55. Communication in remote and virtual teams in the future of work | Josh Little, Founder of Volley


Josh Little | Founder of Volley


This week is all about communication in remote and virtual teams. Our guest is Josh Little. 

This is the third and final part of our conversation with Josh, we tie things up by venturing into the possible future evolutions of virtual team communication.


Josh Little web


Josh is the founder of four tech companies–MaestroBloomfireQzzer, and Volley. They have collectively been used by hundreds of millions of people and featured in TechCrunchMashable, Entrepreneur, Inc, and Forbes. Josh is currently on a mission to provide the world with a more meaningful way to communicate with his fourth creation, Volley–a video messaging app.



[00:00:07] - Doug Foulkes
Welcome to episode 55 of Chaos and Rocketfuel, The Future of Work Podcast. I'm Doug Foulkes your co-host and I'm sat here with Claire Haidar, the CEO of Wndyr and Pattyrn. We've had a nice long chat with Josh Little. Claire, what are we talking to Josh about in this closing part of our conversation?

[00:00:29] - Claire Haidar
What makes this segment unique and perhaps, for me it was my favorite part of the conversation actually, was the thought about where is communication going to. So we spoke about how is communication evolving today. And I think one of the main takeaways is the need for company to think about creating a suite of tools inside their technology stack that enables different learning styles, different personalities to receive communication the way they need to receive it.

[00:01:01] - Claire Haidar
You know, some people prefer written communication, other people prefer verbal communication. And so being able to allow people to find the communication that they're receiving in the format that they want is a key area where things are evolving too. And then we just also looked at helping companies to think about communication strategically and what is their strategic framework actually look like.

[00:01:27] - Doug Foulkes
Great. Let's finish off our conversation with Josh. How do you see the world communicating in the next few years? I think 10 years is too far to look ahead these days. But how did you see communication changing?

[00:01:41] - Josh Little
Well, it's an unknown like the future of work is evolving right before her eyes. Like what work is going to look like in the next 10 years. We're deciding today what that might look like. But one thing is for sure the pandemic accelerated whatever the future is going to be, the toothpaste is out of the tube. It's not going back in works that going back in the box, right? It's only going to move forward from this point. But the question is, what do we want that to be? And I think most people would answer that question with. Well, I want it to be more flexible. I want it to be more balanced. I want to do more meaningful work. I want to do what I was hired to do when I was put on this earth to do all of those things. I think most people would say, yes, I want that right. And now we kind of have a reason and opportunity to invent that, to create that together.

[00:02:31] - Josh Little
And I think that's going to need a change in communication. Because if you think about a future of work in which you're walking the dog, then in a coffee shop, then back at home and then in an office later that day and maybe at a lunch, all in the same day, well, you can't slack while walking the dog. You can't zoom in a coffee shop and you're going to need to be in multiple modalities throughout the day. So what does the communication tool for the future of work even look like? Well, my thought is that it needs to be somewhat of a shapeshifter. It needs to show up how you need it so that you can show up how you need it, meaning I need to be able to talk. When I'm able to talk, I need to be able to read when I need to read. Therefore, the communication tool the future needs to be some version of a shapeshifter speech to text, text to speech and the benefits of both.

[00:03:24] - Josh Little
And that's kind of what we're patterning Volley after is kind of this flexible future of work. Whether you're a digital nomad living in an RV off-grid, in the desert or on a sailboat, or just at your nice home office, but taking breaks wherever you need to. I think there's just going to need to be a different way to communicate that has all of the richness of talking, but has all of the flexibility of texting, which would enable this hopefully flexible, more balanced future of work. What do you think? Do you think it's going there?

[00:03:58] - Doug Foulkes
It certainly makes sense to have communication as you say, as you would want it. we're all individuals with different learning styles, different ways of communicating. So it would certainly have to be good for all of those different styles. So, yeah, so maybe something that's it's much more flexible that gives those that want to talk more to talk. Those who want to read more can read.

[00:04:20] - Claire Haidar
I think the key thing and I'm sorry if you said this, Josh, but I'm just taking it one step further. I think it's to Doug's point. It's about being able to receive and absorb the information in your desired format, even if the person sending it was sending it in a different format. You know what I mean? So coming back to my co-founder example that I gave Tracy once the visual, she wants the written because she actually wants to physically look at it. I default to voice. And so, you know, she has to every time, like, I've become very mindful of it because I know that if I send her voice notes, she's literally going to have to go and get a piece of paper and a pen, and she's going to have to write all these notes. So I'm actually making work harder for her. So what I've done is I've pulled back on sending voice notes, and I'm trying to be cognitive of how she works, and so I tend to text more because I know it's better for her.

[00:05:14] - Claire Haidar
But it puts a very big drain on me because it's not my natural style of doing things.

[00:05:20] - Claire Haidar
And so the ideal state that we should evolve to next, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a 10-year evolution, but it should be. I should be able to voice notes, and Tracy should be able to receive that either as a voice note in its original format or in a text format that's not screwed up and all wonky. It should be as rich and as beautiful as the original voice note that was sent.

[00:05:43] - Josh Little
I think the ideal is I talk, you listen, she reads. And we're all in different environments throughout the day wherever we are. I can if I'm standing in line at a busy place and I get a volley, that doesn't mean I have to push play or put my earphones in. I can go to the transcript for you. So in Bali, there's a transcript for you and you can you can view an interactive transcript of the conversation and we can scan text even faster than we can listen. We can listen three times faster than we can speak. But you can scan text up to like a thousand words for a minute. So I can scan and say this is a five-minute volley, but no, no, no, no, no, yes, play and I can hit that word and it starts playing right at that point. Now I can see. Tracy can see Claire actually getting to the meat of what she was trying to say. The first two minutes was her like trying to explain this idea or even collect her own thoughts, right?

[00:06:35] - Josh Little
So that's kind of how we've pattern volley is knowing that in a remote team, you're going to be in these different places throughout the day. You're in a coffee shop while I'm walking the dog, now you're walking the dog. Well, I'm in a coffee shop. And so we need to be able to communicate in the way that we need to in the place that we are, wherever that is.

[00:06:55] - Claire Haidar
I think the next evolution of that is going to be, I just think of myself and our chief revenue officer when we have our weekly meetings is we often because he and I tend to meet at the end of the day. And so we're both really fatigued because he's a real early morning person. And, you know, we've just been in so many meetings that by the end of the day, we're both tired. And so what we often tend to do is like, forget this the Zoom video we're both going for a walk, you know what I mean? And so he's walking his dog. I'm walking in the neighborhood and we're chatting. But one of the things that would be great is if you look at like some of the latest technology that they have in vehicles is where you can put it in the window screen display you can put, you can see what the speed is that you're driving, etc. you know what I mean? So instead of having to look down at with odometer and stuff is in the actual physical vehicle, it's just they're in a very non-intrusive way in the windscreen.

[00:07:49] - Claire Haidar
And I think where it potentially could evolve too, is where we have something like that with you walking and you still fully present in your physical environment. But there's a very non-intrusive image of the person that you're actually talking to.

[00:08:01] - Josh Little
Until we wear smart contact lenses or Google Glass or something like that, which hasn't caught on. But for now, you can just hold your phone and go walk the dog. And if you're 12 volleys behind that conversation, just push play, hit 2x, and go. And then if you need to chime in, you just put the phone out and hit the record button. Hey, I think this is a great idea. Let's talk about this next week, or whatever, whatever the message needs to be.

[00:08:23] - Claire Haidar
So let's go back to basics. In terms of who our audience is, who are listenership is. It's people in senior leadership positions, C-suite, VP type level, pretty big organizations, okay? And they genuinely graphing with communication. So granted, Volley may not be the best solution for them, but they genuinely are trying to communicate better. And I think for the first time, these senior leaders inside organizations are having to think about communication like they would a business plan or a set of strategy for the following business year. We've never had to think about communication in that way before. Do you have a framework in terms of how leaders should be thinking about and planning for optimal communication inside their teams?

[00:09:11] - Josh Little
Well, sure, it's more like a pyramid at the top of that pyramid needs to be results. Results have to be the output of whatever the input is right. And communication is an input. How we communicate is how we work, how we show up in our culture. Communication is culture. But culture is not results. Culture is a tool that helps us be connected and feel connected so that we can get the results we want. So at the top. Every communication strategy should be the results. Now how are we going to communicate in the way that gets us the results we want? And the question is, well, was everyone hired to do a job or were they hired to sit in meetings? Well, of course, that's a stupid question. We're hired to do a job. Well, what does that job require? Well, that requires me doing meaningful work, which probably requires some sort of state of deep work or flow, which means I can't be interrupted.

[00:10:12] - Josh Little
Okay, we got that. Well, if I can't be interrupted, but then what about meetings? Where can we just schedule meetings any time we want? Well, no, because that's going to interrupt the flow, and it takes me 23 minutes to get back into that state. Okay. Well, how are we going to how we're going to communicate in a way that's not interruptive, but is meaningful? And again, that's why we come to the solution that we've come to with Volley is that you need to be able to constantly be in the flow of work. Your communication strategy needs to enable people to say what they need to say and move on with their day. And if you can't do that, then results are going to be hampered. So every bit of communication strategy needs to support results from culture to relationship. All of those things need to be running on top cylinders so that results can be achieved.

[00:11:04] - Claire Haidar
It's a good framework. I like the vision.

[00:11:07] - Josh Little
I just made it up. I have no idea. I just made that up.

[00:11:11] - Claire Haidar
I love the visual of the pyramid. There's something in that pyramid.

[00:11:14] - Josh Little
I should probably write that down. I don't know.

[00:11:16] - Claire Haidar
Exactly, this is your next blog post.

[00:11:19] - Doug Foulkes
And with that rather off the cuff framework, which, by the way, seems to make a lot of sense. We'll wrap up this episode, but not on a lighter note before we hear about Joshua's pickles.

[00:11:30] - Doug Foulkes
Claire, you said you already spoken about pickles.

[00:11:32] - Doug Foulkes
I read about it's your grandfather's recipe. Is that right? Just tell me, give me the 30 seconds on your pickle company.

[00:11:39] - Josh Little
Oh, sure. My family didn't have money, but they had amazing pickle recipes that they wrote down in a leather-bound book that I keep in my safe today. I'm a fifth-generation Pickler. I make pickles with my family. And when I moved to Utah, I started making them here and gave them just gave jars to friends. And then pretty soon friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends. And it became quite an operation. So I thought maybe it was my next company. I built a lab in my garage and hired a pickle scientist, and we tried for a few months making hundreds of different versions of my family's recipes to try to make a shelf-stable version.

[00:12:17] - Josh Little
Turns out it's scientifically impossible, so I either have to sell out or I have to build a very grindy capital intensive business. And after building three software companies, wasn't that interesting to me. So now it's a total hipster hobby. I make pickles with my kids. We grow everything on our property. We make one big batch of hundreds of jars a year, and we sell out in about an hour.

[00:12:40] - Doug Foulkes
And that is the end of episode 55, pickles and all. And our conversation with Josh Little. If you found this podcast of value, then please share it with friends and colleagues. Catches on Spotify, Google, and Apple Podcasts or on Wndyr's website. That's W-N-D-Y-R.com and from Clare and myself. Bye for now.

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