In this interview, I am joined by Bryan Breckenridge, the Head of Snyk Impact. We speak about the intersectionality of social impact, commercial scale, and climate strategy to reduce carbon so that business operations can be more socially and environmentally responsible. Bryan gives recommendations to leaders in businesses who want to align with the ESGs now, the short term, and the long view to create incentive structures and systems that align with more social and environmental responsibility.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
The Imperfect Shownotes
Carley Hauck 00:01
Hi, this is Carley Hauck, your host of the SHINE podcast. We are in season four. And I have been loving all the interviews in the last several weeks and we have two more to this season. This podcast is all about the intersection of three things: conscious and inclusive leadership, the recipe for high-performing teams and awareness practices.
I am facilitating three episodes a month. And before I tell you about our topic today, I would love it if you could go over to Apple podcasts and hit the subscribe button. This way you don’t miss any of our incredible interviews. And if you love this episode, which I hope you will please write a positive review or share it on your favorite social media channel. It helps so much. Thank you.
Our topic for today is how to create a social impact strategy for purposeful organizations in business with Bryan Breckinridge. Bryan Breckinridge is the head of social impact at Snyk, and we talk about his passion for conscious and contemplative practices such as meditation and spending time in his body, and the beautiful hills of Marin County. These practices support a strong and resilient inner game so that he can lead himself, his family and his team well. Bryan has spent over 20 years at iconic Silicon Valley companies like Salesforce.org, LinkedIn, Box and Zillow. He has helped them weave positive social and environmental impact and nonprofit networks into their core company operating models. He is a proven social intrapreneur, a builder that thrives at the intersection of corporate and nonprofit mission fulfillment, maximizing social, environmental, and economic returns for all.
In this interview, Bryan speaks to his early beginnings salesforce.org, and why social impact is important to him. We also speak about his feelings regarding the recent six UN Climate report. And he talks about the intersectionality of social impact commercial scale and climate strategy to reduce carbon so that business operations can be more responsible. Even with small and private companies like Snyk, who really care. Bryan gives recommendations to leaders in businesses who want to align with the ESGs now, what they should be thinking about in the short term and the long view so that they can make significant changes and incentive structures and systems that align with more social and environmental responsibility. Bryan is a person that embodies conscious and inclusive leadership. And he has been an important ally in my life in this past year. I am so excited to hear how this interview impacts you, and your leadership, business and life. Thanks for tuning in.
Carley Hauck 03:41
Hello, Bryan. Thanks for joining the SHINE podcast.
Bryan Breckenridge 03:45
It is my pleasure. Great to see you.
Carley Hauck 04:00
So one of the first questions that I asked folks that join the podcast is what does conscious and inclusive leadership mean to you? Why is that important?
Bryan Breckenridge 04:05
I think that it’s important because if you’re doing the work that is authentically destined to you or if you know that you’re leaning your full being into what you do, then you certainly grow the most from it. And you’re most impacted personally and then you impact others the most. And then the other things like flexibility and autonomy and impact and an earnings and recognition and the other things that come along with doing the work you know you’re meant to do, do come along as the result of being conscious or being mindful in the way that you kind of aim your career and the way that you work with people within that career and the way that you lead in that career.
Again, you’re authentic or you’re kind of remaining rooted in what you know is true for you is the vital first building block of that. Then, in the interrelationship pieces, or the emotional or psychological or relationship or pieces of leadership or collaborating, if you’re showing up as your fullest true self, then those around you feel permission to do the same, and you get the furthest in what you’re collaborating on. So I think consciousness brings you back to receptivity to your truth. And then if you’re if your action agenda or what you’re actually doing is based from that space, then not only do you show up, able to do what you’re meant to do more, and be more successful with it, but also welcome other people into that space, in that same way, then you get further with them as well.
So that’s just my thought about the conscious part is that you do what you know you’re meant to do. And you can feel that you can’t fake that, you have to feel that. And that’s what happens for me in this. And then when I lead, it’s like, give others the benefit of bringing their authentic truth and self to things and then collaborating from that space, and then your truth and their truth mingle instead of these other, you don’t have to do the rest of the math. It’s just you know, your people are showing up and being truthful about what they’re, what they’re doing. And then, of course, you can add the skill sets and, and the parameters and the frameworks on top of that, but you have to start there.
Carley Hauck 06:18
Wonderful, thank you. Yeah, I refer to that part in my book, the inner game of authenticity, which I know you’ve read. And so yeah, I hear you saying it’s really aligning with my truth. And then having my actions correspond with that, and then inviting that from others. No doubt about that. We’re able to bring our whole sometimes messy, sometimes best selves, right?
Bryan Breckenridge 06:45
Permitting it, allowing it, inspiring it like that’s absolutely right. And those bumpy days, those hard days are maybe the best days sometimes because then you start with wanting to be rooted in the truth of what you’re doing together or individually and then you can bring each other back to that line and bring on another back to that concept. My team always sees the messy sides of me as well as the polished sides. And the organized sides and the formulaic sides and also the messy, creative side. So like both hemispheres of the brain and all different sides of my personality, but I think that always helps in the end.
Carley Hauck 07:25
Wonderful. Yeah, well, tell me a little bit about your trajectory, and why social impact matters to you.
Bryan Breckenridge 07:33
You know, I grew up in a tiny town in the Midwest in Kansas, and I would do service projects as a kid and jump out of the back of pickup trucks to recycle paper around the town with my friends in the scouting organization I was a part of and it always just felt amazing. Even though it was hard, sometimes on a weekend morning to be out doing that I just for some reason, I just knew that the feeling of doing it was so exciting. And riding in the truck with no, you know, seatbelt or anything, as I’m sure exciting to do in an open in an open truck. I mean, it was a crazy time for sure, back then in the 70s and 80s. But I just felt good about it.
And when I went to college, I was among other members of a Greek organization. And I was the philanthropy chairman of the House that I was in. And so it gave me this chance to like be the person that was creating social impact among, you know, like parties and sporting events and all the things that we were doing during college. So it was an interesting thing that I think was a kind of a precursor to what I ended up doing in my career, which was starting a business and volunteering in companies that appreciated that way of leading, but then it was like, wait, I can actually do the work that I really enjoy. Not only at the company I’m at but I can actually lead those aspects of a business plan and the business strategy as well, which are social and environmental programs.
So it all just kind of comes from, again, that original feeling that just felt right. And it’s just like the world keeps moving me toward that. So kind of creating these unlikely marriages are these unlikely bedfellows per se, of, of you know, like philanthropy and an environmental programming with corporate business plans is again it’s back in the day. It wasn’t quite unique. They were in two very different parts of the school campus. But now they’re merging, thankfully, after all this time.
Carley Hauck 09:22
Wonderful. And you had a start with Salesforce correct in their foundation?
Bryan Breckenridge 09:32
Yeah, I started out on the business side of the field sales territory. Just when I came back from a trip in India, I was in India for two months, all volunteering internationally and further exploring some of the Buddhist traditions and Eastern philosophies that my brother had introduced me to. He studied those at Princeton when we were both in our undergrad so when I graduated, I came out of it with a meditation practice and an awareness of what was happening in the eastern part of the world and then went to visit there and volunteer out in the martial Pradesh. In the rural parts of Northeast India, just below the foothills of the Himalayas, and went to Dharamsala and a number of other places.
But that really made a big impression on me when I came back, I started at Salesforce and was able to really talk a lot about that because the culture at Salesforce really championed and supported volunteerism, and, and service and so on. So it’s just really nice to come back and get to celebrate it and not have to hide that I had just spent two months doing that. And it felt like those early days on these boy scouting trips, like picking up those papers, I was like, wait, this feels good. And I don’t speak Hindi. But I was embraced by these small villages and communities and worked in the schools and community centers of those talents for a couple of months. I knew I had to keep doing that.
So then when I started at Salesforce in sales, I immediately set on a beanbag my very first day and became a steering committee member of the Salesforce Foundation and helped shape what it would become that those kinds of those two trajectories emerged together the Salesforce Foundation, contribution and strategy help and my day job was selling. But then I did a lot of volunteering, they all started to come together. And I joined the foundation part after about seven years there and different local and global jobs, and brought that business side structure and network to the foundation and helped them with their plans. After seven years, yeah, and just stayed in that kind of area since then.
Carley Hauck 11:20
What were you able to see in those seven years? Salesforce happens to be one of the companies and Marc Benioff is one of the leaders that I highlight in the book as one of the conscious and inclusive leaders that are really aligned with being a force for good in the world.
Bryan Breckenridge 11:38
Yeah, just to see us from the very beginning, holding Mark accountable to a lot of what we knew, came very naturally to him growing up and in his life. It also, I mean, this was when the company was, you know, enough people to sit in a small conference room. That was all of us all the employees as I was probably there less than 100 or somewhere thereabouts employees. And so it was always me in the back of the room, among others. There were a few employees for the Salesforce foundation already that were kind of growing up alongside the company.
But I would always before I could even get my hand in the air Mark would say like, okay, Bryan, I know you’re gonna ask me a question about the Salesforce Foundation. And in fact, we are making some grants this quarter or we are going to hire two more people. Okay, enough questions about that? What other questions do people have? I was a squeaky wheel for the Salesforce foundation back when it was almost more of a dinner party than a company at the very beginning. So that was pretty cool.
And we were able to do, you know, a lot of yoga with Mark just in conference rooms on a weekly basis. And then he and I had always kind of broken out and talked about different breathing exercises and, and different things that were keeping us grounded personally and all this interesting stuff. So it was a very intimate time in the beginning, but it certainly has become a huge huge conglomerate now. But yeah, it keeps a lot of that purity in its guts as well.
Carley Hauck 12:53
Lovely. I love just hearing that that was your kind of origin.
Bryan Breckenridge 12:58
Yeah. Yeah, it was really neat to be texting with with Marc Benioff back before he was kind of Marc Benioff, if you will, about about, you know, our meditation tendencies and and what we wanted to see business turn into together and, but it was kind of neat too, because when he wrote his first book, Compassionate Capitalism, I’m quoted all through that and Karen Southwick wrote it rest in peace poor gal died of cancer honest, but in the middle of her next work, which was about the healthcare system, and how hard it is to navigate the head for that for people that are sick, and she was keeping from us that she actually had cancer and she was terminal. But when we lost her it was it was kind of sad, but just the fact that I was a part of projects like that was really, really, I think some part of my career’s legacy is just to have kind of made some of these dreams possible for for some of the, I guess the early concepts of what a company could start to do, like the salesforce.org, Salesforce foundation work is, is something I’ll never forget. And it’s definitely neat that I got to weigh in on some of the early you know, ideation and some of the early proof points that it was going to be something special.
Carley Hauck 14:00
And definitely I can see has impacted you in the roles and the way that you show up with companies, even your even your current role.
Bryan Breckenridge 14:09
It just helps me kind of write my own job description when I’ve seen the possible and I’ve helped initiate the possible so then you go to a new group who’s eager to learn about the possible but they haven’t felt it yet. They haven’t seen it work yet. And then you, you get in there and for me, now, I’ve just done this enough at enough companies that within 90 days, they can see like 20 ways that this stuff is really powerful, and it becomes exciting.
They can’t say no, and it starts getting written into the business plan and the reporting and the marketing and culture and everything else. So kind of fun, but again, it’s just that awareness of having been there. Like once you’ve really seen it right? Once you’ve really felt the sunset. It’s just like, you know, you love what, you just you’ve been there, you’ve tasted it, you’ve seen it. And that’s the way I am with corporate social impact. I’m very bullishly optimistic that it can be a big force for change. You just have to be in the rhythms of the business and not just in the rhythms of the philanthropy. You know, aspects of the entity To you, and if you can do that you can create some scalable change in the world.
Carley Hauck 15:04
So tell me more. Tell me, tell me more about that aspect that you just brought in, where it’s very much integrated in with the C suite. You know, it’s a high priority, how are you able to lead the vision and strategy for that in your current role as head of social impact at Snyk?
Bryan Breckenridge 15:24
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s ever interesting, because I would say that in the day, like five years ago, eight years ago, 10 years ago, we would people would do work, that is intersectional, like me between impact and, and commercial scale, would would quickly hire people to mobilize the employees to volunteer, and that would be the proof point that it’s like, oh, okay, this, the culture does appreciate this. And it’s great that this is organized and trackable and, and can then create some real goodwill for us and some good leadership momentum for people.
But I find now that if, if you’re in a business that’s eager to do some of this work, and you’re in there for a few months, instead of the first area of emphasis being, you know, really employee volunteering is that proof point, you’re wondering whether or not you can get impact into the OKRs? You know, where the two moms are the strategic plan of the company quickly, and the planning cycles, right?
So you really want to find out quickly if there’s a receptivity to including the work you do, and the monthly and quarterly reporting for the business, like out of the gate, and that’s, it’s tougher, it’s a bigger lift. But I think it’s early. A lot of us that do the work that I do would again, think Oh, great, can we solidify, you know, $50,000 in budget and set up a volunteering program and really hope that that then catches on from here, it’s less about that now. And it’s more about now being an operating model, instead of a project or an operating model, instead of a department or an operating model, even instead of a program. That’s, that’s across the company, it’s actually an operating model, it actually needs to be really baked in.
And of course, that means one of the top five or six or seven objectives of the company needs to have impact at its core. And then every activity and process and product and strategy can link up to that. I could go on but it’s neat that we’re past proof points now. And now we’re in this quid pro quo for people like me who enter business and say, Okay, listen, like, is this something that can be a part of the core operating model? And have every bit of, you know, the company’s intellectual, technical and financial and cultural sort of heft behind?
And if the answer is yes, then you keep doing it and you make magic. If not, then you, you create a really great program that’s good for those that get involved in the occasional blog post. But you don’t, you don’t change the world, you don’t make the impact that you need to, for, for, for the social and environmental things that you’re solving for, but also for the business, because there’s a lot of proof that’s that shows companies that are traded on the on the exchanges outperform those if they’re aligned with ESG, over those that don’t between 15 and 20%.
So you do see the financial return, you know, the business or fiscal return is right there. It’s just as the other stakeholders when they’re included at the table and how you do it is strategic, scalable, and differentiated. A bunch of recent Harvard Business School stuff about it, too, it has to be differentiated, you can’t just check the box and, and hang a volunteering program out there. If it’s not even in your cultural nature to do it, it doesn’t help at all, it actually hurts.
But if the company authentically wants to go make a difference as part of its business, and it has things that do themselves bring material value to the environment, or to communities then or nonprofits or whatever you decide to focus on with your theory of change, but but it can make a difference in business to make no mistake every time Snyk impact gets exposed to parts of this neat company people get energized, make no mistake.
Carley Hauck 18:45
Well, I want to take it in a little bit of a different place that relates to your role. So before we restarted the recording of the call, we were talking about the present state that currently where you’re living in Marin County, you have smoke in the air.
Bryan Breckenridge 19:07
And a red sun sitting in the sky. Sticks in ashes on the trunk of or on the hood and trunk of my car. I’m looking at it now, the smell of a campsite, a faint campsite smell in the air. Sacramento had 50,000 acres burning yesterday. There’s a small fire right at the 101 highway four miles from our house on Forest Hill yesterday that they had to fly over and put out, it stopped traffic on the one on one. I mean, this is a tinderbox in Red County, even just two miles from the coast. Right?
Carley Hauck 19:32
Yeah. Right. And it’s one of my favorite places in the world. It’s incredibly beautiful, all the open space, but it is also as you said, like a fire hazard because of all of the incredible nature there and I lived in the Bay Area for a very long time and you know, saw it getting worse and worse and worse. And this seems to be from my recollection. It’s like the sixth Here, where there have just been major fires for prolonged periods of time, and they keep getting earlier.
I remember the first one really starting in October, then it’s like September, August. Now, you know, it just keeps coming a little earlier, these mega fires are lasting longer. And this relates to the UN sixth climate report that came out the week of august 9. You know, speaking very loudly, we have some big problems here. Our world is on fire, houses on fire, and systems and structures have to shift now.
Yeah, and so I, I know, I have had a lot of thoughts and feelings about that. And it was one of the real motivations for me and spending four years to write my book, to try to be a light for what is possible, we can’t see it, you know, kind of like what you were saying, but how is that weighing on you? What’s the impact of that report being that you’re a father, you’ve got kiddos, you clearly care about this space?
Bryan Breckenridge 21:04
Yeah, it’s, it’s significant. And I didn’t, I didn’t know I took some meteorology classes and a little bit of science and undergrad, I didn’t specialize in the areas that had me reading the scientific journals about, about expansion of carbon and, and sea temperature rise and so on, like, I wasn’t steeped in the in the verbiage or the the School of that. But in in adopting, in my role at Zillow leading impact, we we did lean in to some of the early climate decisions or whether or not to go out audit and other other aspects of that, and that that had me interacting with the consulting community that serves the corporate structure on audit and remove and, and, and more and more on offset or, or invest in reduce or extract carbon cycles, and then certainly the marketing and other things that that need to be disclosed in, in kind of the current environment.
So so this is to say that I started to take on the responsibility of the climate aspect of the corporate entity more in my in my previous role here at Snyk, where we’re a carbon neutral company from our business behaviors and in 2019, meaning we invested in some offsets in an audit last year that covered the year before as business getting us carbon neutral. Now, looking back on a year where there wasn’t as much travel, we still know that we’ve got some offsetting to do.
But now we’re looking at how do we systematize the notion of audit within the strategy to bend and reduce what might just be spin, but also how’s SPM a more responsible company, even as a small six or seven or 800% company that we are around the world? Already progressively thinking about it? How do we automate the audit? How do we get the data in a good place even as a privately held company that’s not yet required? This is very voluntary, per se. Because we have 20 or 30 employees passionate about it, even some of our investors and board members are passionate about it. You can even hear as I’m conscious of my voice speeding up in my excitement level increasing it’s, it’s, it’s it’s an urgency that I’ve not yet felt. But it’s also a hope, because I think for the first time, I’m seeing even the climate discussion, not just living in this small little closet of one of the rooms of the company, metaphorically speaking.
You know, maybe the facilities team who’s looking after the energy bills has been asked to keep better track of those. Now I’m seeing the CEO and the founder speak to this and care about it. I’m seeing it woven into the foundation of the home, the floorboards of each of the rooms, meaning the departments, the processes, even the auditors and the compliance teams.
So I’m, I’m really going on and on here and being verbose. But Zillow showed me this was something we had to care about. And mind you, they had 300 million people coming to their websites that have homes or are trying to find homes. So I knew Zillow needed to step up their game in this space, because they could educate owners of the built environment per se, but a could do to keep us from burning up within a couple of decades.
But now though, I’m just in a small sort of tech company, that’s fast growth. We do affect 28 million developers, if we get this business plan right, already have hundreds of millions, or excuse me, hundreds of 1000s of developers using our technology.
Carley Hauck 24:20
And so I think to even bring the edge of education out and show the modeling of what you can do so you can influence so many other companies change.
Bryan Breckenridge 24:24
We can’t just sit around and be scared. We have to take action. And I do think that the corporate structure is a good way to do that. And I am feeling momentum in my own role. So I know that’s true of hundreds of my peers that do this work and other companies.
Carley Hauck 24:39
Thank you for listening. We are at the Midway mark of this powerful interview and I’d like to take a minute or two with you just to bring our attention inward towards our body. Breathing in, breathing out, bringing our shoulders up and down. Maybe doing a little shake, a wiggle standing up.
And I’d love to share with you. My passion for learning and leadership development, and why hiring for skills versus training internally is going to be paramount to the future of business. Learning and Development is going to continue to play a pivotal role in building a future fit workforce ready to respond to what’s next. And as we’ve learned in this last year and a half, we don’t really know what’s coming, the uncertainty and complexity and ambiguity is going to continue.
And it feels like the future of work will require digital skills, soft skills and transferable skills. And instead of hiring for those skills outside of the company, it feels important that we train and build internally so that we don’t have this lack of engagement. And team members and leaders looking to go elsewhere. They want to stay because they know that coaching and mentorship and Learning and Leadership Development will be available right where they are.
I have served mission driven leaders and businesses in the last 10 years including LinkedIn, Pixar, Clifbar and company, Intuit, Bank of the West, high growth startups, and many more companies in their learning, leadership development, and culture. The trainings and the skills that I have focused on emphasize the whole person. And they focus more concretely on the inner game, or otherwise known as some of these power skills, or what some may say, the soft skills.
But these skills have had everything to do with being a human centered leader and workplace. And this is really, what we’re seeing is needed. Now. These are leadership competencies, including self awareness, growth, mindset, effective communication, empathy, resilience, change management, agility, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence. Organizations that prioritize having a workforce with finely tuned power skills.
And what I talk about in my latest book, Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work and in the World we’ll be in a much better position to survive and thrive in the next normal. If you’re interested in learning more about how to upskill your workforce and leaders for the remote hybrid model of work, and that unconscious and inclusive ways of leading and learning, I would love to support you. And you can set up a free consultation with me, the links are in the show notes. Okay, back to the interview with Bryan.
Carley Hauck 28:22
This is taking it to a more spiritual piece. But one of the things that I think was so interesting about the fires, and of course, they’re affecting the entire world. But there was such an intensity that they’ve happened in the Bay Area and in the North Bay, where Silicon Valley is where there is so much influence on so many of the industries of the world to make change.
And I almost feel like there was a real reason for that to keep putting pressure to keep waking people up. But we cannot be asleep to this. Yeah, and, you know, sharing with you before the call, but um, I’ve been an adjunct faculty at Stanford for eight years. And within my first semester, there was this one day event called Connect the Dots. And it brought in some of the most well known climate scientists together and they were sharing with us the science at that time. That said, we had 10 years. And so you know, we’re right on track.
But it’s such a big thing to digest to take into account that I think a lot of people numb out, or they go back to their consumption patterns, which is why we’re in the problem that we’re in. And so I, I feel the gravity of the next couple years, like, yeah, we have to get emissions down by 50% in the next decade. But we have to make those changes right now. Because patterns take a while to change. Yeah.
So, you know, being that you’re a lot more knowledgeable about esds and how to make these shifts and structures. What would you advise companies that want to make a commitment to social impact to social and environmental responsibility to do now? Maybe there’s a couple steps. And then I’d even love to hear like, what do you think is most important one to two years from now knowing that we need to make really important decisions now, but we also need to look at the long view. And I know I’m asking you some because a lot.
Bryank Breckenridge 30:27
It’s a lot and I certainly didn’t, like build a bunch of preparation for the answer I wish that I could, but just from the heart, I think that entrepreneurs, meaning, you know, the the leaders of millions of companies and and other types of organizations, need to look at the the main incentive structures that they’re following the operating structures, meaning their business models and plans. And then also the funders, the regulators, and the operators, like if you really think about these, these big tools of incentive and behavior, somebody helps you fund a business, somebody does a business, right, and then somebody regulates it and creates laws.
So I think the biggest picture issue is kind of like reinventing a lot of these incentive structures. I know, it’s really heavy to talk like that. But you know, more and more investors are starting to get carbon audits of their portfolios. So they know of all the companies they own, or that they have money in, which of them are the biggest polluters, which ones are responsible, and which ones aren’t. And they’re able to, to move some serious influence into those entities.
So if the flow of capital influences changes the regulatory environment, like the SEC, the chairman of the SEC, just announced in the last few weeks that even private companies may have to disclose their carbon portfolio by the end of the year. And that you can go.
Carley Hauck 31:57
I love that you can go quickly.
Bryan Breckenridge 32:00
So it’s gonna become regulatory before we know it is attractive, your interior optional, the transparency of it exactly. And, I mean, I think it only cost us $6,000 last year to look at the year before from a carbon audit perspective, and look at the scope, maybe one, or maybe one, two, and three, but lightly at minimum scope, one, and a little bit of two emissions. So not the entire value chain, we weren’t out doing customer interviews to find out how many hours they’re on their phone using Snyk technology, and like mapping it all the way down to the last.
But nonetheless, you for a very small amount can audit what your current footprint is based on revenue, employee size, number of buildings, how much travel you spend, and whatever, like you can get there fast. And as that’s required, you’re going to see that get easier. There’s lots of startups- Watershed Climate comes to mind. They’re they’re offering, the tech tooling, the consulting, and the sort of practices that you’d need to measure, to reduce, to offset and to kind of disclose and communicate what you’re doing. If you wanted to implement a climate program your companies small, medium, or large.
Carley Hauck 33:03
I’m familiar with them, we’ll drop a link in the show notes.
Bryan Breckenridge 33:05
Great, I love what Taylor is working on. I’m a big fan of their work. But that’s all to say, if the SEC says you have to, we need people to help us get there quicker. And they’re kind of one of a lot of organizations that are making it easier for people to not have an excuse. So again, regulators and the funders, but then the operators that have the business plans have to include responsibility, or whatever you choose to call it, impact whatever outcomes for financial stakeholders and the earth and people and communities into the core of the business plan. It can’t be a hobby, it has to be the main the main, it has to be at the table, the main table, it can be at the kids table in the other room.
Carley Hauck 33:45
Great, thank you for sharing that. I also feel that you know, as we’re navigating this new strain of the Delta variant and it’s, you know, pushing back offices opening, I see that as a blessing because as climate change continues to be here, it’s not going away until we can really shift things to stabilize. We’re going to have to be more remote.
Bryan Breckenridge 34:13
And there have absolutely been days when the skies were dark orange here last year, and I know you knew it, because we met about that time or somewhere abouts. There’s no way I was going to get my car and go to the office that day. I mean, the skies were dark, dark, like jack o’ lantern orange at 11am. I mean, it was a complete horror film outside because of all the fires that were there. It was like a smoke dome over the top of the entire western part of Central Northern California.
And that was a work from home moment like that that was affecting, I would imagine that affected millions of commuters that day alone, just in the same way that COVID is affected people’s patterns and where they work. The climate environment. Same thing, there’s no way you’re going to go into a city if you’re in the AQI, whatever it is, the air quality index is so so dangerous that you can’t even take an inhale on your way into your office.
Carley Hauck 35:00
I was in Bend Oregon. As you know, for several weeks on Alastair, yeah. And just a few days ago, they were 400 AQI but the smoke has shifted, but with the Dixie fire, it’s gonna be back.
Bryan Breckenridge 35:20
There’s my brother’s getting ashes rain on his cars in Denver from the west coast as the as the as the plume travels into the jet stream and drops down like this signal this, this is no longer just a just a passing thing. This is every year recently, right?
Carley Hauck 35:34
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, what I think is really interesting, as we look at the impact that climate change will have on all of us worldwide, it’s so much bigger than COVID. So my desire is that climate change will take the news versus COVID, you know, because that I think, has to be more front and center.
Bryan Breckenridge 35:57
And so this was the hottest July in the history of recorded science, 142 years, or whatever the number is. And you can bet everybody in those European floods, or everybody in these fires we’re experiencing here knows this stuff is real. And so you know, beyond that, it’s, again, how do you then take action, and I’m not trying to be overly resilient, I feel the fear, I feel the pain I’m not, I’m not just blocking it out. But I know that if you just sat and got worried and didn’t take action, then we will get rolled over by it. So at least, at least there’s lots of great minds that are now converting the last naysayers or the last deniers. And now it’s really time to get our homes and houses in order and are our incentives in order.
And every company that I know that has recently gone public, or is about to or will be has been public five or eight years now it does at least have an office that’s advancing these programs. But that still means there’s many millions of companies with their own level of influence and power that need to get their act in gear and get moving. Right.
But at least again, it’s better than it’s better than the built environment in the corporate world, especially the refining and extractive industries and so on. Like that is the biggest culprit. I think we all know that. And so those are the areas where you just kind of look at the landscape of what can you change, quickest? And what will have the biggest impact. And I just hope that we as a civilization prioritize correctly. I mean, I’m trying to be a symbol of that at one company, but there’s millions of companies. So it’s, it’s hard.
Carley Hauck 37:28
There are. And you had mentioned in references before that when companies are more aligned with social and environmental responsibility, they perform better, right, they, they have more profit. And that’s been shown by the research again, and again, again, but also the younger population, the Gen Z-ers, the millennials, and I posted this on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, but it’s also research that was tied in my book, climate is like the number one concern that they have. And they will take a pay cut, to work for a mission driven company that’s really trying to make a positive impact in the world, because they know this is the future that they’re inheriting. And they want to create a sustainable, flourishing future just just like we all do.
Bryan Breckenridge 38:17
So it’s truly amazing. Snyk as has its share of younger or earlier, tenured folks, and they are incredibly passionate about the work that I’ve begun in this room’s most recent opportunity professionally. I did a survey of about 600 of our employees. And this was a 12 minute to take survey, it had 30 questions with 90 total responses required with nested questions. I left and I know this is audio only as you can see how the gun is filing right now. But I literally asked 600 people to take a 12 minute survey, which is unheard of in tech, by the way. I mean, if it’s two questions, it’s too long. And 325 of my colleagues at Snyk answered that survey.
Carley Hauck 38:54
Amazing. Like I’m a researcher.
Bryan Breckenridge 39:04
So I have the results. I’d like to share with you the methodology because a survey is terrible. But the executive team wrote it with me, it wasn’t just my own thing. And we put it out there and got 325 answers, and it will guide our decisions and our budgets and how we build this program, you know, for years to come.
Carley Hauck 39:16
Amazing. You know, Bryan, I also know that you feel really passionate about allyship and you know, diversity, inclusion and belonging. And I know that’s a core commitment at Snyk as well. But when I think again about the climate crisis, and DEI, like they’re so interrelated, right? The more we can show up and invite all perspectives, all voices, all worldviews and experiences. We’re going to be able to collaborate and talk openly about these challenges and these complexities that we actually all have to solve together. Right?
Bryan Breckenridge 39:51
Yeah, it’s really true, I think the mechanics of inclusion and inclusivity and equity and belonging and creating diversity faces where it doesn’t exist where you see a lot of homogeneity is hard. But the same way that the climate discussion though it shouldn’t be so hard. And not everybody has ash on their hoods. So it’s not as real to everyone.
But for people that have been othered, and people who’ve been shut out, and people who haven’t been able to unfold their full self and their professional or social environment, the pain is real, and the pain is acute, and the pain is visible, and there’s no, there’s no, there’s no choice for you know, for those folks, but to have a dialogue, even if it’s uncomfortable to try to make progress through that, or then or, or you just have to give up. And the same thing applies to climate.
Not everybody feels that not everybody’s in northern Cal, or the pathway of the recent flooding or fire-nados, or all the other things that are hitting the earth, tsunamis, earthquakes, whatever. And so it’s, it’s helping the people that aren’t super well versed or maybe don’t feel it everyday, that still have to have that, you know, that intense sort of allyship perspective, or that felt empathy or that that even like learning through awkwardness and humbleness, that will will make this change, especially those where it’s voluntary, or those that carry privilege and could just stay behind the wall and not, not walk among the people that that are that are, you know, underrepresented or disadvantaged, which is it’s a shame.
But fortunately, people are reaching across the aisle and all these things. But we have to be the drumbeat of giving permission and inspiring people to do it.
I mean, that’s definitely tied in very closely to Snyk impact. On the social side, we’ve talked about the environment. The social is make our organization more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and fostering belonging, but also do that with the software development industry, and the app security industry. And that’s a bullishly, large, audacious aspiration revision, but that is where we’re headed with Snyk impact. We want the developer community to be inclusive and diverse and are already proving that we can start to make steps there that I think other companies will start to follow.
Carley Hauck 41:57
Yeah, I mean, you know, as we’ve seen, historically, tech companies have a much higher, you know, dominance of male to female and other, you know, races and whatnot. And I do believe that that’s starting to change, but it requires a lot of, you know, invitations, and advocacy and sponsorship.
Bryan Breckenridge 42:20
So another area that won’t be voluntary for either forever either, not to say that there’ll be a required commitment for gender and racial mix among standard jobs, tech jobs, senior jobs, Junior jobs, I mean, all of those kind of vectors that, that SAS, B and GSI, and G, RI and gd. All the others are out there, right, the UNDP SDG impact framework. I mean, there’s a bunch of frameworks, right, but a lot of acronyms, yeah, a lot of acronyms.
But most of those are saying like, hey, it’d be great if you did this, because it’s going to be good for your business and good for your culture and good for your people. But it’s still voluntary, you know, so it’ll be interesting as you start to see the carrot and the stick up here. They’re in with the climate and see what behavior change comes from that. I don’t know, I’m still optimistic.
Carley Hauck 43:08
Great. Well, I can talk to you all day. talk again, soon. We’re just recording this one. So this is fun. But I want to actually leave you with two more questions as we wrap up. And, you know, we’re talking a lot about how to deal with uncertainty, ambiguity, volatility. And I know that you have a practice and various practices that keep you resilient, and, you know, leaving from your authentic truth and caring deeply. And I’m wondering what those are that you could share with people and maybe like, what has even been the rocks during this very turbulent time of the pandemic?
Bryan Breckenridge 43:55
Love to love to it, it helps to marry an executive life coach that’s successful and knows her stuff, because you just sit and listen to what she does all day. And then you, you heal. And that’s, that’s my wife, Amanda Breckenridge, next door here. And so that, that I say in jest, but I also mean, it’s like, it’s great to be in a partnership where you can be your full self and you can be safe.
That’s all good. Yeah, that aside, it is not that aside that that end, I do think there are practices that help you, you make it through these turbulent times. For me, I typically put a little black dot on my left thumbnail, as weird as that may sound but but when I was traveling in India back in 2001, my thumbnails were painted black on that trip to India, and anytime I really want to come back to like the purity of my intent. You know, I just see that thumbnail and I’m like, Oh, yeah, that was 2001. I was in India, in complete uncertainty and complete ambiguity and no language overlap. And we’re surviving in a village For my first time outside of North America ever, and so, it was a reminder that as long as you really do bring, like honesty and truth into the universe, the universe can take care of you. And so that little that little mark on my thumbnail reminds me to come back to my authentic self.
But I also think that journaling has been my true superpower. And I journal every day, almost without fail. And I journal in the areas of my, my soul, or my practice, or my, my kind of the, the intangible pieces, right, like the mind, like almost the values of how I’m living when I’m checking in, and then I and then I, secondly, check in on my, my social relationships. And then third, I check in on my capacity, meaning my, my mental, physical and spiritual health and capacity to be in my life. And then last, I think about impact and action and my plan to execute on that. So rooted in values, supported by family and my social, spiritual friends life, my tribe, per se, capacity to be my best self each day healthy and so on and balanced and centered, that then absolutely in in action, and in an intense way, also.
So those are the areas I check in, in my journal I did. I posted about that on my LinkedIn profile A while back and tended, if you want to see that, that journaling, kind of built an exercise in there that I do every day.
Carley Hauck 46:28
So lovely. Well, I know you have a real love of the outdoors in nature, which is part of the reason that you live in Mount Vernon County. And I would imagine that when the weather’s like this right now, that’s challenging because that’s, that’s a part of your practice.
Bryan Breckenridge 46:44
I’ll get out there and fight AQI until it’s way up. Even if it slows me down for a few days after a big trail runner a big hike. But yeah, nature is is absolutely healing their their bill Plotkin books, you know, soulcraft, and so on sitting all around this house, and they, and we’re glad they’re here, because I do think nature informs us anytime we get off track, you just tune into nature, and you’ll come back.
Carley Hauck 47:06
Yeah, I agree. It can be a real refuge. Well, thank you. That’s really lovely to hear. And it’s been fun. I guess, I guess the last question that I would ask you is what is giving you hope right now, we’ve talked about some, some difficult things, but what I hear in you is you’re not bypassing it, you’re feeling it, you’re journaling about it, you’re trying to figure out how can I be part of the change? How can I act with inspiration, with heart? So what is giving you hope?
Bryan Breckenridge 47:37
I think that that anytime I get super worried about the future, or get worried about what we’re doing, you know, as an economy as capitalism as as a civilization on a planet that’s heating up, I do, I do think about the concerns I have for my kiddos, which are four and 15. But I also see in them, just like so much hope, and so much, so much sort of like of all things action my daughter does work with with Surfrider my, my end is really taking to science and her high school life. alongside her sports my little boy is is just like, so eager to be in his garden in the backyard and, and just like learning about flavors and and learning about like by nature and and, and, and just feeling all of that.
So I have so much hope that they’re going to sort of remain hopeful and remain sort of active and not not let this thing steamroll them. Same for my generation, of course, but for the kids. Like, as much as I want to make change for them. I just see a lot of hope in them. And I think they’re like you said earlier, they’re super committed, you know, to being better about all of this than we are in Gen X or whatever we are.
Carley Hauck 48:56
Yeah, I I see resiliency and a lot of kids. These days, I don’t have kiddos, I actually really chose to write the book instead of having kids, because my nephew when he was four looked at me and said, Auntie Carley, will you help me save the oceans? There it is. And I thought how am I gonna do that? I think I’m back and see if I can help people wake up. But yes, but you took it on? Yeah. And I see so much care and empathy in him and even in my niece too. You know, it’s like a girly girl but totally gets gritty and is okay to like, fall down and get back up. And it’s, I see that too.
Bryan Breckenridge 49:40
Yeah, I get inspired by the generation and I get inspired by all these entrepreneurs that I meet now that are mobilizing like their brains and their networks for solutions instead of just like, personal gain solutions for the greater good. Yeah, it’s amazing to be in rooms with entrepreneurs with massive influence that are really really making material change in areas that you’d hoped they would.
And they’re not just doing it for, you know, for the press pop, they’re doing it because they know that their power can in fact affect the machine and not just the accessories that hang on the ends of the machine. And that’s when you can change the wiring you can really change the trajectory of Oh, right now is pretty dire.
Carley Hauck 50:23
And going back to what we started with that authenticity piece, that inner game of authenticity, it’s so important that we listen to that and we say yes, and I think that’s one of the things that the younger generations do. They speak up when they don’t like something and that is so needed because silence is complicity.
Bryan Breckenridge 50:45
So it is and even my little tiny crazy four year old I we since he was a little bitty kid have when he’s just like really worked up just said, Hey, baby, what about Ah, and that became his, like, he hears that sound now and you can just see a shoulder drop, you know, you can just see, you can see him drop in, you know, even just like in the middle of like throwing sand and like going crazy is like baby. Ah, it’s just like, I’ve kind of trained him now where you know, no matter how crazy he’s been, he’ll just be like, oh, Dad, you’re right. Ah, ah, we’re doing all the right things to kind of give it some resources.
Carley Hauck 51:15
I love it. Self awareness equals self management.
Bryan Breckenridge 51:24
Resources at four, can’t beat that.
Carley Hauck 51:26
Yeah. Wonderful. Bryan, this was so wonderful to speak with you and hear your thoughts on this. And for folks that aren’t seeing Bryan, Bryan has a light, a light that he emits. And I noticed that the first time we met and Ah, oh. So thank you for being the light.
Bryan Breckenridge 51:50
Yeah, my pleasure.
Carley Hauck 51:52
Is there anything that you’d like to leave our listeners with how they might get in touch with you or anything? I took six months off before Snyk and I built this personal website for the first time ever. And it’s just Bryanbreckenridge.com and and all the people I’m supposed to help in my life are, are sort of, put there and if you’re one of them, let me know. And you can get in touch with me through that website
Carley Hauck 52:20
Lovely. Thanks, Bryan. Thanks for your time. Thank you, Bryan, for your time for your commitment to conscious, inclusive leadership. I loved hearing about the social impact efforts that you and Snyk are dedicated to. If you have questions or want to connect with Bryan, on any of the topics that we spoke about today. Please use the link in the show notes to reach out to him.
If you enjoy this episode, please share it with friends, family or colleagues. We are all in this together. And sharing is caring. If you have questions, comments or topics you would like me to address on the podcast, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Thanks as always for tuning in and being part of this community. It means a lot to me. Until we meet again, be the light and shine the light.