Liam Martin on Productivity, Remote Employee Management, & Fighting the Distraction Economy [PODCAST S01E02]

Liam Martin Speaking on the SIA Business Podcast

Brief Summary

After working on a doctorate in sociology for a while, a shocking failure Liam realized this isn’t for him, which led him to ditch the Ph.D. and he then went on to create more than one successful SAAS startups

Managing around 80 employees who work remotely from 27 countries, Liam is the co-founder of and Time Doctor; which are the enterprise and small business editions (respectively) of a time tracking and productivity SaaS solution.

Around 20% of the employees are nomadic, which basically means traveling the world while working from a laptop.


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Liam believes a lot of the time in many traditional offices is wasted on gossip, social media browsing, and coffees, and he has spent has spent the last 10 years working on issues like:

  • How to track productivity
  • How to improve productivity
  • Time analytics
  • Fighting against “the Distraction Economy
Time Tracking Analytics. Source:

Time Tracking Analytics. Source:


Show Notes

In this episode of the SIA Business Show, Liam shares his valuable insights on topics like:

  • 2:40 First business at the age of 18: Innovative Skate Guards for Ice Skates – Used by hockey players or figure skaters (He has had used Pakistani manufacturers. Yeah!)
  • 4:55 First business became a success; no need to do a part-time job like other students.
  • 5:19 Selling the first business to pay for Graduate School
  • 5:34 Setup a more successful tutoring business during graduate school
  • 5:39 Family’s wish to go for the ‘safer choice’ of pursuing a doctorate in sociology
  • 6:58 How Liam looks at a business venture being a more stable option than any ‘stable job’. “I am in control of my security. You are not.”
  • 9:20 How family and friends don’t get the fact that location independent entrepreneurs are not on vacation all the time.
    I travel 3-4 months out of the year. But I am not on vacation. I am working.
  • 9:34 We want to empower workers to work wherever they want, whenever they want.
  • 9:41 The link between remote work and happiness 
    Editor’s Note: Please view the references section as it seems there are multiple studies which have conflicting claims on the matter.  My own opinion (and as Liam mentions later, remote work is still very new and more credible, accurate, detailed research studies in due time will help us come to a better conclusion. However, as Liam later mentions, a specific personality-type may be a better fit for remote work. 
  • 10:00 Introduction to Time Doctor and  Staff.comDetails on how these tools help you analyze your own productivity and that of your employees
  • 11:00 Difference between time spent on a task and actual productivity. “Just because you are in the office for 10 hours day doesn’t mean you got anything done”.
  • 12:29 Wrong perspective of employers: “Because you are in an office and I can see you tapping on your keyboard, that means you are doing something.”
  • 13:30 Why Liam prefers employees who can work with them long-term in a full-time capacity and how it is beneficial for both sides
  • 13:50Agencies/consultancies are selling time and they want to sell as little as possible for the maximum return. On the reverse side, I want as much time as possible for as little money as possible.
  • 14:38 Employee hiring and onboarding process of Time Doctor and  [Hint: They use over 200 job posting boards and sites that we look at]
  • 15:17 The 300-30-3 rule for employee recruitment by Liam & Company to find the right culture fit
  • 16:22 Liam’s definition of culture fit
  • 19:00 A unique video policy of Time Doctor and along with a more innovative and upcoming VR based initiative (I love it!) for helping the team reduce the ‘loneliness’ typically associated with remote work
  • 20:28 An example of KPIs in place for measuring employee productivity by delving deep into how the content marketing and SEO team of Liam’s companies measure their progress (get ready for a detailed chat about backlinks, Domain Authority, as well as, data of Ahrefs, Majestic etc, including – my favorite, using cumulative DA of 500 points per back linker) . Measuring emails sent, open rate, CTR, response rate.

    “We run it just like a sales team.” – Liam talking about their SEO campaigns

  • 24:37 Continuing our discussion on SEO… Why Liam loves Ahrefs, and his favorite variable of the platform. (It’s probably NOT what you think it would be). 
  • 27:33 Liams’s thoughts on people, processes and tools: what comes first?
  • 28:14 My favorite part of the episode –> How the Distraction Economy is investing “trillions of dollars” apart from employing thousands of PhDs, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists to find out “how to distract you and how to KEEP you ADDICTED”, and how Time Doctor helps you take control of your concentration and focus.
  • 30: 13 Example: Super Cell – they build various games including Clash of Clans & Clash Royale. It makes a couple of billion dollars a month through microtransactions – all done by keeping you distracted and addicted.
  • 31:06 The only KPI that YouTube’s ranking algorithm cares about is the same one that makes users more addictive to their platform (it’s NOT likes, comments, or shares)
  • 34:53 I and Liam geeking out: Comparing your productivity to your health, revenue, and other metrics. Liam reveals a secret internal project related to this discussion. [Think #quantifiedself and #biohacking].
  • 41:46 Why Liam distanced himself from execution, and why he sees himself as an executive rather than an entrepreneur. You will find out why he spends 2 hours each day on doing nothing except thinking
  • 42:50 Why SAAS is Liam’s most favorite business model
  • 43:15 The quest to follow Peter Thiel’s 10x better 10x cheaper mantra of exponential innovation
  • 43:27 How a machine-learning algorithm of Liam’s startups can predict with 89% accuracy if your employee is going to quit his job 6 months before they actually do. More insights on how your company’s data can help you create more knowledge, value, and revenue streams etc.
  • 50:40 Why Liam thinks remote work is still in the early stages of its evolutionary process, and his predictions on its future
  • 51:15 Why Liam and team are organizing the Running Remote Conference (btw, it’s happening in a  bamboo jungle in Bali!). Whether you or aren’t are a good fit for this conference. The answer might surprise you! (Note: The conference is NOT for digital nomads.) 

BONUS: Listeners of this episode can avail what Liam calls “the biggest discount we have given to anyone” if they plan on attending the Running Remote conference. 


Additional Resources:  


Time Doctor 

• Running Remote Conference

• Ahrefs

• Majestic

More material on the relation between remote work and happiness

Grenny, J. and Maxfield, D. (2016). A Study of 1,100 Employees Found That Remote Workers Feel Shunned and Left Out. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].


Murphy Jr., B. (2017). Stanford Professor: Working From Home Makes You Happier and More Efficient (There’s Just 1 Catch). [online] Inc. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].


Felstead, A. and Henseke, G. (2017). Assessing the growth of remote working and its consequences for effort, well‐being and work‐life balance. [online] Wiley Online Library. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].


Felstead, A. and Henseke, G. (2018). Assessing the growth of remote working and its consequences for effort, well‐being and work‐life balance. [online] Wiley Online Library. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].


Nield, D. (2016). People Who Work Remotely Are Happier And More Productive, Study Finds. [online] ScienceAlert. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].


Go ahead and listen to the full episode!




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Syed Irfan Ajmal is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and a seasoned digital marketer.
He is an international speaker, and speaks and conducts trainings at various organizations and events of Pakistan and UAE.
Moreover, he also writes about entrepreneurship and digital marketing for various large publications of the USA, UK, Canada, and Pakistan including Forbes ME, the World Bank, Huff Post,, Virgin, and others.
Photo ofLiam Martin
Liam Martin
Job Title
Co-founder Time Doctor
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