MSMP 58: Amar Ghose on Failing Forward

A lot of people have read Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week.  Many of those have gone on to try to live, in some part, the lifestyle of the digital nomad that Tim champions in that book.  Of those, few have persevered beyond their first failures to one or more successes.  That lesson, the lesson of “failing forward,” isn’t really discussed in the book but is a key part of the life of successful digital nomads.
 
On this episode of Mads Singers Management Podcast I chat with Amar Ghose, who grew up in Silicon Valley and read The Four Hour Work Week  when it first came out.  That planted a seed that led Amar to try establishing several different businesses with varying degrees of success until in 2013 he co-founded Zenmaid, which is a scheduling software for maid services.  He’s got a remote team of 20, distributed around the world, and has himself been living the nomad life since 2015.
One of the things that Amar learned during the lockdowns earlier this year was the value of 1-to-1s.  He had a chance to ask his team what they were interested in learning about and doing during the rest of the year and found out some hidden desires and talents, for example that one of his team wanted to do some copywriting, even though they were in an entirely unrelated department.  This opened up an avenue for me to stress (as I do in my management course) that 1-to-1s are always to be done with regular reports on a weekly basis, not just during a lockdown but even during “normal” times.  
 
A trait Amar looks for when hiring that I really appreciated was the desire to develop personally and seek feedback (and receive it graciously).  He talked about how far some of his team had come in the years they had been together because of this trait.
We also got to learn a bit about his motivations behind acquiring a SaaS business, Burnchurn.io, that is unrelated to ZenMaid but still benefits from the way Amar has been learning to grow and manage businesses.  One of those ways is the strategy of “managing up,” which Amar looked into more closely when an employee sent him a Harvard Business Review article on the topic.  In brief, this strategy allows Amar to work for his team in different departments, insofar as he often looks over solutions that the team has already come up with.  By more trust and delegation, Amar has been able to apply himself where he is most needed and valuable, and that’s a game-changer for a small business.
 
Key Learning Points:
1. Amar shares his biggest management challenge - 2:54
2. Amar discusses the importance of 1 on 1 meeting during the lockdown - 8:30
3. Mads stresses the importance of regular 1 on 1s with direct reports - 11:45
4. Amar shares a key trait he looks for when hiring - 13:01
5. Amar shares (for the first time anywhere) his acquisition of burnchurn.io - 14:35
6. Amar notes the challenges of being a non-technical founder - 18:55
7. Amar talks about “managing up” is a game-changer - 22:35
8. Amar discusses his annual MRR goals for ZenMaid - 28:30
9. Amar tries to sell Mads on the value of using Twitter - 35:05
 
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