Daniel Hall of Working Den: “Build and release your product as fast as you can”

Build and release your product as fast as you can. Don’t worry about refining it. Basically it took four months to perfect the site and when it launched, we pivoted within a week and all the time perfecting things was for nothing. In the future I’ll try to find “market fit” and something that works, […]

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Build and release your product as fast as you can. Don’t worry about refining it. Basically it took four months to perfect the site and when it launched, we pivoted within a week and all the time perfecting things was for nothing. In the future I’ll try to find “market fit” and something that works, before refining and “polishing” the product / site.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniel Hall.

Daniel Hall is a Google Ads freelancer and CEO of Working Den — the site that helps people who are working from home. During his career as a freelancer Daniel has earned over 1 million dollars and subsequently wrote the book, The Million Dollar Freelancer in 2019. Prior to his freelance journey Daniel was employed by a Digital Marketing Agency and worked in the Marketing department at West Ham United Football Club. He has a Masters in Management from Imperial College, where he came top of his class and a BSc in History, from Queen Mary’s University of London.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was brought up in a place called Dagenham, which is regularly voted one of the worst places to live in England. My mum was a single parent so we lived with my nan and grandad. I didn’t meet my dad until I was 13 years old. And we didn’t have too much. BUT it was one of the happiest periods of my life. I had an extremely loving family and a very happy upbringing and that’s all that matters in life. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s funny, most quotes you see mentioned these days are ones that people read on Instagram. This particular quote was from a random Australian guy that I was speaking to in a pub in London about 10 years ago. He said that the only thing he checks in his son’s grades is the effort column. This is because “the world is full of geniuses who are lazy and who do nothing with their lives. It’s the people who work hard who get somewhere”.

I’ve always been a hard worker so it wasn’t exactly something that I listened to and it changed my life, but whenever I’ve had a setback in business the quote always reminds me that by working hard I can get myself back on track.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There’s two life changing audio books that I’ve listened to. The first was “How To Make Friends And Influence People”. I think that’s the best book ever written. It has page after page of information that everyone should know, but most don’t. For example, people like talking, so if you listen rather than trying to talk all the time yourself, people will like you and so on. If I were a teacher, I’d make all my students read it for life lessons. I use most of the advice that it gives on a daily basis so you can’t get more valuable to someone’s life than that.

The other book is “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions”. I’ve had depression since I was about 13 but 2019 was the worst that I have ever had it and I was in a bad place. I tend to have depression, it’s there for a few weeks and then it goes, but this just stuck around the whole year in 2019. Listening to this book gave me hope that there is a way out from depression. It’s full of great information and just “makes sense” in the same way that the information in “How To Make Friends And Influence People” does. The hope it gave me to carry on was life changing for me.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

I’ve been freelancing since 2012 and I’m a Top Rated Plus freelancer on Upwork. I had (and have) a very successful career, amassing over 1 million dollars in earnings so far.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

I didn’t pivot completely as I still freelance but for the first few months of the pandemic lots of my clients had paused and others were simply not working, so I wasn’t receiving as many emails as I usually do. This means I went from working 16 hour days to working 8 hour days and that made such a huge difference to my life. But it also meant that I had a lot of free time that I wasn’t used to. During this free time I launched a startup called Working Den — which I hope becomes my full time career in the future.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

I’ve been working remotely since 2012 and have experienced absolutely every bad side of it. In 2019 I made a concerted effort to turn my life around and I found solutions to the problems that I was experiencing.

The world going into lockdown was my “aha moment”. I thought my knowledge could be of use to a lot of people and hence I wanted to create some tools that could improve people’s experience of working from home.

How are things going with this new initiative?

I’m getting thousands of visitors to the site every month and our Remote Workers Slack group is up to 816 members at the time of writing. I’m slowly building the brand up.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I hired a guy called Jesus from Venezuela who was a great developer — and those are hard to come by. He was able to get all of the tools that I wanted built without too many problems. Not only that but he was a good guy and we built up a great rapport, talking about tons of different things every day.

The push notifications on Working Den I tried to find a developer for. Most people quoted me a month of work to get that set up. Jesus set it up for me in less than a day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I’ve been offered funding by several venture capitalists but turned them all down because I don’t think we are ready for that. Once we’ve found market fit and start generating profit, it would be at that stage that I seek investment.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

There’s only 4 things I wish someone told me before starting my organization:

Build and release your product as fast as you can. Don’t worry about refining it. Basically it took four months to perfect the site and when it launched, we pivoted within a week and all the time perfecting things was for nothing. In the future I’ll try to find “market fit” and something that works, before refining and “polishing” the product / site.

Don’t get your hopes up. I spoke to a journalist from Forbes who approached me about an article. I was quite excited and then she never rang me when promised. She blamed this on having to look after her children. She then rearranged for the week after, she never rang, never apologised and I never heard from her again. That was quite disheartening.

Be careful when choosing business partners. The person I was supposed to partner up with did absolutely nothing to help, despite saying he would get us lots of sign ups as soon as we went live and who didn’t contribute any content to the site despite promising he would do so.

Don’t listen to salesmen and get contracts in place if you do. I was approached by a company who promised to get me sign ups to the site (when it was originally a paid for service) and gave guarantees that I’d get my money back if they didn’t generate 6 sign ups. They generated no signs ups and couldn’t even get me free users to sign up to the Slack Group but despite this they didn’t honour their word and I didn’t get my money back.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

Well my startup Working Den is full of tools to optimize your mental wellness so I was fine during the pandemic. If anything it was the best I’ve been mentally for a while, I worked less hours than normal, had more breaks, worked out at home every day. I actually really enjoyed it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

An “anti hustle” movement. Our whole lives we are brought up to think of success as how much money we earn and every business leader you hear promotes working every hour under the sun. But this isn’t healthy and it’s not the way to find happiness. I would promote that people try to find purpose in their lives, that they work to live and not the other way round and all they seek in life is happiness, in whatever form that may be.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I’ve been very lucky and have met both of my idols — Mike Skinner from “The Streets” and Julian Dicks the football (soccer) player. So there’s no burning desire for me to meet anyone.

I’d probably say Simon Dolan, the UK businessman, for no other reason than the fact that I emailed him for advice when I first left my job back in 2012 and he said “if you are that good at your job, why don’t you just work for yourself”. Whilst I was already well on my way to becoming a freelancer, it just helped me reaffirm my decision and obviously that ended up to be a good life choice. So I’d probably meet up with him to say thanks.

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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