I'm Corine Tan, co-founder of Kona, the culture platform for remote teams. Kona helps colleagues bond and managers see how their team is feeling at any given moment to be more supportive and empathetic.
Co-founder of Kona.
I'm currently based in Los Angeles, CA, but I work with a fully distributed team across three time zones.
Current Computer, Mobile, etc.
I'm a big Apple person — I have a 2019 MacBook Pro and an iPhone 12. I love being in the iOS camp because functionality and collaboration across devices are easy. For example, I often use Airdrop to share documents, photos, and resources across devices. Overall, Mac is beautifully designed and executed and offers personalization to support my workflow.
Where can we follow you on the Internet?
Describe how you work in 10 words or less?
I advocate for our customer's needs and problems.
Tell us a little bit about your background & how did you get started with remote work?
I grew up with both of my parents working remotely, which was so helpful for work-life balance while they were raising our family. I felt so lucky to have them involved in my school and personal life, so it was always my dream to have that kind of flexibility.
My career all started at UCLA, where I intended to double minor in Film and Entrepreneurship. I originally wanted to break into the film industry, but the egos in the film turned me off from that career path. That pushed me to jump into something entirely new: major in English and enter the tech world. I joined the LA Hackathon in 2019, and that's where I met our co-founder, Andrew Zhou. At the time, he was working on a startup around making work more empathetic with Sid Pandiya.
Fast forward to the Fall of 2019, all three of us joined forces as co-founders and pivoted the startup towards remote work. We kicked it off by interviewing as many remote managers as possible, which occurred naturally as the pandemic hit and managers were faced with the transition from in-office to fully remote.
I graduated UCLA in the Spring of 2020, and it was not only a no-brainer to work on Kona full-time but also to do that as a remote team.
What job responsibilities do you have?
I lead our growth efforts at Kona. That was mainly our marketing for a while, but we recently hired a Head of Content Strategy.
I now focus heavily on maintaining relationships with our clients and finding new growth opportunities within culture-focused companies. That means I engage in many outreach and demo calls, as well as revise our sales processes.
Take us through your typical weekday?
I'll wake up around 7 AM, do morning meditation, and check the news. Once 8 AM rolls around, I'm usually ready to make some tea, eat breakfast, and complete a journal exercise.
That leads me to 9 AM when I hop online and begin the highest-priority work-related task, usually email- or call-related. By noon, I'll make myself lunch and simultaneously listen to a true-crime podcast.
From there, I'll tackle deep work-related tasks and chop them up by going on an afternoon run. Once my workday wraps up, I'll usually grab dinner with a friend.
What's your workspace setup like?
I have a small office in my apartment with a bookshelf embedded into the wall, so I have some knick-knacks that make up my Zoom backgrounds, like a typewriter and my favorite books.
I've created my workspace with ergonomics and max productivity in mind, so I swear by the standing desk from IKEA, LG Dual Monitor, laptop stand, and a lamp to keep myself well-lit during Zoom calls. I also have a corner with a comfortable chair where I journal, drink tea and decompress.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can't you live without?
We've recently honed in on a tool stack that keeps our remote team super productive. The top tools I use include Headspace, Notion, Kona, Superhuman, HubSpot, Apollo, Ahrefs, Google Analytics, and Klenty. We go further into detail on why and how we use these in our culture assessment tools posts.
How do you keep track of what you need to prioritize?
I have a giant whiteboard that expands my office wall, which I use for brainstorming. And I have a productivity journal recommended by my executive coach, Robyn Ward. It's where I use the Pomodoro technique — I write down five tasks that I need to accomplish throughout the day, keep track of them, and prioritize them in one spot.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I notoriously take breaks by listening to true crime podcasts or going on a run. However, I need to learn how to be better about taking breaks. So if you have any tips, please share them with me at @itscorine!
What are you reading currently? What do you recommend?
I do a lot of reading to research the novel that I'm currently working on. I'm currently reading Hatchet Men, which dives into the story of the Tong wars in San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1870s.
I'm also reading many books related to sales that Brooke Bachesta from Outreach.io recommended to me, such as "Sales Engagement" by Medina et. al and "Predictable Revenue" by Ross and Tyler.
I also love reading anything by Ted Chiang, an Asian-American author who turns science fiction into the sublime. You'll know him as the author behind "Arrival."
Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?
Do it! If you'd tested remote work during the pandemic, you already know the basics of it.
However, if you weren't working remotely during the pandemic, know that offices exist because that's what's worked for the past 50 years. But with the introduction of the internet and cloud, there's no reason to work in-person full-time.
If you have the opportunity to work remotely, I highly recommend you pursue it to keep a work-life balance truly.
Aside: If you are searching for a remote job, study these common questions remote workers usually ask.
What qualities would you recommend are a must-have for a person seeking a remote job?
You must be trusting, transparent, communicative, detail-oriented, and willing to be a strong writer that documents thoroughly.
What, according to you, are the pros and cons of remote work?
There are endless pros to remote work, in my book, but the top ones are having a work-life balance, focusing on my mental health, no longer having a commute, and being able to work where you're most productive.
Cons include having fewer in-person interactions, but tools like Kona can solve that in a remote setting.
Want to work remotely like Corine? We recommend going over the list of top remote companies hiring . Facing issues searching for a remote job and don't know where to look? DailyRemote has the latest remote jobs posted in various categories to help you. Also, join like-minded remote job seekers in our LinkedIn remote community.