DAVE HECKER, cofounder at SourceSeek, is a seasoned tech executive, speaker, and author with an exclusive focus on distributed team software delivery. Before working with any offshore team, Dave will spend time with them in person to assess whether it will be a good fit or not.
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His tips for outsourcing:
- Get on the plane. Meet face-to-face with your team.
- Look in the mirror and try to figure out what kind of client you are. That will be key to finding a vendor that is a good fit for you.
- Learn about the region your team is from. What is the history? What are the typical foods?
Podcast production by Podcast Monster
Graphic design by Alfred Boland
Lisette: Great, and we’re live. So welcome to this remote interview. My name is Lisette, and I’m interviewing people and companies who are doing great things remotely. And I’m really excited because today we’re going to be speaking with Dave Hecker. And Dave, you’re in Denver, Colorado. That’s where I’m from. I almost feel homesick by just talking with somebody from Denver [laughs]. It’s nice to have you on the podcast.
Dave: Thanks for having me.
Lisette: You’re the co-founder at SourceSeek. Actually, before I start on who you are, I want to just say where I met you, which was in Iași, Romania, where you gave a keynote. And I’m not just saying this because I’m very picky about people’s talks. That was one of the best talks I’ve ever seen. I was completely engaged for like 45 minutes while watching you speak. So I’m actually really excited to talk to you today.
Dave: Thank you. I really appreciate that.
Lisette: So you’re the co-founder at SourceSeek, a firm that matches software projects with development teams globally. I have from your LinkedIn that you’re a seasoned tech executive speaker and author with exclusive focus on distributed team software delivery.
Lisette: We’re going to get all into that as well as the background behind you. We’re going to start with what does your virtual office look like. And tell us about the background as well.
Dave: Well, I’m at home right now here in Denver, Colorado. This room – which is actually a lot smaller than it looks; it’s a tiny bedroom in my old house – is where I work when I’m home. And the way I have it set up is so that when I’m home, I can be extremely comfortable. I have a really nice adjustable standing desk that goes up and down and a couple of monitors. All the lighting and microphones for video are permanently set up. And it’s pretty nice. I’ve got a really nice sound system and everything because when you work at home, you really have to be comfortable. I also have it set up so that I can very, very easily go on the road. About half my time is on the road. Ultimately, I’m working out of a MacBook. And with just my MacBook, I can do everything. I don’t need any kind of external drives, anything like that. Everything is on Google apps. When I’m home, I’m plugged in. And I’ve got this nice environment. And when I’m on the road, I’m lightweight. I have a very tiny laptop bag. And I can work anywhere, on an airplane or anything else. But this room, in the background, you’re talking about those, right?
Lisette: Yeah, looks very interesting.
Dave: If there was a way I could zoom in, but those are vintage ads from the technology industry, mostly from the ‘70s. I could grab one and hold it up. I’m not sure if it would really work. But things like when I was a kid, one of those computer kids in the ‘70s, there were ads for CompuServe and the TRS-80 and IBM, early PCs, and very, very early Apple, things like that. And that’s when I was really getting involved, i.e. when I was a little kid. So I have this ridiculous hobby where I order lots of old magazines like Byte magazines from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. And they’re like $10 bucks. And every now and then, I flip through them and look for a really interesting ad. And all kinds of good things come up. And I mount them on the wall. And that’s my vintage technology ad collection.
Lisette: I love it. I love it. If you think about what we had in the ‘70s versus what we have now in terms of working together remotely, what do you think has been one of the biggest changes? It wasn’t a planned question, but now that you have this vintage technology on your wall, you probably have a really good perspective of really what’s changed in this field.
Dave: This stay the same and they change. If you think back to CompuServe, way back in the day… I’m just going to grab this out.
Dave: It’s handy. And hopefully, we won’t waste any time if this doesn’t work. There’s quite a lot of glare, but you can see this futuristic depiction in their white jumpsuits.
Lisette: I love the shoes, yeah [laughs].
Dave: Ridiculous. This is a CompuServe ad from – I’m guessing – 1983 or something. You had to pay $5 bucks now to connect. And everybody was on a modem. When you were chatting, you’re literally seeing the words come in. And it was ridiculous. There was no video. There was no anything. People were using it for dating and things like that. So the fact that we can do this and we’re 4000 miles apart is amazing. But that said, people want to reinvent the software world. Everybody wants to have this revolution [crosstalk – 05:01] new now. And I just haven’t really seen that. I’ve been involved in software since the ‘70s. And we deal with the same issues of communications, miscommunication, expectation management, team building. All these things are kind of the same. And every time there’s a revolution like Agile, it’s just a reflection of better technology, in my view. We were doing iterative development in the early ‘90s at IBM. But we called it the Rational Unified Process or Spiral Development. That’s what we called it then. The reason it’s so popular now is not because it’s better than what we did then. It’s because it took too long to build things back then. You couldn’t really be Agile. There was no Agile. Henry Ford was Agile for his day. So that’s what I see. Everybody things there are all these new lessons and new stuff. But things are kind of the same. But the technology is phenomenal. Your image is Crystal clear. This really is a nice system.
Lisette: Yeah, yours is as well, indeed. And the recording quality, as you’ll see, will also be really good. It’s true. It’s simply incredible how easy… And we’ve come a long way just in the last five years, I would say, in terms of video technology.
Dave: It’s amazing.
Lisette: Yeah, it’s totally great. Tell us a little bit about SourceSeek. And then we’ll dive into some of the challenges that you’re seeing teams face. Tell us what SourceSeek does.
Dave: In short, we solve this problem which is that clients in America and in Western Europe need software developers more and more. And there aren’t enough domestically. We have visa issues in the States, and there just aren’t enough software developers. So those that are here are really charging a lot. It’s outrageous. And it’s the same in Europe. So people are going overseas. My partner and I have been working overseas for about 15 years. We’re early movers on the offshore. And I’ve lived overseas and have done a lot of it. So we started doing an agency service. But we run it like a boutique. We do it like a matchmaking. So if somebody calls us and says, “I’m looking to hire some developers,” we talk about what country might be a good fit. We advise them on how to make overseas distributed development work, similar to the kind of thing that you do. And we basically do a match where we find a vendor who is going to be happy and profitable with this client and treat them well, we get a finder’s fee, and we’re on our way, and that’s the business.
Lisette: How do you find your vendors? Are these people that you know and worked with over time?
Dave: It started that way because I owned another software company, which I still own, which did exclusively overseas development. We started in 2001. At one point, we had 100 developers overseas. And all the PM was here in the States. So we were doing distributed development for a long time. Back then it was India. But we’ve grown so much that now I’m out scouting all the time. When we met in Romania, I had just completed a whole week of meetings with new vendors, just getting a feel for them. And you have to have face time. So I’m flying around like a crazy person, and that is why my virtual office is set up so that I’m very comfortable right now. But in five minutes, I can gear up and be out the door and be fully functional on the road. So I’m traveling. That’s how I do it. I go out and find them.
Lisette: Okay, so it’s interesting that you actually go out and you have face-to-face time when you’re interviewing these people. Why not do it over video?
Dave: I’m pretty sure that you’ll agree that face time is underrated. Video is face time. Technically, I see your face. So the way that we do it is now we have this great advantage because we have a little bit of a reputation in the industry, a little. Every single day, we get overseas vendors calling us, sending us emails, “We want to join your network.” So now they come to us. I’d say 1 out of 100, I’ll be interested enough to just at least send them a note and say, “Hey, let’s have a quick Skype chat due 20 minutes.” It’s like a smoke test. I want to see if they have a decent Internet connection, how is their English, and just get a first feeling, that first impression. If I like them, we have a researcher that works with them and builds up the profile. And then eventually, I come to their city and I just meet with them. There’s no agenda. We do it organically. I talk to them. I meet some of the developers. I spend a half day and really dig in. And that four hours or so of actual face time, in-person time is more telling than any number of Skype chats. There’s just no substitute [crosstalk – 09:57].
Lisette: Right. It was kind of a probing question because in a way, I know how powerful face-to-face time is. In fact, in most interviews with people that I talk to, they say that the face time is super valuable. They get the team together every once in a while because it’s so powerful and so fast and so efficient when you get people together. So I do recognize that.
Dave: And it’s more than that too. When you meet with people in person, eventually, something personal hopefully will come out. Then a month later, when you’re on Skype with your team, and then you say, “How’s your new puppy? How’s your marriage? How’s your wedding planning coming?” and things like that. And that’s the currency of intimacy for team building. And it avoids what I call the robot effect. If you have a developer on the other side of the world and you’re sort of chatting with them and typing with them, it’s not human. It really isn’t a human. It’s not a person. You’ve never shaken their hand. And eventually, it does become kind of robotic no matter how hard people try not to do it. You’re exclusively focused on this. Your communications with a distributed team might be a little more thoughtful. But most clients are busy, and they just say, “Hey, let’s have a meeting, talk about the [tech – 11:21], have a standup meeting, and we’re done.” We deal with these one-way relationships. There’s one client, one vendor. So over time, the vendor starts to feel like they’re being treated like a robot or a dog. That is the word they usually use.
Lisette: Oh, interesting.
Dave: And the client, it’s like they’re using an ATM machine. You go and you give the directions, and you get what you want, and you go. So getting on an airplane means so much to these teams. When somebody shows up, it distinguishes that client from 90 percent of the other clients. So right there, you’ve demonstrated that you’re the client that should be treated best. But also, a handshake will be returned. The cost of the flight and the hotel will come back. In my view, it always works.
Lisette: I love it. So there’s a shortage of software developers. And you’re out scouting for talent in other countries. So I’m assuming that it’s not just shortage, but it’s also cost that must come into play. The cost of a developer in Hanoi is significantly less than the cost in San Francisco. And I would imagine that’s hard for any company to ignore when you’re talking about that kind of savings. As a company, you want to at least have a look at the option, I can imagine.
Dave: It’s pretty much all about cost. We have no illusions that sending your work overseas is somehow better than doing it in one building. I even think the distributed model can really fall apart, especially in software which is a very collaborative thing. So the idea that we’re going to give you better developers and you’re somehow going to be better off going offshore is ridiculous, specifically because of cost. And the reason the cost is so high is because there aren’t enough developers, and that’s it. If I could have all my developers sitting in this house with me, absolutely, I would do it.
Dave: Of course.
Lisette: What about the productivity? Let me just play devil’s advocate for a second. There could be somebody who doesn’t like to be in an office with other people, or they focus better if they’re alone in a room. How do you deal with those situations?
Dave: That’s fine. That’s me. I’ve worked in offices for a while, and I really don’t like it. I don’t like to dress properly. I’m in my shorts and stuff like that. And I’m lazy about it. I don’t want to drive. I don’t want to do any of that. So for me, I was not part of that market. So I wasn’t available. A savvy employer would be wise to look for employees that love to be in the same place and be highly productive together. The reality is that not everybody is like that. So I think those people self-select. And if I’m building a team, probably, I can’t find everybody who loves to come to the office. We’re hiring for a marketing manager right now. And we want to do it virtual because we don’t want to go to the office. So we’re framing it like this is a great position for a single mom. We have flexible hours. This is a great position for somebody that for whatever reason wants to work at home. But it would be nice if they were here. But that’s not really what’s available to us. That’s not what works for us. So theoretically, it’s better. There are a lot of good resources that don’t want to come to the office. And for that reason, we do this.
Lisette: Okay, fair enough. Yeah, if it is better for people to be together in one place, it’s super powerful. It’s undeniably powerful.
Dave: And a lot of people fall apart. I’ve had a lot of people come. And they work for us. This has been going on for 15 years because I never want to have an office. I’m not doing that again. And they say, “Oh, it’s great. I’m going to work from home. I’m really excited.” And then three months later, I can just tell that this person does not have the right personality for this. It’s not easy in my experience. And I’d be curious [if it’s yours – 15:15]. It’s not easy to learn how to be productive at home. Those people find that when they first start, there’s a lot of laundry, there are a lot of interruptions, the family has to be taught not to interrupt you, and all these things. And it takes time to do it. And not everybody finds it as interesting as they thought. People get lonely. A lot of people crave the office. There are a lot of people that would much prefer to be at a co-working space surrounded by people.
Lisette: Yeah, clearly, as we see.
Dave: I have a pragmatic approach. I think there are great resources everywhere. And I like the ones that work at home because I want to do that. And I like overseas developers because I don’t want to pay $150 bucks an hour for the domestics. Are they better? I don’t know about that, just different.
Lisette: Okay. What are some of the main challenges that you see with outsourcing? What do the people struggle with the most when you go to do this?
Dave: I think it’s the same problems that you have in standard software projects. But they’re really exacerbated. For example, the expectation management is always a big issue in software. You start the project. You go through the honeymoon period. Everything is great. And then six months later, you realize that the client thought everything was going to be ready, and you hadn’t really expressed that properly. The distance seems to really kill it, especially because Americans – and I think Dutch people as well and a few others – are extremely forward and direct in their communication. So when an American asks another American, “Do you think we can make this deadline?” people say yes or no. They’re not that nervous about it. But if you’re working with a team that is not just thousands of miles away, they have a tentative grip on this client. They need to be careful because they are the losers in that relationship. The one who’s writing the check is in charge in a way. But also someone from Vietnam or India where it’s not as easy for them to say no to begin with, then it can really fall apart. And that’s where the distributed part is just a killer. And we also see a much higher level of sort of grind. Software projects turn into a death march. That’s always what we’re trying to avoid, the dreaded software death march where the deadline keeps slipping back, and you’re going and going at 100 percent. Everybody is tired, and it sucks. And it’s much easier to get into that when you’re overseas because you don’t have those water cooler moments. You don’t have that night where everybody wants to get drunk. It’s not really a cohesive team. That’s what we’re fighting against. It’s harder when you’re distributed.
Lisette: What do you recommend then for team building in these instances?
Dave: For team building, getting on a plane is the #1 thing.
Dave: Yeah. And it means a lot to the developers. Just the fact that you got on the plane and came, even if you don’t accomplish anything, it sends a strong message that you care enough about them to come and say hello. Beyond that, I always tell clients, especially if they’re new to this, that they need to at least once a week get the entire team together in front of one camera, which is ridiculous and is very inefficient. But it works well because it instantly turns into a goof. You can’t have a meeting like that, with 15 people. So it quickly just turns into some jokes and cheap shots and you say hello. And that is really valuable. Try to have a one-on-one video chat with each person on your team monthly if you can. Make sure that everybody knows, that you remember them. And the point of contact, as the manager, for every offshore developer or team member, you want to know their name, how to pronounce it. Even if it’s some complicated Russian pronunciation, get it right, know what their husband or wife’s name is, know their birthday, maybe know their hobby or what they’re up to, just something. And be sure to let them know that you know that. Not in a contrived way, but try to actually know who the team is. They will notice it. And that helps a lot. [crosstalk – 19:44]. You get back on the plane.
Lisette: Right. I can’t deny it. As much as I like doing everything remote, so many people say there’s nothing like getting on the plane. So we just have to accept that that is the case. When the data points to this is the case, then this is the case.
Dave: People talk about being in the trenches together. We look back on a project that was brutal, and you see we were in the trenches. We went through hell together. But we may not have them if it was all on video. And I was the client, and I was stressing out. But you were actually doing all the work. I’m not sure how much we were in the trenches together. I mean it is virtual. I think the return on investment is huge. You save this much money by going overseas. And then you buy back that quality through travel and effort and accepting a little bit of reduced productivity and all that. So you have to reinvest a little more to make it work. And it’s fun. I like it. I’m on the road all the time.
Lisette: You learn something about other cultures.
Dave: Yeah, you learn a lot. You’re a much better client after you show up.
Lisette: Interesting, because you see things you would’ve never expected. You see something in the office which you would never have learned otherwise, except by going there.
Dave: You learn a weird word that they think is funny the way you say it. And now you have an inside joke. It makes a big difference.
Lisette: Right, those things happen very quickly. You’re right. One thing that you mentioned on this is that when you go there, people really feel like you care. And that has been something that has been brought up in other interviews as well with Dave Blum. He runs the Dr. Clue treasure hunts where he builds these treasure hunt team building activities. And when I asked him what builds trust on a team, he said just feeling like you’re cared for, like somebody has got your back. And when you feel like somebody has got your back and that they’re going to be there with you as you go, that builds huge amounts of trust on the team. So I can imagine that going there, getting on the plane, showing this goes a long way.
Dave: Yeah. And you can do it without flying. It’s really true. Showing that you care, that is the essence of a team. Team is not a bunch of people working on the same thing. That’s not a team. That’s just a bunch of people. The team has an aligned goal. And if they’re really working as a team, then if one part of the team is really grinding, then the leaders of the team [unintelligible – 22:16] care about that. So whenever a client calls me and they say, “Everything is great, but we’re really stretching. We’re pushing for this deadline. We’ve got the guys working on the weekends and nights. And the morale is being affected. What do we do? We only have 19 days till the deadline, and it’s going to be close.” I always tell them, “Call their manager and tell them and have them take off a half day. So they come in the morning. And at noon, tell them to clear out the entire rest of the day for some surprise excursion. And plan something for them. Let the manager decide what it is because not everybody is the same.” In Easter Europe, people just love a really nice party. They love it. You send them to their favorite place. They can have drinks. And I’m talking about taking the rest of the day off fully. No work, no work talk. In places like Hong Kong and China, [unintelligible – 23:13] events, a play or sporting event. Indian teams love these. They want to go paintballing, these goofy activities, whatever they want, and then send over [unintelligible – 23:25] pay $400 or $500 for a team or something like that. And the next morning, your productivity is up. And there are no strings attached. You don’t have to say anything. Just send it. A stronger message to say, “Hey, you guys are working really hard. We all want to make the deadline, obviously. And at great personal risk, I’m going to give you a half day or a full day off, even better. And let’s juice you up. Take a breath.” Stuff like that. You have to lavish these people with praise and attention so that they know that you actually feel that way.
Lisette: I love the extra effort to care for people in that way because they might not otherwise do it for themselves. Especially if there’s a deadline looming or something pending, if there’s a lot of pressure to get those things done, the manager then says, “Okay, everybody, we need a break. Clearly, we have to get this done, but let’s take a break. [Force quit, quit – 24:23], let’s just go and swim in the pool or whatever it is.” I love it.
Dave: Yeah, it works.
Lisette: There must be other benefits to going offshore other than cost and getting developers. Are there other reasons why people do this? What’s the benefit besides cost? Maybe there isn’t one. I don’t know.
Dave: It may sound a little cynical, but it’s pretty much cost.
Lisette: [Laughs] [unintelligible – 24:56].
Dave: There are some ways that it can happen organically. There are some companies. It’s kind of like this company. We have all of our assistants and researchers and things like that in the Philippines. A video editor is in Brazil. I’ve got a UX pro. She’s in New Zealand. But this happened not because it was better but because this is the network of people that I know. This is how the business works. So when it happens organically, somebody just wants to have a virtual business, that’s fine. But comparing that to a traditional business where everybody is in the same office, if they’re happy doing that, [I don’t know if there are any – 25:36] specific advantages. The cost savings are phenomenal. No office. You’re saving all kinds of money then, insurance and facilities and buying desks and things like that. And if you do it well, you’ve got a happier workforce because they want this badly. And you can do well. But I think it’s mostly about cost and just feasibility because it has to be that way. The world is changing. A lot of people don’t want to come to the office anymore.
Lisette: Right, so then how do you attract…
Dave: I was going to answer that question. Outside of the fact that you can get a lot of resources who want to be at home, if you entertain the idea of letting people work from home or abroad, is it better to work distributed? Or is it just a little bit of overhead?
Lisette: For me, I like the idea of being able to control my own environment. I want to be able to run in the middle of the day. I want to be able to write early in the morning or late in the evening and without interruption. I want to be able to choose my own interruptions. So for me, I can’t go back to the office anymore just because I don’t like that environment, regardless of how cool it is with the Ping-Pong tables or whatever it is. It’s just not where I work best.
Dave: That’s a great distinction. For the employee, it’s fantastic. I love working at home. I love it. For the employer though, which is sort of how I was considering the question, I’m not so sure [laughs]. But there are so many employees that want to take advantage of it. For that reason alone, I think you’ve got to do it. I think a savvy employer will allow it.
Lisette: And the workplace happiness, I think, is one of those. I think this is one of the key components of workplace happiness, i.e. letting people work where they are most productive. And sometimes it is at the office. Sometimes it is getting together. My husband, for example, hates working from home, absolutely hates it. [unintelligible – 27:31]. He started and worked from home two years ago, and I got Skype calls all the time saying, “I hate this. I don’t know how you do this. This is so boring. I’m totally lonely here.” And he went out and got an office because he just didn’t like it. So I feel like there’s certainly a group of people that like that.
I would think for businesses, another reason for going overseas – and maybe it’s different in this developer world – is to find top talent or specific talent. Maybe there’s a particular programming skill that’s just not available in the U.S. I don’t know. Maybe there’s one guy.
Dave: The whole business is based on that. We have people from Silicon Valley calling. And they’re just saying, “I need a really, really good Python developer.” Fairly generic request. You can find that in the Silicon Valley. But you’re going to pay [recording malfunction – 28:21] to a young developer so that it’s a prima donna problem now. They’re making so much money that they have become a little bit demanding and spoiled. That’s a generalization, but from where I see it, it’s generally true. And you find that the seasoned developers who have really worked the way up are almost impossible to get because they’ve been swept up by startups and Google and all of that. So what are you going to do? Are you going to pay $150 an hour for a 24-year-old university graduate who is maybe not as humble as they might be 10 years ago? Or are you going to pay $40 an hour for an equally skilled developer in Poland who speaks great English? You’re going to have a 15 percent reduction in productivity just from the distance. But that’s not so bad since you’re having a massive reduction in cost you [can set up – 29:18] elsewhere. It’s a feasible solution. So I think it’s just out of need.
Lisette: Right. We’re nearing the end of the time. I’ve got a couple of more questions. What advice would you give for people who are starting out and they’re thinking about outsourcing? Where should people start with this? Where do you start thinking? Clearly, they call you. So that’s answer #1. They’ll get in touch with you. But what do you want people to have thought about before they contact you?
Dave: Do you mean like a client who’s looking to begin outsourcing? What do they think about?
Dave: The thing that we always counsel clients on is clients come to us, and they’re trying to sort of fill an order. They say, “I need four .NET developers,” or “I need two PHP people and two QA.” It’s like you’re ordering a pizza. I want pepperoni and mushroom. And the idea is that we’re going to say, “Okay, we’ve got these great developers who fit your need. And here they are.” That’s not really how it works because if you look at the dating and marriage world, there are plenty of lovely men and women who are intelligent and attractive and healthy. And if you put them together, they’re going to stab each other. It’s a mismatch. It’s just not enough to check the boxes. So we do look at the relationships in a little more of a matchmaking way. We know our developers. We go and meet with them. We talk to them. We know the company’s vision, their personality. Do they like to work at home? Are they are party company? Are they serious? So when we have clients come in, we have to push them to do a little bit of a looking in the mirror. What kind of a client are you? Are you a client who is pretty serious? Or do you like to crack jokes on the phone, like I do? Are you a client who understands that you need to be patient with Vietnamese communication style? It’s going to take you some time to learn that. Are you looking to get that savings? Or is that going to make you crazy? Do you have any prejudices? A lot of Americans are just not used to working with Russian-speaking people, or they have a bad taste in their mouth because of the Indian call centers. You want to find out those things because that will kill it. And then we build a client profile, which we actually write down and discuss. We say, “This is a client who is supremely concerned with security. They’re obsessed with it. So we need a vendor who can really speak to that. This is a client who is very poor at process. So we need a vendor who can really do that. But this is also a client who is very, very kind and socially apt and can really do the cultural stuff well, so they could probably go in a cheaper region.” We put it all together, and we make a match. And we send them on a little date. We arrange a call for them. And we have a very, very high rate of matchmaking. That’s my claim to fame. I’m the matchmaker, and we do it like a marriage. It’s mostly personality. It’s easy to find developers with great skills around the world, especially in Eastern Europe right now, no problem. Finding a developer or a team that a year down the road is still going to like you and you’re going to still like them because your communication style is such that you can actually evolve into a team, that’s a different story, and that’s how we look at it. So look in the mirror, clients, and try to figure out what kind of client you are. And then that will be the key to what type of a vendor is going to enjoy their first date with you, and it’s going to go on for a long term. Make sure that your long-term interests are aligned. And that’s the short version of the speech I give to clients every day.
Lisette: Okay, it’s very wise advice. I can imagine that’s interesting for a client to hear. I have two more questions. One could be big, but you can attack it from any angle that you wish. You seem to have a very high understanding of different cultures. And to be able to relate one culture to another saying, “Well, you probably work better with somebody from Eastern Europe,” or “You probably work better in India.” How did you learn about this? I know people get Ph.Ds. in culture, so this is a huge issue. But for an average person, if I wanted to learn more, besides traveling the world, where would you start? Where did you start?
Dave: I learned it inadvertently. I was lucky when I was younger because I got to travel quite a lot. And then when I just turned 19, I dropped out of college, and I traveled. I lived in Holland for a year and a half. I [I was looking to get a buskin tour – 34:05] back then. I was in Japan. I spent a lot of time in Thailand and all over the place. And since then, I just keep falling into this international business thing. And I’ve lived in New Zealand. I’ve lived in India for a long time and all kinds of places. I have a second home in Thailand. So I’m just tied up in this international business world. So I’m very lucky to have sort of fallen into it.
For people that want to learn it, generally, what I like to do is to match them with a vendor who is quite a good fit. It’s hard. I can explain to the client why they’re a good fit to a particular region. Going through all the other regions in-depth is out of scope for this type of client engagement. But they can dig into one region. So if you’re going to begin working with Ukrainian developers – and our recommendation is we feel like that’s going to be a good fit for you – go to Ukraine. Follow the news. Understand what this political conflict in Ukraine really is. And what does this divide between east and west mean? What is the relationship between Kharkiv in the middle-east and the Lviv in the south-west? Things like that. And just become conversant in it. And it’s not that hard.
Lisette: Just go on YouTube and find some great documentaries or videos or news.
Dave: We have videos. SourceSeek has a YouTube channel. And we’ve done videos of Vietnam and Ukraine and a bunch of others. And we touch on some of that stuff. So it’s not that hard. And getting on a plane, again, and then you meet a new team, and you’ve been to Ukraine before. So maybe you [weren’t – 35:48] meeting them. But you’ve been there. And you say, “Oh, it’s just in Kiev. And I experienced this and that.” And they will be thrilled. Just that connection alone and to learn a few words of the language really makes a big difference. And you can do it. I’m lucky to have moved around for so long. That’s how I do it.
Lisette: It’s not that hard to do it anymore. It’s not hard to jump on a plane. It’s not hard to travel.
Dave: It’s not as expensive as it seems when you compare it to losing productivity on your team, which is a killer. So spending $3000 to go spend a couple of weeks in Ukraine, hotels and everything, on a long software project, that’s money well spent.
Lisette: Great advice to end on. The final question is if people want to get in touch with you, what is the best way? Where should they find you?
Dave: The best way, you can go to our website, which is SourceSeek.com. You can go to YouTube and type in SourceSeek. You’ll find us that way. And we are pretty easy to reach. We have inbound communication coming, email from the website. We respond to messages on Twitter, YouTube. My Skype address is going around. So we’re easy to get a hold of. Just type in SourceSeek or my name, and you’ll find us. And we’re happy to talk to you.
Lisette: Okay, great. Well, then thanks so much for the information today. Super interesting stuff that you’re doing. I wish you guys the best of luck. I hope lots of people come to you through this interview. And I really appreciate it.
Dave: Thank you very much. It was fun being here.
Lisette: All right, everybody. Until next time, be powerful.