ABOUT THIS EPISODE
The old models of leadership no longer serve organizations well.
Those models expected leaders to be superhuman. But that kind of strength entirely misses the mark; it doesn’t serve the needs of those we lead.
Today, we need a leadership model that embraces vulnerability, along with service, humility, kindness, and love.
We talked with Laila Tarraf, Chief People Officer at Allbirds, about her new book on leading with love in business and in life.
We also talked about:
-The old view of HR vs the new view of HR.
-The difference between enabling and protecting your people.
-How to help leaders find a deeper level of empathy.
-Why love is a strength, not a weakness.
For the entire interview, subscribe to HR Superstars on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or tune in on our website.
Get Laila’s book, Strong Like Water.
Episode 12 · 1 year ago
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Episode 12 · 1 year ago
Leading With Love: Why Strong Leadership Starts w/ Compassion
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
The old models of leadership no longer serve organizations well.
We also talked about:
-The old view of HR vs the new view of HR.
-The difference between enabling and protecting your people.
-How to help leaders find a deeper level of empathy.
-Why love is a strength, not a weakness.
Get Laila’s book, Strong Like Water.
I could not have led through this last year of tremendous loss, with the pandemic and the social unrests and the political divisiveness. I would never have been able to do that had I not been where I was in my journey. You're listening to HR superstars, a podcast from fifteen five that highlights stories from the front lines of HR and people ops. Each episode will showcase fascinating conversations with leaders offering their unique experiences and advice for building an extraordinary company and culture. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to another episode of HR superstars. I'm Shane Metcalfe and I'm here with my cofounder and CEO, David Hassell, and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Lailah tariff to the show today. And I'm personally just thrilled about this conversation because when we did the pre interview, one of the main themes that we were talking about was love at work and bringing love back into the workplace, or maybe into the workplace for the first time really. So let me just tell you a little bit about Layelah. Leilah is a talent management and leadership development executive with over twenty five years of experience building teams and advising companies across many industries and stages of growth. She was a founding member of walmartcom at the height of the first Internet bubble and the chief people officer at Pete's coffee and tea as it was redefining its values as a national brand. She then spent seven years working in private equity as a director of human capital a GI partners and a human capital advisor with altamont capital. Currently, as chief people officer for all birds, she is focused on building a high performance, human centered organization capable of driving for results while at the same time nurturing a culture of connection and belonging as it grows into a global, sustainable consumer brand. Over the years, through professional achievements and personal accomplishments, alongside professional setbacks and personal tragedies, mail has evolved her leadership and life philosophy into one that embraces the inherent quality of life, balancing courage with compassion, integrating head with heart and fusing power with tenderness. Her journey and hard one insights, or what she shares in her debut book, strong like water. Leila is a graduate of Berkeley Host School of business and is also a guest lecturer at Berkeley Law School. She is Lebanese an American, an avid traveler and world explorer and a proud mom to her teenage daughter, Nadia, and our eight pound Yorky Max. And we just learned that her teenage daughter is going to be spending an immersion and surfing and Spanish Costa Rica. And you know, don't we all need surfing and Spanish immersion these days. So, Leylah, welcome to the show. Really great to have you. Thank you so much, so happy to be here you guys. Yeah, this is so great. I'd like to start with just understanding a little bit more about your journey, like how did you get into this, this realm of people, leadership of you know what? I think some people used to call hr somewhere now calling people in culture. Obviously, you know you're you're moving forward and more of this human centric philosophy. So what was your journey to this, to this place? Yeah, HR continues to rebrand itself more than any other function. I know we'll get we'll get there, and I think it's because the the industry continues and the function continues to evolve. I mean HR wasn't even anywhere on my radar screen for, you know, my whole life, until I got out of out of business school. When I was young, I wanted to be a pediatrician and then somebody said to me at seventeen and all you know, that's like ten years of school and neither one of my parents went to college and to a seventeen year old ten years of school that's more than have your life. So I scrapped that idea. How long have I been in high school? Oh, Oh God, I don't think I could do that. And so I you know, I went to college. I ended up majoring in computer information systems because this was the late s and computers were starting to be a thing, and that was, you know, good student. And then I really fell into recruiting and because of my technical Undergrad I started to recruit engineers and because I could speak their language, but I could also sort of walk and talk and had sort of outgoing in the people person. And then I went to business school at Keley and was lucky enough to land a role at Walmartcom when it was just a startup. Walmart ink in early two thousand realized this Internet thing wasn't going away and they had to get serious about it and they weren't going to get the talent they needed. An invent built Arkansas in one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine. So they started Walmartcom out here in the San Francisco Bay area and I was hired to be employee number seven as the director of recruiting and I worked for a female CEO. Her name was Geene Jackson. She was super tough and amazing and I was so inspired and also terrified of her.
And after a year of, you know, building the company two hundred and fifty people, we kept on looking for head to HR. We couldn't find anyone we like. She just said to me one day, look, you're doing the job, why don't you take it? And my first reaction was Oh no, no, no, not an h our person, this person because, you know, like probably most people twenty years ago, I really didn't see hr as a business function. I don't know, I thought it was more downstream or more administrative. And you know what I loved about jeans is like well, look, I don't care take it or not, but you know, I've got a bigger fish to FRY. And I was like okay, okay, I'll try it, and what Classic Power Move Right there, you know, not sick exactly like she a beg means it now. And you know, again, I wish I could say was all by design. I really got lucky and I'm fortunate that there was a leader of a woman who saw something in me that I didn't yet see in myself. And so for the next seven years I really grew into being an HR leader and really a fur bline VP player coach, and that's how it started. That's what an awesome I actually think one of the one of the best qualities of a leader is to be able to see things and people that they don't yet see in themselves. I think it's very true. And because I've never seen myself as an HR person. I don't know if people say this anymore, but they used to say. I used to hear this all the time. Do you have a seat at the table? Like, what are you talking about? It's my table, like I did that that whole statement around. You know, it implies that you're that there's something going on and you're not invited to it, and I just think that whole orientation get just sets you off on the wrong foot in the first place. Right, it's our table, we're here together, we're all in this together. So I think because I never felt like I wasn't part of the business or the business. Quite frankly, I never showed up in that way and and you know, you have to put some points on the board, and so I think I became very integrated in the business very quickly. That's great. If you think about, you know, the old view of HR and what you kind of perceived it to be about, being more about administrative and maybe compliance and those types of things, which is, I think, more from a protective, reactive state that we've now moved into something a different model that is emerging. That's clearly emerging across the board in the most progressive companies. What would you say it's moved to? Like, how would you describe that? You know, I don't want to put down the compliance or the administrative side of Dhar because it's real and it's important, so important. Yeah, I should say it's not. It's not that. It's not that, it's it's it's that. And like what's crowding? Yes, that's right, if that's where it starts, you know, that's sort of people operations, but there are different disciplines within hr, just like there are marketing and finance. The difference I see in hur leaders is you either think of HR as a function to protect the organization or to enable it. HMM. And of course the reality is that that's a false paradox. You want to do both right. You want to protect and you want to enable. I try to think about both. My natural orientation is to enable, not to protect. So I know I have to hire people that are wired that way and I have to make the space for us to be able to have the conversation. But it's not in my nature to protect. It's in my nature to just move forward and and I think, I think that's the differences as HR has moved from being a downstream, administrative, after the fact function to more upstream, more strategic, more enabling than you need to have a balance of those people. I love their distinction of enabling and protecting and that it's you know, both are required, but that you know, hr really has evolved in you know, we've kind of transcended just protecting an organization and and yet we're including the protection, but it really is enabling and it's such a such I haven't heard that distinction before and it really clarifies it really lends me too. I would love to hear a little bit about what do you love about the culture at all birds? You know what is? What is something that you think makes all birds very distinct? I should have, I should have put on my all birds, one of one of my ears. I think the first person I saw wearing olberds. Actually, Oh, yeah, nice, yeah, yeah, I think. I think David was making fun of me one time because we were flying together out of SMO and I was like, I had my all birds on and I had my away roller bag. You are such a Silicon Valley cliche and your sunglasses and you were good. We're really he needed the paedagoony ofst and he would have. What can I say? They're great products. The culture of at all birds is amazing. It's, you know, where a Be Corp and it's the first time I've worked for a be Corp.
I used to work for the most conservative company, Walmart, and then I went to the most liberal company, Pezz out of Berkeley. Yeah, and now I'm I'm at a Be Corp and I am clearly ten to twenty years older than everybody. So it's really interesting experience to be at all birds. Now Walmart was my all birds because I was, you know, the same age they are. All are. We build the company it is. It's a very young company. The average age is twenty nine or thirty, so ninety percent of the people are in their first or second job out of school. So just kind of wrap your head around that for a minute. And one of the things that I've learned in my first year there is, you know, when you feel a resistance to change, which in everybody resists change on some level, and when I when I've felt it it all birds, what I realized pretty quickly was it wasn't really deeply embedded in these sort of long standing beliefs. It was just that they didn't know any other way because they're still so new in their careers. So it's exciting for me right because I'm on the other side of my career. I really get to be a mentor and an educator and someone who can hold the space for all these people who are really kicking off their career and I just find that so exciting. They're hungry to learn, they're excited about the opportunity their millennials. Everybody wants to save the world and that's super exciting because I really think what we're doing can have a major, major impact and everyone is so serious about lowering the carbon footprint on this planet. It is you know, companies have a core DNA based on how they're founded, and companies get disrupted when things change around them and they can't shift. You know, they can't be agile enough to shift. But I personally believe you can change and you can shift, but your core DNA is always going to be your corey DNA and for us it is embedded in sustainability and product innovation. So we're lucky right now to be a point in time where we where we're really anchoring on that DNA in everything that we do. So it doesn't feel like we're we're trying to shift or change or move or try to become something that's not really who we are, and that feels amazing. That's amazing. It's almost like the you know again, the why doesn't change, but you might have to change the how right depending on the circumstances. Or, and I Simon Senex later work of playing an infinite game and business, you know, like that it's like if all birds was like, we're going to make sustainable sneakers and that was the that was the only game. It was be like, oh well, then you can't evolve and you can't make killer puffer jackets, also sustainably. You know, like with fifteen five, like our infinite game. We're playing as unlock. How do we unlock the potential of every member of the global workforce? And you know, so that started out as a check in, but now it's evolving into performance reviews and engagement surveys and strengths, radical strengths alignment and positive psychology and all these things. And so I love I love, you know, I think it's really interesting, of to contemplate when a company gets founded, is the founder playing an infinite game from the beginning and that forms that DNA, or is it, oh, I see him an opportunity to build a product and flip a company and make some money? That's a great point. So we have to cofounders. Right. Tim Brown is the New Zealand soccer player and this was he went to design school and this was his idea from the very beginning. And he comes from a country where there's more cheap than people right New Zealand and Joey as well. INJOR is more of a he was an industrial engineer in school and is more than operations finance guys. So you really have the left brain right brain together and both of them are incredibly visionary. We do these hot pen exercises all the time, you know, where you sit down and you have a prompt and you just write for twenty minutes. So they did that at the very beginning and said it's two thousand and twenty six. There was two thousand and sixteen. What does it look like? What have we done? WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED? And and we do this all the time. So they did that and we're still working towards that two thousand and twenty six vision. Sort of halfway through, Gosh, more than halfway through. We did one for last summer when things got really bad with with the social unrest and Blm Movement. We brought together a cross section of our employees and we did three sections on diversity. that a hot pen exercise. Five years out, what is all birds look like? With respected the EIB, we did went around product innovation. So those guys, more than any other leader I've seen, are really oriented towards the future. There is nothing about them that's about flipping a profit short term. Okay, so this is really cool because I I do a ton of stream of consciousness writing and future visioning on my for myself and I do a lot for fifteen five. But you're saying that you actually do this as company exercises, as like get the leadership team and okay, write twenty minutes that. That is so cool. Yeah, and then we just you share it,...
...be like take like tibits from them. We do. We write everything down and then we go around and we highlight the high points of what came out of our writing and then we have everybody make a comment. So it's not like okay, thanks, Leyla. Next it's like, oh, I really like how you said this, tell me more about that. And so it's a build and at the very end somebody then takes it and pulls the all the nuggets and then we create a manifesto out of it and we do it for lots of different things. By it it is like brings me back to like creative writing class and Somatics, socratic seminars and high school. I love it. I'm totally bopping this because because I know that for me, you know, writing and stream of consciousness, writing and envisioning the future is one of the things that has continually transformed my life. You know. I mean I randomly found shaky Gat one's create a visualization when I was fourteen, which is a great book about, you know, imagining the future and to bring it into being, and so I started just doing so much writing about the future, a lot of like hot pin exercises when I was fourteen. And I look at the crazy life I've lived over the last twenty two years now and it's like wow, I credit so much of it to writing the future before it happens, and I've never really known how to bring this into the business setting quite like you've just described. I'm just thrilled to play with this. So thank you. Love. We love pros at. So I'm in a good company being a newly published author. That's good. It's we love words and they are powerful. Right. Words are powerful. We have all hands. We had them every week during COVID and now we've gone to every other week. But it's important, especially when the company is young, and right now there's so many competing narratives out there that you need to be very, very intentional in so forging your path and what's true and what's important for you as a company. That's great. I do want to get into the book and talk about that. But before one more question is like, how do you what's your dynamic and relationship with the cofounders and how do you how do you partner with them to kind of bring their cultural vision to life through the people, because I have good questions. Well, I'll be super honest. I'm close to two years in now. First Year not fun. Fun, I would say six nine months in got very crunchy and I was wondering if I had made the right decision. I'm sure that they were wondering it as well. We storm hard and you know, in hindsight I can tell you. You know, founders are not usually the guys that carry a company in through the high growth phase. Right, the people who go from zero to two hundred or three hundred million are usually not the leaders that go from three hundred million to a billion. Tim and Joey are kind of exceptional. They are really they have them very strong business sense, but they're very, very entrepreneurial and I was brought in to help to establish the infrastructure necessary for the organization to be able to scale and grow in a healthy way, and that means doing things differently than how you did it when you were, you know, twenty million and why you understand that intellectually. Actually shifting again, any sort of change, causes a little bit of stress and a little bit of tension. And you know, I came in after being an advisor in private I put you for seven years and I was like, I didn't say anything for about six months and at first they're like what are you doing? I'm like, I'm taking it all in. It was complex and I wasn't sure what I was seeing because, you know, cultures are like ecosystems. You might see something but you don't know the why behind it, and I didn't know if I if I change something over there, but we would move something over here. So I was trying to be really thoughtful and taking it all in, and so that was the first problem. I didn't move fast enough, but I didn't know what I was dealing with. And then, secondly, as I started to offer what we should be doing, it went against what you know required a little more discipline, a little more process and very non sexy stuff were we're doing right now, right, and it's just not as fun. And so there was there was a there was a little bit of this and luckily for me, the three of us had the hard conversations and were vulnerable with each other. But again, I appreciate with with with these guys, and I'll tell you one of them said to me. He said, you know, he said, when you come in here like an advisor and say you know, this is wrong and that's wrong, he's like, I'm a founder, he's thinking. I'm telling you, you know, you make me feel bad when you say that. And I was like, oh my gosh, he's completely right. Had he not had the wherewithal and the and the courage to be that vulnerable with me, I wouldn't have seen US breaking a little glass. So I was like, you're right, I'm sorry, chip my brain and honestly, from that moment I, you know, I learned how to flank. I learned how I reminded myself...
I wasn't an advisor, as I had been the previous seven years. I kind of had built that muscle in that way of being, and he reminded me, no, you're in it now. And so now he says, you know where we all say we're in the foxhole together. So we're in the foxhole and and it's great. It's been. It's still hard, but there isn't tension between us and and I'm really proud of the relationship we've developed. That's that's a great story. Yeah, what I cool narrative arc, you know. And we've been so easy to bail at that ninemonth mark like this is difficult. Why what am I doing? I'm going to go somewhere else now. Come often. I mean, I think that it's such a great example because I think often in any relationship, whether it's a professional relationship or personal relationships, when things get hard, that's usually when the most that's when the gifts are really present for our own transformation. Right, you know that relationship is this dough show of growth and development and if we can keep swimming to the other side of the river instead of turning back, that's where the gold is. That's right, because it all, it's all sounds great in your head, right, and when putting it in practice and relationship and and I think you know, luckily I'm I've been on the journey long enough to know that I didn't like it, but I knew that it was good for me and I'm so glad that we're on the other side. And again we still have our moments. I also think you know the blue rich model that talks of about the different the different roles within HR, their strategic change agent, employee, champion and administrator. I don't know if you've seen that one, and usually one is sort of your anchor point. I'm a change agent and I have that is my anchor and and the same happened at Pete too. I mean when I when I lived Pete, the Cego said to me after seven years he goes. I can tell you now that first year I didn't understand half of what you were saying because but you were so if I left you alone. Now everybody wants to be an hr you know, in two thousand and six, two thousand and seven, it's just like, don't break anything, just hired fire them. Well, now everyone thinks they're a culture carrier. So now they're in your shorts a little bit more. So it's interesting. Okay, so this is a perfect segue, you know, and I love it. You know, and I think it speaks to the adaptability that you've cultivated of you know, be taking strong stances but then also flowing and adapting and changing, and I have a feeling that that is connected to the title of your book, Strong like water. So would you just share a little bit about this book? And you know I mean what is it about? What's the title, and a little bit of you know, a little t's on what's what's inside those pages? Yeah, so it's called strong like water. How I found the courage to lead with love in business and in life. And strong like water is, after a verse from Loud Sue, who wrote the Taut Ching, as I'm sure you guys know, and when he wrote these eighty one versus in six hundred BC about the paradoxical nature of life, and one of them is called be like water, and in it he says whatever is soft and yielding is more powerful than what is hard and rigid, and that always spoke to me because I've never had a hard time being sort of direct and for me I have to learn how to soften and be a little more vulnerable, and the book is really that journey that I took and it starts with the catalyst for the growth from me. Happened to be three major losses in my life, my husband, my father and my mother, in a short period of time. And the book, you know, obviously we go through the losses, but what it's really about is how moments of tremendous adversity in your life, to what you're saying, Shane, really provide you with a gift and a moment to learn about yourself and and to show up differently and to and to grow and to transform. And so for me, I held myself in such a way that I valued being really super capable and strong and of a problem solver, and I use that that persona, that hero persona to stay away from dicky feelings. I just wasn't going to go there and I did that very well for forty years. And and I had a lot of UN processed and unfelt feelings that had been building up inside of me. And when my husband passed, my daughter was three and it was a moment. As my first year as the head of HR for Pizza Public Company, I was still learning how to be achieve people officer and I had a moment where I had to make a decision. Was I going to continue in the way that I had been in my whole life, which is no known as it's time, it's fine, I got it, it's okay, or was I going to allow myself to to fall apart and grieve and reconnect to not only the feelings I was feeling of...
...the time, but all the feelings I had not allowed myself to feel up until that moment? And I think, if I'm honest, I had so much will at the time that, had I not had my daughter, I might have just tried to power through it. I'm a little embarrassed to say that because it sounds so ridiculous now, but that is how convinced I was that I could control everything. But I knew that I couldn't guide my daughter through that kind of loss unless I also experienced it. So I have to go into the valley and then, because the universe knew that I was tough case, just made sure I got another couple doses. And you know, I could laugh about it now it's been a while, but it was I don't think I would be who I am today, softer, more authentic, vulnerable. And the irony is I thought for sure I would become weak if I allowed myself to be sad to feel to admit when I was, you know, feeling overwhelmed, and you don't. That's the crazy thing. I'm here is you. You, the strength becomes infused with this tenderness and the softness. I think I'm still as strong as I ever was, and sometimes I'm not strong like water. Sometimes I'm strong like ice, as we saw last year. Right, and then I remember. I'm like, okay, right, let's let's bring it down so we have both in a in us, all of us. There's a dallast saying that I really love, speaking of you know Chinese sages. That goes my barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon. You know why it? What occurs, what is catastrophe, what is absolute destruction, is the very thing that peels away the layers for a ring, that for the beauty that is around us, that we just have been closed off to. Roomy has the same I'm sure you know the roomy poem called the Guest House. Same thing, and I will say that I could not have led through this last year of tremendous loss, with the pandemic and the social unrests and the political political divisiveness. I would never have been able to do that had I not been where I was in my journey, because it was just a year of making and holding space for for a lot of a lot of loss, a lot of sadness, a lot of fear, and I think I would have just folded if I had kno gone through my journey. I couldn't have done it because last year leading was really all about the being right, being open and holding space and being compassionate and understanding and empathetic. was less about doing anything but just creating the container for people to feel held like it was going to be okay. I feel like that that empathy. You know, Shane, you said something recently, I think a a a podcast we recorded recently, the about not trusting people who haven't had the heartbroken and I think that there's a level of humility and empathy that gets cultivated through these challenges, and especially in her personal challenges and loss, that I've been thinking a lot about. How do you? How do you how do you help people find that deeper level of empathy if they haven't had those experiences or without, you know, kind of pushing them into those experiences? How do you cultivate an organization in this empathetic and I do think it's it does start with leadership, but you know, it's an open question. For me. It's I don't know that I know the answer definitively. You're right. It you, the leaders, have to model that behavior, because the leaders set the tone for the entire organizations. If they're not empathetic, you're you're showing to others that that's not important. I mean for us. We I just rolled out working agreements. We do have values, but working agreements I distinguished by saying those are the promises that we make to each other and how we want to connect and work with each other, and they are presumed positive intent so seek to understand right, which requires empathy. It's choose courage over comfort. Right, lean into that thing you don't want to stay again, is a little bit of vulnerability. And then the last one is a line, commit and go, which really kind of gets you directed. And then practice gratitude every day. Pick something to be thankful for every single day and we're practicing them now. I have quarterly meetings with my directors and and I use that framework in all the training that we do so that they the so that they start to to internalize it and and role play and hopefully model the be here. Yeah, it reminds me. We've recently created competencies for each of our values, and so we have our core values and then we look at like, okay, well,...
...like like, for instance, cultivate. Relational mastery is one of our core values. You know that like the default world is let you know, you look at a reality TV and that's the opposite of relational mastery. It's drama, it's gossip, it's not choosing comfort over courage, it's not being vulnerable, it's not telling the truth. And so then we've created competencies out of each of the values so that we can actually be, you know, training on them and measuring them and having those as the guidelines. And I love that you have gratitude it in there as well. We have every every Monday we have it all hands and the first five minutes is focused on a gratitude meditation, and so we have different people with it and you know, it's just that it's just that moment of taking that pause before we're in the do do do you know, human doing, human doing, human doing to just be and right, oh yeah, right, like we have. Let's count our blessings, let's let's shine the light of gratitude on a variety of aspects of our lives, because for me, like my secret motivation when I came up with that practice was like, like, people don't cultivate gratitude. It's not a natural way that, especially in work. And so can we stop for just five minutes and appreciate? I'd love that. And I think I hear from a lot of people that this last year was so hard in so many ways and things that were completely out of our control that it almost forced us to just so like, okay, what can I be grateful for? What are the small things? You know, someone on the sky turned orange here last summer. Now I'm just grateful that I'm looking at a clear blue sky and I would never have thought about that before. Right, clean air to breathe right. So we it's been an embarrassment of riches for so long we didn't even know it. Yeah, yeah, we've had a good run and you know, I think, I think we have a lot of good runs ahead of us as a species, but I do think we've got bumpy waters ahead and and they you know, this last year is is an indication of more turbulence and more, more back taxes that we collectively are going to have to pay and thank for the past. Yes, yes, and yet, you know, that's part of I mean, and I think that that's part of what gives me meaning, is that, you know, I actually early on, thought I was going to go into green business. You know, I was thinking I was going to be, you know, run into company like all birds and fell deeply in love with, you know, people like Paul Hawkin, who wrote natural capitalism, and Amory lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute and really saw the opportunity. I think my senior thesis was on the Transition Generation, that all these exponential trends that are happening on the planet are converging in the S and s and that it is millennials who are kind of coming into power at this moment and are going to have a lot more influence to that are going to play a critical role in the transition to a more beautiful, sustainable world and then all kind that sounds interesting. that. Yeah, I might have to try to like search archives. I might make it sound a little more interesting than it is. I don't know. It's always weird going back and early reading early writings, like like really, I could have done better than that or something. But and then I you know, and then life took me on the transformational journey that it did, and it's a completely nonlinear path, and I met David and all of a sudden I'm tech founder of a HR Tech Company and I'm like, what the heck happened to this? And and really seeing that, oh, that it's unlocking human potential, it's opening human hearts, it's opening it's elevating the experience of work where there can be more love, there can be more compassion, there can be more joy. You know, switching from fear and obligation, is the primary colorance of our work, to joy and service. And that's not easy, right. I mean it's like I go back and forth all the freaking time. And yet that is I do believe we don't create a more sustainable world without creating happier, more joyful, fulfilled and self actualized human beings, hundred percent. And I also think that the role for Gen x, or that small generation that the sand which in between the boomers and the millennials, like I really feel like my a lot of a lot of my role in JEN x stor's is bridging the the orientipation and how the boomers see the world and the world they grew up when with and the millennials, right, because the millennials have so much passion and super idealistic and very focused on really trying to address some very, very big issues, but lack experience right and and there's just a generational gap between them and the boomers, like they really don't understand each other. But as it as a gen X or, I understand the boomers. I'm an old gen X or so I get it, but I've always been wired with that idealism that that the millennials have and and I agree with you it is up to them to move us forward and I...
...think we become their mentors. The the genoctors become the mentors and paved the way for the millennials. That's really the role that I see myself playing at all birds. That's that's amazing. I can actually relate as a Jenex or myself and kind of understanding both and having that that sense of idealism. I don't think we'd be doing what we're doing without without that and as an old millennial, you know, David saw potential in me and men's Mentord me and it's it's one of the greatest gifts in my life. Super happy you guys are doing what you're doing. I mean in twenty two thousand and ten I was re redoing Pezza values and I want to to call this book we were creating for the love of pets, and I remember people like Oh love, what youth, we love our company, and I couldn't get at them there. So we call that makes passions. So ten years later, wow, we talked about love all the time now, so we've come a long way. We have come a long way. That's and that would have been such a better book title, for the love of Pizza. Did you? Did you consider for Pete's sake, because I knew would have misspelled it all the time because this pee the Dutch. But yeah, that's right, right, right. It was interesting. I was connecting with John Mackie, the founder of whole foods, a few years ago, and he was talking about how love was the value inside a whole foods and it was almost like a dirty word, and it's like, how can love be a dirty word? And it is great. We're talking more about that. I'm curious how does that manifest in all birds? How vocal are you about that concept and how does that actually come alive culturally? Well, I think you know there's lots of different forms of love, right, and the Greeks have all these words for it. Wherever you fall on that, on that spectrum, whether you're more comfortable being, you know, demonstrating the more feminine qualities of Nurturans and Passion and empathy and love, or whether you're just more wired to drive for results, we can still care about people, right, and we just have to make sure we set healthy boundary. So at all birds, it's a very, very nice company. If you know the any of it. We talked about the any Graham chain. It's I think it's between that. We know it culture. Okay, so it's a two culture, if you culture and the helper, the helper, the give, the lover Choos and and two's are. I mean they want to give, they want to help. The shadows side is they sometimes use their helping and giving as currency. So you can kind of lean in too far and it can become, in least in relationships, a little codependent. So I find at and this is what I love about being an HR different companies because the challenges at all birds are so different. They are wired to be lovely and Nice, but they can also be a little conflict diverse because they don't want to like they don't want to make people mad, they don't want people not to like them. And so our big challenge, one of the reasons why she's courage over comfort is one of our work in agreements, is because we tend not to say the the challenging thing because we want to be nice. But that's not that's not how relationships are formed, that's not how trust is build and that's not how businesses are successful. So my challenge is how do I encourage people to speak their truth, to carry the hard message and recognize that that is love, that that is kindness if you're holding back? Well, when I was at Walmart in the early days, I went to a Saturday morning culture and meeting they had. It been in Bentonville, Arkansas. These people work six days the week. Okay, this was back in two thousand and Lee Scott, who was in the CEO at the time, he told the story. There were like hundreds of us. He told the story of a department manager of one of the Walmart stores, which, you know, Walmart throws like a hundred, fifty million dollars. It's a business and he all he wanted was to be a store manager and for fourteen years nobody told him that he didn't have it to be a store manager and when he was finally told he was so crushed. I heard that story twenty years ago it still sits with me. You're not doing anyone any favors by holding back a message that they need to hear. And it doesn't mean that that that there might not be an opportunity at the company for them, but it doesn't mean that they are not a person worthy of hearing what you know, what the feedback is, so that you could help them to grow on their journey, whether that journeys at all birds or somewhere else. And so what I try to do with our managers. I think when you're not used to giving difficult feedback, you feel like you have to disconnect from yourself and from the other person, so you kind...
...of throw it over the fence and like now I'm going to be this this jerkey person and tell you what I don't like about you. Right, but if you can stay connected right and you have to build the capacity to stay connected. And they like hey, shame, you know, last week when you said this, like what my CEO did you, when you say that that that makes me feel bad, that hurts my feeling. That took a tremendous amount of vulnerability and showed me a blind spot that I would that I had. My thought, wow, and that really helped shift our relationship. And and so that is the path that we're on. Is a company, because we tend to be a little on the conflict of void inside. How do we lean into it in a healthy way? I've been an actually tinder, compassionate candor, similar to, I mean, you know, the radical candor model. To you know, I think it's there's the you know, you either Schew more conflict avoidance and its ruinous empathy, or more obnoxious aggression. And I think we all we all fall somewhere on that spectrum and that ability to deliver truth. We we've reframe that. We call a truth of kindness, delivering truth with kindness. But I love embracing the courage also, because it really does take courage to do that. Great, great term I heard was a Mashup of vulnerability and courageous and talking about being vulner ageous and can we, can we be more like it? Well, courage, the the root of courage is cur which is the friend or French or heart. Yes, so it's interesting that, I think the connotations changing of courage used to to me, at least it has. I feel like there's a lot of tenderness and courage. Well, it makes me think that we don't know what love is, right, you know, that we have so many false ideas of what love is. And you know, I forget some Greek philosophers said like the most useful part of learning is on learning what is untrue and so on learning the false ideas of what love is. Love is being Nice, love is protecting somebody from the truth of what we actually see and what their capabilities are and that, oh well, we can just, you know, just be nice. That's love and it's just the false idea and love, you know, I mean, yeah, we can be nice and be loving. That's not another isn't love. It's so much more powerful, that's so much more transformative. That's right, and we realize and I think that it's like part of it is, I think that we are still infants in our and our journey of learning how to love. You know what helps, I think, is becoming a parent. Yes, yeah, right. I mean, you can't be nice all the time to your kid, right, or they'll kill themselves. You have to create boundaries. No, you can't have the ice cream for dinner, you have to have the Broccoli first, and there's a way to deliver that right in a loving, kind way so that they know you care about them, and I think that's the model right there. It took my wife and I number of years to get pregnant, about five years total, and it was maybe about third year and where was like so hard and it's just such it so many ups and downs on that journey and I had this striking realization where I felt like I connected with the spirit of my daughter and I realized, Whoa, she's already teaching me how to love, because this is taking like the the image of that came to mind was like, Oh wow, if she was, you know, five years old and got sick, I would do everything in my power to love her back to health and and that was all, though, was it was just I just needed to keep loving her into existence. And never like just not give up. And it was like this this incredible experience where like my heart open and I just was flooded with light and it was just like, Whoa, she's already teaching me how to love. And you know, and of course those are of those things are available to all of us, even if we're not parents, and and so it's just a cool I love that we get to live in a world, even if we're in still in the minority, and the business world is still cut throat and competition and market driven, but that this is least some spring flowers popping up where work can be a place where we actually learned to love more and love ourselves more and love each other more. Yeah, for sure. I want to circle back to that, to that stories told about this storm manager, because you know, if you think about it, maybe in the moment not telling him felt like the person was protecting his fear fifteen years and then you know what that feedback could have done along that journey like that. Obviously, in hindsight that was not love. Love would have been being, you know, providing on his candid feedback in the moment and so building a bridge. On top of that, we talked a lot a about some companies lean more towards care of the...
...people over performance. Others might lean to more care of the performance over the people. We might call that, you know, either the family or the sports team. But we talked about how can we have both of those things and some people see them as a paradox. We don't actually see them as a paradox. We think that high care for people and high career performance actually creates the highest performance. And to that and and I'm curious, like, what are some of the things alongside the is it? You know it? What's the formula for you guys? Is it? Is it that the communication with courage plus, you know, creating boundaries and have a high standards, or what's the formula to create that? In your bail? Before you answer that, David, I got it. We're a community soccer league. I don't think they're so. I'm always drawing these circles that intersect in the middle. I mean, in fact, if you go on my website or saw you were reading my bio, you'll see it. It's it's two circles that intersect right and one side is focused on it's the Yang Right. It's dry for results, it's high performance, it's business. The other circle is the people, it's the heart, it's a culture of connection and belonging, right, and they overlap. And that middle part is the sweet spot and where where the magic happens. And my after my first few months at all birds, I when I started connecting the dots and what I thought the cultural challenge is where I created a five minute video. I can send it to you, guys, and it was a little bit of our story, of our growth, of where we were in our growth, and I like I did the crawl, walk, run and I said the magic is in the isn't at the intersection of these two things, and it's not a straight line. You're like a sailboat and you're always tacking and sometimes you're going to be a little too far this way and then you're going to be a little too far this way. But as long as you keep your eye on the horizon and you stay in that sweet spot, it is a moment by moment thing, right. So we're encouraging people to give more honest feedback and at the same time we want you to stay connected and do it with kindness. Right. So I think again, this is where I think most HR people are oriented towards one or the other. Maybe I'm deluded by actually think I'm a little bit of both. I'm I've really, really do think I I love people and I am naturally caring. rightots want to be a doctor. When I was young, remember thinking it is caring for people a thing. Is that a like? I didn't know and I and I and it's funny because, you know, twenty five years later, I'm now at the closest to a caring profession there possibly can be in business. And so I love to accomplish things and I love to, you know, achieve and I that's part of me as well, and I like to do it as a team. It's no fun doing it by yourself, right, I always say we want to achieve big, Harry audacious goals, but we don't want to leave a trail of dead bodies behind us, because then then who do you celebrate with? And I just try to bring this is another thing I find that I don't know, Shane, you tell me this is a millennial thing. Everyone is so heavy and serious and I feel like we need a little bit of levity. It's not. It can be a little fun guys, it's okay, and just a little bit of humor and I think that adds a lot and that also shows a little bit of love and compassion to right you can, you can sometimes you can carry a harder message with a little bit of Lovity, a little bit of humor. So I'm trying to infuse a little bit of that as well. I you know, I look at my daughter and ape classes and college applications. It's like Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, it's just go to coaster, we can go surfing for a few weeks. So yeah, I mean I certainly hope it's not a millennial thing. I mean I think it's it's a you know, it's a natural human condition to sort for what is wrong and and then get pretty heavy about it. And you know, not that we can't be aware of how our eyes open about the problems, but not everything is a problem and there's so much perfection and joy available at any moment. Well, and if you're following positive psychology, there's so much that you don't see if you're just looking at the negative, and so much UN person at things that are going right. And do you follow the I've always heard give three times as much positive feedback to the one negative, because human nature anchor on the negative every time. You want to be to hear the positive. So you got actually write the driving science behind our high fives, but it's the driving science mind our high five feature, you know, so that, like, we can immediately increase the amount of recognition and appreciation and positive feedback in any business ecosystem because of that ratio being so critical to get right, so that the constructive feedback will also land, and it can. You have an emotional bank account to make some deposits from, versus just being overdrafted all the time. Exactly. And I also I also designed our initial weekly check in on that same positive psychology principle, where question...
...number one was what's going well? What's going well in your roll? Before you address the challenge is you is always challenges. We need to know what they are, but you have to anchor on like you know, if you're just thinking about the challenge is, you're missing it. There's always something going well. Yes, I use that model to what's going well, what could be better, not what's wrong? What's that? What's going well? What could be better? Based on those two things, what do we do now? Yeah, how do we shift? How do we we focus on? Oh, I love that. Well, Leila, this is been so fun. Where can people find your book? You can find it just about anywhere. Amazoncom, you can go on my website, lay lap, to Reffecom, you can buy it from your local books to or it's actually out on audiobook now. You can find it on audible and read it. Or did you? I did have somebody I nared that. I didn't want to, but I did and it was it was it was hard, but I think, I'm sure that was its own transformational journey of eating and what it was like living it. Wow, but the hard copy will be available starting April thirteen and you can preorder it now. Well, thank you so much. I feel so, so inspired and just you know that there's so much more possibility for bringing love and to not only our work but our lives as well. So thank you so much. Fifteen five is the only evidence based people and performance platform for highly engaged and high performing organizations. Strategic Hur leaders in all industries use the platform to win by improving communication, up leveling their managers and increasing company wide engagement. Learn more at Fifteen Fivecom you've been listening to HR superstars stories from the front lines of HR and people ops. Be Sure you never miss an episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast player. If you're listening on Apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a thoughtful review or give a quick rating by tapping the stars. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.
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