About Leo Gopal

Leo Gopal is a writer of Code and Poetry, sometimes they are the same thing.

Leo Gopal has been part of the WordPress Community since he was a teenager (over a decade). Former Founder of WPHugs he is now part of the WP&UP team as a Mental Health Advisor. He is a Happiness Engineer with the awesome team at Codeable.io by day.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of many economies around the world. The recent COVID-19 outbreak is having a disproportionate impact on these businesses, who lack the resources of larger organizations to stay open.

Here is a list of technology companies that are helping small businesses by enabling remote work throughout this period.

Book: The Top 2% by David Papandreas

David Papandreas, a veteran in the field of working with experts and whispering to converting to greatness at Codeable.

He has written a book to help those in the WP Industry up their client acquisition and basically becoming The Top 2% of the Top 2% (which I feel Codeable experts already are) and for a limited time has set it free on kindle on Amazon.

wpdevhero.com


Yoast Academy

Yoast Academy is offering a free block training course right now.

1Password

1Password is removing the 30-day trial limit on new 1Password Business accounts so companies can start working safely from home, with their first 6 months free. With 1Password, teams can manage their workforce from anywhere, and safely share logins and other important resources with remote workers.

Atlassian

Atlassian is offering its software development tools free for small teams up to 10 users. The free products include Jira Software, Jira Service Desk, Confluence, and Jira Core.

Cisco Webex

Cisco is extending services for existing customers of Webex, its video conference platform. The offer includes unlimited usage without time restriction, support for fewer than 100 participants, and toll free dial-in.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is offering unlimited seats of Cloudflare for Teams for organizations of all sizes through September 1, as well as a free 30-minute onboarding session. Cloudflare for Teams enables employees to connect to internal apps easily and safely while working remotely without the need for a VPN.

Google Cloud

Google is expanding features of Hangouts Meet, its video conferencing platform, for current customers through July 1st, 2020. Customers can now host larger meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to 100,000 viewers, and save recordings to Google Drive.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is offering 3 months of free site-wide licensing of its video conferencing solution, GoToMeeting, for eligible organizations (health care providers, educational institutions, municipalities and non-profits).

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is offering 6-months free of Microsoft Teams, a unified communication and collaboration platform. Starting on March 10th, restrictions will be lifted on how many users can join a team or schedule video calls.

Okta

Okta is offering its Single Sign-on (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) solution for free for 6 months to all new customers. The Okta solutions covered by this offer help teams securely access critical resources, such as cloud applications or VPNs, from any device or location.

PandaDoc

PandaDoc is making its eSignature product free to help businesses of every size continue to sign contracts and important business documents efficiently. The eSignature offer includes unlimited document uploads, unlimited eSignatures, and free payment processing.

Quip

Quip helps remote teams collaborate by combining documents, spreadsheets, and chat, so all employees can work together more effectively. Salesforce is making Quip free for any organization globally, through September 30th.

SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is offering free survey templates designed to help small business efficiently communicate with their workforce so that organizations can better understand how employees are adjusting to remote work.

UrbanSitter

UrbanSitter is offering a 2-months free parent subscription during the COVID-19 outbreak. Parents can find trusted childcare help to support them as they work from home during this period. Every sitter is background checked and UrbanSitter provides parents with as much information as possible to make informed decisions.

Adobe Connect

Adobe is offering Adobe Connect, a web conferencing platform, free until July 1st, 2020, for meetings of up to 25 participants.

Box

Box is offering 3 months free of its secure file sharing and collaboration platform. The offer is for the company’s Business plan and includes unlimited storage, mobile access, and advanced user and security reporting.

Zoho Remote

Zoho is offering its Remotely product line for free to all new customers until July, 1st 2020. Zoho Remotely is a suite of cloud applications that helps teams collaborate and communicate.

BeRemoteReady by Leo Gopal

I am putting together some resources to assist both individuals and companies with getting to be remote ready as smoothly as possible.


Are there any you know that should make the list?
Let me know in the comments.

Exceptional by exceptions – When Work meets heart.

Prologue:

Happiness is not the goal. You do not need to always be happy. Have great days all the time. But being content and fulfilled can accompany through light and through the darkness.

I have had a decade long career in the WordPress, Web, and Tech world – and I have worn so many hats I no longer label “what I do for a living”. From Web Marketing Engineer at Sage accounting to Head of Development and team leads, to Team Augmentor for Higher, Consultant, Freelancer, Teacher, Developer, To even Psychologist, Hypnotist, Writer and Poet, and Mental Health advocate and Speaker.

If life is about deep and wide multi-disciplinary experiences, then I have had quite the life. This does, however, lead one to eventually feel a plateau and belief that there are not much more experiences out there to have or hats to wear that would cause one any amount of excitement.

Enter Stage Left, Team Codeable.

To understand this story, let’s start where this all began, the beginning.

During my time freelancing, a few years ago, I was recommended to join this platform for WordPress experts of the highest calibre by a good friend of the mine and the WordPress community here in South Africa, Jonathan Bossenger (JBoss).

Now, I have heard of Codeable for ages, I knew the reputation they had was an earned one, and joining was never really a consideration as they only obviously took in the best – it felt humorous to apply thinking myself as such, so I never did – until JBoss.

JBoss and I met in Cape Town and a WordCamp VIP Dinner was we bonded over wine, code, community and Jiu-Jitsu. I soon came to reliably consider him amongst those who had qualities I too aspire to – so when he thought me worthy to suggest I apply, and even gave in a good word to escalate my application as an expert, maybe he saw in me what I didn’t.

After some very well crafted assessments, I was accepted as a Codeable Expert and soon a Certified Codeable Expert (one of the prestigious honours amongst freelance WordPress devs).

After some time learning the world, I realised that I wanted to always choose where I work rather than just work where I am chosen – for me to be somewhere, I have to have chosen it as much or more than it had chosen me.

Fast-Forward

Being part of the Codeable Expert Community (key emphasis on the community) was great, later I joined the Core Codeable Team as a Support Engineer (Happiness Engineer) which is the journey I will talk about but first, let me tell you why I chose Codeable and what they are:

  • Codeable is, in technical terms, a platform which connects these profoundly skilled experts, with clients who understand they need something done but also that they need it done well.
    • (Codeable is exclusively WordPress focused [one of the reasons for me choosing them as well], but they are not competition free – and competition that is also seemingly more affordable.
    • Codeable not only attracts the best talent, but they also seem to have this magic in also getting customers of equal quality.
  • Codeable is Exceptional by making exceptions to the rules most believe true.
    • Where every other imitation starts of fairy-tale and soon verges on fast and furious-like races to the bottom with bidding wars, and rushed work. Codeable decided to do things differently.
    • Codeable chose just one technology and to be the best provider of skilful experts in that realm – I call this shrinking down to greatness.
    • Codeable has a minimum recommended rate because they believe in quality, if we make sure that the expert values their time enough to charge this rate and nothing lower, we ensure that the experts create quality works of heart and have a living – rather than rushing to try to make a living elsewhere.
    • Codeable does not allow bidding, the client gets the average of all estimates they receive, so bidding wars cannot exist, and the groups estimate assessment is what any of the chosen would get.
    • Codeables experts are a community – Codeable chose to have co-operation over competition. A community that helps and supports their peers and colleagues. This is culture, this has no metric or ROI – nor can it be bought, but this is the Codeable heartbeat.
    • And lastly, the Core Codeable Team treated everyone like we each mattered and not like we were their product, a number or a metric. Codeable understood that this was the reason for their much-beloved reputation and most rightfully earned success.
    • Codeable understood that quality, community, and heart was what others could not compete in. Many copied the model, imitation is a fine compliment, but one cannot plagiarism heart. And Codeable was built and builds with heart, lots of it.
  • These are just some of the reasons I chose them – which made it quite a treat to be chosen back.

More heart – Being on the core team.

As much as this is an honour, it comes with a lot to live up to. In May of 2019, I joined the Codeable Support Team. Coming from Team Lead roles at some of the best WP companies out there, Support Person was not a position I considered a move to – Most my view my work history by job title and believe I have ventured down the career ladder instead of up.

Here is a secret though: Codeable Support is nothing like what I thought the name suggested. We are not customer support, we are not answerers of questions and doer of tasks, we support in by the very definition of the word.

Obviously a company needs to care about the bottom line and revenue to survive and to sustain, and to grow.

And this is where the unexpected journey began.

I soon learned that Codeable was not a hierarchy of roles and tasks and you do what your job title, position, rank, or contract says. As cheesy as this sounds. Its a family, and we help each other and they go out of their way to help me too, everyone just shows up and provides value with the best way they know-how and to be better than we were yesterday and to do it together.

No man (or woman) left behind, an understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that my teammate’s success is as much his as my own.

…and it doesn’t stop there.

Codeable Support is truly a redefinition of what a Support Team is typically thought of. Basically, our role is to support our clients on a journey to find an expert that builds with care and quality what they desire. We Support the experts in doing what we can to reasonably help them bring their clients dreams to existence. I don’t know if a name for what we do actually exists – but everyone that’s understands the Codeable way, knows that through care, guidance, patience, educating, respect, we all win.

To see experts help each other knowing that the success of all of them was the success of all of us. To have this curtain drawn and to realise that getting up, logging on, and doing what we do is less about rules, protocols, policies and much more about fairness, caring meaningfully about those I offer to serve, and doing my best as much as possible.

You can be happy with work. A work, when it’s like this, blurs with life.

As an evangelical advocate for mental health and self-care, I would say that I have never needed a break from work, but when needed have taken a break from myself, as this is a place you don’t need to escape from. Mondays are not blue, and Tuesdays aren’t just a day closer to Friday.

For the first time, I have experienced an entirety of a vocational journey where the key thing I learned that its possible to strive for impact over money, fairness over tactics – and that success, revenue, sustenance, and company growth are side-effects of a group of good-intentioned, intelligent humans from all parts of the world simply come together, show up and give their heart for their art and know that providing this value to the world will give value back – no small print.

I have the growth to know that I have lost the job-hunter/seeker mindset and know that I can be and do whatever I want and whatever I choose. Success to me, now, is choosing every day to be part of a crew/company/community/family that choose me back every day and together we try and make something great.

Afterword

The point is not so much to boost the many points of Codeable. But, probably more to realise in writing for myself and to offer hope to others, that it doesn’t have to suck at work. You do not need to be a number. You can wake up to something that is more than what it is, and do more than what you need, and you can build a life with heart. Codeable is not a platform to get WordPress work done by vetted experts. That is just the medium, Codeable is a place where we come together to help each other, the team, the experts, and our clients, create a life they dream of – it all just needs to be in the scope and be willing to seize it.

I have not mentioned so many people who deserve it, but suffice to say, Codeable was created by Tomaz and Per, and for them and my teammates – everyone of which it is an honor to work with. Thank you.

Thanks for showing me that I can show others that Mondays are great, they just need a better place – and I believe there’s a Codeable for everyone.

And the unexpected part of this journey? I have grown more as a person than I have in any skillset out there, and this for me has been invaluable.

I do have bad days, rough days, challenging days. But I have never had those days without the opportunity to just reach out and get help, I guess everyone at Codeable is The Support Team.

So if you are reading this, and if you don’t like your job, or think it’s just a means to an end. Trust me when I say, you can do better, so be better, and better will find you.

It’s not the pursuit of happiness but the happiness of pursuit.

A cool share from one of my colleagues who rightfully has the title of Chief of Happiness.

In my decade in the tech industry, I have never met a person who has experienced imposter syndrome who was terrible at their vocation.

As a side-note confession, I have, many times in my career – especially during times of transition – I, too, have experienced, like most, the pangs of imposter syndrome with one’s work and abilities.

Imposter Syndrome, is the self-doubt in one’s abilities to be able to succeed in what you or others have entrusted in you to accomplish.

That is what is like the first few times you feel it.

I want to offer an alternative view: Imposter Syndrome, to me, is the acute awareness of the higher abilities of others for which I have yet to acquire and of which I do aspire. This awareness presents itself to many as the sensation of the deep contrast between the ability we see in others and the inadequacy we see in ourselves.

How does one see the brighter side of this, or overcome it?

As I said at the start, I have never met a person who has experienced imposter syndrome and who was terrible at their job.

To feel imposter syndrome, to be aware of one’s own inadequacy requires a reasonable amount of intelligence to know that one is actually inadequate at that thing.

In psychology, I learned of the Dunning Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that showed that one who is lesser adept at something would estimate their ability in that thing. In contrast, someone of considerable skill would be more likely aware of their inadequacy in it.

Bertrand Russel said it best:

“The fundamental cause of the trouble in the modern world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

—Bertrand Russell.

René Descartes, most famously known for his mathematical work on the cartesian plane, also answered a very philosophical question of how one could be sure of their own existence; he said: “Je pense, donc je suis” (I think; therefore I am).

Dubito ergo, cogito ergo, sum.

(I doubt; therefore, I think; therefore, I am)

Further articulated by Antoine Léonard Thomas

A final quote of wiser men to drive this idea further; John Cleese briefly explaining the Dunning Kruger effect (with his incredible wit to accompany it):

John Cleese on Competency and the Dunning Kruger Effect.

Imposter Syndrome as a sign of progression

This perspective of Imposter Syndrome that I have been presenting so far also gives way to realizing that experiencing this very uncomfortable feeling is part and symbol of one’s own progress and development.

You need to have reached a level of understanding that is enough to bring yourself to the awareness of all that is still for you to know; this awareness only comes to those who know enough and which is unavailable do entirely those who know far less.

A change in perspective to accelerate growth

The knowledge of the above and from studying and learning from those much wiser than I am has allowed me to identify a few traits that these more intelligent mentors of mine have, which once I adopted has elementary but profoundly changed my life.

Excitement over self-doubt:

When presented with a problem, a new one, one which I do not yet clearly see the solution, instead of ruminating in my insufficiency, and giving in to my self-doubt, I am now excited. I understand this to be an opportunity of growth, learning, and improvement, for once I solve this new problem, I will forever have gained from reaching its solution. 

You either succeed, or you learn:

You will also learn to let go of failure; you will either succeed, or you will learn. Failure exists only for those who do not learn.

Final thoughts:

Energy is a resource that you kind either spend feeling inadequate or spend in becoming adequate. 

Most go through the first then improve; why not skip straight to your betterment. 

What are your thoughts?

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine two clocks; both analogue.

The first clock is broken. But in terms of accuracy its exactly correct twice a day.

The second clock is a minute off; technically, it’s the most useful one; but it’s never exactly correct. But it’s the one thats useful.

I see coding and the technologies we use to be of a similar fashion – and that too the religiosity of “standards” and “best practices”.

I think its far better to be more frequently useful, even if we may not yet be doing what is seen as the correct or right way…

Be useful is more important than being right and problematic.

Get it done, then on to the next and do that better.

If I were to look back over my last decade in the tech world and pick one thing as my single best decision as a developer – I’d say choosing to study psychology rather than computer science.

The most significant impact studying psychology had was on my communication skills, which, as a developer, put me in a very wonderfully unique position.

The improvement in communication has had many benefits, to name a few:

  • Understanding that people (clients, colleagues, friends) all want to feel a specific emotion and what they are asking for is what they believe would give them that – aim for the feeling.
  • It can avoid confusion by being able to talk fluently to clients, project/product/marketing managers, as well as my dev teams.
  • Improved communication skills reduce conflicts, upset clients, damaging relationships.
  • Communication skills also improve relationship building, grow your network, build rapport, and ultimately be someone no one finds unapproachable.
  • BONUS Side-effect: Being a developer is no longer all your limited to being.

With the new landscape of the developer career ecosystem, I find that those who are good at many things and master of nothing specific are progressing most significantly.

I am not a master at anything. 

Jack of all trades, master of none, but often better than a master of one. 

Now, for those 4 Simple Tips, I promised you. These little tips or practices have been in my communication toolbelt for quite sometime. I recently read a great book, which helped add more structure to what I was already doing: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (non-aff link here).

TL;DR 

Here are the four language tips for the impatient ;) (keep reading if you want to understand them with greater clarity):

  1. Choose observation language without evaluation or judgment based language.
  2. Share how this observation makes you feel without implying blame or accusation.
  3. Share the need you have; that is the reason for this feeling.
  4. Make requests of what you feel with satisfying the need you have without demanding.

It is also important to realize that any communication should be a giving and receiving pastime. 

The foundation of better communication in either direction is to remember this fundamental goal:

  1. When expressing: Communicate how you are without the language of blame, criticism, or judgment.
  2. When listening: Hear how you are, empathetically, without hearing blame, criticism, or judgment. 

BONUS: Listening well can often be more powerful than talking well.

By sharing and expressing oneself in a way that offers to share how you feel and your perspective without language that places the other person as the reason for how you feel also allows you an avenue to being more honest and transparent (without feeling guilty or fearing conflict). 

Sharing more allows for more understanding and empathy from others as they now know you better and where you are in perspective. Ultimately, this approach forces the interpersonal connection by acknowledging wants, needs, actions, and desires.

1. Observations over evaluations

State what you know to be accurate, over leading to evaluation about it.

Instead of: 

“You’re unreliable and wasted my time.”

Use: 

“We had a meeting today (fact) which you did not make it attend (fact); I hope everything is ok (non-judgment), is there a better time we can schedule? (solution)”

People are likely to disagree with evaluation based statements as they may have different core values which allow for miscommunication over resolution.

2. Express how this observation makes you feel.

Naming the emotion, without moral judgment, enables you to connect in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation. This expression allows you to express yourself without shaming them for their feelings or preventing them from feeling the way they do.

Instead of: 

“I think you are disrespectful of others’ time and selfish when you miss a meeting like today.”

Use:

I feel concerned when you miss a meeting without informing us; I feel letting me know would have allowed me to use that time better.”

3. Share the need/value that is the cause of the feeling.

All of our emotional reactions to what happens around us very often stem from a core need or value that we have and that we wish to acquire. 

Sharing this need without judgment allows us to both understand what we want at a deeper level and offers clarity to the other in how they may help us achieve this or, at the very least, empathize through understanding where our needs are.

4. Make a gentle request that satisfies this need.

Especially when emotions are peaked, we often share, unhelpfully, how we are feeling now, and how much this is not what we want to be feeling. Behavior like this does not move one any closer to the feelings we do want to have – and very often, it stops us from ever getting there at all.

If we do share what we need, we tend to communicate it as a demand, not a request – this strips the other of their right of consent and their desire to help. If this demand is met, it is far less out of voluntary desire; and more out of pressure, guilt, or compliance. 

It is far better to have someone want to help you than it is to have that have to help you.

Instead of:

“I set up another meeting at the same time tomorrow; please don’t waste my time again.”

Use:

“This progress of this project is important to me, and I need to feel secure that you can get it done; Can you help me by giving me a few meeting times that you are sure you would be able to attend. This certainty will help me feel more confident in our partnership.”

In-conclusion-ipsum

These four simple communication practices, although seemingly obvious, when practiced mindfully, can deeply improve all areas of one’s communication and interactions with others.

If we use these practices in our self-talk and be more understanding and forgiving of our flaws, we stand a chance to improve our relationship with ourselves – and let the cup floweth over.

Did you find these tips useful?

Do you have any tips or stories of your own when you felt a practice or mindset improved your communication? 

Please share your story, let’s communicate :)

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