Remote Work Pulse - 22 Thought Leaders and Influencers to Keep Your Eye on in 2018

Global Leadership and the Virtual office

I love my job. Sure, a big part of that is due to the fact that I created it to suit my preferences (Ha!), but more importantly...

...everyday, every week, every month I get to connect with other like-minded remote leaders from around the global and across industries.

...AND these conversations influence (pun intended) the social media accounts, groups, blogs, podcasts, and products/services I follow and engage with.

The conversations that stand out and result in relationships that persist inform projects such as Remote Leadership Think Tank LIVE and Remote Work Summit 2018.

22 Thought Leaders and Influencers to Follow

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1. Stacy Elliott, Executive Communications Director @ Microsoft

Stacy is a true team player. This became clear during our first conversation. Unsure if she was the "perfect" person for me to connect with at Microsoft, she generously and enthusiastically offered to help me find that "perfect" connection.

In the mid-90s, Stacy was recruited to bring her experience to the consumer technology realm, helping Microsoft launch its early consumer-focused technology products including education and gaming software, and home productivity products.

After eight years at Mircosoft's Redmond, WA. office, Stacy pioneered a remote job-share scenario from her home in Dallas, TX.

She has now been working remotely for 15 years!

She has held a variety of marketing and communication leadership roles, including launching the first executive speaker bureau and leading a global brand team for Microsoft’s advertising business.

Follow Stacy on LinkedIn or catch her session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


2. Susan Schmitz, People Strategist, Infrastructure Delivery Services @ Dell

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Susan is a delight. There is no question as to why people are happy to follow her lead. While my intention in reaching out to her was to discuss ways Rebel + Connect could showcase her expertise, she had also done her research on me.

As People Strategist of a 1,400+ person organization within Dell that operates in 80 countries, Susan is focused on engagement, culture, diversity and professional development.

She is passionate about the intersection between augmented reality training, gamified feedback, and humanity and channels this passion into employee learning and performance management.

Additionally, she has successfully managed key client relationships in sophisticated environments with annual revenue targets exceeding $43MM demonstrating strategic and tactical success spanning global markets, cultures and industries.

Follow Susan on Linkedin or catch her session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


3. Amy Freshman, Senior Director of Human Resource Global Workplace Enablement Mergers & Acquisitions @ ADP

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Amy is a warm and extremely approachable leader. Additionally, it is clear that she sees the small details and the big picture - the individual and the collective experience - with equal clarity. 

Given her role at ADP it is not surprising to learn that her professional experience in rooted in sales and human resources.

She is particularly interested in flexible work arrangements.  Recognizing that flexibility comes in many flavors: from remote work, telecommuting and other types of work location flexibility to flexible hours and scheduling.

Follow Amy on LinkedIn or catch her virtual session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


4. Tayo Rockson, CEO @ UYD Management, TED Speaker, Host of As Told By Nomads

Tayo is a born leader. His energy is positive and palpable regardless of the medium. Yet, he does not let this go to his head - he is humble and inviting.

He is passionate about building personal brands and diverse hiring practices.

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He has a strong background in cross-cultural communications that gives him the versatility to work with brands across several cultures and position them for success.

As a diversity and inclusion strategist who has lived and worked on four continents, he has built high performing cross functional teams in startups and multinationals.

He channels these passions and areas of expertise into his work at UYD Management (Use Your Difference to Make a Difference).

As a speaker, he has keynoted and spoken at places like TEDx, The World Bank, and multiple companies and universities on effective ways to develop global mindsets and strategies to become more inclusive.

He considers himself a role model for Millennials and Gen Zers interested in making a global impact and improving their personal brands. Rightly so, considering his work as an advisory board member for Rutgers Big Data program, where he teaches and shares case studies on emerging technologies and ways to build global brands that stand out in crowded markets.

Last but certainly not least he hosts the As Told By Nomads podcast that is catered to the next generation of leaders and is heard in 150 countries.

Follow Tayo on Twitter or catch his virtual session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


5. Dylan Schiemann, CEO @ SitePen

Dylan's commitment to his people, be that his family, his team, or his network is undeniable and inspiring.


As an early adopter and proponent of JavaScript and Open Source web technology, he has been creating software at the helm of SitePen for nearly 20 years.

Along with an impressive team of engineers, he has created tools and frameworks to expedite developer progress, advised enterprise leaders on solutions that would define their future success and built complex applications that delighted both the user and the CEO.

Surrounded by a passionate team of forward-thinking people, he is now focused on improving development for the next version of the open web, enabling SitePen’s customers to modernize their apps, tools and teams, and to be ready for what’s to come.

Follow Dylan on Twitter or catch his expert panel appearance at Remote Work Summit 2018!


6. Ceri Power, Global HR Business Partner @ Automattic

Ceri has a playful nature and zest for life that burst forth in all her interactions.

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She describes herself as a "People geek with a love of all things human in tech workplaces."

As a Global HR Business Partner at Automattic she provides a full range of HR competencies for a globally distributed workforce of 650 people in 60 countries.

She is directly responsible for payroll, compensation and benefits, executive coaching, learning and development programs, project management, performance management, company culture, scalability, vendor management, and organizational development.

Follow Ceri on LinkedIn or catch her session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


7. Trina Hoefling, Transformational Change Agent @ Smart Workplace and Author of Working Virtually - Transforming the Mobile Workplace

Trina is a beckon of light rooted in substantial and extensive knowledge and experience.

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A master teacher, coach, facilitator, and organization development consultant - at Smart Workplace - Trina has 30 years of experience strategically developing people & facilitating teams.

She is also a serial entrepreneur having founded more than a handful (or two) of businesses across numerous industries.

She is a Master Teacher and member of the Graduate Faculty in the University of Denver's Organization & Leadership Development track.

She is the Author, revising Working Virtually, with a focus on collaboration and employee engagement.

The list goes on and on.. seriously I had to cut more than 50% of her credentials in writing this blurb.

Follow her on LinkedIn or catch her expert panel appearance at Remote Work Summit 2018!


8. Chris Dyer, CEO and Founder @ PeopleG2 and Author of The Power of Company Culture

Chris embodies a rare combination of a calm laid back and outstanding professionalism.

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Since founding PeopleG2 in 2001 Chris has become a recognized authority on human capital intelligence processes and best practices. He understands the complex challenges inherent to talent management decisions.

Chris believes that impersonal, automated background check solutions have no value in the global talent management spectrum, especially as it relates to strategically significant individuals and teams.

Chris believes that people drive business forward so being armed with the best intelligence while making people-related decisions is just good business.

He is also host of Talent Talk, an Internet radio program on the OC Talk Radio Network, which features interviews with top executives regarding their strategies for hiring and promoting talent.

In addition to due diligence knowledge, he is a recognized authority on how to implement and change company culture in growing entrepreneurial organizations, as well as implementing and engaging a virtual staff.

His company was recently featured on the front page of the business section of the Orange County Register for its leadership in running a virtual company entitled “Bringing Work Home.”

Follow Chris on LinkedIn or catch his session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


9. Nathan Hirsch, CEO and Founder @ FreeeUp

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Nathan is a high-energy and high-integrity entrepreneur.

He is the Founder and CEO of FreeeUp, a marketplace connecting business owners with the top 1% of freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing, web development, and much more.

For over 15 years now, he has been on the entrepreneurial fast lane building successful multi-million dollar businesses accompanied by an unrelenting commitment to client service excellence and human resource leadership.

In 2006, he founded my first online venture out of his college dorm room, selling and buying student textbooks. He rapidly scaled his e-commerce business, bootstrapping from a $20 student - cause initiative to a multi-million dollar e-tailer clocking in revenues in excess of $30 million on Amazon across a 6 year period while serving over 10,000 customers.

He has lead teams of 50 workers in the US and has worked with over 150 globally while managing successful partnerships with over 500 distributors and manufacturers across the United States.

Honesty, integrity, ethics and superlative customer experience have always been the four professional cornerstones of his success.

Follow Nathan on LinkedIn or catch his virtual session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


10. Brad Richardson, Co-Founder and CMO @ Walkabout Workplace

Brad is the kind of guy everyone wants to have in their network - well connected, generous with his time, and approachable.

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Three years ago when many in his position may have cashed out and retired to a life of luxury, Brad opted to purse his dream of building a company that would drive a paradigm shift in how consulting services were delivered and how remote teams work together.

Walkabout Advisory provides clients with managed solutions delivered by Senior Executive Independents, facilitated through a state of the art, virtual online office platform know as Walkabout Workplace.

Follow Brad on LinkedIn or catch his session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


 11. Janice Chaka, Owner and HR Consultant @ The Career Introvert

Janice is a generous and heartfelt professional who inspires everyone in her network to live their truth.

A self proclaimed introvert expat she loves to travel and has experienced living and working in different countries and cultures.


As Owner of The Career Introvert she works with fellow introverts helping them achieve success and balance in their lives.

She has worked for large multi-national companies as well as startups and small businesses, mainly in a human resources capacity.

Her mission is to help people understand introversion better and how they can make it work for them.

She has hosted workshops and talks worldwide and is always looking for new ways to fight HR myths and misinformation.

Her work has been featured on the stages of Young Women in Business, The Professional Women's Network, General Assembly, 7in7 to name a few.

Follow Janice on LinkedIn or catch her session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


12. Liz Scully, CEO @ Rethink Central

Liz is the master mind behind the mastermind and elevates everyone she comes into contact with.

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As the CEO of Rethink Central she leads masterminds for entrepreneurs across industries and levels of experience.

She helps her clients rise above feelings of doom and overwhelm that keep them trapped in a particular income bracket by facilitating the transformations needed to help them thrive.

Liz is a true digital nomad, with no official home-base.

Follow Liz on LinkedIn or catch her session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


13. Annette White-Klososky, CEO and Co-Founder @ SurveySaurus

Annette White-Klososky is direct and to the point while still maintaining a classic charm.

Now CEO of SurveySaurus Annette has 20+ years of experience working to influence and change results within organizations.


A successful entrepreneur and organizational development expert, Annette built a peer advisory business in less than a year comprised of members representing companies with 40,000+ employees and $23 billion in revenue that was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.

She is passionate about equipping leaders with measurable people analytics data and much more via SurveySaurus platform.

Follow Annette on LinkedIn or catch her session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


14. Marty Imes, Founder, Consultant, and Culture Builder @ CultureStoke

Marty Imes is one of the most enthusiastic and gracious people I have ever had the pleasure of connecting with.

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Now the founder of CultureStoke, Marty serves as a culture consultant who partners with CEOs, executives and entrepreneurs to elevate the human experience by building world-class company culture.

After spending nearly a decade working in marketing and HR for a multimillion-dollar virtual receptionist service, Marty knows what truly drives a happy, high-performing workplace culture - and it’s not free snacks, ping-pong tables, and Friday happy hours.

It’s how well you genuinely care for the people of your organization, on a human-to-human level.

During his time as the Director of Vision and Culture for Advantage Answering+, Marty helped the company consistently double revenue and profits while earning a spot on FORTUNE Magazine's Top 25 Best Small Companies to Work For list in 2014.

Marty loves helping organizations grow and succeed and has been featured in a variety of publications, including, Fortune Magazine, Great Place to Work, How to Build A Better Vision Statement, Trends in Corporate Culture, and more.

Follow Marty on LinkedIn or catch his session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


15. Jacqueline Jensen Fellow @ Royal Society of the Arts and TEDx Speaker

Jacqueline is a high-impact low-profile badass boss babe.

A true digital nomad, she was a former venture-backed startup founder at Ticket Cake.

She was showcased as a TEDx speaker discussing the importance of playing nice with fellow entrepreneurs, not just morally, but also financially. 

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Additionally, she is a recognized community builder - in both virtual and real time contexts.

Currently, Jacqueline is nose to the grid stone working on her first book's publication.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter or catch her in her role as panel moderator at Remote Work Summit 2018!


16. Wayne Turmel, Co-Founder and Product Line Manager @ The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne is  a master of virtual presentations and a valuable strategic resource to remote leaders everywhere. His playful presence paired with his wealth of knowledge is a powerful combination for high-levels of virtual engagement. Coach and Author Marshall Goldsmith calls Wayne "one of the most unique voices in the new world of work.

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Having founded and then The Remote Leadership Institute there is no doubt about his passion for helping people around the world develop the skills to sell, train, present and lead people using webmeeting, webinar and virtual presentation tools.

He is also an accomplished authors with title such as, "Meet Like You Mean It- a Leader's Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings" and "10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations." You can also find his work in CBS Business, The Huffington Post and for over ten years on

Wayne has 20 years experience in the corporate training and professional development field, including time as Director of Faculty for Communispond, one of the world's premier communication skills training companies. He has been on stages such as the American Society for Training and Development conferences, National Speaker's Association and the European Digital Learning Congress.

Connect with Wayne on LinkedIn or catch his session at Remote Work Summit 2018!


17. Taylor Coil, Marketing and Strategy @ Tortuga Backpacks

Again, my personal interactions with Taylor have just begun, but she is clearly a yes person!

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An online marketer focusing on content marketing, ecommerce customer acquisition, and performance marketing, Taylor is an expert in her field.

Her work with Tortuga Backpacks allows her to live fully, while working and traveling on her own terms.

Follow Taylor on LinkedIn or catch her appearance as expert panelist at Remote Work Summit 2018!


18. Gretchen Pleshaw, TV Show Host, On-Air Interviewer, Writer, Actress, and Model

I had the pleasure of hitting the slopes with Gretchen just days ago in Beaver Creek, CO. She is full of life and is truly committed to using her station to make the world a better place to live and work. 


Starting her career as a high-fashion model, Gretchen has transitioned to a classy mountain lifestyle fueled by her involvement with the XGames.

She has hosted TV shows, fashion shows, and product campaigns and has been seen in various commercials for organizations such as the NFL and The Vail Film Festival.

While remote work is often considered a space dominated by tech and marketing professionals, Gretchen is a welcome reminder that remote work can work for people with varying skills sets and across numerous industries.

Follow Gretchen on Instagram or catch her in her role as panel moderator at Remote Work Summit 2018!


19. Matt Kohn, CEO and Founder @ Different Hunger

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I first connected with Matt by way of Remote Work Summit Collaborator Socially You and what a welcome connection it was. Matt is a living breathing example of the work hard play harder mentality.

In March 2016, Matt quit his job as a SaaS consultant, moved to Medellin, Colombia (to escape NYC rent prices) and got started from scratch as a freelance designer, documenting his journey through his lifestyle brand and community, Different Hunger.

After 12+ months of working 65+ hour weeks, Matt got his big break in the form of mentorship and was able to close some large contracts, build out a team and scale his agency to 6-figures. 

Shortly after, Matt created several digital Accelerator programs that have empowered digital agency owner to scale to $10,000+ and $25,000+ monthly revenues while working less (under 20 hours per week) and living more.

Today, Matt's agency Different Hunger Media has Fortune 50 brand experience and has been featured by ForbesInc., LinkedIn, Men’s HealthVirgin Media and more. 

Connect with Matt by joining his Facebook group community of entrepreneurs committed to growth without 24/7 hustle, or catch him in his role as expert panelist at Remote Work Summit 2018!


20. Céline Williams Hon.B.A. Principal & Founder @ reVisionary

Céline was introduced to me by Liz Scully who couldn't help but sing her praises calling her the "real-deal when it comes to culture creation."

Céline has been an employee, a partner, a manager, a director and an entrepreneur, and has worked in both the public and private sector.


She is able to see patterns and opportunities that are not obvious to most people. As a result, she is passionate about helping people and organizations grow and succeed in ways that benefit both the individual and the collective.

She believes that everyone is a leader regardless of title or perceived authority and is on a mission to empower the leader within all of us to step forward and lead by example.

Céline considers organizations to be the new communities and believes that innovation is a result of culture. That's why she focuses on creating cultures that accelerate growth, drive revenue, and enable innovation.

Follow Céline on LinkedIn or catch her in her role as expert panelist at Remote Work Summit 2018!


21. Carlyn Shaw, Founder of Strangers To Friends

If you open up to life, it is highly likely your path (or at least your network) will eventually intersect with Carlyn's, after all that is the nature of her work. She was born to build connections that turn strangers into friends.

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An insightful writer and inspirational speaker, Carlyn empowers others to see setbacks as stepping stones, let go of perceived labels and say "YES" to life. Carlyn lives with the philosophy that people = possibilities and action = more action. Not only are WE all connected, but IT is all connected. Not only do we all have a purpose but we can create our purpose.

Having overcome many challenges, including her diagnosis with MS at the age of 19 the same year both of her best friends we killed in different car accidents, Carlyn chooses to allow tragedy to create purpose and "let fear be her fuel." She has appeared on Anderson Cooper and was featured in the Denver Post after completing the Boston Marathon, representing Colorado for the National MS Society in 2015.

Carlyn's adventurous spirit has inspired others to step out of their comfort zones as well. Authentic, Trustworthy and Real are three words she uses to describe herself.

Follow Carlyn on LinkedIn or join her for the Strangers to Friends Kick Off Party at Remote Work Summit 2018!


22. Kyrie Melnyck, Freelance Event Strategist & Co-Founder at 7in7

Last but not least, Kyrie is another new member of my network who I have only barely had the pleasure of knowing.

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Committed to living from the heart and curious about being nomadic in nature has led her to spend the last 10+ years cultivating skills in communication, marketing, social media, event coordination, operations and leadership in various countries around the world.

Her true passion revolves around human interactions. She loves finding ways to actively engage people with one another in a positive and delightful way through events.

She is currently pursuing the digital nomad life and is a huge advocate for figuring out a way to make the “nomadic/location independent lifestyle” sustainable. She is a founder of 7in7 - a conference for experienced digital nomads.

Follow Kyrie on LinkedIn or catch her in her role as expert panelist at Remote Work Summit 2018!

BONUS Thought Leaders added after the articles original publication date...


23. Laurel Farrer, Remote-Friendly Operations Expert and Remote Work Advocate @ Laurel Farrer

What can I say Laurel is awesome. She is all in on remote work as the future of work and is committed to help organizations large and small across all industries make the switch.

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In addition to her consulting work she is also the Chief of Operations at, which offers resources for distributed companies and remote teams including consulting services, conferences, and a popular podcast featuring interviews with company leaders and others thinking about remote work.

In addition to her background in operations, Laurel has experience in the corporate event space.

Follow her on LinkedIn or catch her virtual session at Remote Work Summit 2018.


24. Molood N. Alavijeh, Owner and Agile Coach @ Everemote


I have to give credit where credit is due...
I owe my relationship with Laurel to Molood and the amazing work she is doing as Founder of Remote Forever. While Molood and I met through Remote Leadership Think Tank. Molood is both approachable and extremely professional, not to mention driven!

Particularly interested in coaching and teaching distributed organizations and teams, she focuses on the concepts and practices of lean and agile, team dynamics, leadership, how to create high performing teams, introducing alternative metrics, motivating employees, self-leadership, and many more self-development and team-improvement subjects.

She uses her holistic view of organizations to improve organizations at a large-scale rather than focusing on smaller teams or departments inside organizations. She has spoken at several agile events about different topics around agile.

Her aspiration is to help remote managers and the front line employees become more productive, get a better understanding of the value of their work in agile environments, organize themselves around solving problems, and have more fun.

Follow her on LinkedIn or catch her in her role as virtual moderator at Remote Work Summit 2018.

24. Courtney Seiter, Director of People @ Buffer

A few months back, Rebel + Connect Co-Founder and Director of Events did an interview with Buffer about their use of team retreats to create community on remote teams. So when it came time to look at speakers for Remote Work Summit 2018 reaching out to Buffer was a no brain-er.

Furthermore, Courtney was an obvious choice for the Remote HR and Operations Expert Panel. While my one-on-one interactions with Courtney thus far have been limited to recruitment, her presence however brief spoke volumes. She is not only qualified but passionate about what she does.

Before stepping up as Director of People at Buffer she was their Inclusivity Catalyst a role which she explains focuses "on creating an environment at Buffer where those of all ages, races, classes, ethnicities, gender identities or expressions, sexual identities, abilities, sizes, nationalities, cultures, faiths, neurotypes and backgrounds can feel welcome and experience a sense of belonging."

Inclusive company cultures have always been important, but take on a whole new level of importance when leading global remote work teams.

Courtney doesn't stop there, she is also a Co-Founder of Girls to the Moon an organization dedicated to helping young girls achieve their full potential, impact their communities and proactively create a more inclusive culture.

Follow Courtney on LinkedIn or catch her in her role as expert panelist at Remote Work Summit 2018.


Would you believe me if I said I am more excited by this list having written this article than I was when the writing began?

It's amazing how many amazing people are waiting - just a click or two away - you are who you follow.


Who do you love to follow around the topic of remote work? Share in the comments below!


Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie BirchRachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!

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