Threshold Communications president Rick Crabbe, pictured with his family, likes the flexibility of working remotely and says it helps his company attract talent. (Rick Crabbe Photo)
Since Threshold Communications opened its (virtual) doors in 2001, the global voice and data service provider has operated almost entirely as a telecommuting company. Initially, it was a matter of saving money. Following the acquisitions of two companies that had physical worksites, Threshold employees briefly tried the whole office routine. It didn’t stick.
“Let’s be honest. Nobody really wanted to be in the office,” said Rick Crabbe, president of Threshold. So the communications company embraced teleworking and now has employees in Washington, Arizona, Florida and Idaho.
“We do have a call a few times a month with the teams, all of us in various groups,” Crabbe said. “It’s no different than if I had several hundred employees in India or offshore.”
The freedom to work remotely has been a huge selling point for recruiting talented staff, Crabbe said.
“We have a few women on our team who are just amazing, and they are here because they can have that work-balance lifestyle,” Crabbe said. He also has engineers who took pay cuts in order to work for Threshold because they favored the flexibility of telecommuting over the need for social interactions.
The approach also suits Crabbe, who is a father of two and practices mixed martial arts to ground himself and unwind. We caught up with Crabbe for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: Redmond, Wash.
Computer types: PC and Microsoft Surface
Mobile devices: iPhone 6 (yes, time for an upgrade)
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Waze, Amazon Music, LinkedIn, Office 365, Slack and many more
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “I have become very accustomed to working from home. Any day I can avoid Seattle traffic and wear sweats is a great day! With that said, I spend a number of hours each week meeting with local enterprise business technology leaders. I also have two kids who keep me very busy, so having the flexibility to take my kids to school or participate in their activities has been one of the best perks of working from home.”
Crabbe at work, with a little behind-the-scenes, or more accurately under-the-desk, help from his dog, Syrah. (Rick Crabbe Photo)
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “I have a few favorite sayings that I say often. One is: ‘The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.’ If something is not working the way you want it to both professionally and personally, you need to change your approach. The other quote I often use is from Isaac Newton: ‘If I see farther today, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.’ If you want to become good at anything in life, surround yourself with the best at what you want to be great at.
And my last one is more of a pet peeve. If you say you are going to do something, do it! It is okay to get uncomfortable sometimes. In fact, I believe that some of my biggest growth has been in moments where I had to confront an uncomfortable situation.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “I am often on LinkedIn. It is a great conduit of information tailored specifically to who and what I elect to learn more about. Searching for information or contacts is much easier with this tool.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 67
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 19
How do you run meetings? “Normally, I have a loose agenda in mind before it starts, along with goals to achieve both for myself and for those in attendance. My meetings are very dynamic. I’m terrible at drawing, yet I often find myself on dry-erase boards during meetings. The ability to use creative visual aids has been extremely helpful and we use this tool consistently.”
Everyday work uniform? Business casual
How do you make time for family? “It’s a juggling act every single day. My family is, and always will be, my number one. That said, they are very supportive of my efforts to continue to grow Threshold and at times that has a required a great deal of sacrifice on their part.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Mixed martial arts (MMA) sparring. I have been going to a local MMA gym in Kirkland for a little over 20 years. AMC Pankration is considered one of the top MMA gyms in the world. When you are sparring someone who wants to punch/kick/knee or even choke you out, you are forced to live in that very moment. It’s a game of chess. It really is a game of strategy — just like business, 100 percent.
I am so exhausted when I am done that nothing I have going on at work seems difficult to face. It is my perfect stress reliever.”
What are you listening to? ‘90s Hip Hop with some occasional country and rock
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? GeekWire, LinkedIn and I am constantly researching new technologies online
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Currently “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss and “Ghost in the Wires” by Kevin Mitnick
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? Early riser for sure. I work hard and am in bed by 9:30 p.m.
Where do you get your best ideas? On vacation
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? Tony Robbins