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Don’t give up because the unexpected can happen – #027

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Today is a somewhat shorter episode, and I like it so much for several reasons. Firstly, it was never meant to happen, also because the chat went in directions that I literally never expected and finally there’s just so much synchronicity in it, as you will find out later!

Mark Maunder is the founder of Wordfence, the WordPress security solution that I’m sure you’ve heard of. I met him at an evening security event at WordCamp Europe, and we spoke for a couple of minutes.

The next day, I was recording interviews and as I finished one, he happened to be walking by. As you will discover, Mark likes his tech and he was interested in the recording desk that we were using. So I started to show him how it worked and before too long we had located the record button, pushed it, and this short interview is what resulted.

To start with we talk about how Mark and the team at Wordfence have started to take a real and active interest in events like WordCamps. They see this as a way to interact with the community, but also to get to know their customers in a way that no online system can match. Seeing them face to face and talking through what they need from Wordfence has proven to be the best way to know where the product should be heading.

Speaking of community, the conversation then takes a somewhat unexpected turn. Mark quietly drops into the conversation that he’s been working with a talented team of filmmakers to produce a WordPress documentary, a film about the WordPress community.

Mark talks about how he’s been bitten by the film bug and how the creation of the film has been a project that he’s been inspired by, but also how he’s tried to ‘let go’ of it… allowing the filmmakers to have full ownership of it instead. He’s clearly proud of the results and well might he be.

If you watched Matt Mullenweg’s ‘State of the Word‘ address at WordCamp US in 2019, then you’ll have seen that film. It took up about 25% of his entire address!

I have to agree with Mark, it’s a great film and shows the WordPress community (something that we at this podcast know) in the best of lights.

We then change directions again and talk about Wordfence. Another wonderful story. Mark talks about how Wordfence was a product that came about after a series of other projects which simply did not get the traction that he’d hoped. This is a story of not giving up.

We learn that Mark and his family had reached the very end of their savings and had moved in with his relatives. In effect, Wordfence was a last chance at creating a product that was profitable… and it worked!

From an interesting start as a black hat hacker, Mark brought his years of experience to bear and created a product that is now the security solution for many thousands of WordPress websites.

So this podcast has so much synchronicity. I release a podcast recorded months ago and by coincidence Mark’s film get’s premiered just a couple of days before.

The story that Mark tells reeks of ‘staying the course’, keeping going in the hope that that little light at the end of the tunnel will grow bigger and brighter. All this in the same month that WP and UP have the Never Give UP campaign in full swing!

Somehow I think that this podcast was meant to be aired on this exact week, but I have no idea how it ended up being so very well timed.

Im Gespräch mit Nathan Wrigley.

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Mark Maunder

Mark Maunder is the founder of Wordfence, the popular WordPress security solution. He’s also a very keen on…

PODCAST-TRANSKRIPT

Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 27 of the PressForward podcast. I’m Nathan Wrigley and I want to welcome you back to the podcast and if this is your first time listening, it’s great that you found us. The pressboard podcast is created by WP and UP. We’re a nonprofit working in the WordPress space to help you, your colleagues.
In fact, anyone you can find out more about the [email protected] and UP.org on the podcast. Today, I’m going to be talking to Mark Maunder from Wordfence, but before that, a little bit of housekeeping. The WP and UP community is growing and listening to this podcast and makes you part of that community.
We’d still love more people to get involved though. There’s no real template for what that involves, but some ideas for helping the podcast out might be, you could talk about the podcast on social media. Or about it on your own website. You could rate it on Apple podcast or you can subscribe to it on your favorite podcast player, and you can do this by going to WP and UP.org forward slash podcast dash feed.
We’re also running an awareness campaign throughout October and early November in 2019. And it’s called hashtag never give up. The services that WP and UP provides are incredibly valuable there helping and supporting many people, but they come at a cost thanks to the likes of green geeks and WPMU Dev.
We’ve been able to get to where we are now, but if WP and up is to continue, we need your help to finance it. You can head to WP and UP.org forward slash never give up. To find out more about exactly what an organization such as WP and UP costs to maintain, and it’s honestly quite enlightening.
From there, you might like to head over to WP and UP.org forward slash donate and donate something yourself. It doesn’t need to be a lot. Just a few dollars will help us provide phone support or keep our online support community open. So please help us so that we can continue to support the WordPress community.
Those URLs, again, WP and UP.org forward slash never give up and WP and UP.org forward slash donate. Thank you.
The PressForward podcast is brought to you today by Green Geeks. Green Geeks offers an awesome managed web hosting platform that’s built for speed, security, and scalability whilst being environmentally friendly. Enjoy a better web hosting experience for your WordPress website, backed by 24 seven expert support. And we thank Green Geeks for helping us to put on the press forward podcast.
Okay, so on to today’s episode today I talk with Mark Maunder. It’s a somewhat shorter episode and I like it so much for several reasons. First, it was never really meant to happen. Also because the chat went in directions that I literally never expected. And finally, there’s just so much synchronicity in it.
As you’ll find out later, Mark Mondo is the founder of Wordfence, the WordPress security solution that I’m sure many of you have heard of. I met him at an evening security event at word camp Europe, and we spoke for a couple of minutes. The next day I was recording interviews and as I finished one, he happened to be walking by, as you will discover, Mark likes his tech.
And he was interested in the recording desk that we were using. So I started to show him how it worked, and before too long we had located the record button, pushed it, and this is the short interview that resulted. We talk about his approach to the WordPress community. We talk about a film that he’s been involved with and how Wordfence was the last in a series of products that he’s launched.
It’s a great tale, and it speaks to the idea of never giving up that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s only a dim lights right now. And so without further ado, I bring you. Mark Maunder.
This is an impromptu conversation. I’m having a conversation here with Mark from Wordfence. Hello, Mark.
Mark Maunder: [00:05:02] Hey, Nathan. How’s it going?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:03] Yeah. Good. We weren’t supposed to have this chat and then you wandered by and we started talking and I sh I got carried away and wanting to show him the audio equipment. So here we are.
Mark Maunder: [00:05:11] Yeah, it’s a beautiful setup you’ve got here. I actually love the level of the mic stand. It’s just so comfy.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:17] We could literally obsess about the technology in front of us and not talk about it. Internet security or anything. Should we talk about internet security? Go on. Really? I know that you’ve got to do this over and, Oh, no, no, no, no. Let’s do it. Have you enjoyed being here?
Mark Maunder: [00:05:29] Yeah, it’s been great. It’s actually, my first word can be you. And, um, so I’ve met a lot of new people and, uh, I go to WordCamps in the U.S. A fair amount. Uh, we sponsor and so on. And for this, uh, this is kind of a recon for our team. Um, we, we want to sponsor. But we’ve never been, so we thought we’d better go and check it out.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:47] Send somebody, send the chief executive.
Mark Maunder: [00:05:49] Yeah. Well, there’s about six of us here. Yeah. And five of them are doing actual work. One of them is just having a lot of fun. And that’s you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:56] You literally wandering about, no, you’re doing interviews.
Mark Maunder: [00:05:59] Yeah. Well, we were chatting on the other side of the, yeah. Yeah. So I’ve met some, some really cool people, you know, and it’s, um. Uh, I’m realizing it’s high time that I’m out here because there’s just a huge part of the community is in, in Europe.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:12] Yeah. Did you, did it occur to you that, I mean, obviously the numbers are massive, you know, 3000 people have showed up here, but you didn’t sort of think before this one, it was worth the effort, maybe.
Mark Maunder: [00:06:22] I, you know, I think we just really focused on the business. And then, um, probably a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago, we started sponsoring and, and I’m really engaging with were camps. And then, you know, kind of six months into it, we really caught our stride and figured out what we were doing and got kind of good at it. And, um, uh, and then a year after doing, of doing that, um, it’s amazing, right? It’s, we’ve connected with. Uh, the community, the people who love the flexor create WordPress. Um, and, and most importantly, our customer. You know, like you sort of realize that it is the place where your customer goes to hang out.
And if you want to have face to face with them all day long at a booth and it’s exactly what you can do. And so it’s really helped guide the product, and that’s a huge return on investment for us. And so it’s not just, you know, going off to sell licenses or something like that, you know, it’s actually.
Feeding that there’s interactions back into the product, figuring out what they, what your customers need. Yeah. And, um, and so, you know, we sort of, baby steps for us was do, do, do the U S first and now we’re looking at Europe, we chatting to WordCamp, Costa Rica, a few other places, um, to kind of expand out of there.
And, and we also have data that allows us to justify, uh, you know, sponsoring where can be used. So, um, so yeah, we’ll certainly be looking at that for next year.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:34] Do you sponsor things other than. Well camps. Yeah. Um, the sponsored podcasts.
Mark Maunder: [00:07:41] We can totally chat about that when you hit that was a loaded No, but, um, but yeah, no, we do. And, um, we actually sponsor people. Um, so, uh, so for example, a Jem Turner who did some amazing security research. She’s based in the UK, and I think you met. Her or maybe I just intended to introduce you to, but, um, she broke the Piptic story about the theme developer who was kind of putting stuff in his theme that wasn’t, or plugin I should say, that wasn’t supposed to be there.
Uh, she published some amazing security research a while ago, and we happen to publish the same, uh, the same research, similar research on the same day. Um, and, uh, and gems was actually more comprehensive than, and so she’s just a developer that’s passionate about security, and she’s based in the UK.
So we flew her and her husband out here to work on B, you just to hang out and, um, and interacting. Um, and so, and, um, so we’ll, we’ll sponsor folks like that, you know, we’ll sponsor events. I think we sponsored WP Campus. Um, yes. And a couple of other events. Uh, Kathy is, um, kinda coordinates that for us.
Kathy Zant, she’s on Twitter at Kathy Zant if you want to reach out to her about a sponsorship. Um, but we’re, uh, we’re very passionate about though, about sponsoring, you know, and about, um, kind of, uh, enabling the community and, and interacting. And like I said, you know, it’s not a sort of a one way thing.
We, we get a lot out of it too. And, um. Uh, and then we’ve also gotten involved in organizing work camps. And by we, I mean Cathy and some other members of our team that are right. Um, yeah, I don’t get to take credit for that at all. Um, uh, and, and Kathy’s really chatting to her as medic clear to me how much work it is, and, and chatting to folks like Raquel.
He’s one of the organizers work on Phoenix. And, um, you know, Kathy druon, who was a sponsor coordinator for work at us. Um, you know, these people give a huge amount of their time to WordPress and, um. Uh, uh, you know, there’s no sort of clear will guaranteed ROI in any way for them. Um, and so actually that, uh.
Yeah. That is what caused us to be inspired to create a, um, this project that we’ve been working on for the last a year. Do you mind if I mentioned that?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:43] Is it like a hot, exclusive?
Mark Maunder: [00:09:44] Um, no, it’s a little bit. Um, so we’ve been working on a documentary about the, um, community behind WordPress.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:53] Nice. And I’m, I’m friends with video.
Mark Maunder: [00:09:57] Yeah. The film. It sounds fun. So it’s, um, a buddy, a year ago I was chatting with a friend of mine, um, entered Rodriguez in Denver. And him and his colleague, uh, Sean Corbett’s are filmmakers. They’re based there. Um, and so we, um, came up with this idea for a film that, um, documentary that explores the, the, the community behind WordPress.
And we started shooting. And it’s one of these things where you don’t really know, you know, what the story is, you just go in and you start talking to people. Um, and they shot over 30 hours of interviews with all kinds of folks, and towards the end, we did a, managed to get an interview with Matt Mullenweg, uh, about an hour.
And, um, and then a story arc emerged, uh, and, and what, um, they produced. And Sean is the director. Sean Corbus is the director on the film. Um, what they created is, um. This, uh, the story about why, uh, the folks behind WordPress volunteer, uh, so much of their time for free to software, the power is a $10 billion industry.
Right? Um, you know, um, and you know, Shawn, uh, this sort of went through a few iterations with the edit and, and then this thing happened where Shawn locked himself in the room for three days, and when he merged the edit that we saw, and so Kathy and I are executive producers on the project at Kathy’s end.
And, uh, what we saw, what emerged was a thing of beauty. We realized that that moment, it was rough. It’s not color graded, you know, no post production or anything, but, but the, the, the story arc emerged and we realized, Oh my goodness, we’ve actually got a fun here. And so since then, we’ve been working with some folks in Hollywood.
Um. That have been amazing. Uh, Alex Ferrari, uh, who helps in the filmmakers, uh, get into film festivals. Um, he helped us enter into Holly shorts, which is a short film festival in Hollywood. We’ve also entered it into Telluride and Toronto film festival. Um, and then we’ve recently been working with, um, uh, Glenn and his last name escapes me.
Sorry, Glen. But I’m from circus road funds. I think it’s Glen’s company. And, uh, he’s also been kind of mentoring us a little bit and looking at other festivals that we can, uh, we can answer. And then, uh, we hoping to premiere at WordCamp us, uh, later this year. I think it’s November. Um, the, the logistics behind that are, uh, are proving to be interesting.
Um, but, uh, we’re, we’re having to find a venue there and, uh, we’ll, we’ll, uh, maybe we’ll even find a red carpet. Who knows.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:18] Yeah. So that’s like a really interesting philanthropic thing.
Mark Maunder: [00:12:22] A little bit. Yeah. So, um, uh, it is a fun, uh, you know, so it’s not us pushing our brand or anything like that. Um, Wordfence funded it. You know, we, we wrote the check, but the goal was to create, um, art. In the form of a phone. Uh, you know, our name is at the beginning as the, you know, essentially the studio, like universal studios as America, you know, it’s a, uh, Wordfence production in association with Lightworkers Republic.
The music is by, uh, ancient letters. Sounds, um, uh, let, uh, uh, rock us in Denver. She did an amazing job scoring the phone. Um, and then the, you know, it’s just the foam and it’s the folks behind WordPress and we don’t appear in it. I think there’s like briefly, some Bureau of about a second way.
You can see the, the word friends team along with all the other sponsors as well. And yeah. Um, and all of the, the volunteers, um, behind it. And, uh, and, and, you know, we go, we go deep on some individual stories. Um, and, uh, and there’s a, there’s a really great story arc in it’s, um, we had a S very small focus group of about four people that we showed a, um, a very early cut to.
And their reaction was, it was like give everyone chills. You know, Kathy was in the room. I wasn’t there, but there were some, there’s actually a couple people that shed some shed a tear.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:13:36] There was no way when you, when you walked up to me like 20 minutes ago, there was really, I was thinking, yeah, let’s talk about filming that I told you about this last year, but I think we talked about a bunch of other stuff.
I’m just gone out of my head. Yeah. This weird, interesting stuff. Are you like. Are you into film?
Mark Maunder: [00:13:52] I am now. Oh, yeah. So it wasn’t, I mean, I was into photography and, um, two of my best friends growing up, our one rent runs a CGI studio in Cape town. Um, they do amazing work for companies like Marvel and so on. And then another is a director. And I think I’ve always kind of envy, envy them from afar. Um, but my, my business is always been software, right? Hey, I run Wordfence and so on. And, um. Um, I have a little bit of free time now and I’ve been working with Andrew and Sean and trying to actually making darn sure that I don’t interfere with their creative process cause they own that.
Right. Um, but, you know, just kind of learning through osmosis. Um, by, by working with them and then also working with Alex, um, you know, in LA and so on. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve learned to love him. The bug has bitten me pretty hard. And so, so, so, um, my, my wife and I, uh, at least two weeks from now, we’re entering into a, uh, something called the 48 hour phone project in Seattle.
And, uh, you make a film in 48 hours, and what you do is you show up on Friday night and you’d draw a genre out of the hat. And then they give you, they give you a required prep and a required line, and you have to, um, you have to create it, write a screenplay. Full minute score it edited, you know, the whole, the whole deal.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:02] And then whoever you want in. Yeah. You could, yeah. Loads of money on this and get a really high quality job if you get two.
Mark Maunder: [00:15:08] But you know, you don’t know we’re going to pay you that money back. You know, cause it’s just a fun thing. There’s about, I think 30 or 40 entry entrance so far. And, um, we’re just doing it for fun. So you hand your film in Sunday night and then two weeks later there’s kind of a little mini film festival at the Seattle independent film festival theater. Um, and so we’re going to dabble with that and see and probably make something completely awful.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:30] But that’d be fun. But look, look what internet security got you. Look what it literally allowed this, this rounded on film. Wow. That is fascinating. I, I am. I am without words. I can’t see myself ever making a film. It’s you. You have a camera right there that’s not on, I forgot to turn it on because we quickly rushed and press the button. It’s not audio this way.
Mark Maunder: [00:15:52] But I, uh, I asked my director friend, uh, you know, what’s the best camera that I can get? And he said, the one that you have with you.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:58] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Literally. Yeah. It takes, I think, Do you want to talk about Wordfence. Um, you can talk about that. Sure. Yeah. Let’s talk about Wordfence. So when did you start Wordfence? How, how long has that thing been going? Did you start it? Have you, have you been, like, you know, handling it all the way through?
Mark Maunder: [00:16:14] So, um, let’s see. Um, my wife Carrie, Carrie Boyd, and myself, Carrie, Carrie is, um, kinda the, the legend behind the scenes. Um, she’s not public facing. Um, but she’s our chief operating officer and our chief financial officer and her, and I. Met in about 2000. And, um, and started dating back then.
And then, uh, we started becoming, we became full time entrepreneurs in 2003. We got married in 2005. And, um, I mean, we’d been, we’d been at it since then. You know, we launched a job search engine back in 2004 called work zoo. And, um. We launched a, a, an inline commenting system called mind bows.
We’re going to do a blogging platform called geo Joey. We launched a viral, uh, that’ll, um, real time analytics widget for your cycle feed yet. Uh, we turned that into a realtime analytics software, kind of assess, um, software thing. Um, we did a, uh, something called the geo blogosphere where you could see what people are reading in your city.
This is a story of being resolving, never to give in is right, right, right. Yeah. And so, uh, all of them. You know, some of them got some traction, um, but none of them generated a significant amount of money, uh, you know, sort of a living wage kind of thing. And, um, uh, uh, we eventually, we’re kind of in our late thirties, and, uh, we, we had burned through, uh, all of our money, including our life savings.
Carrie’s 401k, you know, my, which is a, in the U S that’s your, your life savings. I something, um, yeah. And, uh, my, you know. The savings as well. Uh, we, we sold a car to pay the last month’s rent, moved out of our place and moved in with her parents for a year to keep going. Right? And this is a good story.
This is shaping up to be nice. And so I was sitting upstairs in the, um, uh, sort of in this upstairs room that they’ve got, and they set up an office there for myself. And. And I was like, I’m not going to fail. You know, I’m going to, I’m going to make this work. You know, like a decade later, I was like, Oh, no, read a file again.
This one’s going to be the one. And, and, um, and so I was up there and, uh, and I came up with four criteria for a, a space that we should explore. And it was that it has to be a space that’s growing in market that is growing, uh, where people clearly spend money where there’s a gap in the market that we can fill and something that we can be the best in the world at.
And, um, my brother had been with it then no mean, mean, main criteria. Those, you know, you’re aiming low. They’re on best in the world. That’s good. Well, yeah, we wanted to, if we’d been going at it for so long that the definition for success for us, it become fairly high. The bar was pretty high at this point.
You know, you spend a big chunk of your life doing this, you better succeed pretty hard one of these days. Yeah. So, um, my brother had been running a small agency, uh, in the WordPress space, and so he had introduced me to the WordPress economy. Uh, you know, so this, it’s a very growing, um, market where people were buying themes and plugins and so on.
And, um, they were clearly growing. um, it was a, if you wanted to create a plugin, it was PHP and I was a very good Perl developer at the time. I’ve been doing that since the 90s. And, and trust me, if you can do good Perl, you php really nice to switch to. Yes. But, um, uh, and I had been a black hat hacker in the 90s.
Um, been up to no good back then. So I was passionate about security and my own site, but hack to my personal blog got hacked in you, you knew the level. Yeah. And that was the Tim thumb vulnerability. And at the time it was a zero day, so no one knew about it. Yeah. And I looked at the logs and I figured out that it was Tim thumb that they had targeted and figured out those a vulnerability in the software they exploited.
And Brian Moon was running the project at the time. And so I wrote a patch for that and I gave that to Brian and he incorporated it into the project. Um, and, and I wrote some blog posts about this, you know, and so that kind of introduced me to WordPress, to the WordPress community in a security context.
And so now I had a way to launch something if I wanted to create it. And I decided to, um, um, to, to create Wordfence and I dropped everything and I spent eight months. To create the first version. Wow. Um, and we launched it, and when we launched it, you know, Carrie and I had been doing the entrepreneurial thing for, for a decade or so, and we knew that we needed to launch it with a business model.
Otherwise, there’s, there’s no point, you know, we needed to pay rent, move out of their parents in laws place. Right. And so we launched it with a recurring revenue model, um, with a funnel, um, you know, in sort of a direct marketing strategy and so on. And, um. And, and we went from there and it, it was a slow, um, growth, you know, it was kind of a set exponential curve where the beginning of the curve was very boring for the first year, and then it got a little bit more exciting.
And then, you know, two years in it was like, Oh, wow. It looks like we’ve got a business on our hands. And not only that, but the growth trajectory here is pretty interesting. Um, and you, yeah. Right. Finally. Um, and so, um, we hired a Tim Cantrell, uh, to take on customer service. That was our first hire.
We knew that we needed to invest in customer service because that was very important to us. We knew that a sustainable business treats their customers very well, and so we’ve always had spectacular customer service. And so Tim took that on and did an absolutely amazing job. And back then, um, we were, you know, tiny.
And so we actually had. Went out to Knoxville, Tennessee to recruit Tim and his wife, took them out to dinner and recruited the family because it’s like you’re joining these two crazies that, you know, intimidated being at, um, at scripts for, uh, for 10 years. Um, and he left that to join us, which is huge.
Um, and then the trust. Yeah. And then Matt Berry was our, our next hire, and who’s our, a developer and, um, a brilliant developer and Matt still with us. And he’s the lead developer at Wordfence now. Um, and he does an amazing job and he’s published amazing security research as well. Matt is a really great guy.
Um, but Matt, you know, as the same thing, we’ve been out to new England and met with Matt and his wife and the kids, and, um, we’re like, okay, you know, we’re not completely crazy here. Here’s what we’re planning and higher family number three. Yeah. Yeah. Well that, that was the number two. Uh, so it was Tim, and then it was Matt, and then we kind of went from there.
And, um, I think that also set the ethos for hiring in our company in, in word fence. Um, yeah, we, we, we really invested in, um, uh, human resources, uh, really good, um, health care. Um, I think we’ve got the best that you can get. It’s competitive, comparable to Microsoft or whatever the, you know, the big guys have to do.
Um, you know, Carena, uh, it runs the human resources for us and she does a really great job with making sure that everyone’s You know, happy. And, you know, we kind of check in with folks regularly, and there’s team events and so on. Um, and the whole team’s remote. Um, and, and, and I’ll, I’ll share with you a little bit about that actually.
Um, you know, I mentioned that in the nineties I was. In the hacking scene, uh, I was actually what you would call a phone freak. So I would, I would hack the international phone lines, um, to, to get recycled. I think the statute of limitations ran out about a decade ago. Um, but I was in South Africa and I would, uh, I would, I would, um.
I get free phone calls to, um, the U S and I connect to us, um, hacking bulletin boards. Right. Okay. And so what I would do is I’d, I’d exploit the phone lines. I call it, call the home country direct in South Africa. It would connect me to an operator in the U S I’d send these tones through the line.
He sees towns, I’d seize the trunk, and then I would send these command terms through and it would allow me to place a call to anywhere in the world. I political to VBS in the U S at connect to digital decay run by ArcLight. And I actually have chatted with art lights since then. You’re based in orange County where my future wife would be from.
Um, but I made friends with people on the phone. Right. Um, I would, you know, phone up people, uh, around South Africa, around, uh, UN otherwise known as maelstrom in the UK. Um, you know, some folks from the U S. And, um, and we were, I had these sort of virtual friends that I would just know this voice on the other end of the line.
And what that taught me is that you can have a very deep relationship with someone by just hearing their voice. You know, that, that made that clear to me, that, that, that I can build a culture that is virtual and where it’s just VoiceBase, you know? And so that’s how we’ve built our business.
Our business is totally remote. Um, and we use something called TeamSpeak, which is a push to talk system, um, and we’ll do calls via Slack and so on, but it’s always voice. Um, every now and then, you know, Corina, we’ll just for fun arrange a Halloween thing where we have everyone on video, but that’s literally like once a year.
And what I love about the, the voice thing is that. Um, about having a sort of, a relationship with someone just, just by a voice, is that it levels the playing field. It levels the, um, you don’t have someone who is, you know, six foot five, a former quarterback walking into a room wearing a really nice suit, and they kind of dominate the room.
And you’ve got folks that are, you know, intellectual giants, but are stifled because they don’t, you know, look the same. They didn’t look like some billboard poster or whatever. They don’t have a deep, you know, they don’t dominate the room. Um, and. Um, and I, I really love that. And so, you know, I was chatting with a, with one of my colleagues recently, and she was saying, um, you know, Hey, maybe we should, we should do video.
Maybe we should, um, you know, switch to video, something like that. And I, I told her this exact story that. That’s, I think one of the things that empowers our company is that it, we have a very level playing field, you know, and so we’ve got folks in our business that are, you know, giants in what they do.
Um, and, um, you know, in a normal company, they might just be shouted down. Um, and, um. Uh, I think that’s something that’s really worked for us.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:40] I mean, the whole remote thing, the distributed working as it’s now called, is it? It’s growing. Oddly enough. One of the things that this charity is kind of trying to combat is that exact problem. You know, the sort of the isolation that can come from that. It sounds like you’ve got a, like a real handle on it and you take care of your, your employees very well. I’m not sure it’s always the case for. You know, freelancers and remote workers. But that sounds, that sounds like you’re, you know, you’ve, you’ve invested in people’s futures.
Mark Maunder: [00:26:05] We’ll, we’re always learning, you know. Um, and I think the, the work that you guys are doing, um, is, is really interesting. Um, and, uh, you know, we’re, we’re checking in with our team. We meet in person at Def con every year. Um, so we’ll fly everyone out to Vegas and go to the big hacking conference.
I want to go. Oh, you sure? Yeah. Your last one was 26,000 people. It’s massive. It’s quite a spectacle. And black hat is just before it. And then you’ve got, besides just before that. Yeah. So this is poultry, sort of trio of hacking conferences happening at the same time in Vegas. And so, you know, put your phone in airplane mode and go to Vegas and check it out, like if somebody’s going to own it.
But yeah. Um, uh, but like I said, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re learning. Um, so we’ll, we’ll check in with our team. And, you know, I’m always saying like, what can we, what can we do better? And. How are you doing? You know? Um, because, uh, I mean, I carry an, I were in a room working for over a decade trying to build a business.
And, um, you know, we know, we know a little bit about what that’s like. And, um, I think it can have a physical impacts and a mental impact. And, you know, when wants to, uh, so novel, a Ravi, a friend of mine, and, um. He’s actually on our board. And he’s an amazing guy. And one of the things that he says is that your health is the most important thing.
And, and what he said is that your health is more important than your family. And the first time I heard that, I was like, yeah. Wait, what? No, that’s not supposed to be right. You know, your family is supposed to be the most important thing
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:25] I’m processing and now you get it.
Mark Maunder: [00:27:27] Cause you realize if you are sick or you’re not there, you can’t help your family. In fact, you might be here, you know, a burden on them or that kind of thing. So your health has to come first. And, um, you know, his, his philosophy is that you’ll learn, you wake up in the morning, that’s the first thing he takes care of. So, um, you know, I’ve really switched to that. Um. I do yoga in the mornings.
That’s my thing. So, you know, wake up, roll out of bed and roll into the yoga mat and do my thing. So, well, Mark, I’m conscious that you’ve got other things to do. This interview was never supposed to happen. We just pressed the button because you happen to walk past. I really appreciate it. It’s been a great chat. Really. A lot of fun. Yeah. Thanks for coming on. Yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:01] One of the purposes of the PressForward podcast is to lift the lid on topics that don’t get talked about often enough to allow people to share their stories so that others might listen. And by listening, they may gain an understanding that they’re not alone. There are other people out there who have faced the same situations that you are facing.
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