Episode 2

David Hanrahan

Season 2

Eventbrite’s David Hanrahan Explains Why Being Vulnerable Can Change Company Culture

In this episode, CHRO of Evenbrite, David Hanrahan, talks to Katelin about how opening up about mental health in the workplace can help create a better work culture. He also explains the concept of “Brite Breaks,” a new program he put in place to help mitigate burnout and ultimately make employees more effective. He’ll also discuss how Eventbrite had to drastically pivot over the past year, but is coming out of the pandemic stronger than before.


"How do we take all these different pieces, these different views from leaders, different views of employees, these changes that we've gone through, the talent practices that we have, and arrive at convergence. Meaning we know who we are in our culture, we can not only express that in terms of values or principles, or whatever, but we can say how that shows up in our practices."

Katelin: Welcome back to Season 2 of All-Hands, brought to you by Lattice! I’m your host Katelin Holloway. If you were with us last season, you know we focused on sitting down with C-level execs to chat about how people strategy is good business strategy, but this season, we’re doubling down. We’re not only talking to CEO’s and founders, but a wide range of people leaders--- from Heads of People to Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers --- to really get into some of their core practices, principals, and beliefs when it comes to putting your people first. 

Today we have the privilege to talk with David Hanrahan, CHRO at Eventbrite.

With over 20 years of HR experience, David has held senior leadership roles across many industries. His CV highlights include: Universal Pictures, Shell Oil Company, Electronic Arts, Twitter, Zendesk, Niantic, and - now - Eventbrite. He is well known in the People & Culture communities as a mentor and progressive HR policy leader. Whether he’s fighting for parental inclusion or battling employee burnout, David has always been a consistent voice of reason and forward thinking in the ecosystem.

David, welcome to All-Hands.

David: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Katelin: I am so ecstatic that we finally get to catch up and hang out for a little bit. I think it's best we start at the very beginning for everyone out here listening. So, I would love for you to please tell us your story. Who are you? How did you decide to get into HR? Where has that taken you? However you want to take us on that journey, we'd love to hear?

David: I guess if I go back to the beginning "Hey, how did I get into this? What was the genesis?" I grew up with a family member who was mentally handicapped. And for whatever reason, when I got to college, the thing that I was most passionate about was psychology. I felt like there was something inside me that struggled for a long time to relate to my family member who was mentally handicapped. And I felt if I just better understood human psychology, something good would come of that. And as I got deeper into psychology in college, my interest started to twist and turn, I started to like abnormal psychology, bio psychology, and eventually, I took this class called industrial psychology. And it never dawned on me that, "Hey, you don't have to be a teacher, or a professor, or a researcher, or a psychologist, you can actually apply this in the workplace. And so, industrial psychology was a field of applying psychology in the workplace. And as I talked to a professor, it dawned on me that there's these graduate programs and advanced learning in this field. Never even heard of an HR department before this. And HR department, human resources, what's a human resource?

Katelin: Right.

David: And so, this led me to pursuing an advanced degree in HR.  The first thing that was my inspiration was labor relations and unions. And so, the fact that there was this thing called the National Labor Relations Act, way back in the day, and any NLRB, and that management and employees, were battling it out over just basic things like wages and working conditions. And I thought that would be one of the most fascinating places to be at that intersection.

And so, that was Shell Oil, and literally my first day at work, after school was the first day of pattern bargaining. So, I showed up to a hotel, my first day of work. Very first HR job, first day was at a hotel, where the company, the management were holed up in a conference room, and the employees, the union representatives, were outside with pickets.

Katelin: [laughs]

David: That was my first day. And I'm like, "Yes, this is going to be amazing. I love this."One day, I overheard a company representative and a union representative talking. And the management representative said, "Okay, that was great in there. What you did and what you said, that was great. Now, what I'm going to do is, I'm going to come in, and I'm going to say no to this one thing, but you're going to say, how about this? And then I'll say, yes." And it was "Oh my gosh, this is all scripted."

Katelin: What?

David: I was deflated. I'm like, "Okay, this is a lot less interesting than I thought it was going to be. This is a dance." There was a show being put on in the room, but the actual negotiations actually happen out in the hallway, basically. But that lasted a few years. I went from a manufacturing plant to the corporate headquarters and then back.

And eventually, I got an itch for more creative workplaces for less rules, less everything is by a book, a union contract. And I was "Where is that happening? Because I'm a creative person, I want to apply new talent practices, and experiment and Tinker. Where does that happen?" And I had a mentor guide me towards technology. So I had a short stint at a movie studio, creative, that's great. But they also have a lot of rules and it's 100-year-old company.

Katelin: Totally.

David: So eventually, I got to Electronic Arts. That then was my, the tech HR chapter, and went from a 10,000-person Electronic Arts company to a 600-person pre IPO Twitter where there was chaos, and fun, and creating and my first week at Twitter, Dick, the CEO said to us, a very small HR team,  "Hey, I want to develop our own management course. And I've got some ideas on it. And I want to get you all together in the room, and I'm going to lead this course. And I want your feedback." And so, we got in the room, and in the room, there was a woman who I didn't know. And Dick was drawing this matrix on the board. And on one axis was a smiley face and a sad face. And then the other axis was clear and unclear. And he's like, "I feel like a lot of our problems boil down to optimizing for happy and being unclear. Whereas, where we want to be is actually optimizing for clarity and not worrying about the reaction." Like, "Oh, that's interesting. That's an interesting concept."

And then the woman got up to the board, is like, "Let me twist out a little bit. Let me start experiment with these quadrants." And that was Kim Scott, from Radical Candor. And so, she's developing that with Dick on the fly and Twitter. That experience, for me, cemented like, "Okay, well, if you can work with CEOs who care about this stuff, and you have the room to be experimental and creative, and you're going to be pushed." So the board, the CEO, the leadership team, we're going to push to be a really great workplace, to be progressive, to experiment. We want to have the best employment brand, we want to have the best employee experience, and there's going to be resources for that. That's been what I've strived for in terms of being in workplaces and with CEOs who care about that stuff.

Katelin: Right.

David: So Zendesk, Niantic and now, Eventbrite has done that pattern.

Katelin: I want to ask you a quick question. So, you shared a little bit more about your career and your professional journey, but is there anything else you'd like for our audience to know about your whole identity? The whole you.

David: Yeah. There's two things, I think, for an identity, that have come to be omnipresent in my life more recently. So, maybe not when I was a teenager, or a young adult, but now. Two things are parenthood. And so, I've got a three-year-old and a six-year-old, and the transition from one to two, it wasn't just two works harder, it was many multiples harder. And I look at myself as trying to be a good parent, but I know I'm not great. And what I mean by that is, I identify as a parent who's coping and struggling to trying to manage through a pandemic, give my all to my company, and my colleagues who increasingly, I think, want and need more. But staying present at home, so that you got to close the laptop sometimes, you got to put the phone down, and not let life pass you by. You don't want to be the older ages, and realize I gave way too much to work and not enough my family.

Katelin: Right.

David: And those are the things that I'll wake up in the middle of night and have a crisis of conscious of like, "I'm I doing this right? That sort of thing. So I identify as a parent. And I also identify someone who struggled with mental health more recently.

Not my current job, but a former job, I think was bad for my mental health.  And I remember, we had someone at the company talking about mental health, a special guest. And I helped another leader get that post on the door like, "Hey, we're going to have a special [inaudible 00:12:07] on mental health." And the person gave me the mic and said, "Hey, do you want to talk a little about why this is important for you?" And I said, "Yeah, I mean, I struggle with this." And I shared a story about, it wasn't too long ago, where I was waking up at night with visions in my head of driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and jumping off.

And so, I shared that story. And then I looked into the faces of the audience, and I was just like, suddenly my relationship with all those employees changed immediately. People were coming up to me afterwards saying, "I'm so glad you shared that story because I had gone through something similar."
I tried to turn that darkness, I feel like I'm better now through therapy and other means. So I'm getting control of that. But I've tried to turn that into some positive energy around speaking out, being vulnerable, and doing things in the workplace, I think, that try to help guard against that for others who might be experiencing it.

Katelin: Wow. Thank you so much for sharing. This is why I asked that question. You gain so much more clarity and context around and in these conversations. I know that you've long been an advocate for parents in the workplace and parental inclusion. I myself, my children are exactly the same age, three-year-old and a six-year-old. And so, I know firsthand how fun, but challenging those ages were particularly through the pandemic.

And then mental health is absolutely has been something that has been taboo to speak about not just in our organizations, but in our lives. Even friends don't often share those conversations. And so, the beauty of you being vulnerable and giving permission to have that conversation is a really powerful act. And I think that the more we can do that, and breed that into our cultures, really can dynamically change the way we interact and ultimately, create a better workforce and workplace cultures across the board. So I really appreciate you sharing that.

And I absolutely want to get further into mental health and burnout.  I would love to get your take, as we were talking about before on the evolution of HR, as an industry over the last few decades. So more specifically, I would love to know how you've watched your own approach to people strategy change over time.

David: Great question. It was wasn't too long ago, where we call them personnel departments, right?

Katelin: Yeah.

David: And then Human Resources became the fashion and then now I think people are experimenting people functions or employee experience. At Eventbrite, we call it the Briteling Experience team.

Katelin: Nice.

David: And so, I think that evolution, for me, when I was in that union workplace, it was like safety and order. Right?

Katelin: Yeah.

David: So safety, order, following the rules. I remember when I was at Shell, huge company, I was just drafting a promotion announcement for someone, and someone from the Netherlands got wind of me drafting a promotion announcement, and said, "Please apply the promotion announcement to this template that we've created." So literally, you just put the person's name. And I'm like, "Gosh." That for me, was a moment where I'm like, "Is this really HR?"

Katelin: Right.

David: [inaudible 00:17:28] the rule, the police, the governor's, the rule makers, and the rule appliers. And I think, a lot of companies now that are still 100 years old, they're Fortune 500 companies, those companies have great leadership, right? So, I'm not going to knock on GE as an example, where I spent some time. A lot of tech companies have tried to learn from GE, Jack Welch. And so, those companies, they look to some smaller tech companies for what's the next practice? What's the next cultural tenant or a management practice? Or how are you recruiting employees? Because we looked at tech companies were recruiting so fast and scaling and all that sort of stuff. And so, I don't think it's an evolution of well, what tech is doing is the pinnacle, I think there's a little bit of both. If you get to be a Fortune 500 company, you're doing something right. And you've been around for 100 years, you're doing something right. Right? And how many startups flame out pretty quickly?

Katelin: Totally.

David: And so, I think, though, if I was thinking about for what's the evolution, and maybe what do modern HR practitioners, regardless of industry, what do they care about? They definitely care about culture. I remember you talking about this, and it light in a spark for me, what is culture? What is that gooey term? I think of this article that I read, called The Culture Factor, which is really good. And I gave a talk one time where it dawned on me that my role is a CHRO is Chief Convergence Officer.

And what I mean by that is, as companies grow, they become 100-year-old company, and you've gone through multiple stages, or you're just gone from Series B, series C, and now we're going public. As you go through stages, you go through changes, you bring on new leaders, suddenly we've restructured, we have a different business model, and the culture can change. And so, when cultures become divergent, and they have a lack of coherence, that's the bad place. That's not a good place for being able to actually execute on your strategy. When cultures are really coherent, and they have convergence. You might not like the Tesla culture, but when they know themselves, "This is who we are, and we're actually going to tell it." It's like, "It might not be for you, It might be tough. But this is who we are. This is who we want to attract, and then this is how we want to have to shape all our talent practices." That's good.

And so, the HR role, and hopefully, what I think is the practitioners, regardless of industry, are thinking about,

"How do we take all these different pieces, these different views from leaders, different views of employees, these changes that we've gone through, the talent practices that we have, and arrive at convergence. Meaning we know who we are in our culture, we can not only express that in terms of values or principles, or whatever, but we can say how that shows up in our practices.

We choose this thing, we choose this mental health program, we choose this leadership development approach because it ties to this thing that we say is important to us."

Katelin: Right.

David: And that's really difficult. That is so difficult because it's easy to apply a formula to your compensation appraise, your training, your onboarding, et cetera. It's easy to just be like, "Okay, that's the best practice. I'm just going to take that and do it." But that's oftentimes the wrong thing to do. If you're not shaping your talent practices with, how is this making our culture more coherent? That's the evolution that I think about.

Katelin: I think about that a lot too, and I love the use of the word convergence. I've talked about what I have called The Convergence of Desire, as it relates to hiring and developing talent. And I use that when I talk with managers, whether they are hiring or they're trying to help an employee transition, either to a new role, or to reach the expectation that they have set in front of them that maybe they aren't meeting it. And that's around, The Convergence of Desire that I talked about. Is the company needs and the employee needs. And how those two things are very dynamic. And it's our job as leaders and as people managers to help those two things have that point of connection. Where those two lines intersect, that is The Convergence of Desire. That's the sweet spot. And listening to the way you talk about it as it relates to culture more broadly, it makes a ton of sense too. Because to your point, these things are constantly shifting and changing. And if you don't listen to it, if you don't pay attention, if you aren't intentional about what those different levers and components are, you're going to miss out on that magic, right?

David: Mm-hmm.

Katelin: That moment where things are jamming. And just like you said, it may not be for everyone. And hopefully, actually, it's not. Have high conviction in who you are as a company, be very clear in your communication with employees and candidates, and your partners, and your customers. I mean, all of this bleeds in and out of our company. And as we talk about culture, it's no longer just the employee experience. It's how that impacts the whole.

David: I think, to do that right,

you sometimes have to be courageously annoying. Leadership teams, CEOs, they can hear the word culture and like, "Oh, my gosh. We got to talk about this again?" We got to talk about the product roadmap, we got to talk about hiring. And I think, if you're doing this, right, you're going to be annoying. You're just going to be annoying and bringing it up when people don't want to talk about it.

And that's the rub for like, "Well, sure. Culture, what's what's the trick?" And oftentimes, people just don't want to talk about it because it's a soft thing, it's hard to wrap your heads around.

Katelin: It's absolutely a living, breathing thing that needs tending to. So, it is a --- omnipresent thing that cannot be ticked off a list and then put on the shelf. I appreciate that.

Let's get to where you are now. You're at Eventbrite. You made the decision to leave Niantic at the end of 2019. So this is before any of us had a pandemic playbook. That's for sure. It was not on our radars. But how did that decision-making process go for you? What was it about Eventbrite that made you say, "This is the place for me. I'm really excited to make this leap."

David: Eventbrite, it'd been a dream company for me for years. The work that Julia and Kevin did many years ago, around parental leave, they were one of the first companies that took a generous and equal approach to parental leave and talked about it. So the leaders talking about building a human culture, building a culture where families and parents can thrive. I wanted to join them years ago, and there was a moment maybe five or seven years ago or so where I almost joined them. It didn't happen.  And so, they came back, and I got to meet... Julia is part of that. Julia used to run the HR department. And so, she got a lot of passion around culture, employee experience, the Briteling Experience. And so, I left Niantic, a company that I loved and a team I loved, CEO and leadership team, I really respected. And I joined Eventbrite at a time where they were maybe a year-and-a-half post IPO. And they were in that period, right? Where we're like, "We haven't quite yet taken off this post IPO period. We need to continue to invest in people, and we know we need strong HR leadership."

And so that thesis was like, "This is going to be hard because we want to level up in many ways." And I'm like, "Wow, okay. They've already been doing great things, how do I actually build on that?" And so, they hired Lanny Baker from Yelp, and Casey Winters from Pinterest. And they're so building a really good executive team for the next chapter. And so, the first earnings or so after I joined, I'm like, "Okay, clearly, things are improving. We're improving on our revenue. And this is cool. Great."

And then we see this thing on The Horizon, some news coming out of China and I remember a board member, I think it was January, February, I was sitting next to him at dinner. He's like, "I'm worried. I got to tell you. I got to be honest with you, and I'm not going to say it right now because everyone's on cloud nine, things are going on, but I'm really worried for you guys." I'm like, "That's weird."

Katelin: Foreshadowing.

David: I mean, there's been viruses that come out of certain countries. And they're contained. I remember talking to a friend from EA, who had spent time in Asia, during SARS, and another pandemic. I remember talking to him because I'm like "Hey, I've got this BX team off-site in Nashville." And it's the first week of March, and it's February. Like, "Should I cancel it?" And he's like, "I would cancel it." And this is February. He's like, "I'm telling you right now, I would cancel it. It's going to be crazy." And I'm like, "Really?" And I talked to the CEO and the CFO, I'm like, "Hey, I'm thinking about canceling this." And at the last second, there's people already on the ground in Nashville, and it was talking to everyone, and I'm like, "Okay, we'll make it optional."

But this was my first moment to get the whole team together, my new team, get them all together from around the globe because we want to team build and start to set a new direction on what we're going to build. And we all got to Nashville, and the first night I got there, I go to my hotel room, and about midnight, I hear air raid sirens.

And the windows start going... I'm like, "what the hell?" And so, I was getting these texts. And the texts were like, "Come down to the basement of a hotel now." And a tornado ripped through a mile away from the hotel. And I'm like, "Oh, my gosh. We should not have gone in Nashville for the [inaudible 00:29:16]. I should have listened to my friend."

So, we woke up the next day and what was the planned agenda for an off-site suddenly became... We just had a tornado, we got to make sure 300 employees are okay. And so, we pivoted and everyone was okay. All of our employees were safe but there was devastation. So this moment really brought us all together to what I described in the off-site was to be the heartbeat of the company. To be a human organization because human resources oftentimes are the least human function.

Katelin: Right.

David: And how do we continue to level up the company? Build stronger performance approach, build stronger leaders, really rev up the culture, and employees, and yet be human? And that balancing act. And so we said we want to be the heartbeat of the company. That brought us all together. And then we came back, and then the pandemic is in full swing. And we moved from, this is great vibe, we're building the team, this is great, to suddenly, we got to restructure.

And our whole business model is suddenly wiped out. All these things were happening so quickly, I could barely catch my breath and even understand what was happening in the moment. And so, the restructuring was, really, us completely changing our business approach from moving to a very services-oriented like, "Hey, we staff events, we go to the event with you, we'll help you run the event." To self-serve model. That's where our bread and butter is, we're going to move away from the services in lean into being a true tech company with a self-serve business model and lean into suddenly online events for foreseeable the future. And half the company left as part of that.

Suddenly, all my ambitions and dreams when I started, what we're going to do, it's like, "We got to survive. We have to survive as a company." And so, we weren't the only company, obviously, in that mode, but the restructuring tanked the morale of the company. It tanked it for a couple different reasons. One was because we had to say goodbye to some creators, we had to say like, "Hey, we're no longer going to work the way that we used to work." And a lot of our Brite links, we're passionate about the music business and the types of creators that we supported. But then also, just seeing people leave, it was just, there was a dark period there that summer that then bled into the George Floyd protests.

Katelin: Right.

David: And all of that. And then seeing the pain on the Black Brite links faces and the marginalized communities outside the company, the pain they were going through, and the pain all employees were going through in the pandemic care taking, trying to juggle this. That was the darkness. Towards the middle of that darkness in that summer, we started to find our footing as to who we are as a company, our business strategy, what do we need to do to support Brite links through this? And we got fired up by that. 

Half the company are staying, we got to invest in them, we got to make sure that they feel supported. We do all the right moves, so that they can thrive because there's a lot writing on the employees who are staying in terms of how we're going to merge from this stronger. And so all the initiatives that we started choosing on the employee side, from roughly summer onwards, were all about investing and rebuilding this culture. And now our engagement, our morale is now close to what it was right around during the IPO period.

Katelin: Awesome.

David: So we go from the valley of morale tanking to then the next six months, and a huge spike in December to now, we're like, "We got a company that's fired up, and a lot of new employees were joining, who were taking the baton in many ways." The new employees are joining, and like, "I want to join you now. The return of live events, I want to be part of that because I have the human experience, I want to help you build that."

Katelin: That's so awesome. I am so glad that you took us on the whole journey and didn't just stop in the summer of darkness because that's a rough path. And I think that so many companies experienced that and just the layer, on layer, on layer of wear. 

What are some of the most important areas that you and your teams are focusing on as the world begins to shift into this fresh new start? So what are some of the things that are top of mind for you? Maybe the more appropriate first question is, what are some of those things that, the dominoes and initiatives that you've been setting up the last few months as we are about to emerge? And what are you looking forward to?

David: Obviously, mental health became a really prominent one. It was prominent before the pandemic. And then during the pandemic, one of our leaders, Nick, came up with something called a Burnout Brite camp. So, it was just a talk that he led around how to identify burnout like, "Are you burning out? Let's talk about it. Let's open up the conversation."

And we have a lot of leaders who are suddenly carrying the torch around mitigating burnout, which I found really helpful. So I don't have to do it myself. But we had these Brite camps on mitigating burnout. That then inspired more talks about this. We had a fireside chat with someone from modern health about, "What do we do to identify it? What does it mean to take the time for ourselves? When do you need to raise your hand and say, hey, I need help, I need to take some time off?"

We then started adopting some other experiments, one of them is called Britebreaks. So a pilot that we ran during the pandemic was, we'll take one Friday per month, the whole company will just take it off, the first Friday, and we'll see what that does. And so we measured it. We measured how productive people feel, we measure what managers think. And it was universally, one of the most celebrated programs.

I asked people, "Is this working?" I got 400 comments, "Please let's extend this indefinitely." So, we just announced that that's now part of our experience. So 12 new days per year, we'll all just pause. And what we learned about that is, in the pandemic, not just Eventbrite but all companies, people are, obviously, on their computers more, they're in more meetings, right?

Katelin: Yeah.

David: So, we're in more meetings, and our digital communication has skyrocketed. So the amount of IMs and emails and calendar invites has definitely skyrocketed since the pandemic, and that is wearing on us. And so, we need to just all pause every once in a while to say, "Everyone, pencils down, we're going to go outside." And so, we tried something called no-meeting blocks, and was like, "Hey, if we all just have a no-meeting block, does that help?" That actually wasn't helping per timezone for various reasons.

Katelin: Right.

David: But when we all take a day, everyone is going to take this day off. That was doing some positive things for mental health.

Katelin: It is synchronous time off. So this isn't like you get 12 mental health days, and you get to take them whenever you want. This is synchronous, whole company pauses, and does their own thing. Do you share back what those things are?

David: Yeah.

Katelin: Did that happen organically, or is that a requirement of the program? I'm so curious to learn how you execute this.

David: Yeah, it is synchronous. And we didn't realize at the time, but we realized it later, that one of the best parts of this program was that we're all taking the day off.

Katelin: Right.

David: And it was like, "Pencils down, don't send emails, right? Don't like, wink, wink, "I'm taking off, and I'm actually working." And so, I'd say the vast majority of the company did that. So we would actually ask, "Did you do wind up working on the Britebreak?" And something like 98%, or something like that actually didn't work.

Katelin: Awesome.

David: So, I got emails from people saying, "I went swimming in the North Sea on my Britebreak, and I had an inspiration. I had an inspiration for something about my job that I don't think I would have gotten had I not just gone outside and gone swimming in the North Sea." And it's turned around and actually done wonders for the company in terms of new innovation, new approaches to problems. And the business is doing really well despite now, all of us having a lot more time off.

And that was the big debate. It's like, "Is this going to be a productivity sync because we're just forcing people to put pencils down." And it wasn't. It was like, "People are actually much better at their jobs, and they're tapping their potential from this experiment." And so, those are some examples of just things that within this mental health space that we're trying to lean more into.

Because we think that if we create a workplace where mental health is prioritized, people will just bring their full selves to the workplace.

Katelin: Right.

David: And there's spiritual alignment with this around our leadership development stuff that we're doing, we launched a leadership development program in the pandemic. And so, we tie some of these sensibilities on mental health, and knowing your team members, and having empathy for team members into the leadership training, as well as our work on DEI. And why we built leadership command as a DEI in the pandemic as well. And so, how do these things overlap?

Well, if we have a much more diverse employee base, we ultimately serve our customers better because our customers are incredibly diverse. And then, if we actually have an inclusive environment, the employees who come from really diverse backgrounds can actually bring their full selves to the workplace...

Katelin: Right.

David: And give their innovation, their ideas and be safe in doing so. And why? Well, we're a platform but we actually have protests on our platform. Our platform powers social impact, and so there's this circadian rhythm here of all these things working well together. That the light bulb went off somewhere in the pandemic, that these things actually are important to do in tandem.

Katelin: I love this so much. I know that we're audio only I wish the audience could see me just like I'm grinning ear to ear and nodding because I love case studies like this. I love it when you have a leadership team that will trust and give the space for a program like this to be tested. There's no guarantees, it's going to work, but we, the people community, have theorized about this for so many years, and we're watching it happen across the globe in different ways, and watching different cultures and countries have different approaches to these things. 

And so, I love real life examples of, "Hey, guess what? If we can snap ourselves and click ourselves up in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, if we can get that safety part satisfied, even during and amidst a really challenging moment in our history as a society, if we can satisfy that part of that hierarchy of needs, guess where we get? The end result is that beautiful innovation and creative space that a company ultimately needs to grow and thrive even in very challenging scenarios. And so, I love that you're doing that and I feel like that's something that our audience can can pick up and try, and do the fabulous thing in the open source base of take it and make it better. 

I mean, I could ask you 100,000 more questions for so many reasons. We just don't have the time. Let's get into the quick, rapid fire before we wrap things up. Are you ready, David?

David: Yes.

Katelin: OK. Zoom. Virtual background or real background.

David: Virtual background. I oftentimes don't want people to see what's going on in the background.

Katelin: Spoken like a true parents. Excellent. Next question. What item's sitting on your desk right now in front of you sparks joy, and why?

David: I'm looking right across and it's an Oculus. So going into virtual environments, very fun in a pandemic when you need to shake up the scenery.

Katelin: Nice. I haven't actually tried that yet. That's a really good idea in that context. Next one. Sorry, I'm going to say that when again, Samantha. What is your favorite productivity hack?

David: My favorite productivity hack. I feel like anytime I get on an airplane, suddenly something comes out. Just like, "Oh, my gosh. I'm inspired." And I start cranking away on my laptop. And so, can't do it often right now, but if I get on an airplane something productivity wise is happening.

Katelin: I've got to be honest with you. That's not a real question in my rapid fire lineup. I've added it because I am desperately seeking efficiency in my own life. And I just said to my husband the other day, I was like, "Man, I miss those like one-day trip to New York, California to New York." I was so productive, and yes, creative. Because you aren't connected to anything. So yes, I agree, and miss that too.

That was the warm up. Now, let's get into the juicy ones. Company culture. Family or sports team.

David: I got to go sports team. I think you can't fire family members. But sports team, you're assembling a team and specific sports team. Probably not a team of golfers. Probably more a team of players who actually have to work together to actually win.

Katelin: Fair enough. Next, one tactical thing that leaders or HR teams can do today to reduce burnout in the workplaces.

David: I think, talking about it. So, actually creating a space, that Burnout Brite camp, if we can talk about, if a leader is vulnerable and shares like, "Hey, I've gone through this. And let me just create a space, and I'm going to share some ideas." What comes from that is employees then like sharing their ideas, but you got to create the space to actually talk about it and acknowledge it. Otherwise, you don't really move the needle.

Katelin: Awesome. I love that. Next one, this one's a little harder. When was the last time you were deeply proud of something you have accomplished?

David: Oh, gosh. I have more moments of deep fear of I just fully screwed up. Proud of something I accomplished. I think probably stoking a conversation with the executive team around, what does it mean to be high performing? And actually eliciting debate.

Katelin: Nice.

David: So when I can do something that actually elicits a debate, I am like, "Yes. We just actually had a real conversation.” And so, moments like that are pride moments.

Katelin: Excellent. I say it's hard, because I know, people folk have a tendency to be very, very critical. And it's important to celebrate our wins, and also share those moments so that other people can look for their own. So, thank you. That's really the rapid fire section.

But I do have one last and final question for you before we wrap it up. This one does not have to be fast, you can take your time with it. But what advice would you give to founders and people leaders out there trying to make sense of this particular moment in history? How can they use this as an opportunity to build a better organization as we look forward into the future?

David: I think there's this pressure to have a plan for hybrid work, and the future of work, and like, "We got to come up with a plan." And I remember a leader when I was talking to him about like, "Hey, we need a vision for this team." He's like, "I'm not going to give you a vision." And we're doing something that's very experimental, we're going to iterate. And so when you relieve the pressure of, "We have to have the plan for the next few years. How is this going to work? How is return to work going to work?" And you can actually be comfortable in the moment of just wake up each day and iterate. Like, "What's going to happen if we don't have the plan tomorrow?" No one knows what's going to happen. We certainly didn't know that the beginning of the pandemic.

Katelin: Right.


All the predictions were wrong. So all the predictions right now of what the future of work is, are probably wrong, or they're right for a certain company, but they might not be right for your company. So iterate and just live in the moment of what today, as opposed to trying to account for all the things that you don't know.

Katelin: I love that advice. And I actually will take that into my own thinking and my own day-to-day work. Because it is so important that this is very novel, very new time and space that we're working through. And by giving yourself permission to try and fail and try and succeed is a really powerful thing.  And also, because we're exhausted, and creating the pixel perfect plan that is creative, and innovative, and effective, in so much unknown, is incredibly challenging and stressful. So great tip, I love that. Thank you.

Well, David, you did it. You made it to the end of All Hands with me. I am so very grateful for your insights, and just for taking the time to share with us, and really give us some tactical things that we can do and take back to our organizations. So thank you so very much not just for spending the time with us but for the work that you do out there in this strange world. So please keep living authentically and leading with heart and care. And I very much look forward to see what comes out of the Eventbrite camp soon.

David: Thank you so much, Katelin. This was great. I really appreciate it. This is so much fun.


Thanks so much for joining me on this week’s episode of All Hands, brought to you by Lattice. I’m your host, Katelin Holloway.
All Hands is produced by Lattice in partnership with Pod People. Special thanks to our production team: Christine Swor, Annette Cardwell, Rachael King, Samantha Gattsek, Madison Lusby(Luz-bee), & Erica Huang(hwong) Learn more about how Lattice can help your business stay people focused at Lattice DOT com or find us on Twitter @LatticeHQ.

Don’t forget to subscribe to All Hands, wherever you get your podcasts.

Join us next time!

subscribe to podcast

About the Guest

podcast guest

David Hanrahan

As Chief Human Resources Officer, David Hanrahan leads the global human resources team, and plays a key role in leading organizational culture initiatives.

David’s career has spanned 19+ years building strong HR teams and fostering a collaborative team culture across global organizations including Niantic, Zendesk, Twitter, Electronic Arts and Universal Pictures.

Uncover insights from the world’s people leaders