The Best Productivity Tools for Remote Workers in 2022 with Kenzo Fong of Rock

In today’s tech world, employees often have to juggle dozens of different apps at once just to get work done. Imagine searching for files on Google Drive, so that you can update a Task on Trello, and communicating about all of it over Slack or Zoom. Often, messages, files, notes tasks, and video calls all require different apps that are completely mismatched. Kenzo Fong knew we needed a better, more unified way of doing things so he launched his SaaS company Rock.

“Rock is a new hub for getting work done. Messaging, tasks, files, notes, and meetings. All in one space. All for free.”

In this edition of the UpTech report, host Alexander Ferguson meets with Fong to talk about how Rock helps distributed teams to work more productively. He explains his full story from working at Google and Uber, leading globally distributed teams, and eventually, launching his own software company.

Kenzo Fong is CEO & Founder of Rock, a company on a mission to enable anyone to work from anywhere. From Google Maps to Android, and Uber, Kenzo has helped build and grow products that have ended up delighting billions of people. In all of these roles, he joined early on and helped these projects find market fit by building and leading product marketing, brand and growth teams through different stages of maturity and scale.

Kenzo has extensive experience building platforms through Android — the world’s most popular mobile platform, defining and bringing to market local and hardware products through Google Maps & Google hardware and growing three-sided marketplaces through Uber Eats.

Through these experiences, he also saw the issues that come with global teams, and the shortcomings of the various collaboration tools. While managing distributed work, he saw how frustrating it was to deal with teams using different tools in different time zones, which planted the seed for Rock. 

Rock is purpose-built for remote work and allows you to switch to a more asynchronous way of working. With Rock, teams from all parts of the world can work together through messaging, task creation, integrated video calls, with ease and without annoying “pings” in the middle of the night. Rather than productivity tools that don’t work together and actually fragment the workflow, Kenzo developed an all-in-one platform to reduce anxiety and work efficiently from anywhere in the world. He now runs the company from his van-office with employees in 10 countries and 7 time zones. 

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Kenzo Fong 0:00
When lockdown happened, they’re like, Okay, what are the tools that we have on our shelf? Like, let’s, let’s just send people home. And it’s going to be fine, right? So let’s take slack, let’s assume let’s take all of these different things and like, like this is just going to work. And I think that’s just the wrong way of doing things.

Alexander Ferguson 0:23
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series. UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I’m excited to be joined by my guest Kenzo Fong, who’s based in San Francisco, California. He’s the CEO and co founder at Rock. Welcome, Kenzo, good to have you on.

Kenzo Fong 0:42
Hey, Alex, great to be on.

Alexander Ferguson 0:44
Rock is a productivity platform for distributed teams. And you guys are catering to small midsize businesses, really the smaller teams inside larger organizations that want to be organized, but help you understand Kenza what was the problem that you saw and have set out to solve?

Kenzo Fong 1:01
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think there are two, two things that like I saw that I set out to solve. First one is fragmentation of all these productivity tools, right. And it’s like Slack, Trello, Asana,, a bunch of different tools that look don’t do not like really work together as well as they should. The second thing is, with a lot of people working in a distributed fashion, we’re not in office anymore. A lot of companies have made this mistake of using the same tools that like we used to use when everybody was in the same office in the same time, and all of those different things. And I think that that really impacts productivity, I think that really impacts quality of life and definitely impacts quality of work life.

Alexander Ferguson 1:54
So let’s let’s go back then and and hear the journey that you’ve been on that has gotten to this point. Okay, I got to solve this problem. Let’s go back to you. You. Have you always been in technology.

Kenzo Fong 2:06
I have always been in technology. And if I like go way back, I was doing a PhD dropout to my first startup that first started working on for a bunch of different reasons. But I really liked building. So on a whim applied to Google, this is back in 2005 2006, I ended up working at Google for for nine years, spent a lot of time there. Leading like globally distributed teams. After Google, I went to Uber, where I also like manage a bunch of globally distributed teams. And that’s where I really started to realize that like fragmentation, all these different productivity platforms, actually does, like help with what most of these tools set out to solve, which how do we, how do we make it easier to get work done? I think that fragmentation was one of the biggest problems we set out to small. When, when I started.

Alexander Ferguson 3:04
You’re you’re at Google for eight years. And then again, Uber for three years before being able to get closer to launching this. Was it was it always in the back of your mind that you wanted to solve this? Were you like writing pieces of paper? Or was it just there? And then one day, you’re like, Alright, time to break out on my own? And then you look back?

Kenzo Fong 3:24
Yeah, I think it’s like one of these things, right? Where it’s like, kind of difficult to say like, where did where where did this start? Right? I always had this thing where like at Google, like productivity, or like different tools that you use to kind of work, okay, right. But then you’re also add the company that does everything from Gmail, to Google Calendar, to docs and spreadsheets, and like everybody uses that everybody uses the Google meet. And there’s this like nice mobile things that’s like, kind of work together. But then as soon as you start working with other companies outside of Google, that’s when that model breaks down. At Uber, I had the same thing. Or I was I was at HQ working with a bunch of regional teams. And I would ask people, like, what’s going on with like, the business in your city, or somebody would bring me a link when Asana if I then would ask somebody else, they would bring me the link to Trello board. And like, at the end of the day, it’s all project management in there. And like nothing like really works together. And like that was my main frustration. That led me to found the rock.

Alexander Ferguson 4:31
Gotcha. Before launching rock I mean, in productivity spaces, there’s a lot of options. So how did you pitch it? How did you get kind of the the concept out there and investors involved and stuff?

Kenzo Fong 4:45
Yeah, um, so let’s see. So we started like actually building product at the end of 2019. So this is pre pandemic critical for pretty much everybody working from home. And like, it really started with solving that fragmentation. It’s, um, I still think it’s silly that like, any team can pick all these different tools. And these tools actually don’t work together. So what you then end up doing is, hey, ping me the link to that like document or ping me the link to that like, task or like whatever it is. And so that’s what we set out to solve. And we’re bootstrapping things for the first couple of months. And we’re basically like building the team growing the company. In addition to setting out to solve this problem, I always wanted to build a distributed team, right. And like, the thinking behind it is a NOC from the US, I was born and raised in this tiny country in South America, but three now. So there is, so I know that there is a lot of talent outside, let’s say the tech hubs of San Francisco, New York, Austin, like London. So so we started building product and dust 19 also started building a distributed company in 2019. And we were using rock actually manage all of this. And then the pandemic happened. And then like, suddenly, we realized that this tool that we were using to build our distributed company that was solving all these productivity issues, was also doing a really good job of solving pretty much everybody else’s problem of like, moving towards more like, remote work, like dispute, like we’re concerned.

Alexander Ferguson 6:27
And this this progress, like you saw, the problem before became a real global problem for everyone. And now everyone’s needing and wanting it. Your particular niche as far as like, there’s, there are enterprise level companies. And then there, there’s a single individual trying to start a company, where do you see this product fitting in?

Kenzo Fong 6:49
Yeah, like, in our case, I think it’s, it’s really evolved. But so if I look at the productivity space, right, I think on one side of the spectrum, and if I, if I just, if I just like, take a look at messaging, right, because at its core rock, combines messaging, with tasks and notes, files. But if I just look at this environment, I just focus on the messaging aspect of the product, right. So on one side of the spectrum, you have, let’s say, Slack, and it’s like very enterprise SAS, and you pay per user per month, and like, it actually quickly adds up, if you have like a, like, a pretty sizable team. And then on the other side of the spectrum, you have tools like WhatsApp, and iMessage, which a lot of businesses use as well, because it’s like, super easy, it’s free, you don’t need to pay for it. So in our case, like, our sweet spot is probably in between this, right? Where we are making this school, that super accessible, super simple to use, you can send as many messages as you want. And it is really like democratization of productivity tool that I think is like sort of the need, right? Like, if you are the smaller business, I don’t think you actually want to pay slack, seven or eight bucks per month, Asana, like 10 bucks per month, like all these different tools. So then like to actually run your business, you probably end up paying something like 50 to $60 per employee per month. And that quickly adds up if you’re a small business, but it’s even more important in more emerging countries where, like $50 per employee just to get like work done per month, it’s actually a lot of money, right? So so that’s what we really focusing on we’re really focused on that like sweet spot in between, like purely enterprise, SAS, and consumer and it’s more like prosumer, right? It’s, I think, very similar to what like notion and like some of these other tools are doing, which is super accessible, super simple to use, anyone can use

Alexander Ferguson 8:52
interesting intersection of two things, one being combining multiple services into one. So you don’t have to pay multiple, this this platform, this platform, this platform, this platform, but also your target market have somewhat of an unmet need as everyone wants to serve as enterprise customers and those larger, but it bringing it to to the to the masses and your your your background, your history from Suriname and South America is accessible in all countries. It’s kind of raising the bar and availability. Is this like your passion? Is that that was like driving you is to bring it available to more people?

Kenzo Fong 9:31
I think that’s a good question. I haven’t really thought about it that much. But I do. I’ve always been excited about like working on these products. Like when I was at Google, I was part of the early team for Google Maps where you ended up launching maps everywhere from Finland to Sub Saharan Africa. And I thought that was like amazingly like cool but also like super like empowering for anyone who did not have access to like maps or like digital maps like before, right? And same thing with when I worked in hands which is literally like giving everybody the ability to put the super supercomputer in their pocket and don’t without having to pay an apple tax. Right. And I think, I think to a certain degree, you’re probably right, where like, that is kind of one of these driving factors where I think it’s unfair that not everybody has access to some of these productivity tools that most other countries are more developed countries and more, like more fluent, that companies have access to, right. Like, why wouldn’t you be able to have some of the benefits of like, real time messaging, project management, like all of this stuff? In if you’re in a situation where you don’t actually want to pay for that, right. So yeah, it does get me like, excited about like, Wouldn’t it be cool if I, if like, punk rock can enable this just productivity way for companies and people that couldn’t afford it? Before?

Alexander Ferguson 10:58
I just Googled certain answers like right next to Guyana, north of Brazil. You also you said you actually have some of your team members are there right now as well.

Kenzo Fong 11:07
I’m not necessarily team members, we do have people in 10 different countries, seven different time zones. And we have people in pretty much every continent except for Antarctica. And yeah, that’s basically it. So yeah, so we are like, very, like geographically distributed.

Alexander Ferguson 11:31
But when you look at the tools themselves, and this, it kind of a conversation around your tool, but also the ecosystem of being remote and working productive. That what what do you see is is the what are people doing wrong? Like, what what is it? What needs to be changed? Because now everyone’s forced to being remote? And maybe they’re bringing things that they were doing it before?

Kenzo Fong 11:57
What comes to your mind? Yeah, um, yeah, that’s a great follow up question to your question. And I think it really comes down to like, one, like, we’re really focused on that sweet spot between like, purely enterprise SAS and like, more mass market. And it’s, it’s, it’s probably best to find this prosumer. And it is really about like, simplification, right? Like this school, does messaging plus tasks and all those things. In addition to this, right, I think the way we work has changed substantially in the last few years. Right. And, like, we were doing that before, before, like, pandemic, but I do think a lot of companies have made this like almost Cardinal mistake, which is, when lockdown happened, they’re like, Okay, what are the tools that we have on our shelf? And like, let’s, let’s just send people home. And that’s going to be fine, right? So let’s take slack, let’s assume let’s take all of these different things. And like, like, this is just going to work. And I think that’s just the wrong way of doing things, right. Because I think there is something like really nice about being able to work from home. But you can only do it, if you move away from real time, all the time, in the same way that like, when you’re in the office, I could walk up to you up to your desk and say, Hey, Alex, hey, like, what’s going on? Like, what are you working? Right? And like, like, that works in the office, because, you know, everybody is roughly there in between like eight and five or eight sex or like, whatever it is, like, you can do that. But like when everybody’s working from home, right? Like, the beauty of working from home is you have a lot more flexibility. One you don’t need to commute to, you actually do these things that like you couldn’t do in between, like, maybe I should walk the dog, maybe I should have breakfast with my kids or lunch with my kids or like whatever it is. But, um, because most companies stuck to that like model that you success when everybody’s office like, I think a lot of people ended up in way longer work hours than before, because there was no like natural boundary between like working home. People ended up in way too many meetings, right, like, and I think that’s still the case, like assume like usage went through the roof throughout the pandemic, and it’s because every single, every single interaction was basically replaced by let’s do a zoom meeting or the like knocking like Slack notification sound, which is Hey, Alex, like, what are you doing? Right? I got all of that stuff. I think it’s super disruptive. So one of the things we’re also trying to do with rock is we’re really trying to make it easier for people to switch through more asynchronous first way of working, right, so asynchronous by default. So instead of sending a chat message, which is kind of disruptive, or instead of like setting up Zoom meeting, which is kind of disruptive. We’re really trying to move most collaboration into an asynchronous mode, right? So instead of doing like a meeting, we’re like a, like instant message right? Maybe you should create a task. And the task has all the details around like what the actual thing is that like, that needs to happen. And then you add a comment to it. And then you assign that to somebody. And like when they see it, when they wake up in the morning, they just see all the tasks with all the comments. And it’s like super structured, super organized. So they can get to it in their own time, right. And, like work becomes more like a relay race where it’s like, you work on something, you hand it off, and then somebody picks it up, and they pick it up. And then you move on to other things. And like as a result, I doing that way less meetings and way less disruptions, you can have a lot of flexibility around like how you plan your day. Plus, you get a lot more like deep work, right, like actual focus on to get work done, as opposed to going from meeting to meeting to meeting. And then like, at the end of the day, you’re like, Well, I’ve been in like 20 or 30 meetings, I still have the three hours of work and they end up working in line, right, which is not great from a work life quality perspective.

Alexander Ferguson 16:00
Work should be a relay race. remote work should be like a relay race, I find that an intriguing statement.

Kenzo Fong 16:06
Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Alexander Ferguson 16:09
This, in our previous in a prep conversation, you also mentioned of challenging people by not showing availability in your whether you’re on or not kid, can you speak to that? And why?

Kenzo Fong 16:22
Yeah, yeah. Um, so I don’t know, like, in some cases, we’re very opinionated, like, how, like, are we like, built? Right? And like, and this goes back to? I think there are, I think you have like different generations tools, right. And if I just look at productivity tools, if I go back to the 80s, like, loaders, or like, whatever it was, then you have like, offers in Excel and Word and then after that you had like Google Docs, spreadsheets and Trello and Asana. And then you have this, like newer generation productivity tools, which are more like notion figma rock, right. And it’s like, a different way of thinking about like, how work actually happens. One of the things that most communication platforms like Slack, or like telegram or like any of these tools, do they, they tend to prior engagement over focus, right? And so for instance, right, so in rock, like, we have two features that like people still ask for, and like, we always explain it. But why we actually don’t ask them, like the two features are online status indicator, and the red mark on like a message, right? So an online status indicator is like one of these things where I don’t think it really works in a distributed environment, or like in a working, right, so like, online status indicator is on Alex’s screen. So he’s like, online, and he’s actually on like, whatever. Right? So we don’t have that, because I do think it adds a lot of pressure to an employee to actually like, be present. Right. So and, like my example for this is, um, you might want to check your messages at like, 10pm at night, and that’s totally up to you, right? Like, if you want to check your messages, unranked or your like, your tasks, or notes and rock like at 10pm, like totally up to you to decide that you want to do that. But as soon as you then say this indicator says Alex is green, the rest of your team sees that you’re green, because they are working in a different time zone, it might actually be morning for them, they are more likely to ping you and say, Hey, Alex, you’re online, like, can we discuss like a certain thing or like whatever it is, right? So, um, so that’s the reason why I think online status indicators are not great unless you come up with a better way of doing that. And it’s very similar for that like red marking message, right? Like when you send a message, some app, say, Hey, Alex read this message, right, then it’s also like a way of saying, hey, like, you were actually, you actually, like, we’re online, you check that message. And as soon as you see that, like red mark on the message, you will feel the pressure. Whereas like, you will know that like, everybody else has seen that you’ve seen that message. So you will feel the pressure that you actually need to reply to that. Right. So we’re trying to take away a lot of that, like inside the other, like our work happens, and like work should say at work to certain degree. Right? And yeah. And I think that like should help with that. Work, work life balance, or at least

Alexander Ferguson 19:29
work life balance. It has been a huge conversation piece when it comes to now remote work, and definitely this distributed workforce where it’s across the globe. When you first shared it with me, I didn’t like it when you would use the concept of mobile, but particularly the red status because I’m like, I want to know like did you get my thing? But it’s interesting point. If someone’s in different different time zone, you don’t want them if they can check it when they want. They shouldn’t As Sara Lee feel pressured to be working, replying in their off hours at their time, wherever they are, it’s just it’s a very different way to think about work, which you’re almost trying to push against the status norm or the the mentality of work, which is interesting and potentially challenging as a SaaS company.

Kenzo Fong 20:21
Yeah, for sure. And I think, like I said, like, we are opinionated about, like, a bunch of these things. And we do try to offer alternatives. Right? So and it goes back to that, like asynchronous by default, right? Like, if you just think about like, work is really rich, right? So instead of having a red mark on the message, instead of having an online status indicator, right, like, you can create a task in a task, you can mark your status that says, hey, cancel is working on like, this task. And like, everybody knows that you’re working on it. Right. So. So there are ways that like, we we tried to replace that. Right?

Alexander Ferguson 21:03
Doing it a different way that doesn’t hamper that remote mentality, or or work life balance.

Kenzo Fong 21:09
Yep. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Alexander Ferguson 21:13
For you, what are you most excited about? Like, if you’re looking ahead at your roadmap, and what you guys are building and working on? Because it’s still it’s only you said, launched it? Early, early? Last year? Right. But

Kenzo Fong 21:25
earlier this year, we launched we officially launched in February.

Alexander Ferguson 21:29
Yes. Okay, see launch February, still new again, people on? What what are you most excited? What’s the roadmap that you can share?

Kenzo Fong 21:37
Um, that’s good question. I think there are like two different, like focus areas for us, right. And it’s really like building out. Like, the different ways that you can vote, like, asynchronously communicate and collaborate and like, do it in real time as well. Right. So in our case, when you open a proc, you create a space and like, you can send a message, which is very similar to Slack, or Telegram, or and these other apps, but we also offer you the ability to like, instead of sending a message all the time, you can also create a task and create a note to kind of like, reference a file, you can add to comment, like those sorts of things. But we also have, but we also have like a bunch of integrations with tools like zoom and Google meat. So if you really want to do that video call, you can do that, right. So it is really about making it easier for anyone to pick and choose like how they want to communicate. But we think asynchronous should be by your mode of communication should be asynchronous by default. But we’re also not doing this thing where like, and this is like a, like a mental overload thing, right? Which is, okay, I need to get in touch with Alex, should I do this over email, SMS, Slack? Trello. Or like, whatever, like, I don’t think that works. I think what you want to do is one platform one front end for like, how you how your team gets work done, you just show up in rock, and then it’s up to you to say, Okay, I have this thing. And like, is it something that like, then someone needs to follow up on later or like something that we can discuss later? So it should be a task? Or it should be a topic? Or like something like that? Or is it more urgent? So should it be an instant message? Or is it actually something that like, requires like a face to face conversation like this? And and like requires like, assume all Google meet? All right, because, yeah, so we’re really focused on building out like, all these different modes of communication, like making it easier, make it easy, making it easier for people to get

Alexander Ferguson 23:50
this this concept of, of how you you work, it’s like you realize people need to be to do it in different ways. But you’ve been building this product with your own product. That’s always a good eating your own dog food, good recipe for that. But your concept of consolidation of many things into into one app, one solution is saying you don’t need to go to different places. For those that have been listened to series you’ll you’ll probably recognize with me I feel like this is a reoccurring theme in many new SaaS applications is the future is how do we consolidate not have a singular app for this and then another app for this and another app for this? And so you’re definitely on this trend of consolidation of software consolidation that needs to just do more. For you, your co founder, how many other co founders do you have?

Kenzo Fong 24:40
Um, I have one more

Alexander Ferguson 24:43
worker and where do you guys meet? I’m curious. Coming back to your story a little bit because it’s it’s fascinating to hear this point.

Kenzo Fong 24:51
Um, yeah, that’s good question. I think it’s like we met through, like the X Google Network where we knew a bunch of people We were both in Google. We were both at Google. And then we not we knew a bunch of people from our lifetime there. And that’s how we basically ended up connecting.

Alexander Ferguson 25:11
And then you both saw the vision for it. And and like, let’s, let’s do the boots and you’re still bootstrap today.

Kenzo Fong 25:20
No, we’re not so. So we were bootstrapping initially. And like building product, hiring, hiring the team and doing all of those things. And then the pandemic happened, or like, we should probably like de risk things a bit. And we ended up Racing, racing the initial round, like basically funded us well, to where we are now.

Alexander Ferguson 25:44
That’s exciting. You, you have the team and get people involved and start to see that this, this vision forward. If you were to give a tip, though, of because when you’re in the space of remote work, and distributed work, and if you’re going to have a tip to someone, not on tools, just how to do the work, any other tips that come to your mind that you would recommend to people?

Kenzo Fong 26:07
I think in most cases, right, like, the tool is just like literally a tool, right? I think it is, in addition to like picking what you want to use. It’s also like, from a company building perspective, like what, what do you think the culture should be? What do you think the processes should be? And then you can, then you can pick the call, you actually want to get them done, right. So I think that’s, that’s super important to realize where on every tool can be used in the right way or in the wrong way. So in addition to building a distribution company, and like using our product, ourselves, and dogfooding, it and all of those different things, right, it also really comes down to we should like a bunch of basic principles that we have, which are all about, we should keep meeting swimming. And like if we do a meeting, it should not be a status update meeting where everybody just goes through, you go through the room, and you’re like, cancel, what did you work on today, and then like, I get my sense of like, all of those meetings, I think are pretty useless. I think like, for like, these types of meetings, it really comes down to, like realize that like face to face time is the most important time that you have, especially in a company like ours, where you have people spread across like 10 different countries, seven different time zones.

Alexander Ferguson 27:34
You guys ever come together on a one time ever? I’m when do you do that?

Kenzo Fong 27:40
We have, we have one weekly meeting, which we try to like shorten every time we meet where where we moved away from like older, like status update meetings, which were like, not that useful. And we primarily use that time now to discuss things in more detail. So we’re looking at the roadmap, look at like things that we want to build. And then we have a good discussion around, like, what should the user experience be like how it’s actually implemented? And I think those discussions are, are super crucial. And like, we tried to do those.

Alexander Ferguson 28:16
But strategy and brainstorming time. That’s

Kenzo Fong 28:21
right, like, we’re all like humans, like you still need that time. And like, there’s a lot of like, context that you lose if you just send a message or just add a comment or just create a task. So it really comes down to that, like, how do you? How do you want to build your company? Like, what’s the culture that you want to have in place? How much stress do you put in, people are like to be able to run the Distribute company, right? Like the way we do, it is really about I will trust you that you will do your work. And like it’s up to you to decide when you want to do that work, right? Like some people like working from eight to five, some people actually like working from five to eight or like, whatever it is, and they’re like night owls, like whatever. And I think in a traditional company, most people are forced into that mold of, Hey, why are you not in office? It’s like 9am, or like, why are you not online? Because it’s like 1pm, or whatever it is. In our case, we just put a lot of trust in people where we say, hey, like this is this is the work that doesn’t get committed to and it’s up to you to get it done. It doesn’t really matter, like venue to get them done. But So trust is super important. And then also expectations around around like. But I would say some companies have this thing, which is all about like optimizing for like being present and online, like online, like percent is percentage versus like actual code. Right. So a bunch of different things where I think for building a company, it really is. I do want to build your company, with your culture with our process that you have place. And then like, what are the tools that you use actually enabled up?

Alexander Ferguson 30:05
Yes, just for fun, because I feel like you take the concept of remote work to the extreme there. Your your How long have you been in your home is remote right on on wheels?

Kenzo Fong 30:17
My office is remote. My office is remote. And that’s, I don’t know.

Alexander Ferguson 30:25
For those listening, by the way, I would just describe where you’re coming from right now.

Kenzo Fong 30:30
Yeah, that’s a good point. I’m working from a fan, which is parking Golden Gate Park. So and this is, this is, let’s say, my mobile HQ, right? So I tend to work from different places throughout the week. I’m in San Francisco, primarily. But over the summer, we were basically like, my family and I were like, driving around, and then most of the West Coast. And I think one, I’m a firm believer in like, dogfooding, your own product. And like, it’s our mission to enable anyone to work from anywhere, right? So the best way to do that is to actually like do it yourself. And then you figure out like whether whether the problems that you then encounter, right, so yeah, so I’ve been. So I’ve been running the company from my look down for the last year and a half ever since. Ever since I got this. So

Alexander Ferguson 31:30
I think a lot of people actually, I thought about a remote work, just traveling different places, and and you’re just able to pick up and go and continue working wherever you are.

Kenzo Fong 31:39
Yeah, so So that’s the thing, right? And it goes back to that point I was making around like, there are so many benefits of not being in office and not being in meetings. Right? Like, I don’t think I could do what I’m doing now where I’m actually working from a car if I was in meetings all the time, because then you need to have like amazing internet, like, like, connectivity needs to be like always there. Because I don’t do as many like Fidel meetings like I and I work more asynchronously, I can do these, these things where I just get worked on, like, wherever I am. And it’s the same thing with with, with a lot of people in the in the rest of the team. Right? Or, to my point. We have folks in London we have folks in, in, in Rio, we have folks in like a bunch of different places. And it’s literally enabling anyone to work from anywhere and like we’re using our own product actually do it, which is great from a product development perspective.

Alexander Ferguson 32:37
You’re speaking of just productivity time, how do you prioritize your own time? And where as a leader of the company, how do you plan out your day? What’s a typical day look like?

Kenzo Fong 32:49
Wow, that’s a great question. So let’s see. If I look at a typical day, I do like some meetings, which are mostly one on ones, but and I don’t do a ton of them. So it’s probably like one or two hours here and there. And it’s mostly like catching up with folks on the team. And like having that conversation that you can have if everything is asynchronous. Then the remainder of the day basically spent on in typical startup fashion, right? You’re like wearing multiple hats, you’re doing a bunch of different things in the same device. So then you just prioritize based on like, important and urgent and to try to get as much of that done as possible. Right so it’s everything from product to go to market to finance the legal like a bunch of like different things all at the same time.

Alexander Ferguson 33:42
Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Kenzo Fong 33:46
I am more of a morning person. And it’s something that has changed over time where I used to be pretty much night owl but I’m more of a morning person. So wake up like relatively early. Do a bunch of things and then yeah, that’s that’s when the workplace starts.

Alexander Ferguson 34:03
Married kids. We familywize Yes.

Kenzo Fong 34:07
Married three kids. There are three seven and nine. So they’re like, running around super busy. super long.

Alexander Ferguson 34:15
Speaking of work life balance. What was your was your was your wife like? Yes, go do a startup make it happen?

Kenzo Fong 34:23
Yep. Um, I’m not sure. I don’t think we ever had like that specific conversation, but she’s always been like, super supportive. But then it’s it’s mostly like, I don’t know, I think it’s one of these things where I think if if I get excited about things, right. I think that’s like probably some of the best life advice I’ve ever gotten. Right? Like, if you got excited about things if you got passionate about something, and that like, boundary between like work and like life kinda like disappears because you’re so passionate about like doing something right. I think that’s That’s one of the best things that can happen. And I think she sees that she encourages that which, which has been amazing.

Alexander Ferguson 35:09
I wonder where the future of truly of work life intermix for, not just startup founders, but for all employees and team members is just this mix and match. And wherever you are work and whenever you work, it’s up to you.

Kenzo Fong 35:24
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I don’t, I think there are so many benefits of like being able to work, work from home or work. And then just going back to like, family life, right. I think, with our youngest, I’ve been like, way more present way more favorable than I was before, even though I’m probably busier, which is like, kind of strange, right. But like, when I was at Google or Uber, like, I needed to be in office, I need to commute to the office, I needed to be there, like for a large chunk of the day. So as a result, I miss breakfast in the morning, or like when the kids came home from school or like all these different things. But now I’m actually like, at home or I can be at home or I can be at soccer practice if I really want to. And realistically, I have like a ton of other things that I do because early stage startup but I think this also goes back to that like work life balance sound like if, if you don’t need to be in meetings all the time you get and you don’t need to commute you get like so much time back to do all these other things that are like equally as important.

Alexander Ferguson 36:31
So thank you for sharing a little bit of your journey what you’re building at Rock for those that want to learn more and maybe try it out yourself. You can go to, that’s ROCK.SO, you’ll be able to sign up. You have a free plan so it’s not very, very easy to explore. Thanks again, Kenzo. This is this is wonderful.

Kenzo Fong 36:51
Yeah. Thanks. Thanks. It’s always great talking to you.

Alexander Ferguson 36:56
And we’ll see you all on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live, work and do business? Go to UpTech and let us know


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