Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:16
Once upon a time, there were 10s of 1000s of makers struggling every day they built for hours and hours but didn't ship and didn't earn enough income. One day, the no Caldwells podcast came to help them find a way because of this, makers became founders and live the life they deserve. Because of that founders live lives of abundance, freedom, and creativity. That's what I'm really all about. Hello, my name is Aziz and from being a poor boy born to a single mother in North Africa, with no opportunities, just sheer hard work, to failing multiple startups, yet learning a whole lot to barely escaping alive the war in Ukraine, even living as an illegal immigrant. I've lost everything twice. And now, I'm rebuilding my life one more time, 1% a day, sharing the wisdom of luminaries I've interviewed on this podcast from Google executives to Amazon, Microsoft, Forbes, Technology Council, Harvard Financial Times, and even a priest from the Vatican church. Everyone is welcome, here. So let's begin. My guest today is Kelly Claus. Kelly is building with and teaching for bubble. She is a dev at Swap Stack HQ, a fan girl of CODA and Webflow. And an OnDeck NoCode Cohort 2 follow, as well as currently launching inrote.app very soon. Kelly, how are you today?
Kelly Claus 1:57
I'm so good. Thank you for having me, Aziz.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 2:00
And to begin exploring your mind, I don't want to script or structure this podcast. So when you look deep into your thoughts, what seems to be a recurrent theme, something that you've been thinking about a lot lately, or something you're trying to implement more in your life or a problem you're noticing? Or something that is demanding your attention and thought again? And again?
Kelly Claus 2:27
Wow, that's a big question. Wow. Okay. So I have just made a huge career shift from being a freelancer for about seven years to taking a full time job for the first first time, you know, for seven years. And so my, the thing that's sort of occupying me now is that shift and kind of what that means for me and about me and about my time and how I spend it, but also, kind of what's my role in the, in the larger ecosystem of building things on the internet for people, which is what I've always done, and now I'm doing it just for one small group of people, instead of, you know, many people over over time. So that's personally where my brain is kind of sitting over the last couple of months, at least. Yeah,
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 3:29
thank you. And maybe I relate to this very much. So correct me if I'm wrong, but I will share my own thinking about this, which is this. Often, we know how hard it is to invest time and effort to find something in the ecosystem that works and can get you paid and well, that you get valued for. But at the same time, you don't know yourself for what you love until you do things to figure out what works and what doesn't. And sometimes you'll find a path that pays but you discover that what you love is something else. And therefore, it becomes a dilemma between something that you found that already works. And that's hard to find. And doing it all over again, from the beginning, doing what you love, but going through with trials, tribulations and uncertainty of possibly never finding something that works as well. And therefore, you stay torn between these two, either following your heart but taking a new risk where you don't know if you'll find something that will both pay you for your time as well as your love or staying with something that's bearable, but then risking regretting it all in the end. When you look back when you're 60 Again, I should have taken more risks. But anyway, so Did I understand you correctly? Is this what you meant?
Kelly Claus 4:52
Um, partly Yeah, it's interesting, my, the job that I've taken, so I'm a bubble developer. For a small startup called swap stack, and, and when I found bubble a year ago, I was fully intent on being a freelance bubble developer, that that's what I wanted to do. And I realized, after being a designer for many years, which was hard for me to make a good living and hard for me to find, you know, reliable income. It always comes in waves, you know, when you're freelancing, but with bubble, it just felt like that market that that product was at a point where it was, I was able to make a living in a way that I never was able to before. And so this shift for me, and the thing that sort of the trick wasn't around, what do I do I choose what I love? Or do I choose what will pay me because I love bubble, and I found a bubble. And I thought, Oh, I love this. And there's a market for it. And so I know I can get paid doing this thing that I love. So I knew, I have both things. If I pursue bubble as a as a tool in my career, what was the challenge for me was the shift of I don't even know if it was identity, but it was more just the shift of the freedom of choosing the work that I take. And, you know, having the freedom to take big chunks of time off, which is always the dream, if you're a freelancer, right, like everyone thinks that's what freelancing is you can choose when you work. And when you don't, the truth is, when you're freelancer, you work all the time. And you take any project that comes your way, because you don't know when the next project is going to come. So for me taking a job, not only was I love the people that I work with, and the product is really interesting, and it's built on Bumble, it's a it's a, it's an app that's built on Bumble. So I was into the job, I was really excited about the job, but also the reliability of frankly, have, you know, a paycheck. But also, you know, being part of a community, again, a professional community where we work together on a project, I had been solo for my entire career. And so it was exciting to work with other people to build something and learn from them, which is something I hadn't been able to do in my entire builder career. But also, Oh, I lost it, I lost it essays, I lost what I was about to say.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 7:41
No worries, I'll ask you, because you're speaking about that feast and famine cycle of being a freelancer. But I'm asking you, then you're dealing literally with a startup and a small team rather than a corporate. And the issue, too, because I'm also familiar with that situation is that you can worry thinking, well, this startup could within six months, go bust. And then I lost all that time instead of prospecting for new customers. And I'm like, you know, I've chase two rabbits or whatever and lost all process. Because it's not like a corporate or working for Microsoft or Google, although that paycheck is nice and secure. But the whole situation is chaotic and insecure. And therefore, it's not the same. And okay, let's speak about the identity. What's so pleasant about Kelly, the Freelancer that Kelly the employee yearns for and wishes could be through any job? Could that be added to jobs? Maybe it's not something impossible to do, you know?
Kelly Claus 8:47
Yeah. Yeah. It's so funny. It's such, it's such tiny things. So one thing is that my, when I was freelancing, I certainly had deadlines. And I had many of them. And, but I could meet them in whatever way I wanted. So if I was running up to a deadline, I could work all night the night before and get it done. And it was done, I did not have to report into the client every single day to let them know of my progress. Whereas having a job, you know, I have a boss now and we have a daily stand up meeting where I've talked about the work I did the day before. And then I talked about the work I'm going to do the rest of the day. And then the next day we do it over again. And and so I have to be in much more regular communication than I ever did as a freelancer. And which means the structure of my days is more dependent on my, the team's schedule than how I want my day to be structured. So it's it is a small thing of sort of what is when I wake up just saying what do I want my day to be like today? And of course I'd like to you know, walk around and drink coffee and and be an artist or something, you know, I've never been able to do that. So it's not like I had that option as a freelancer. But there was a freedom in knowing that potentially one day, I could, you know, have enough sort of money saved up that I could just take a month off, or two months off, and not take any projects and just walk around and have coffee and explore wherever I happen to be right then. And I, you know, can't do that with a job, I have to show up for meetings on the time that they're scheduled. So it's just a different way to approach your day, I think, which is not, it's not a bad thing, it's just different. And you, when you make that shift, you have to adjust to it, you know,
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 10:47
I understand fully what you mean, because for me two things. I'm like, a 94% introvert, and therefore, when people schedule meeting at a time, that's not right, for me to have meetings, it messes up my productivity, it exhausts my day. Sometimes I just wake up with an idea at 3am, and I want to implement it. But if you're an employee, and you have a schedule that will mess up your whole day you can nap or whatever it is, but I will ask you, because probably you're adding a lot more value than you imagine. Because the interesting thing about freelancers is this, there are people with employee mentality who are doing the bare minimum just not to get fired. And there are the entrepreneurs who are working overdrive on overdrive over time, all the time. But the interesting thing about someone like you who is a freelancer is probably you're more of an internal entrepreneur, rather than an employee where, because also it's about intensity, they were calculating at some time that, you know, within a one hour period, most employees, they only have eight minutes of productivity, or 10 minutes or whatever. But a lot of you, for example, I'm sure or like a lot of people that entrepreneurial and Freelancer drive, you will literally do like three hours of such intense work that you just need to lay down in the park later on. And, and people and employers don't understand that. They'll be like, we're hiring you for like eight hours, or whatever it is. You have to do it all. But then do you think in one day, I'm doing more than a week's worth of normal employees? Talking about? Can you speak more about that?
Kelly Claus 12:38
Yeah, it's so interesting. My entire career before I got into building stuff online, I was one of the most now I have the perspective to understand, I was so productive, so productive. When I was at work, I was working, I never, I barely took lunches, I didn't ever stop to just like, watch YouTube for a minute or, you know, whatever. I was so so productive all the time. And I would work weekends I just loved. I loved working in my past career. And then when I started freelancing as a designer, you know, I just worked as much as I needed to to get the job done by the deadline. So to me, it was just kind of like, well, yeah, you do the work, because that's what someone is paying you to do. You do work while you're working. You don't do other things. So the idea that for three hours, you know, people are only productive for three hours a day is just baffling to me. I don't understand it. But at the same time, I kind of do because you're being paid to be there. And you know, it is hard to be productive. When you're just being paid to be there. I don't know. Yeah, I think that being paid by the hour really helped me to go, okay, how am I spending this hour? I can't I didn't ever want to charge someone for time. I wasn't actually working. You know what I mean? So if I, if I sat down and started the clock for an hour, but I stopped to get up a drink to get a drink of water or, you know, I got distracted for a minute and went on Twitter. I subtracted that time from my hours, I was acutely aware of how productive I was as a freelancer. And so now as an employee, I, I truly feel like I need to be ultimately productive for eight hours a day. And I don't think that's entirely normal. And frankly, man, I'm not sure it's entirely healthy. It's hard to be by the end of the day, I am exhausted. And I'm trying to do my own projects, too. So it's really hard to make that productive for an entire workday and then have any energy to do anything at the end of the day, you know, so I don't know how people do it.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 14:54
I agree with you. Well, with that thought I understood that most people do it by not being productive. What happened, and I'll ask you more, because there's this human tendency when someone like you is being so productive. They like the managers or whatever, will reroute and pile up on you too many things because you're the one who's being productive. And therefore, that's one of the reasons that a lot of employees are barely productive, so that they don't get that extra work. The person who is productive becomes the mule that will be doing their job. And everybody's job risking burnout, literally, by not getting paid more, but doing like two or three people's jobs. What's your perspective on this? Do you think it's true? Or do you think
Kelly Claus 15:43
This feels like the great mystery of the work? Work life? You know, I don't, I don't have an answer for this. Because I've been in situations where I felt like, I was working harder than everyone else. And I just couldn't understand why they weren't productive. And then if I really step back and look at it, I think, Well, why would they be they've, they've been able to be paid for, you know, their whole careers to be half as productive as other people. So why would they ever work that hard? It makes no sense. You know, just from a biological perspective, why would you work harder than you have to for the same amount of money? You know, so I, I don't know what the answer is, other than I know that when I get to the end of the day, and I haven't been productive, I feel bad. Like, I feel like I physically feel like I wasted my day. And so I choose, I guess, to be productive. And of course, I'm not super productive every single day. I'm not saying I'm like, perfect in that regard. But, you know, I know that I feel worse when I'm when I waste time than when I get things done and show up and say, here's the thing I did today. good or not good? What do you think, boss? You know, I just feel better. So for me, that's what works. Yeah. But I don't know what it is in the rest of the, you know, in the rest of the world. I'd love to talk to someone who just coasts and feels great about it and see what their perspective is because I can't understand it.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 17:22
Thank you. Actually, I understand, because I'm like you but I observed a lot that really, I don't understand it. Why, but managers or maybe I understand it. And founders, when they find someone they call the workaholic, they literally will like kill the goose that produces the golden egg. No, really, where they'll be like, Oh, that employee is not really that good. So let's not count on them and but ask this person to like do things on the weekend, like adding so much more that in the end, you will think and it becomes maybe the right thing for you to build your own audience so that as a freelancer, you won't have that feast and famine, where you're constantly nurturing and building relationships, for people to come to you so that you both can work as hard as you wish. But you're doing it for you where if one day at, like 9am, you look at your bed and you're like, I feel like an app, you can do it. And therefore, it's really bad because there is this thing in business theory and all that, that your very best employees will always leave no matter what you do. Why? Because they're worth much more than whatever paycheck that you pay for. And I actually interviewed this wonderful, wonderful human being he was in his 70s, he built over $50 million worth of like three companies. And he hired and fired like he said, 1000s of people, and then we spoke, should you get people like us who are supposed to be unicorns and all that? Or should you create systems where normal people buy like bare minimum work, similar to McDonald's, where even change the machine will count it for them. So they don't even need to count. And he said, Look, him as a person, he will be one of the best employees in the world, but nobody could afford to hire an employee. And he said, really like you cannot wait to build a team of unicorns because you will die before you build that that comment and therefore according to him, build the system or people cannot fail and therefore by bare minimum, you will have like 70% Good enough work is better than zero or better than 100% by people who in the end will discover that their value is much more than whatever they're giving. And they will have their own like hard calling them do their own projects and they will end the end they will leave and then your business is messed up because you don't have systems for normal people. What's your perspective
Kelly Claus 19:58
Interesting that it I feel like so many people who are maybe not founders, because I'm fairly new to the tech space, but I can, I would guess founders fall into this category too. But anyone who starts something, right, like I come from the nonprofit world, so I've worked with, with people who started organizations and had, you know, an idea, and they started a thing and those type that type of personality that says, I'm going to start something, and then they do, that's a specific type of personality. And they're not systems people, they're not people who want to create, you know, the McDonald's, you know, machine that counts the change, there are people who who draw, and want to draw unicorns, right. And so they, they don't want to put their energy into creating those systems, they want to hire people who believe in their vision. And, and often they're charismatic enough to draw those people in. So what it does is it creates this cycle of over and over and over pulling in brilliant people, and then not being able to keep them and then pulling in brilliant people who have to sort of figure out what's going on, because nothing's written down, nothing's documented, there's no systems, and then they finally you know, get fed up and they leave. And it's just a constant cycle, right? What you need, I think, and I say this as a person who hasn't started a thing, right. So like, this is just a guess, right? But watching people who have started things, you also need the balance of someone who, who is systems minded, who is practical. And who says, you know, we need to stop for a minute and not grow for just a minute. So we can put some systems in place so that we can scale you know, faster in the long run, or not even faster, but scale in the long run, instead of just growing and growing and growing. And then you know, it's, it's just a mess underneath, you have so much debt right in there. Systems, debt, technical debt, all everything, people debt, right? That eventually it's just going to collapse.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 22:03
Thank you. I love this. And I will say two things you spoke about, like the nonprofit space, yes, it's much easier to create a team of unicorns there. Because as they have also in business theory, that something called intrinsic motivation, and how paying someone to do what they love will literally make them hated. Therefore, you know, if people do something they love, for other reasons than payment, they will enjoy it, the love will stay there. But as soon as you motivate them by extra pay, and they become thinking, Oh, I should work few more hours with this, so that I will pay my rent, or I will pay new shoes, or whatever it is, then suddenly, it totally destroys the inner love for the whole experience. And I also recommend to you some of the books by Dan Sullivan, because he speaks about such thing. Like the idea people, and they should hire an implementation person and the systems person, there are two totally different, the person who starts projects and implement them. And the person who makes the project recur forever, are not the same mindset. And the idea person, that's not their greatest strength, like even completing projects or turning them into systems. So they should focus on ideas. And even more, this takes about 80% that trying to be 100% like to do things 100% Well, will delay your impact on the world. So everybody should work in their zone of genius, but do what's 80% Good enough for them because was 80% Enough, good for you. And your zone of genius is like 1000 times better than what other people can do as well. Like he speaks about like performance. And as well as like all performers will have practice time and like performance time. And therefore, you should divide your days of the week into rest days. Preparation days, which is more about dealing with like preparing for yourself to be at peak performance and performance or money bring in days so that you're fully rested. Your business also you're getting it systematized and organized, and not neglecting that as well as doing the activities that bring the money but all focused on your unique abilities as well. And I love all that kind of stuff. And you're thinking about like I'm an entrepreneur, and it's new. Everything is filled with jargon, but it's really common sense. Like if you think about it. As a freelancer, the problem is with freelancers, it's like everybody, we gain weight, or we or people smoke or whatever, because they don't find the urgency to not do it. And then when it becomes urgent they will go on a diet or they will do something and then when it's not urgent anymore, they relapse. And that's it. And that's what happens to a freelancer they don't have systems in place and therefore you're doing your work without getting trying to get new clients. And suddenly, when the money runs out, you're like, a chicken with its head cut, trying to find clients, which is the difference between a business where you have a system that's constantly going into the marketplace to try to get you in new business. And that's why I said, If you build an audience and nurture them, then you have good relationships with people who, when they're ready will use you rather than, and I understand that, I believe, honestly, there are people who are born to not be employees, because most people that you spoke about, including yourself, have a problem with authority. And I don't mean like someone to rebel rebels. I understand. And it's true, but it's like you want to be the authority in your life, you want to, if even if someone else decided something good for you, just because they decided that you're like, No,
Kelly Claus 25:55
I want. Yeah, you want to own it, you want to have some ownership, you know? Yeah, it's so interesting, what you just said, reminded me. So I, for my schooling, I studied opera. And so I am not from Tech, I didn't study computer science, or any anything, I studied music. And so I spent and I have a master's degree, which means I spent seven years, every single day in a practice room for at least two hours a day, just singing, just singing and practicing, you know, one little passage over and over and over again, until it was perfect, right. And the whole, the reason behind that was, of course, to, you know, stretch your voice and to be able to, you know, to memorize things or whatever. But also, because once you are performing, and when adrenaline takes over, you have to your body has to know what to do without you telling it what to do, you can't be afraid of your body, not not doing what it's, you know, supposed to do in that moment. So hit the high note or do that weird run that is always hard for you, or whatever, you have to spend the time practicing in order to perform it. Well, ever, ever, right? So I love the idea of sort of chunking your time in that way of, you know, maybe it's learning or maybe it's you know, documenting or whatever it is that prepares you for the moment when you really do have to sort of whatever performing is in this metaphor, right? Whether it's launching something, or whether it's, you know, pitching to maybe a VC or whatever, right, you have the things in place to be able to act on whatever you need to act on in that moment, because you have prepared for it. And, you know, I think I do that naturally, because I spent so much of my younger years in that environment where practice was just critical. You just had to, there was no other option, right? Nobody, nobody is born an opera singer, nobody just wakes up and starts performing poutine it just literally does not happen. You have to practice and you have to have training. So I think for me, it that was just drilled into me. And now it's very natural to go like, Oh, yeah, you do need time for those types of activities that prepare you for the moments, the big moments, right, but I've never put it in the terms that you just did, which is kind of funny, maybe I should think about how to structure my day. Because honestly, like every single day now as an employee, every day feels like a launch, right? Every single day, I have to show up to my stand up and say, Well, what did I you know, here's my performance for the day, what did I do? And truly, I think, probably I should restructure that. And you know, and talk to my boss and say, like, you know, I'm gonna have days where I'm not productive, where I was just thinking today, I was thinking about how to solve a problem, right? And I'm sure he'd be fine with that. He's a really, you know, understanding person. I'm sure he actually does that himself, you know. But the expectation having not been an employee for for so long is that you have to show up reporting, you know, this, you know, a performance every single day. Yeah. So thanks. Thanks for that little tidbit. That nugget.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 29:11
You're welcome. And I want to ask you, because I noticed something. They say that we're not living in a age of exhaustion, like overwork, but we're living in an age of under resting. And I noticed I tried to challenge you know, with all the hustle culture of the 30 days to try to aim for like 18 hours every day to see what happens. But literally, within a few days, I had no creativity left. All I could do is be like a machine where I have a checklist of things that are mindlessly done that I could do. I could not write creatively there was like no juice and the machine and all that. And I noticed that actually rest is because what's the thing that makes you special? It's not the quantity of work. or even the quality is trying to do something that nobody has done before, or at least in a way that it hasn't been done before. And to be able to do that you need perspective, you need time to think you need to let your brain subconsciously assimilate things in order to find ideas. But if you're drowning, in busyness, you cannot get to that. What's your perspective on this, since you said, you're productive eight hours a day. And I remember, there is a book that was actually studying the Microsoft executives, like it was an executive team, I think it's called getting results the HR way or something like that, you found something called Power hours, where they said, actually, the best executives had three to four power hours per week, where in one hour, they did more work than a week of a normal employee. And the rest of the time was actually they should prepare and get the conditions right for those hours, they were instinctively doing that, and therefore they were not productive for eight hours a day in that sense. But they were all the rest of the time was making them strong enough and ready and prepared for those few hours, where they created something that totally transformed the experience or the trajectory and all that. Yeah, well,
Kelly Claus 31:20
I mean, I haven't read that book. But I've worked for a number of executives in early in my, I moved to New York in 2007. And temped for a year, year and a half. And I worked for a lot of executives, and they have a whole bunch of people doing other stuff for them, they have people doing the little Not to disparage these people in this book. But you know, I mean, like, it's much easier to have time to think and to, you know, be creative when someone else is doing all the little stuff for you, you know, sending that email or scheduling that meeting or, you know, writing up that report or whatever. So, I mean, it's all, it's all relative, right. But I do think that there is, there is a lot of truth to the idea of just taking empty, you know, building an empty space, and I am terrible at this terrible edit. But I have a boyfriend, my boyfriend, Jeremy, and he takes at least an hour long walk every single morning, and he doesn't listen to anything, he just walks around. And he has, he also writes and is very creative, and he owns a business and he has work that he has to do he you know, he's very busy. But he also takes that time to just have, you know, stillness and be able to kind of process his thoughts and think creative things. And, and I, I've, I find that, that actually at this point in my life actually is more frustrating. Because my my job is to build things that someone else has told me to build, right? There is creative thinking in there, right? There's problem solving. And I do just stare out the window for chunks of time and you know, ponder how to how to solve a problem, but I'm not dreaming up the thing that needs to be built. Right? In my career. Right now, when I was a designer, there was quite a bit of that, right, I had to dream up. I was a branding. I was a branding designer. And I was a web designer, so I had to build up concepts. And you know, I took like, I took walks in and I had creative time now. I'm I am building on a product that already exists, I'm executing, you know, technical things, right. And so my job doesn't require the same type of creativity. And so when I take that time, if I can just be, you know, personally candid, when I take that time, I find myself being frustrated that I don't have time to then do anything with that creativity, right? Maybe maybe an idea comes into my head, I used to write a lot I used to blog and you know, whatever. About not about tech stuff, not about building just about life and stuff. And and when I have that creative time, I find myself wanting to do that again. And I know that I don't have the space in my life to do that right now. And so, you know, it kind of feels bad to, to feel that itch, but not be able to scratch it. You know what I mean?
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 34:21
I know 100% And it reminds me of a wonderful book called The now habit where the advice is to schedule, creative time, fun time, whatever, and you're weak before everything else. Because if all you have to look forward to is more work, it crushed, it crushes the spirit in many ways, because it seems like an endless treadmill that you're on and all you can do is repeat yesterday and that's not really that much fun. Kelly, this was a privilege. This was an honor. I loved our conversation and if you can share more about your ourselves, what do you do links where people can find more about you, please do so. And I'll share your Twitter in the description.
Kelly Claus 35:08
Great. Sounds good. Thank you so much for this. Aziz, Do you want me to say where I am online? Or send you a sorry? Maybe you can go his heart out?
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 35:18
Both. Say it, and I will write it as Okay, great.
Kelly Claus 35:22
So yeah, you can find me online. Twitter is the best place to find me. I'm kind of there quite a bit. I'm also building an app called wrote. And that's at in rota dot app. And that's for anyone writing grant proposals or funding proposals. It helps to speed up that process. Yeah, so that's where you can find me. Thanks so much for this conversation. It was so fun.
Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 35:46
You're welcome. It's my privilege. And I wish you a great, great day.
Kelly Claus 35:51
Goodbye. Thanks, Aziz.