Practical Empowerment

Florin Ilie — On Autonomy in the Workplace and the Start of Practical Empowerment

January 01, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
Practical Empowerment
Florin Ilie — On Autonomy in the Workplace and the Start of Practical Empowerment
Practical Empowerment
Florin Ilie — On Autonomy in the Workplace and the Start of Practical Empowerment
Jan 01, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1

In this episode of Practical Empowerment, host Preslie Hirsch (@heypreslie) chats with founder of, Florin Ilie, to discuss building a business that only hires freelancers, the role of empathy in the workplace, the importance of giving members of your team autonomy, the reason for starting this podcast, and much more.

Resources from this episode:

If you love this episode, please share it with a friend and then leave a review! Make sure you hit subscribe so you don't miss our next season. And, to share your thoughts or suggestions for the show directly, please email

This show is brought to you by (website/LinkedIn). 

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Practical Empowerment, host Preslie Hirsch (@heypreslie) chats with founder of, Florin Ilie, to discuss building a business that only hires freelancers, the role of empathy in the workplace, the importance of giving members of your team autonomy, the reason for starting this podcast, and much more.

Resources from this episode:

If you love this episode, please share it with a friend and then leave a review! Make sure you hit subscribe so you don't miss our next season. And, to share your thoughts or suggestions for the show directly, please email

This show is brought to you by (website/LinkedIn). 

Florin:   0:09
hard work, smart day in and day out, off doing, sending over again and making even good decisions and having good luck. He's not enough to build wealth. The only way you can achieve that is by ownership and equity.

Preslie:   0:34
Hi there. And welcome to the first episode of practical empowerment, inspiring conversations with Valley leaders brought to you by after five dot io I'm your host, Presley Hirsch, with each episode will be bringing You Thought leaders and community changers throughout the greater Phoenix area. And while geographically we may all be fairly close than conversations take. Ways and principles of leadership expand far beyond the heart of Arizona. Our goal with this podcast is to provide you with tangible tips to feel empowered as a freelancer, business owner or employee as well as in your personal life, through taking total ownership and autonomy over the life that you want to lead. But you have to take my word for it, because in this episode I sat down with the founder of after five dot io Floren L. E. A. With a wealth of experience in Web development, hands on problem solving and working closely with a variety of teams. Floren knew there was an area of opportunity to build something that he truly believes in. Born in July of 2016 after five dot Io is a place where interests align in a context of known and consistent values and a platform where people can help each other pursue and achieve their dreams. Professionals who have a need for independence, control and opportunities are connected with small businesses who need access to qualified talent. Simply put, Floren empowers people to solve problems with technology and actively builds relationships that inspire Floren. Thanks for being here. I'm so excited to share with you today. So excited to talk to president. So tell me about why you started after five. I owe get rich. Why else would we started business, right?

Florin:   2:09
Um but, you know, the last year is this part of big part of why we start any business is to generate revenue and to provide for families thio power bills and, uh, ultimately, for many people, it's a dream. Thio being left. Yeah, eso You know, I think these days there is more to creating and building a business more than the financial rewards that come with it. and, um, one off the big drives for for a lot of people, including me, is, you know, something that that gives you passion, that that makes you do what you do, Um, for the joy that you get out of it yourself, right? So a debt point money and the financial rewards are sort of a bonus plus, but they are definitely being incentive to, you know, for the work and the effort and put up with the times where you don't quite feel, you know, to do it or you don't quite feel it's, ah paying off as much as you would like both in terms over or financial rewards, but also in terms of what you expect from other people. Yes, not everybody's going to like what you do are present at what you do only care about what you do. And so that that that those two components off drives us are, I think are key to why anybody would start a business. You know, for me, it's it's both financially. But also, um, you know, as far as, ah, in a drive on, why do I do what I do

Preslie:   4:00
right? Which I feel like that has to be a huge part of it. Because, in my opinion, there's much easier wait, but much easier ways to make money and better get rich quick schemes than building a business which takes so much work and time and thought, right?

Florin:   4:13
Yeah, yeah, I You know, I, um I gives credit to people that can use the get rich quick schemes to make, you know, a lot of money. And, uh, I

Preslie:   4:27
I don't know how they do it. I don't

Florin:   4:29
know why. All I know is that, uh, for me, long term investment and, uh, crying again, Just just putting work and real hours in the old days and really years. Yeah, does the only way I know how to do it. So I know

Preslie:   4:48
what makes your company different than other companies in the space. I would say, Um, you know, I think a

Florin:   4:56
lot of businesses start with, um um with a personal story. And, uh, so we did mine. Um, And for me, you know, I immigrated to United States in 1999 20 years. Now, that's crazy. So, uh, at that time, I moved the United States Ah, with, um $1200 in my pocket and, uh, $3000 in debt to my parents, that was their entire life savings come from Romania, Not very wealthy country or a lot of opportunities there at that time. At least, eso 10 years later come I reached the top 1% worldwide off both buying comment on dhe networth and how I got there. Ah, it's kind of amazing. I did not ever plan or expect or anticipate to get there and to accomplish that. But somehow, day by day, year by year thinks one thing led to another part. Good decisions, part hard work apart, partnering with people that contributed to the success. And, um, here. But it's not all right, s o. And this is why I I'm talking about like after five and why this is different because a big realization for me after after that was that hard work smart day in and day out, off doing sending over again and making even good decisions and having good luck. He's not enough to build wealth. The only way you can achieve that is by ownership and equity. So the equity and ownership is overlooked by most people and the That's, um you know, people are most familiar with the equity in the house and you build it over time, right? Yeah. So he's in a business. So when we when we grow our career self professions, you know, go to school we graduate, get a job, we learn, you know, on the job. And then, uh ah, we exchanged that skill that time. That effort for for money on it. Sze just how it is. It's how you learn. That's how you grow professionally. Um, after a while, though, you realize that your income ability and your wealth beer building, I guess opportunities are limited to a market value. You are gonna always only make as much money as the market you are in with allow would dictate. Sure. So, um so for me, that realization that it wasn't just my hard work smart and everything else that I've done, But the probably nothing would have happened if I didn't own that business that allowed me to read the rewards off incremental equity that's being built and goodwill so that the two things that make a business valuable is eh? Quitting with will. Goodwill is really the key to everything else Because, um, e would define the good well as, um, the value that people perceive in a business. Like, you know, do they? What do they use it? Whether they work there? Sure. You know, So that's all good. Well, and and then, you know, having equity in that allows you to build over time value that you retained. Sure. So after five came for me from that realization is hey, how are people supposed to build wealth and do something? They're really passionate about it. They have control over, um, if they, you know, spend their entire life wasn't because as employees, right, Right. And so for me was Hey, can I help other people? Um, you know, transition in some way from my life for months, at over over, paying bills to that over building wealth. Yeah, on dhe. And is like, Look, I I I appreciated that that I could experience that I was You know, I think this is in itself. It's it's rewarding to me, you know, regardless of how much money I make or I mean, I may make or I may not make that is itself. I for me it was rewarding enough to pursue it. Yeah, so that's, um, sort of the story. Author five and White started. It's sort of clicked for me one day when I watched I very famous video by Simon Cynic Yeah, 1017 Cold start with wine on da Great Ted talk. Yeah, it's I think it's the number one ever up there. Yeah, eso for me is like, Why do I do what I do? Yeah. So I spent time on DDE. That was my realization. That's really cool. And that's where our council.

Preslie:   10:57
Yeah. So how do you treat the people that are involved in after five different than employees? For one,

Florin:   11:05
we don't have employees. We don't have employees, Not only because at this stage, we can't quite afford them

Preslie:   11:11
all right there. It's good to be on, but but

Florin:   11:15
also because, um, I, you know, I talked to I talkto Ah, lot of people. When? When? When I'm recruiting. And, uh um, I I don't want to employ them because I want to find ways to help them in their journey. Thio owned what they do and treat me as a client. Yeah, that is I think a key ingredient in that transition are too too. Look at, um, people that compensate us in some way, including our employer, a ce clients. Because at that moment, we take ownership of that relationship on Gwen Way. Take ownership. Um, is what can I do with this?

Preslie:   12:09
I'm in charge. I can

Florin:   12:10
I stop blaming someone else for its outcomes? Yeah. You know, if I have a client, the client, you can walk away. Not like what I do. It doesn't matter what I think. What I say s o, that's that seems to me it's empowering. And so I want thio attract and working people that are at the stage in their life where that is important to them.

Preslie:   12:39
Yeah, that's such an interesting distinction to treat your boss or your employer as your client. That's really I'm sure that that's like a big light bulb moment for a lot of people listening. How do you kind of transition? How do you decide if a client's not a good fit? So you could see this as an employer or a client that you're serving, you know, in a different capacity. But have you had personal experiences of professional experiences or just kind of as your advice, How does someone decide? You know, this just this relationship just isn't working, you know? Is it you work with every everybody that's willing to give you money in your business? Or how do you kind of view that, uh, not navigate that town, uh, businesses

Florin:   13:22
about transacting value and values Not always monitory working with people. It's a lot of times it's quite rewarding to the degree that people can forgo certain compensation levels or are people were for free sometimes just because they like working with that group or because of his mission, wants whatever that the reason might be. Eso char exactly. Valley is not always monetary and and And for us, uh, I mean, for me personally, I feel I beans even though my core strength is not customer service eyes, not business development, Um, more On the technology side, I, uh I look at, um, the dynamic that takes place between client and a customer and and us as in many ways, a just a relationship between two people in the context of transacting value, and I I have I have not been in the position to fire clients. But I would have to say this, that the two reasons why I would say that maybe anyone would contemplate that is, um um verbal abuse. Ah, toxic relationship. Bowling, right. Those are real. They happen all the time. And, uh, that has to do with them. But even more so has to do with us and

Preslie:   15:16
has to do

Florin:   15:16
with us because we are in control of the boundaries that we create. If we have loose boundaries, if we don't enforce them, we're likely to allow that behavior to reach a point where we are contemplating of whether we want to continue to work with a client or with somebody or not. And so for me, it's rather than firing the client, I would enforce the boundaries. I clarified the boundaries in a you know, you know, you know, respectful, polite way is your professional way. But that will put a ball into the client's court. Sure, right. Eh, They decide they want to continue to do that is not gonna go for much longer. But But they are in a position to adjust and change.

Preslie:   16:06
Yeah, that's such a good point that it's a relationship this exchanging value because then, if you were Thio, compare that to personal relationships and professional relationships with coworkers. You also wouldn't, in theory, allow them to bully ur treat you with disrespect. So why would a customer, you know, client relationship be different? What are your thoughts on the phrase or the adage that the customer is always right? He's always right. There is a

Florin:   16:32
merry to that, right? I don't fully subscribed to it, but there's a lot of merit because they have a point, no matter what, whether it is a complaint ah are with the request. They may ask for the sky or they may just be rude to us. Um, there is Ah, there's a court to that, um, behavior or or that request. And so we have to acknowledge that Onda part of my philosophy in life and in business is to serve people. And part of that service is ah is listening with empathy, with curiosity on dumb compassion on understand, Where did they come from and why do they want that and do our best to provide that for them? Yeah. Um, So having said that, ah, customers or people you know me include everybody. We are customers to somebody. Ah, ways. Sometimes we think what we want, but he is not really what we really want. So I'll give an example. Um, Henry Ford Ford had ah has a famous phrase. If I asked my customers what they want, they would say a faster horse, right?

Preslie:   18:02
So people know they

Florin:   18:04
have a problem. The problem is the speed,

Preslie:   18:07
right? But they don't quite

Florin:   18:11
know the variety of solutions that might be available. Sure. And asking for a heart faster horse is definitely a solution. Bodies in within there view and vision and imagination. Right? Ah, Harry Ford gave them a car,

Preslie:   18:29
right? Right. They asked for i e what pretty well, right. So likewise I I think

Florin:   18:36
we have to look at ah, part of serving customers is not always giving them what they want, but possibly giving them more than what they want. And the easiest way to sell somebody's to give them exactly what they want, right, but not does not always in the best interest off off the client on dhe. Sometimes we take the risk off trying to pay paint a different picture on and communicate something that they may or may not understand, depending on our ability communicated and their ability to understand that Andi may were may not work. But we do rule risk losing their business just because we didn't give them exactly what they wanted when they wanted it.

Preslie:   19:26
Right. But have they gone somewhere and found a faster horse, you know, then when the car comes out, they'll be like, No, wait, I want it. Oh, yes. So that's Ah, that's a good point. And what a good what a good quote. I know I'm bouncing back and forth between employer and, uh, you know, client customer. But you made a really good point about empathy. Eso where it is empathy, play a role in the workplace as faras between a employer and their employees. Or in your case, you know, with freelancers and somebody that they're reporting. Thio. How does empathy play a role there, and especially as a leader, I think empathy

Florin:   20:00
allows us to navigate relationships. It's, um, that ability. We have to understand how someone else feels, uh, how we feel big takes a lot of how we act, what decisions we make. Uh, our emotions are huge bias. We know life and so understanding how people feel, I think is essential to serve in them. Yeah, and often times again, people may ask for something but not be what they really want. Yeah, And now empathy allows you to feel and understand, maybe beyond off what they're saying on and have a chance of understand what they really want on DSO that I think that's the role of empathy in relationships in general, whether business or personal lives.

Preslie:   21:03
Yeah, and that's such a great point. And I think you know, you said that and I started thinking about relationships with people that I've worked with, you know, on a team or with a boss or someone in leadership and you think about or even, you know, like at the grocery store when somebody's having a bad day, you know? Or I guess I should say it seems like they're having a bad day. And empathy is maybe you've had a hard day rather than what a jerk, you know. Oh, and what if you did that with your team or your leader instead of just assuming that you know how they feel? What if you did try to step into their shoes and say, You know, maybe maybe this is going on or creating that conversation. That's such a great point. Um, how does empathy differ from sympathy for somebody that maybe doesn't know the difference? I would say

Florin:   21:45
sympathy is, ah, the ability to feel someone's the stress without necessarily understanding what they feel. And I think that is a stepping stone to empathy. Yeah, um ah, way. Can't always understand what people feel. Sure, I we can try to do that by maybe recalling an experience that somewhat similar to their experience. But for that you have to understand context. You know what else is happening in their life. And so there are so many factors that contribute to us how someone feels. And what do they feel just saying that some we understand how someone feels it's it's a long shot. All right, so, uh, in many cases, we really don't. But what we think we do, Um, but the best we can do is have sympathy. Meaning? I know they're not feeling that great today. Um, they're going to something hard in their lives or stressful. I can't quite tell how they feel, but I feel bad for that.

Preslie:   23:04
Sure, sure, Yeah. Not being able to necessarily relate on a much more granular level, but but being a sympathetic to their to their situation, you mentioned earlier that a big reason that you wanted to start after five was helping people feel empowered. You know that You don't necessarily want to employ them because it does give them a sort of agency. How does that change somebody's life in and out of the workplace to have that level of autonomy and control over their career? I think

Florin:   23:34
our lives are governed by, um, bye, mindset. And I would say in large part, um, bye bye. Better stories that we tell in our heads about ourselves and the world. Um, and and, ah, that tape that keeps playing in our heads defines what happens in our lives. For the most part, we can control everything. But there is a lot we can Yeah, and not only control, I I think it's, um, putting a weight or, um, allowing things to happen in your life. Uh, there is more opportunities, often times that we see. Ah, and and I think changing a little bit of perspective, the mind said, Um, it's it's essential to to feel more empowered in any aspect of life. I I think the way we, um you know, our love, the way our lives evolved, you know, professional lives. They very much, you know, have a huge impact on our personal lives. Sure as well. So I think there's a definite definite impact on the personal lives.

Preslie:   25:02
Yeah. What is something that somebody could do today to feel more empowered? Like they have more agency like they have more control, Especially if they're in a position where they aren't in a position necessarily of leadership, are seen as the leader, or they are working for somebody else. What is something that they could do today on a very like, practical level to take a step in that direction? Yeah. So I think this is practical, I think looking at

Florin:   25:26
somebody to, um, highs, you know, seeing the most clients and looking to the ice over ya. Business owner um, I think that is a practical step, in my opinion, because it starts that starts everything else on gum. At that point, we start making decisions that shape our future in a different way. And I would say that's the single most important thing that you can do is start looking at those relationships different. Take ownership of them and if less than in a way that, you know, nurtures growth. And, um, and you rather than thinking of what you want, what you can get. Ah, think. What do they want? Yeah, I looking at your employer. What

Preslie:   26:28
do they want? Why did they

Florin:   26:29
hire me? They didn't hire me for, you know, because they like

Preslie:   26:33
me, right? I mean, that I think just value. Exactly. That is, I think, part of it. Sure you hope they like you, right.

Florin:   26:43
But I would say is because you bring value to that business. You are. You're selling the value create. Yeah, that would will That, um, you know, equity that that you create with your work and your talent, your skills, You sell it. What

Preslie:   27:00
do they want? What else they

Florin:   27:01
want? You know, how can you create and deliver more value? Yeah. Ah, And then once you put that cap off, you know Ah, business or client? Kind of Ah, experience. Um, role play. Maybe, uh,

Preslie:   27:20
once you've done that, go. Steph, Order

Florin:   27:23
and I don't other coin. Yeah, that's investing growth. You just diversify, Um and ah, that is empowering to me And that that is ah, away. You know, and employers, I think those that understand the value of, um, people who are empowered, um, they would love that. And they would like that. I think businesses that look at there employees or team members or the organization as, um, human assets are not in a position to be a successful as an organization that looks at, you know, the people that would work with a CE partners equals that cheers them up in their personal and life's journey off. Growth on and part

Preslie:   28:26
of that

Florin:   28:27
broke is going through different stages, different phases. Ah, and having people that moved to those faces and have the courage and passion. And you want those people in your organization? Yeah. You know, the label you have, or whether you have a W two or 10 99 that's irrelevant. What is relevant is the value that it's exchanged in that dynamic.

Preslie:   28:53
Yeah, absolutely. Well, speaking of practical ways to feel empowered, what is your hope for this podcast? I would

Florin:   29:00
hope that allows people to, um, speak more on this subject. I wanted to be, ah, form where people that have stories to tell, um, on this topic would inspire and motivate others or would allow them to say, Hey, this is how they've done it. This is how they're looking at life at work, profession or passion, whatever they're doing or the challenges the fears they have. You know, the black off, everything we have, we have. We lack so many things, and but still, we leverage our strengths. So how did how they have done? It s so I hope that it becomes a forum where people can share their experiences and others can be inspired by them.

Preslie:   29:59
Absolutely. Well, I think we're off to a good start. Well, I also thanks so much for being here. This was great. Wonderful. Thank you, Leslie. Hey, they're just a couple quick things before you go first. Thank you so much for listening to this entire episode. And we really hope that you enjoyed it. If you are listening and iTunes, please take just a moment and leave a review. Let us know what your takeaways were and what you would like to see more of. And if you haven't already hit, subscribe in your podcast app. So you don't miss any of our upcoming episodes. And until next time, thank you for listening. And may you feel empowered today and every day to step into leadership and the life that you have been dreaming of. This has been practical, empowerment, inspiring conversations with Valley leaders brought to you by after five dot io.