Matthew Criticos, Technical Director at Worldwide101

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UPDATE: Worldwide101 is now, you can now reach Matt at

Matthew Criticos, Technical Director at Worldwide101

Matt Criticos is co-founder of Worldwide101, a premium subscription staffing company. Worldwide101 provides demanding founders and executives with the ridiculously talented remote staff they need to grow their business, on a simple monthly subscription, without needing to employ them directly.

Matt leaps out of bed in the morning partly because his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks want to go walking in the forest close to their home, but equally because he’s fired up about the benefits of remote work for businesses and for employees.

“When you’re an entrepreneur or leader trying to grow your company, being able to keep things moving, get things done, and stay agile is like being able to breathe, it’s crucial. Getting experienced, Fortune 500-trained staff on a fractional basis makes that possible. It fires me up to help businesses get access to the people they need to succeed beyond their expectations, while also helping our team achieve success with companies they are passionate about. “

Claim 20% off your first month of any plan by mentioning the Scaling Up Services Podcast when speaking to Matt’s team :


[00:00:01] You're listening to Scaling Up Services where we speak with entrepreneurs authors business experts and thought leaders to give you the knowledge and insights you need to scale your service based business faster and easier. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

[00:00:24] I'm here with Matt Critics who is co-founder of worldwide one to one. And we're gonna find out a little bit about their company and the work they do in staffing and kind of the unique model they hold. And we're going to talk a little bit about their history how they started the company how the growth has gone. We're going to learn a little bit about what's worked what hasn't. And we're going to have a chance to hear from one of the experts it's one of the co-founders here. So Matt welcome to the program.

[00:00:47] Thanks Bruce. It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:49] Yeah it's a pleasure. What do we start. I always like to start by having guests just give a little bit of a history. So how did things start. What was the founding of worldwide like. How did it start why did it start and how did you get into it. What's your your background.

[00:01:03] Yeah sure so. My wife and I founded the business we started late 2010. It was a story sort of beginning with us going back to Europe for Christmas. We saw our family that we'd be working in the States for 20 years hadn't seen our family for for a few years and thought to ourselves gosh everyone's looking a bit older we need to start thinking about coming closer to home. And so at the end of 2010 we basically packed ourselves up moved back from the US to Europe and it was the beginning of a new chapter.

[00:01:37] It was an opportunity obviously for us to sort of recreate our situation and build something that would really work for us both on a sort of personal level where we lived and how we sort of lived our life and and also the work we did. So that was sort of the inspiration in Genesis for beginning something new.

[00:01:54] Joanna and what was the original service like how were you what need Did you see in the market and what problem when you're trying to solve or what need Were you trying to fulfill.

[00:02:04] Yeah. I mean what originally happened is as you probably know began in 2010 it was a very sort of a hot time for freelancing. So Sandra my co-founder I have a diverse scale as I come from a marketing communications and web background. She comes from operations and a job background. We started freelancing and both of us share a sort of real passion and real commitment for excellence and doing a great job and having really happy clients out of it.

[00:02:32] And those clients started sharing with friends and you know it was working really well and we reached a point where we re literally could not do it ourselves anymore. We couldn't keep providing these services personally. And so we started bringing on a team with similar values to us that had that passion for service and for high quality results. And so we had a life of its own it is really sort of organic in fact founding the company itself was almost an afterthought.

[00:03:02] So suddenly we had to start paying people we needed a new bank account. So we founded the company but you know up until then it was really just about offering great services with passion and trying to do a great job.

[00:03:14] Yeah. So you mentioned bringing on people with values. How how did you go about deciding who to bring on. So I think that's one of the few challenges that most companies have. How do you choose. How do you find the right people and how do you select then how do you recruit them.

[00:03:28] A very good question and it's definitely been an iterative process that we've learned a lot over the years. You know when we first started out it was easy on people as fast as we could and really focusing on skills. And then we realized that that just wasn't enough. It wasn't enough to just focus on skills and that values and culture are peripheral services business particularly absolutely vital. In fact it's the bedrock of the business because it's all about people it's all about relationships it's through your people that your your company's life force sort of flow.

[00:04:02] So you know after after a few know sort of bad experiences where we'd made some hiring mistakes.

[00:04:12] In fact my founder tells the funny story about one of our team who sort of disappeared on us and the latest do we saw pictures on our Facebook page about a wild weekend in Las Vegas when we thought she was in hospital with a kidney from a conservative.

[00:04:26] Those sort of experiences made us realize very quickly that we needed to one be very clear about our values ourselves and articulate them for ourselves so that we could then look for those in our hiring process.

[00:04:38] And so you know we've done a lot of clarifying what's important to us. And one of the main things really is about having people who share that quality of really wanting other people to succeed. And you know for our team their success is their clients success and their clients success is their success. So it's this it's this circular relationship that they establish together that virtuous circles virtuous cycle of success.

[00:05:09] Yes I was kind of curious in terms of the actual hiring process. Any any tricks or tools or techniques that you've learned to use to understand those core values or to be able to assess those core values because I always find that it's one thing to have never articulated set of core values for a company it's another thing to say well OK.

[00:05:25] And during the hiring process this is how we figure out if they're shared or not. It's so easy to ask these kind of leading questions. Well do you do you care about the success of other people.

[00:05:34] Well sure I do. That means I'm going to get a job. So how do you do that. Exactly.

[00:05:38] Well exactly I mean one of the that for example that point that you know we just talked about which was you know looking for people that are looking for others to succeed. So if you ask them a question like something like So what.

[00:05:51] You know what does success look like for you someone who's really into themselves is going to talk about themselves and how great they are and all of those kind of things. Someone who's really interested in other people's success is going to talk about their team.

[00:06:05] They're going to talk about their clients they're going to talk about how they work together how they collaborate. So we're looking for that kind of evidence that they know that they have have those those qualities.

[00:06:16] Yeah I like that strategy of asking them a neutral question about background or you know what was the best grades you had professionally and then seeing what are they talking about. What is the focus of the conversation is at them and how great they did as a team and how what a wonderful job that they did for the client.

[00:06:33] Good Strategies. Yeah. The other thing the other thing that's important for us we really see the whole process of recruitment from start to finish.

[00:06:42] It's like everybody is. It's not just on during the interview you're on during the whole process. So it's about the replies to the emails that we send out. Are they responsive. Are they polite and really friendly and their responsiveness. If there's a situation like maybe a meeting has to be canceled or something like that today I think gracious in the way they respond to that you know so it's all the little examples of how they act in real life.

[00:07:10] Through and through the recruitment process which really kind of shows how to glide for a while that they intentionally would reschedule an interview to see how their candidate would handle it and they would essentially make them wait for it I think they had 30 minutes to wait for 30 minutes because they wanted to see you like how how does this camp again respond to these kind of situations does that was something that was really important to them. Yeah. Yeah it's interesting that that sort of strategies you can use in the recruiting and hiring process to tease out some of these things. And it's always a challenge because you got to air on one side of the other you've got false positives or false negatives know which. Which do you want and would you rather hire somebody that maybe wasn't the bastard you want to miss. You know exclude a candidate Mir would have been a great hire and figuring out that balances is key. Yeah.

[00:07:53] So in terms of the kind of the services companies you work with a man who is your core customer who's your target what how are you helping folks with with your people's you've got these great people.

[00:08:03] What is the actual engagement models right.

[00:08:05] Well you're really varies.

[00:08:07] We have a big segment of customers that are solar pioneers and solar operators who don't have a team who don't want a team. They're an expert in their subject matter and are looking to to draw join other people to help them with whether it's marketing or administration or project management something like that. So if you want to get on a great team member for the long term you basically have to establish a kind of relationship that can go on for a long time and for most people that's employment but for a small business the model of employment is just so complicated and cumbersome contracts the recruitment the payroll the you know the legalities of it all. So you know having a company like ours that can basically give you staffing as a service out of the box a and fully trained you know high quality person that's available to you long term for exactly the number of hours that you need them but you don't need to employ them because we take care of that. We employ them we take care of a lot of everything that you need. So. So for the small solo piano or very small business that doesn't have the infrastructure of hiring it's a fantastic solid show for the medium sized business. And I suppose now more and more the enterprise business given this hiring economy the Channel Islands is finding great people just a period of particularly finding people locally. So that's where we come in because we have remotes for our business looking for someone non-local if they want to hire someone say they're in New York they want to hire someone in California or somewhere else for them. That's a pretty complicated process because it means establishing in another state one of the complex legal complexities tax complexities of doing that. And so we know we're opening up a whole new audience of potential people working remotely by the day.

[00:09:57] They basically can't get to unless they're willing to go through the complexities of doing so as it's sort of facilitate any relationship or any engagement with talent that you otherwise either is too burdensome or you just can't do practically. Yes absolutely. And in terms of the service I mean one thing that I find many governors going to struggle with that it's easy to get caught in to trying to do everything right but go Wow we can do that.

[00:10:22] I know someone who can do that so let's provide that as a service.

[00:10:25] Like how have you kind of made the choice or honed which services or which type of people you want to be focused on in which case you're not like you didn't give me a little insight into that process and to the extent that you've had to make some choices over time how did you make those choices and why did you make them.

[00:10:43] Yes that's a very good question because early early on when we were just starting out we really wanted to try and do everything. Some say it's like wait. It was very personalized service and we were trying to really cater to each client's very very very tailored requirements. And I think it was just a process of realizing what we were good at.

[00:11:03] Like for example you know executive administration is really our core course speciality marketing and social media is another core speciality.

[00:11:13] But then when we started getting into stuff like more like sales these sort of stuff more complex technical stuff we realized we couldn't do that as well as true specialists in that.

[00:11:26] So there was no point in trying to do it half heartedly or you know in a in a mediocre way. We wanted to focus on the things that we could really do well. Choice of saying no is actually a hard choice sometimes you know a customer wants something and you have to say no you know actually we can't do that. We can do this but we can't do that.

[00:11:48] And the other challenge I find around scaling is just kind of you know from a management like how do you stay connected to your people running company where all of our folks were on site with clients and so you know creating this kind of company culture this candidate's personal relationship connection but the people that work for me and the people that I'm working with.

[00:12:09] How do you do that given given your model given that you have this remote model where people are off working with their clients and they're physically located around the world.

[00:12:17] Yeah it is. It's something that you have to be extremely conscious about. It's not something that will have happened accidentally. Obviously when you are in the office you've got that sort of body language you've got that whole thing going on a sort of bonding that happens which doesn't happen remotely unless you make it happen. So for us it's it's really you know zoom Skype these video conferencing tools are really our you know main domain software we have for you know we're using constantly because whenever we're speaking to our team we're trying to to get that face time so that it is very much like being together and you know we did we really take every opportunity to really talk to just just like you would if you were in the office you know I have a watercooler we have a black channel which is our water cooler and we post our Halloween photos and try and guess who your colleagues husband who is dressed up as you know last week.

[00:13:19] And those kind of things which which keep it personal which keep it. And you know obviously on a professional level it is very much about over communicating about communicating communicating communicating staying in touch not assuming that you know obviously you don't want to micromanage.

[00:13:37] So the style of management becomes much more about setting objectives and performance rather than showing up or just sort of micro kinds of details that the end result but still you you absolutely want to have really regular check ins and stay in touch and meet on a regular basis and really give people the space to talk.

[00:14:00] Rarely give people the space to share with you how it's going for them because you know sometimes in the rush of operations and getting things done and you know it doesn't always come out so you need to give people the space to really share if they've got a nickel about something or if there's a concern about the way some things working so that you know people feel that they they have the space to really to share with you what's going on and you can address it straight away.

[00:14:29] I had a company we had a working with a team that was all remote and one of the things we put in place is that every meeting you had to be a time for every meeting but every meeting had the first five minutes we will start the agenda for five minutes. We had five minutes of just casual conversation before every meeting and it was just a structural way to bring in that kind of unscripted unstructured conversations we can get to know.

[00:14:55] What did you do this week. Like what's going on there and like it was a interesting way to kind of sort of build in your structure or structure unstructured conversation.

[00:15:08] Also as it wouldn't happen. I mean if you're not physically around it's just so easy to jump in these meetings and it's okay. Go Boom here's the agenda what are the takeaways. I can talk to you later.

[00:15:16] Everything becomes business. If you don't have that gets done.

[00:15:19] That's right. And I think what's also important is that it has to be really natural. You can't force it. You can't try and sort of manufacture close relationships with people. So for example one of the fun things that we do with our team we have this stuffed dog called Bugsy and he travels he travels around the world visiting our team member us and our team members take photos with our kids and we all have to guess well where is he this way. If it's Mom. It's things like that where we really get to know each other we we'd get to know the families. We get to know you know it sort of breaks down boundaries and creates closeness in the area really great way.

[00:16:00] Yeah it's always that you know do it.

[00:16:02] Do I really appreciate the other people on my team as people in the lives that they're in and everything that's going on because it's tough. I just see them as a resource and I just see them as an email address or an employee number or a phone number that I'm calling or texting. It's easy to not appreciate and not treat people with respect or with kind of the personal care that you really need to especially a service based businesses.

[00:16:23] That's absolutely true.

[00:16:24] So talk to me a little bit of the clients who kind of honed in on some of the services you mentioned that you know a lot of solar producers small company is a little bit in the midmarket now.

[00:16:34] I always find just like the staff just like people that you want to hire and do they fit your values then that goes true with clients as well. Tell me a little bit about how you learned which clients are more successful or are going to be best fits for you as a business and what clients have been like.

[00:16:53] How do you filter out choose who you're going to work with and who you know it's vital.

[00:16:57] In fact you know it's truly as important as the quality of your team because to have great people on your team you've got to have great clients to have great clients you got to have great people into his life. Again it's that it's that circle so you know our team are the lifeblood of our business. And so having great clients is really key. So you know I think again it's about articulating your values. I think we communicate through our website through our communications who we are. We communicate the kind of companies that we typically work with and the sort of values that we're looking for. So there's a sort of preset action that happens there in terms of customers and then you know during the lead process during the sales process we're listening very carefully to who clients are the way they're speaking the way they are likely to relate to their right hand person that where we're going to be supporting them with it's really listening out is the hardest thing to tell someone that maybe this won't be a great fit. And it's always a very delicate situation that requires a lot of diplomacy and it doesn't happen too often to be honest that it has happened.

[00:18:10] And in terms of how it works you do find the right the right prospect the right customer.

[00:18:16] Talk to me about onboarding because I think particularly when you're dealing with this kind of fairly intimate service or these people or working your folks are working fairly closely with you know with your clients.

[00:18:28] How do you onboard. How do you train. How do you build that relationship so that that's going to be a successful partnership for you and for the client.

[00:18:35] Yeah I mean it's absolutely critical. You know if you want a long term relationship with someone that relationship has to be set up correctly from right from the very beginning. And actually it's how we as a company differentiate from many other people in sort of similar markets which is that we do really pay an inordinate amount of detail to the match between the client and the team member. So most of the other companies are virtual assistant companies that we sort of used to be moons ago which are basically just giving someone the next available person. Yeah that's pretty hit and miss as to whether it's going to work out. So instead what we're looking for is a one that skills match but to very much a personality match because you're gonna be working closely with this person and you've got to get on with each other. If you don't want to work together if you don't hit it off it's just not going to work you know. And different clients want different things you know some clients are very sort of creative and they want someone who's very structured can kind of help keep them in line.

[00:19:39] You've got other people are very structured who want to hear more great you've got different clients who are looking for different qualities in their team and that goes beyond skills. That's more about their work style or their personality. So we go through this very tight matching process and then clients meet their team before and in fact a both of them have to choose to work together. So the client meets they meet each other the client says he s I want to work to work with her or him and our team member says yes I want to work with him so it's a mutually agreed relationship and we find that by doing that I know it sounds maybe a little odd but by doing that clients are actually in the long run end up with someone who's really committed to their success because they've chosen to engage and to work work and if they're not really into it if they're not really passionate about it it's you know it's not going to happen.

[00:20:26] So I liked that idea that it's a it's a double opt in. Both sides have to say yes.

[00:20:30] So you mentioned a couple of tools but I'm kind of curious given your model and your situation in the context of being remote with your team members. You mentioned slog. What else or even how you're using Slack but what other tools are using to connect folks to manage process manage communications what what have you use what what is what is out there and that is not critical to the operating company and making that work.

[00:20:55] Yeah I mean obviously slack zoom as I mentioned Skype use to be Skype becoming less. Now I think one of the key ones is it's some sort of project management tool. So whether that's Asano or base camp something like that but then really the heart of our business is is Google and she.

[00:21:12] Mainly because it's extremely easy to work remotely in that way but also because you know a significant portion of our clients are on the same system so it may it's sharing and integrating extremely easy across the board. So you know I mean sometimes you know people ask you know what are using it. So that's something like a magic magic tool you've got. And truly it's it's not so much about that. I mean that's also important obviously but it's also is the way you use them and that you use that yeah. That you you know you really take advantage of that and that if you're going to take on a new tool that you really are clear that you are ready and that you are committed to using it. So you know I see a lot of people they see in the latest gizmo you know and they sign up for it and they use it for two weeks and then they stop using. Now that's fine if you're on your own but if you're working in a team where everyone has to get onboard and commit to this new processes that surround it then you really want to be sure that you know you're going to commence this ongoing process.

[00:22:16] I mean you mentioned it's not just a tool about how you use it any good kind of policies or processes or heuristics that you've developed as a company about a what tool to use when and how to make sure using the right tool at the right time for the right kind of message.

[00:22:32] I mean there's a couple of things. One is the you know around communication I think communication is an absolutely vital mechanism so particularly when you're working remotely you're not seeing the client for your words. So and so the number one rule is get back to the person when they message you to acknowledge the communication so that you know that you've received it because you know particularly also with our team because they're not necessarily working for a client full time a client may have you know two hours a day and then they have other clients for a few and a few other hours so you made the kind they send you something in the morning. If you don't get back to them until the afternoon they're wondering about where it is.

[00:23:13] Yeah these are great ones and it's one that I think we forget is just let acknowledging receipt.

[00:23:19] And then also kind of telling debugger and you can expect a more detailed reply at a certain point even if it's you know open swamped this week it's going to be next week. Okay. At least at least I know that it's not floating out there as did they get it. Do they not get it. Are they.

[00:23:33] Did I say something wrong. That's that's why I was really just kind of closing the loop on that. The elements any other sort of tips around effective communication that you've learned as a company.

[00:23:44] The thing I would say is that that sort of rule doesn't just apply to him later. It applies to any system that you're using if someone posts something that you know that you get back to them.

[00:23:56] But I think the other thing is not so much a rule about the software but it's sort of setting expectations because again you know with our team again.

[00:24:05] So maybe they're working for two hours in the morning maybe an hour in the afternoon for that particular client. So it really helps to set expectations around when I'll be available when I'm like when when do we have shared time that we'll be working at the same time so that we can touch base and and when I may not going to be that. So you're not you know wondering what's going on and all of that sort of thing. So it's again it's about remote work. It's about setting agreements and having sort of shared understandings about the way you're going to be working when you're going to be working so that everyone's clear and not in the dark and wondering about what's happening.

[00:24:44] Yeah I think that's that's good as being clear being explicit writing it down having having it posted so now the working agreements the rules of the road for the team I think is important because a lot of a lot of assumptions that get made or common sense things that are actually not so common.

[00:25:00] You know and causing problems. But they're not discussed and agreed to. This has been really helpful. I'm fascinated both by your story of the company. A lot of great insight in terms of how to how to work with virtual teams. If people want to find out more about you about worldwide what's the best way to get more information.

[00:25:19] The best way is to come to our Web site worldwide. When a wonder com we've got a lot of content we've got some great videos which explain subscription staffing and what we do and how we help businesses. You know I know some people on a very very simple compliant monthly with a monthly payment makes it just so easy for for business work. So come to worldwide one to one dot com we're actually offering a 20 percent off your first month for any users that have been listening to the podcasts so you can mentioned that when you when you speak to one of our team. Yeah. Worldwide one to one dot com. If you have any questions you want to e-mail us. Please feel free to e-mail said hello at worldwide 1 to 1 dot com and where we're on the social Facebook and Twitter and everything.

[00:26:10] I'll make sure that those links are on the show notes here so people can click through rates and take advantage of the 20 percent. It's a great way to kind of reduce some of the some of the risk of trying to sort out I know a lot of people are curious but they haven't really pulled the trigger. This would be a great chance to give that a try and see the power of virtual staffing. Matt this has been a pleasure. Thank you so much for being on the program. We'll stay connected. Thanks again I appreciate it.

[00:26:33] Thanks Piers. Take care.

[00:26:37] You've been listening to Scaling up Services with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt. To find a full is a podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. This is a Web site that scaling up services dot com and toll free to sign up for the free newsletter scalingupservices/newsletter.