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This SHINE podcast interview is on the transformative power of sabbaticals for purpose and meaning with David Hanrahan. David and I speak about some very relevant topics for the future of conscious leadership and business, including his long and successful journey in people development, his own stand for well being and how his sabbatical last year helped him to come back with more engagement, more purpose, meaning in his work.
The Transformative Power of Sabbaticals
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“It’s just an incredibly fun challenge to unlock people’s potential.” — David Hanrahan
“For me, it was really surprising in terms of how much the sabbatical did re-energize me. It changed me.” — David Hanrahan
“There is a growing call to change up how we think about the workweek, and your schedule, and how long should you work without taking a break?” — David Hanrahan
“A sabbatical fundamentally changed my career trajectory. If I didn’t have this experience, I probably would have been done with the work.” — David Hanrahan
The Imperfect Shownotes
0:01 Carley Hauck
Hi, welcome to the SHINE podcast. My name is Carley Hauck. I’m your host, this is the fifth season of the SHINE podcast. I started the SHINE podcast as a way of doing research for my book on conscious leadership in business. And you will find interviews with scientists, researchers and business leaders on the intersection of conscious inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams and awareness practices. My book debuted in 2021 “Shine: Ignite Your Inner Game of Conscious Leadership” and was voted one of the best books to read in 2022” by Mindful magazine.
I facilitate two episodes a month of the SHINE podcast. And before I tell you about the topic for today, please go over to Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast carrier and hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes.
The focus of this season is on the essentials for wellbeing. And that encompasses the intersection of our personal well being, the collective well being of our workplace, and how that fosters and nurtures the planet’s well being, they are all connected.
I focus on well being this season, because I really want to crack the code and inspire folks to prioritize their individual well being and therefore that will transcend into the collective and the planet’s well being. And I have developed an inner game leadership assessment that I gave out to 100 different leaders last year. And the leadership assessment is based on the framework of the inner game, which is what we’re cultivating on the inside to be conscious leaders, and it shows up on the outside when we cultivate certain qualities. And two of the nine leadership competencies that were lowest from the sample of 100 leaders were psychological and physical well being.
Therefore, that is why we are focusing on well-being and if you’re curious about where your strengths and gaps are around the qualities to become a conscious leader, you can take the assessment and find out your score for free. I recently opened to the assessment tool to the public and the link will be in the show notes. Now on to our episode.
2:50 Carley Hauck
This SHINE podcast interview is on the transformative power of sabbaticals for purpose and meaning with David Hanrahan.
David and I speak about some very relevant topics for the future of conscious leadership and business, including his long and successful journey in people development, all the way to his current role now as Chief People Officer at Flare. David speaks openly about his own stand for well being and how his sabbatical last year helped him to come back with more engagement, more purpose, meaning and he’ll share what he learned and how he’s integrating that into his work life now. We speak about how we can redesign the workplace to prioritize well-being: everything from shorter workweeks, sabbaticals for every role, how to establish healthy boundaries, and then really listening to your people, and then committing to structures and strategies that benefit the whole. And lastly, David shares how he inspires trust. As we know, trust is essential to a thriving company and culture. You won’t want to miss one minute. Thanks for listening.
4:22 Carley Hauck
Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining the SHINE podcast. I am here with a very special person, David Hanrahan. And David is going to be talking with us about so many incredible things that are really relevant to the future of work in our podcast interview today. David, thanks so much for being here.
4:42 David Hanrahan
Carley, thank you for having me.
2:02 Carley Hauck
Well, I want to just kick off our conversation with just sharing a little bit of history. For our listeners, you have worked for some incredible companies, Eventbrite, where you were Chief Human Resource Officer, you worked for Niantic, for Twitter, which was pre-Elon, Zendesk, Electronic Arts, and even Universal Pictures. And now you are at Flare, which I know you’re going to share more about.
But what is really unique about your journey is that you’ve really focused on people development. And I feel curious, why did you pick that? And why does that matter to you?
5:25 David Hanrahan
Yeah, you know, it’s a puzzle, I think of many organizations, particularly tech companies, growth tech companies, there’s kind of an arms race of hiring a lot of people, which for many of them, they’ve kind of gotten themselves, you know, in trouble more recently, and a lot of headlines are not good around having to lay people off.
I think the challenge is not not about hiring a lot of people or how fast can you hire them? It’s whoever you hire, how do you unlock their potential, you bring it, you bring people into the organization, we get excited about them, we assess them, this is the best engineer to do this one thing, this the best leader to do that one thing, and then they come in.
And oftentimes organizations get in their own way of the potential of the people that they’ve hired. And there are these hidden barriers, these hidden stumbling blocks that basically make organizations fail at seizing the potential or unlocking the potential of the people that they’ve hired. And it’s incredibly tricky. It’s one way I think about it is typical engagement curve for people who come in, and engagement just, you know, they’re sort of their sentiment of whether they’re motivated, they want to stay they they’re proud to work there. It goes up in the first six months, and then between six months to around three years, it just goes down. And then something interesting happens around three years where it starts to bend back upwards. But those first you know, kind of few years, you’re basically losing people are losing their mojo, right. And so when your engagement is low, or it goes down, you’re basically giving less, you’re giving less your discretionary effort, you know, your desire to solve problems outside of your day to day scope, kind of erodes.
And so why does it happen? How can we bend that curve? I think this is just an incredibly fun challenge to unlock people’s potential. And these companies that you mentioned there one connective sort of thread for me joining those companies is that someone, someone there at the top, oftentimes the CEO, also was passionate about that, and we wouldn’t be with you know, we would kind of sort of riff on that in the interview around this just being the challenge for us is we need to hire people. We need to hire the best, but then unlock their potential in order to really achieve our stated mission or strategy or what have you. So I just think of it as an incredibly fun puzzle.
7:51 Carley Hauck
Thank you. Yeah, I mean, I’ve focused my whole career on people development and serving people to be their best as well. So I’m with you. And I find human beings fascinating, right? There’s just so many different parts and complexities. And I love that you used unlock, because again, like how do we really allow people to be their best, you know, at work, at home, and therefore, like, then companies can really be best for the world. And I feel like that’s the responsibility and the opportunity right now. So thank you so much for sharing all of that.
Well, you know, shortly after you and I met last year, you shared with me that you took a sabbatical. And I knew that I needed a sabbatical. So I am just coming off the heels of mine. And I would love it if you might share a little bit about that.
But before I asked you that question, I’m keeping everybody kind of at the edge of their seats, knowing that’s coming. You know, I wanted to just share some research around wellbeing and burnout. And I just feel like that is such, so much top of mind and such a top priority for people leaders. Because as you were talking about engagement, it’s so hard to increase engagement when people are just on empty, right.
And so, you know, I think that’s just been rising since the pandemic. And therefore, we’re seeing things that were always under the surface, and they’re now showing up stronger and louder, such as, you know, systemic racism and mental health, lack of physical well being, all of these things. And part of the book that I wrote, which came out last year, I really emphasized well being and it’s a very important leadership competency, because I feel like if we aren’t focusing on the well being of ourselves, how do we focus on the collective well being of our people?
And I wanted to just share some really amazing studies that I became aware of in the last week, and I thought that could be something you could respond to, but could then also segue into your own reason for sabbatical. How does that sound?
10:15 David Hanrahan
That sounds great.
10:17 Carley Hauck
Okay. So this statistic came from Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends study in 2020. And it found that even though 80% of executives said wellbeing was their top priority, 90% of workers felt like their life was getting worse. When I read that my heart just sank. Another one, researchers from Harvard Business Review found that employees who trust their employer experience 74% less stress, 40% less burnout, and employees with higher workplace belonging take 75% fewer sick days. I mean, that just makes a lot of sense. I come in all the time, and really assess where psychological safety is. And if you don’t have psychological safety, you don’t have trust. So those are really impressive statistics to really understand how we increase trust in our organization.
And then a 2022 Deloitte study found that 57% of employees are considering quitting their job for one that supports their well being. And this was pretty interesting to also read an even higher share of executive sign 70% plan to quit for the same reason. So I mean, all of these statistics are just kind of showing loud and clear that well being has to be a priority as we build the new version of work. What do you think about all of that?
11:45 David Hanrahan
Yeah, these are really eye opening. And I want to try and zoom out as far as I can on these. Sure. I think about some of the timeframes of the study, so they’re just their recent but the past few years, lots of change, lots of changes the past few years. So you know, obviously, pandemic, one, the changing sort of nature of work. I mean, I so if I think back 10 years ago, maybe 10-15 years ago, kind of dating myself, but I remember a day when I was working where I would leave my laptop at the office, where I didn’t yet have a company provisioned phone.
Where there was kind of a line there just seemed to be aligned. If someone called me on the weekend, like ooh, this is urgent, but I can, I can plug in and unplug much more easily.
And so just fast forward just a few years and for many from many you know who find themselves in sort of the knowledge knowledge work or you know, you have a laptop, you’re, you’re in a salaried position, you’re kind of always on, you’re always on it, when you have company has people in different time zones, I get a ping a little ping in the middle of night, I see my phone light up, I have to do more to set boundaries now than it did in the past. I have to turn my phone off, I have to set the notifications, I have to set the you know, sort of do not do not disturb all those things.
But for many people in the pandemic, it kind of caught up. And then really quickly, I remember just getting out of bed, you know, no longer going to the office, I would get out of bed, and I would open on my laptop, you know, and like I just started working. And, and that was a little bit of frog boiling in water where I didn’t know, all these things were adding up as a change of like work was consuming. Yeah. And I think that’s probably indicative for a lot of people where just work suddenly became your identity. This is who I am. I go to, you know, a dinner party. And like, the question is, where do you work? You know, that seems changed for me, in part because of where I moved.
But, you know, I think, well, being a top priority and 90% feel their life is getting worse is a host of things, potentially also societal. So the rise of social media. I think as we’re talking right now, there’s a congressional hearing about banning Tiktok, you know, for various reasons, but I found myself having to get rid of all but one of my social networks, which is like, kept LinkedIn, you know, for job purposes. But, but so, you know, while work has changed a pandemic, and has happened, there’s also been this change in information flow of, you know, the media, I think, knows that the information that causes a reaction from people, which is money, is to get you worried, or to get your anger angered about something, or to just to, you know, have a visceral reaction. So I had to click into the next thing I have to follow along, I have to log into the next day to see what’s going on with this random thing that maybe years ago, I would have seen in a newspaper, but I can put it away. But now it’s fed directly into my mind through this, you know, this phone, that’s always, you know, always with me.
And so there’s a whole host of things going on there. That I think is the world and is life really getting worse, sure, in certain aspects. But I think we’re also, we’re incentivized to believe that as well, which then causes our mental health to suffer. That’s just that’s just one person talking. I’m not a psychologist, but like, that’s, that’s one thing. That’s one perspective I put on it.
And so it is also true at the same time, that for people who trust their employer, like the employer, as an institution, is, is one thing that is like an omnipresent part of my life, right? This is my employer is where I get my paycheck. And I saw a quote from a late comer leader not too long ago, who said, the job of a leader in tough times is to put more truth into the world. And so trust, also, according to someone I just listened to who assess high performing teams said trust and mission orientation, for him and his research were two factors of high performing teams. And so it actually took to trust your employer, to trust your employer. Obviously, this research right here shows that I’m less stressful. So if I can increase that, as an employer, I’m thinking of that as like, that’s my path to helping unlock their potential.
According to this one leader I talked to, trust is a factor of three things, which is competence, benevolence, and integrity, which is really interesting. And then so and then the last thing here is I’m just kind of meandering here to address sort of some random reactions to those three bullets.
The idea that people now are quitting, you know, they’re quitting, in order to find something that is better for their well being, I think also probably represents a little bit of a shift. And potentially not for every age group for not every demographic, potentially a little bit of a shift in terms of what’s important for people now in life.
16:39 Carley Hauck
16:41 David Hanrahan
And, and so that’s even true for executives, as well. But I think there has been that shift as well, which is that money is always going to be important. But I think people are seeing after, you know, a global pandemic and seeing this, this information flow of negative news is that they gotta they gotta make sure they’re living a full life.
17:10 Carley Hauck
If you don’t have your health it doesn’t matter how much money you have, right? If you don’t have time for your loved ones for your family, right?
17:18 David Hanrahan
100% percent. So yeah, this I’m nodding my head furiously as I read those posts, because they all make sense to me.
17:23 Carley Hauck
Yeah. Well, thank you for weighing in on all of that. And, you know, one thing that I remember too, which has been true is that even though folks are working less from the office, and they’re not commuting, they’re working two and a half hours more every week, I don’t think it’s every day. I can’t recall the amount but you know that without healthy boundaries will create more burnout, right?
So as you spoke, how are we creating and designing for our well being? So let’s shift to your sabbatical. Tell me more about that, and what you learned from that and how you’re now implementing, I’m sure as best you can, as you’ve stepped into this big role, what you learned?
18:11 David Hanrahan
Yeah, I know, I will say that. I’ve been familiar with sabbaticals for many years. And when I was at EA, we had a sabbatical program, it was kind of, it was kind of mocked a little bit, it was kind of viewed as a sort of like, a gimmick or sort of like, you know, people take your sabbatical, and I quit. So it was like, Is this valuable? Is it creating any value? And then just over the years, I’ve also just been aware that many, many tech companies, they sort of, they consider adopting a sabbatical as something to set themselves apart.
And so going into my sabbatical, I kind of was pessimistic, frankly, around, what like, what could happen for me honestly about it. So the context for me, is that my last company, we wound up just trying to pull off this major transformation, which is, without going into too much detail. I was joining it thinking it was going to be a growth mode, global pandemic, shutting down live events basically put us on this sort of white knuckle adventure for a couple of years of trying to change this company, fundamentally changing it changing the business model, and then changing the culture too, because we were a company that was very, very much in-office oriented.
And then we shifted to work from anywhere, we shifted so many things across the business and the culture, that at the end of it, I just, I just sort of looked in the mirror, and I realized I was spent by just, you know, whether I wasn’t ready for this, the amount of energy suck, you know, during the global pandemic and, and the role of the Chief People Officer through that role specifically at this company for me, in this transformation, not alone, what wasn’t the only Chief People Officer only one at my company who had this feeling, but I remember just sort of coming to the conclusion that like I’m, you know, I don’t have any more fuel in the tank to do this work. Not necessarily this company, any company, just this work, I just didn’t have the fuel in the tank. And I didn’t have an opinion that like I was done with the work of HR people function, I didn’t have that opinion. I just knew I just didn’t have it in me anymore at that moment, time.
So I talked to my boss, and I said, Listen, I’m gonna go, I’m gonna hand the baton over. And it did that in a very orderly fashion. And then I didn’t really have a plan, I just said, I think I’m gonna go mountain biking. That’s all that’s the one thing I knew I’m, maybe I’m gonna take a class. And there, you know, there it was driving, you know, south to Moab with a minivan in a rented mountain bike. And then suddenly seeing like, overlooking the Grand Canyon in the Colorado River, and just not thinking about people work.
So now I’ll fast forward to like, what did this actually do? For me, it was really surprising in terms of how much it did re-energize me, it changed me. And I can only say that just from my current job, I feel like I’ve started over my career just in terms of the energy I have for it. And just like, you know, energy comes out through discretionary effort. I’m just constantly thinking of ideas and like constantly pushing. And yeah, it was, I once kind of mocked or just thought very little of the value of a sabbatical. And for me, maybe not for everyone, but for me, it fundamentally changed my career trajectory in terms of like, if I didn’t have this experience, I probably wouldn’t be done with the work. But the sabbatical kind of saved me in a sense of like, stepping back into this work, which I love.
21:40 Carley Hauck
Wonderful. Well, we need people, leaders like you, David. So I’m glad you’re back. And, you know, I also think it’s so important that when we have that awareness that we’re empty, you know, we don’t we don’t have to give that we take that time to speak up to share, you know, whether it’s a long sabbatical, or it’s, you know, something just happened in my personal life, and I need time for it. And, you know, being able to really lean on your co-workers, your team, you know, feeling like you can share that with your leader and that they’ve got your back. I mean, that all creates more trust and the ability to know that I can stay at this company and actually just bring my whole self which is sometimes exhausted.
22:28 David Hanrahan
22:30 Carley Hauck
And it’s not a sign of weakness, right. I think I think it should be more a sign of strength of being able to actually acknowledge that and then, you know, find ways to to be there for
other people when they’re experiencing that too.
Sabbaticals, or something that I became really familiar with, actually, in 2020, because I was supporting Clif Bar, I had the great privilege of supporting them, it was initially going to be an in person, inclusive communications training for their whole company. And then oh, the pandemic happens. So then we were creating and designing something virtually, which they had never done.
And I learned about their really strong sabbatical program every seven years. But I thought, Wow, that’s a long time. What if we implemented a sabbatical every year? What if every role got that? What do you think about designing a company to incorporate sabbaticals?
23:32 David Hanrahan
Well, you know, one way to think about that is really just a fundamental change of call it the 40 Hour Workweek, the nine to five, just just rethinking, where does my productivity come from?
And there has been a lot of research around, particularly in knowledge work, when people are at their most productive.
And the big TLDR there is, it’s really not anything to do with the nine to 5, 40 Hour Workweek, meaning your moments of productivity, where I have this fun log where I am cranking through something, I am solving a big problem I’m create creating this, like, you know, this, this sort of enterprise value for the company, right? It’s in tech, they call them the 10x engineer is a sort of like a euphemism. But it’s, you know, it’s really just like people have these moments where they’re like, they’re in the zone, call it right.
And so there’s research on this, which, which basically found that you know, that in some cases, the nine to five, forty hour work week gets in the way of it. So when people work less surprisingly, if they work less, or they have less meetings, if you take your pick of all these things that get in the way of your productivity, it’s about protecting your time. And so having these moments where I can actually be in the zone, and going back to sabbaticals. More recently, there’s been published research around the four day work week. And what they found is like benefits from it.
And just coming to this podcast, I was just reading a post from I think his name is Nick Blum. I think he’s a Stanford professor. But he basically posted a big critique that said, like the research that this third party did around the 40 hour workweek has all these flaws in it. And so he’s critiquing it.
But so where was that related sabbatical? I think that there is this, I think there’s like this growing call to like to change up how we think about the workweek, and your schedule, and like, how long should I work without taking a break? And where, where is the company going to get the value out of its people from? And so the four day workweek is one example of someone trying to say, like, Hey, we should rethink this, we should rethink the things called the 40 hour workweek is 100 years old, it came from the Ford Motor plant in the 1920s hasn’t been, you know, reimagined since we have all this growing research that people can actually be a lot more productive. So when I think about the future of allowing sabbaticals have enrolled more frequently.
I think, if we can, if we can perfect the research for the company, I bet you, it would be a no brainer. I bet you if we find a way to get people positioned so that they’re there, they can be in a zone, they have less meetings, like as an engineer and engineering is a lot of meetings, it’s not not coding. So how do we sort of get data? How do we get practices that allow people to unlock their potential in a protected way? And then we give them the time back that allows them to recharge and come back with that energy and come back have the energy to do it again. I think the sabbatical would be a no brainer.
And I think that there’s something there’s around research and data that for a company would make it a no brainer. And right now, as an example of the four day workweek, it’s not landing well. The research is not landing well for the people in charge. It’s really only landing well for very brave use, smaller companies. But I think, imagine this at scale where a big fang company saw this, they would be all over it, they’d be doing it because they would see that, wow, this is creating this like enterprise value for us because we’re getting the most out of our people and they’re coming back recharged. So I like it. I think there’s a research component to it.
27:16 Carley Hauck
Yeah, so in the research that I did for my book, I was studying a lot of different countries as well that were working, you know, different hours than the US and they were showcasing more happiness and more productivity. I believe Denmark is 28 hours a week. They’re they’re doing amazing things. France was 35, I spent a month in France. You know, as I was writing the book,
I was like, Okay, how are they living and working? You know, seize the day. And what, there was a study, I believe it came out in 2019. It might have been, I think it was 2019 pre-pandemic with Microsoft, it was their Japan office where they had folks work for days. And they saw a pretty large increase. And I wrote that in the book, but I don’t have it in front of me. So. But yes, I mean, I agree, I think more and more research needs to happen. And that will continue.
So, David, what are you taking away other than it’s great to go mountain biking in Moab and you know, being unplugged? What are you taking away from some of your learnings of, I believe it was nine months, right that you had a sabbatical? That’s incredible. What are you bringing in now that you’ve stepped into this newer, Chief People Officer role at Flare? How is that informing your leadership?
28:40 David Hanrahan
I’m gonna steal one, I was having a coffee with a colleague who also did a sabbatical, a shorter one. But she went to South America for a few weeks, and then came back to her company. And she had a realization, and I am like, I didn’t realize it. But I had this same thing, same effects for me, which is, you gotta be really sort of like, slowly step into the day. So in the COVID pandemic, as I mentioned earlier, I would just open up my laptop, I just immediately start, and you don’t feel it in the moment you don’t feel when you’re doing it right then that it’s kind of slowly eating away at you. But it does build up over time.
And I, like she said, you know, what, if she came back, she’s like, I’m just gonna, I’m just not going to start my day until I’ve had my coffee. And I like I, like, watch the news, or I go for a walk, or I just like, the, the organization is not gonna like, like, own me that way. And it’s really, it’s self imposed. So it’s like, it’s not as if they’re actually doing it, but it’s self imposed.
And I definitely had that realization as well, that ever since the sabbatical, I wake up and like, you’re faced with like life, like, there’s a, there’s like, there’s a wind going on outside, there’s, there’s a little bit of like, like, rain on the grass, there’s, something’s changed in the neighborhood, I’m gonna go inspect that and like, and so don’t make work. Like the very first thing when you wake up, don’t make your day solely about work, you know, otherwise, you’re not going to do the job at work.
And so yeah, I start my day. Now, in the pandemic, I was starting my day, like 630 in the morning, and now I started like 930, or 10. So the big change.
30:20 Carley Hauck
That’s great, thank you for sharing that. And I’m 100% with you, you know, I I like to exercise and do my spiritual practice and meditate, all those things, because it gets me in the most centered, upbeat place before I open an email before I see the news before anything, because then I have the ability to respond. And I love that you said wind because that’s really what it feels like. It’s like there’s all these things that could be keeping us down this path, which could create reactivity, right.
But we don’t want to lead from reactivity, we want to lead from wisdom and responsiveness. And you had mentioned even before that, folks that felt they could trust their employers experience less stress. Well, based on my being a neuroscience nerd, I know that if we perceive stress, our first reaction is fear. Because that’s the first emotion that’s elicited. So again, that fear response is going to be reactive, versus the opposite of fear, which is love. So how do we approach this with more care, with more grace with more love, and I just, I really think that that is the way that we inspire that we create, you know, more of the culture that everybody wants to really work in and stay in. So that could be another whole conversation. Thank you for sharing that.
Well, I’m gonna put a little plug actually for, for Modern Elder Academy, because I know that Chip Conley, who’s a friend of mine, has been doing these sabbatical sessions and I might just plant a seed here, Chip, I think we need you to do some research on sabbaticals folks come in, to to MEA and to really see how that’s benefiting them when they go back into life. So there it is.
But can you tell me and our listeners a little bit about what the difference is between a Chief Human Resources Officer, which I believe was your role and title at Eventbrite and the difference between that and Chief People Officer and I’m aware that depending on the company, it’s going to look different, but yeah, please break that down.
32:50 David Hanrahan
I’m going to answer it only half serious, which is at Eventbrite. I couldn’t be the CPO because they already had a CPO, they had a Chief Product Officer and it was going to be confusing. And, we don’t have a CPO at Flare. So I get to be the CPO.
But um, that, you know, I think it’s the same thing. I think the term human resources has kind of gone through a branding change over the years, like it used to be called the personnel department. And then someone said, maybe it’s the HR, it’s the human resources department. And then someone more recently said, you know, that kind of sounds robotic and cold humans as resources that doesn’t, you know, it’s people or some or some might call it, you know, employee experience. We call that the Briteling experience at Eventbrite.
So I think there’s, there’s this kind of a brand or a sentiment behind the term that for the company, maybe tries to denote some sort of, you know, egalitarian or progressive view on the work itself.
But one thing, you know, what is the CHR? What is the CPO? I think of three things that no matter the title that you’re trying to do, and it’s a Venn diagram, and it’s a bit like, it’s almost like three plates, you’re spinning in the air. But the three things that make up a really good Chief People Officer, let’s just say, are strategy, execution, and relationships. Now, you might say, well, that applies to the CFO or applies other roles to that, that’s, that’s possible. But I think about it as there’s some really good Chief People Officers out there who are just good at strategy. So they have the ideas and like they have, like, Wow, you’re really versed in best practices, like you’ve got all these really good ideas, but can you execute on them. And so you also have to be able to execute some good, some Chief People Officers out there are only good at execution, but they don’t have the strategy, or they don’t have the relationships necessary to build strategy. These things are kind of interdependent.
And then finally, you might have a Chief People Officer who’s the relationship person, everyone loves working with them, they’re so much fun, they’re just like, they’re the culture warrior at this company. And like we love, they’re in that role, because people love working with them. But they don’t have any ideas. And they’re not known for really good execution.
And so the trick is to be really good, you have to do all three. And sometimes sometimes you enter at a mode where I can’t talk about strategy right now, people, I have to build trust, to build trust, and to build trust, I really need to execute, I really need to show that we’re competent, and I have integrity, and that people can trust, you know. And so, you know, to do one of them, you sometimes have to start in one direction that kind of works the way the others. But um, so that’s my answer to that question, which is like, what, what kind of common for both the CHR and CPO is having to do those three things.
35:33 Carley Hauck
Thank you. So as you are, you know, stepping into this new role with Flare. First, I’d love if you could share with our listeners, what’s the vision and the mission of Flare? And how are you designing the foundation so that it incorporates well being so that it incorporates, you know, trust you know, strong leadership, all of those things? I mean, well, those are two really big questions. So we’ll go back to the first one, what is the vision and mission of Flare? And why did you feel inspired to join it?
36:10 David Hanrahan
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I’ll talk about the mission. First, the mission is to enable strength and clarity through key life moments. And so what that means is, if you’ve ever gone through a life event, and so what I mean by that is, you know, these big things that happen sometimes in people’s lives, no fault of their own, but they’re going through a custody situation, or they need to get guardianship or conservatorship of their elderly parents who can no longer take care of themselves, which was which was my case last summer, or they have a divorce going on, or their there’s an immigration or a tax or an employment matter, people who’ve been let go recently in the news for layoffs, like that’s a tough, it’s a tough moment that like no fault of my own this happening to me, I need help, I need something.
And oftentimes that help is in the form of a lawyer. So last summer, my brother and I were facing the fact that we needed to become guardians for an elderly family member who was no longer able to take care of themselves. And we knew that we had to get a lawyer and so we started working with a lawyer. And the long short of it is, like a lot of people it’s not a good experience. And sometimes you pay all this money for someone who you think is going to help you and it actually feels worse, frankly, there’s no communication. There’s like it’s low tech, it’s like we’re FedExing documents and we’re I got to sign like literally sign you can’t DocuSign and stuff and it’s it’s opaque. Like what’s happening next. Are you doing any work here? Are you are you talking to the court or what have you.
And so Flare is trying to change that. So Flare is building products for law firms to be able to receive and manage cases directly through technology and creating a higher NPS, a higher a better experience through tech, and is also trying to create a way for people who need support in these life moments to find the right lawyer for them. So Flare is a tech company, and the consumer experience is called Marble. That’s where you might find Marble or now Kindred, these are law firms. These are new law firms, it’s a new way of doing law.
And so for me, my well being is in many ways, it’s really aligned to that mission back to that mission orientation aspect of high performing teams, I feel really good because I’m in a company that’s doing something important. That’s one big ingredient of my well being. I’m spending time I’m not sort of regretting all this time and spending doing this one thing and for creating the next, you know, next best taco delivery service, or whatever it’s like this is this is, this is important.
Now, like how we’re actually trying to cultivate well, being in the company is very iterative. I think we’re in a learning mode. So we actually have quite a bit of travel that goes on, we as a company have some younger populations. And so what we believe is the younger population, they actually do want to be in the office. That’s what we see: they want to actually be together as I’m as I’m a brand new SDR. I want to learn by actually having a conversation with you live, like show that, show me this, show this to me.
And so we’re seeing for that population, that’s it that’s just exited school, they don’t want to be alone. Many of them, they don’t want to just be stuck at their home, they want to be in an office, different from some leaders who are traveling and they’re like me, I’m working. I’m, I’m used to this. This is kind of my mode.
39:37 Carley Hauck
You’ve got young kiddos. So it makes it easier, right? Yeah, just different stages.
39:40 David Hanrahan
That’s right. So we’re documenting this, we’re documenting this as a sort of like the how and why and what and that of our work, and trying to iterate on it as much as possible and trying to measure it. So I would say for us the wellbeing journey, we’re still very nascent. And it’s really, it’s a learning mode.
39:58 Carley Hauck
Yeah. And I’m sure there’s a lot of listening, right, like, what do people want? And then making sure that whatever you’ve heard, you’re creating some commitment to some accountability to implement so that then they trust you, right? Oh, well, well, they really care. And they are listening to what I say I want to what I don’t want.
40:20 David Hanrahan
100%. Yes, yes, well said.
40:25 Carley Hauck
Great. well, in some of our conversations offline, I know that leadership development is something that you feel passionate about, and that you think really needs to be prioritized for this future of work.
And, yeah, as you know, I’ve written a book on conscious leadership and business, and really focus on certain leadership competencies, I know that you’ve read SHINE, my book. And I, I feel really curious, out of some of the inner game qualities that I’ve highlighted in my book, and there might be others that you feel are also essential. What do you think are some of your strengths? And what do you think other people leaders should be embodying to inspire a trusting organization, so that kind of had two parts?
What are some of the qualities that you feel are some strengths of yours, these inner game qualities and just to share with our audience, you know, some of those are self awareness, empathy, self management, self belonging, which is, you know, self compassion, acceptance, forgiveness towards self. So all of the inner game is what we’re cultivating on the inside, that then determines how we show up on the outside as a conscious inclusive leader.
41:49 David Hanrahan
Yeah, that whatever I’m about to say, in terms of what I think are my strengths, whoever’s listening to this, who knows me is probably going to do a big, huge eye roll. But let me let me sort of like be as as humble as possible, when that sort of like, you know, that relates to your book, that I’m gonna sort of cite a piece of research. One thing I’ve tried to do, as I’ve grown in my career, I’ve tried as much as possible to really have self awareness.
And you know, there’s an author’s name is Travis Bradbury, and he cited some research that says, as you ascend an organization, EQ goes down. So literally, if you if you take people’s titles as like manager, director, VP, C, whatever, that as they ascend their EQ, actually
It goes down. And EQ and self awareness are somewhat related. But, nonetheless, the highest performing leaders at each of those levels were the few who had that high level of EQ.
So, the highest performing CEOs or see whatever, actually have high EQ, compared to the rest is the research. And so it’s a dwindling resource as you grow. And so I tried to get better at that and just knowing how I’m coming across knowing my energy knowing like out my, my sort of whatever I’m imparting in a room, am I speaking over someone, am I sort of dominating the room is my emotion that, you know, kind of changing the sway.
And I’ve also seen leaders who like totally unbeknownst to them, something that they just did completely change the tenor of the meeting, or change the direction of something because they reacted to something in a way where they didn’t even know they didn’t even know that their reaction actually just killed some idea, like, like on the spot. And they then later on said, Well, what’s happened with this one thing? And I said, Oh, well, we, you know, we heard that you didn’t like it, like what do you mean, like, What are you talking about? And so it’s amazing what that does, as you grow your sphere of influence and self awareness.
I think one thing I need to get better at over time, which is really hard, is empathy. And back to that research of high performing teams and benevolence. So one thing that both of those first two self awareness and empathy were core to the leadership development program that we built at Eventbrite. So we talked about sort of, you know, sort of putting your own air mask on first. And that when you’re starting to get to know your team, we had a question called, how are you really doing the idea of like one on ones, oftentimes, we just have this pleasantry of like, Hey, how’s it going? How’s your week? Yeah, it was good, whatever, and we move on. But like people who actually have something interesting going on, it could be tough. It could be like there’s something that’s going to be over or overbearing in this conversation, something’s happening in this conversation that I might not even be aware of, because it’s something that’s going on with them right now. And I, if I really, really want to know how they’re doing, I’ll have empathy. And that empathy does something special in terms of building trust, and changing the relationship between us in terms of my willingness to go the extra mile for you as my manager?
45:08 Carley Hauck
Oh, well, thank you for sharing that. So self awareness is a strength and empathy is something that you feel like you can learn more of, well, this might be refreshing to hear this is just some of the research that I’ve been doing on both of these, but I, I break down, the inner game of emotional intelligence, as self awareness, and self management are the inner game. So those are the things that we are cultivating on the inside, and they kind of, you know, run in tandem, the more self aware you are, the more self management you’re able to possess.
But then that creates the outer game. And the outer game are the other two aspects of emotional intelligence. Because there’s, there’s four factors of it, which is social awareness, social sensitivity, we could think of which is a precursor for psychological safety, and then relationship mastery. And those are the outer game. So when you have more self awareness, more self management, that increases your social awareness, thus, empathy, and your relationship management. So I would say, you know, you’re getting close, David, you’re focusing on the inner game, which is only going to increase the outer game. So thank you for that humility.
And just in our last minute or two, gosh, I could talk to you all day. But what do you think is, are important qualities for other leaders to really, you know, possess? And even maybe more specifically, when you think about the leadership development that you’re investing in at Flare? What are the qualities you want the leaders to possess at Flare, which is specific to that vision and mission and culture?
46:50 David Hanrahan
Yeah, when I think about a leader, and so whatever their title is, but they’re leading, they’re leading something, it’s my job, I need to lead something. I think you you want to be able to inspire people to you know, kind of give a little bit more of themselves to sort of like, be sort of like accountable for themselves to you know, treat each other well, like there’s, it’s the yearn for the sea quote, if you’re familiar with that one, which is, you know, if I want to teach someone, I want to go and teach your people how to build a boat, I’m not going to have them put all the sticks and logs together, I’m going to teach them to yearn for the sea.
And so the storytelling so we’re talking I think we’re talking before the call about sort of strategy and storytelling, and you as a manager, I start to move from management to leadership. When I’m moving from just assigning goals of like, you got to do this and you got to just moving from goals to there’s a strategy behind this, there’s a story of like, why this is important.
And if I just get that as an employee, if I get the strategy, I can kind of do the goals myself, I can kind of figure out what I need to do, I can be empowered, if I just know that strategy, the stories of storytelling, I think is really important for leaders to go from vision to now there’s a strategy or story here. And now I don’t need I don’t need to do as much of the goal setting because my team is empowered, they’re activated to understand what we’re trying to accomplish, they can come to me and tell me, what are the goals? What are the things I should sign up for this quarter, and I can, I can kind of help them curate it, which is different than being didactic. And just like my job is to sign up all of you for all these goals.
48:30 Carley Hauck
Thank you. And so what I’m imagining is a precursor of a quality for strategy is being curious, staying open. And so I think of that as you know, growth mindset. And as you’re, everyone’s listening to me, I’m super curious. So I’m asking David a gazillion questions.
And I have even more, but this was so wonderful. I think that you’ve really shared a lot here that is going to be helpful for a lot of people leaders and Flare is really lucky to have you. So David, thank you.
48:58 David Hanrahan
Thank you, Carley.
49:00 Carley Hauck
And is there anything else you’d like to leave our listeners and you know, this very short 30 seconds?
49:02 David Hanrahan
Oh, no, reach out to me on LinkedIn. That’s my one social network is the only place you’ll find me. So. But no, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.
49:15 Carley Hauck
David, thank you so much for your time sharing your wisdom and your experience with us here on the SHINE podcast. I learned so much and deeply enjoy our heartfelt conversations.
I went back to look up the exact statistic of what Microsoft Japan found when they experimented with a four day workweek in 2019. I wrote about this in my book, and there’s actually a lot around various well being research in my book in chapter five, around different countries that are doing it right, we could say, there are I’m sure still iterating and we’re all trying to figure out what the recipe is.
But Microsoft Japan found there was a 40% increase in productivity with a four day work week. They also found that it lowered carbon emissions because folks were not going into the office one more day a week. And people over all reported greater health and well being into the long term. So I would say that’s still pretty much a win win.
And David and I were speaking about how we need more research on sabbaticals and the benefit of sabbaticals for non academic positions. You know, for everybody, right? And I actually have a podcast episode coming up in this season, where we’re going to speak more to that.
And so far, I wanted to share a little bit of what I found through the Academy of Management. They found that people who take sabbaticals uniformly returned to work feeling more affirmed in their own voice, with confidence and a renewed sense of purpose. You can hear that was David’s experience.
Personally, my sabbatical just ended. And initially, it was six weeks of just being completely unplugged. And you’ll hear me continue to share some of my learnings over the course of this season and some solo episodes. But I was essentially gone for almost three months living and then living and working in Costa Rica. And in many ways, it was a bit like a quest, a quest of recovery of practice, and an exploration of what it really looked like to live in a more regenerative way. And to do that in community and what were the communities doing in Costa Rica that were supposedly more intentional, or focused on sustainability and regeneration, I’ll have more to share with you in an upcoming solo interview.
I am so excited about what we can create in the future of work. And I am really excited to find my next professional opportunity, bringing all the gifts and talents that I have to a senior people leader role. I am making a pivot from my business and leading from wholeness to joining a larger team and purpose driven organization where I can have more impact, to really influence the greatest good.
I’m having some wonderful conversations with folks exploring that right opportunity. But it’s all about the network. And I want to make a bold ask that if you’re a senior people leader and you would like support in creating a learning culture, a thriving workplace that has the foundation of well being and psychological safety and trust, then I am your person. I would love to get to know you. Or if you know of someone that’s hiring, please let me know. Send me an intro. You can reach out to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on LinkedIn. I am so excited for this new opportunity and I so appreciate your support.
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And until we meet again, be the light and shine the light.