Wade Foster On Running A Remote Company and Digital Dance Parties

Wade Foster was graduating during the worst recession in the past 100 years and traditional employers were simply not hiring anyone. He reached out to a local software company in Missouri and talked them into hiring him to work on marketing. The experience “opened his eyes” to the digital world and the enormous opportunities that were beginning to emerge. He also tapped into a “thirst for developing new skills” that pushed him to learn how to code.

The idea for Zapier emerged from some work Wade was doing with his friend Brian to connect different apps on the internet. They brought the idea to Startup Weekend in Missouri and ended up building a prototype of what would later form the foundation of Zapier. By Monday morning, they were committed to spending time on it and seeing where it would go.

Seven years later, Wade is the CEO of that company and he is leading it as a remote company. Wade shares reflections on building a remote company and the fact that you have to default to trust and be very intentional about building a connection between people. In traditional companies, he notes that “The default for most companies is that they don’t trust you.” For his company, the default is:

“We trust you. We think you’re smart, we think you’re talented, we want you to come work here. We’re going to treat you like an adult. Just come do good work, that’s all we ask.”

One of his suggestions for connecting people is for people to share the names of their parents when introducing themselves. This subtle shift of framing helps people open up and share more of their personal story. Other cultural practices such as “remote dance parties” have emerged more naturally, when people come up with their own ways to connect and engage with their colleagues.

Wade is also not your typical Industrial Engineer. He and his co-founder were in a Jazz quartet together before they started Zapier. Wade felt that his Jazz experience was incredible for helping him think about running a company and imagine possibilities beyond the “path of least resistance.” The Jazz experience has continued to influence him to “try stuff” which is more or less the only way you can approach running a new company.

He believes that remote companies are a way to unlock the “human side of work” and that “work, family, friends, and community have to be in conflict with each other.” He has seen several people he has hired move away from high-cost locations like New York and San Francisco move closer to family and loved ones. Over and over again he sees his colleagues build a personal and professional life that is “in harmony.”


Originally published at think-boundless.com on November 7, 2018.