one of those things. I never would have tried it. It wasn't even it wasn't even on my mind remotely. I didn't know if they even had it on the menu because I didn't look at the menu. But I didn't realize that on the menu, but end up being one of the one of my favorite all time foods. And because of that, when I go to these nice places, I order lobster or an order or order octopus every once in a while just because it was so great. But so that's kind of my twist to it.

Jody (00:36:57) - So now you've had plenty of time, You know, there's no excuses now.

Laila (00:37:01) - Yeah.

Jody (00:37:02) - You know.

Laila (00:37:03) - As you were talking, my meal has come up. It's so mural is started in Argentina in Buenos Aires and we we have our only office that people can choose to go to if they want to us is there and we had amazing asado so I can't point one out ah the Argentine version of a barbecue. And they are very, very big barbecue experts. They take their meat very seriously. So Argentine beef is very well known for being super tasty, super good. So what they do usually is on a rooftop. If you go to anybody's rooftop, they're all living in apartments, but they'll have like a shared rooftop for the whole building pretty much. And then they have these massive I mean, I'm talking about it's like an entire construction with like bricks and everything, and you have like the asado space. And so it's not just like a grill machine. It's like little thing.

Laila (00:37:59) - It's a huge thing. And then they'll cook ribs, beef, all kinds of steaks. It's just like a meat fest. If you are vegetarian, they will do some things like provolone cheese and some peppers and some other things, but technically it's just a lot of meat. And they still do. They I mean, it's a tradition. So sometimes they share photos on Slack when they do their biggest shadows. And I think that's it's one of those things where, like everybody's on the rooftop and join me in sunsets and all of that. So yeah.

Jody (00:38:30) - Sounds like our place. I'm going next. Sounds great.

Joey (00:38:35) - I've got a client there now and what I told him was it's probably the most underrated food country in the world from that perspective. It's really good.

Laila (00:38:45) - It is very, very good. So they're very proud of their status as well. They just like everybody was just inviting you to their house for like, it's not the company was setting it up. It was more like employees.

Laila (00:38:55) - You know, our colleagues are saying, come to my apartment on this night for an Asado So that's really fun.

Joey (00:39:03) - Well, perfect. Well, Lyla, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm hoping that our clients can take a lot out of this. And our folks who listen to the show can think a little bit about how they can add some of the not just the retreat stuff, because that culture is important, but also thinking about how they can work a little bit more asynchronously with their team as they expand either across the country or across across the globe. Is there a place where we can find you and your work online and anything that we can do to where folks can reach out to you if they have any questions or would like to learn more about you or Mural?

Laila (00:39:35) - Yes, thank you. So murals website is murals.co Definitely check out our website, our blog or anything, our product, our templates. We have so much on it. And then for myself, the best place to find me is LinkedIn.

Laila (00:39:50) - I also have a Twitter account which is Leila Van A but I am much more active on LinkedIn these days and also have my own website which is lilavon.com

Joey (00:40:01) - Well, thank you so much for joining us, Jody. Thank you, as always. And we're looking forward to seeing you all in the next show. 

Jody (00:40:06) - Yeah. Thank you.

Laila (00:40:07) - Thank you.

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