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Hacking HR Episode 3 - Ina Börner, NO DIRTY TALK



Modern recruitment podcast guest

In today's episode of “Hacking HR,” we welcomed Ina Börner, CEO & Founder of NO DIRTY TALK, a distinguished external sales unit for agencies and ad tech companies.


With Ina, we have discussed modern recruitment and how the German market is coping with the rising trends of new work, including 4 work days per week. 


She shared valuable insights about NO DIRTY TALK’s working culture, her management style, and the steps they take to adapt to the modern workplace in the sales industry.


Table of Content




Introduction


Could you share more about NO DIRTY TALK? First of all, this is a very creative name, how did you come up with it?


The creative name certainly comes from my creative mindset. I've been in sales for over ten years, but I've always appreciated creative input in my work. The name's origin is a long story, but the point is that sales is equivalent to lots of bullshit, which we witness daily on LinkedIn and other platforms, where everyone has an opinion on every topic. 


For me, "no dirty talk" means what it is. So, let's say it's a tough business, but it should be fun and creative. And I am definitely against bullshit.


What are the core services and mission of your company?


I have been in the ad tech industry for more than ten years. Ad tech, or advertising technology, is a term I always make a point to define, as it may not be familiar to everyone. 


We function as an external sales unit for agencies and ad tech companies. I often emphasize that if their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or buying persona is related to marketing, they should call us. 


We specialize in sales for companies within this industry, ensuring a deep understanding of the buying personas to provide professional service.


Can you share your journey with NO DIRTY TALK? 


I founded my business in 2020, just before the outbreak of COVID-19. Starting as a motivated business owner, I was full of great ideas and had a clear vision for sales strategies and offerings. 


However, the pandemic changed many things, surprisingly in some positive ways for me. Sales became increasingly relevant due to the new circumstances. 


I started in a small office, and it became clear that our unique offering - integrating outreach with a personal network - was a significant strength and our market position. 


This approach received positive feedback from counterparts. Being a CEO is quite different; it's full of ups and downs, much like a roller coaster. Just last year was another roller coaster ride - we were six people at one point, and then experienced ups and downs, both from my side and the employee's side. 


It's tough, honestly, to make decisions and be thrust into a completely new role I had never faced before. And now, starting this year, 2024, by myself, I took the decision to do a restart. I'm still very motivated with my company, but I do see that I had to make changes also for myself.


Management 


What work style do you have? Is it agile? Do you have any hierarchies? Do you work fully remotely, or do you follow a hybrid work style?


The first word that comes to mind is "chaotic," but that's not always the case, even if it sometimes feels like it.


We started with an office setup and immediately encountered challenges, especially with team preferences - some wanted to work remotely, while others preferred being in the office. In a small team, organizing this became quite complicated. Then, about six months ago, we decided to go fully remote, which allowed us to hire more flexibly.


Deep down, I strongly believe in the benefits of working from an office.  But for now, as I work with freelancers and other team members, our setup is, of course, remote.


However, I'm still convinced we should aim for optimal office times, avoiding schedules packed with meetings and video calls. I miss those times at my previous jobs when I could enjoy a spontaneous coffee without constantly watching the clock.


Working hybrid/remote, do you know every member of your team in person? 


I used to know every team member personally. Now, I work with two team members from abroad, and although I haven't met them in person, it feels like I have. 


I would, of course, like to meet them in person someday. This setup is still quite new, so there's still a chance for that to happen. Normally, when working with employees, I make it a point to meet them, especially during the hiring process.


Can you share a hack for optimizing a hybrid/remote workstyle?


From my perspective, efficient calendar management is crucial. This is particularly evident as agencies increasingly express a desire for employees to return to the office, not just for two or three days, but for four, including Fridays. This raises the question among employees: "Why?" 


In the sales industry, where I work, we've transitioned to a hybrid sales model. This involves meeting people for lunch or coffee, yet you're expected to be back in the office by 4:00 p.m. for a video call, prepared and ready.


This hybrid approach presents challenges, especially when traveling. In a country like Germany, where business is decentralized, traveling from Hamburg to Frankfurt or Berlin complicates your schedule. It's impractical to conduct a quality video call while navigating the streets to your next meeting. 


I advocate for well-organized schedules. When planning team gatherings, calendars should be free from an overload of video calls. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose if everyone is just rushing around, constantly checking the time for their next meeting. That's my view.


Working from the sunny office
Freelancer of NO DIRTY TALK working from our office in Tbilisi, Georgia

What is your management style, and how do you improve it? 


Management style is indeed a significant topic and perhaps the aspect I've struggled with the most since founding my company. 


Being a CEO, founder, and team leader means wearing many hats, possibly too many, which complicates things. 


Nobody wants to micromanage - it's inefficient, irritating, and energy-draining. However, there are times when you need to push people to gather information. 


Explaining my management style is complex because I don't necessarily view myself as just a manager; my role is to lead the business, and I hope my team members are motivated to run alongside me.


Modern Recruitment


As a CEO of a Sales company, how do you hack HR to compete with larger businesses within your industry?


It's indeed challenging, reflecting on times when I was an employee, there were ups and downs, but we generally had a strong team spirit. Recreating that feeling on my own is difficult. 


As a single founder, without a co-founder, I strive to inspire people with my energy and mindset, particularly in HR and recruitment. I'm open to experimentation; rather than shying away from something because of negative feedback, I prefer to try it myself and see what works. Sometimes it's successful, sometimes not.


I've managed to find team members through LinkedIn, services like Team Up, and my personal network, which is always rewarding. Nonetheless, finding the right approach can be quite challenging.


What HR trends are currently on the rise in Germany? Are you following these trends, and what advice would you give to other companies to prepare for the future of work?


yes, I do see these trends, because when you spend a few minutes, hours, whatever, on LinkedIn, you definitely receive a lot of input. 


I think one of the most rising HR trends is a four-day week. This concept involves working less, being paid the same, and having more time for personal life.


I think that's a really big topic and you need to see it from so many different angles, which people often don't do when they share their opinion on it. And I'm not a big fan of saying like, no, I'm against it, or yes, we should all do it. 


How do you hack the recruitment process? What's your key to success?


So there's always a first meeting where you check the required skills. What I learned is, that when I need someone for HubSpot, for example, I really focus first on whether the CV lists experience with HubSpot. 


I conduct interviews myself. In a small company, you don't have dedicated people for that. 


I also involve my team members in the process, especially if their roles require close collaboration. Understanding that their working relationship would be integral, I believe it’s crucial for them to interact within a small team setting. 


Going back to the question, it depends a lot on the mindset and, of course, again, on hard skills. I wouldn't say in a small team you should focus too much on soft skills. It's nice if they are all nice and good, but the ability to learn and adapt is essential for progress.


Work Culture


What's your hack to support work-life balance for employees, and do you think this has become more important in recent years?


Work-life balance isn't my favorite topic. We focus on it so much that it feels like we lose time. Even before COVID, when I traveled a lot and worked 60-70 hours a week, I still had a good private life. 


I'm not sure if this should really come from an employer because how can I make sure that you have a work-life balance? It’s different for everyone. 


Does work-life balance necessarily mean hitting the gym every morning?


For me, for example, what I really need, and I just can talk for myself, is during my work day, I need 15-minute coffee breaks when I can just do nothing.


And sometimes, I also think that when you feel like you're not having a good day at work, just make the best out of it. It will be okay. 


In our industry, nobody's going to die. I mean, we are in marketing and sales, and tomorrow is another day. Accept it, and then stop chasing this work-life balance.

Or if you want to chase it, be clear about what it means to you. If you don't know, you cannot chase it.


Since your team follows a hybrid/remote work model, how do you build and maintain team spirit? Are there any events or gatherings, either online or offline, that you arrange?


From my experience, it doesn't always have to come from the CEO or the founder. This needs to run itself. Fortunately, I have team members in my company who are very social and want to meet up, organize nice dinners, etc.


We also have a lot of meetups in our industry, many nice conferences where we go, and do many client meetings. Of course, this is also always a get-together with colleagues, but not dedicated evenings where you find yourself with two or three other people sitting in a bar.


About NO DIRTY TALK:


NO DIRTY TALK  functions as an external sales unit for agencies and ad tech companies. The company specializes in understanding and meeting the specific needs of its clients within the ad tech sphere, focusing on creating innovative solutions for agencies to reach their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). 



About Team Up:


Team Up is a German-Georgian venture that connects top talents from the Caucasus region to interesting European companies. The business specializes in Operations, HR, Tech, Sales, Marketing, and Design roles, building remote teams fast, flexible, fair transparent, and compliant with GDPR. 



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