hannah

Life/Life Balance with COO Hannah Kreiswirth

Hannah KreiswirthCOO

In most companies, the role of the chief operating officer is not directly concerned with employee wellbeing, satisfaction, or recruitment. This is not the case with AREA 17, where COO Hannah Kreiswirth makes it her priority to ensure that the employees are happy. Join us to find out why Hannah does this (people make the company), and how she ensures employee contentment

Episode Transcript

TTM 223 Transcript EPISODE 223 

[INTRODUCTION] 

[0:00:06.1] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me. A podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders  on the frontline’s modern recruitment. 

[0:00:12.8] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to  understand how they make decisions. Where are they willing to take risks and what it looks like  when they fail. 

[0:00:22.7] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment,  VPs of global talent, CHROs and everyone in between. 

[0:00:31.1] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings got the certifications  through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing. 

[0:00:39.7] MALE: Talent acquisition, it’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization,  you get to work with the C-Suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between  and everybody knows you. 

[0:00:52.0] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson and you’re about to hear the best in the biz, Talk  Talent to Me. 

[INTERVIEW] 

[0:00:59.8] RS: Joining me today on Talk Talent to Me and documenting it on her phone as I  bring her in to the episode is the chief operating officer and partner over at Area 17, Hannah  Kreiswirth. Hannah, welcome to the show, how are you? 

[0:01:13.1] HK: I’m doing very well, thanks so much for having me, I’m excited to chat talent  with you. 

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[0:01:18.5] RS: Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad you’re here, you are unique, I’m sure in lots of ways  but certainly unique amongst my lineup of guests in that you’re not directly installed in the talent  department but seems that you have kind of seen how it affects your role and your life in the  company you care about. We’ll get into all that. 

I guess to kind of earn the insight a little bit, would you mind sharing a little bit about your  background and how you wound up in your current role? 

[0:01:44.3] HK: Yeah, absolutely. My path has definitely been a little bit of a winding one,  starting out of university, having a film in history degree. I think I was really just inspired by the  power of storytelling and interaction and as well as just fundamentally how people move through  the world and connect with it and that’s exciting to me because it really found me in a place  where I quickly moved out of the film world, not really wanting to climb the ladder of the film  world because I really wanted to be a director and turns out, you need to do a lot of other jobs  before you get there. 

I found myself engaged in the Internet and realizing that that is a space where storytelling and  sort of social history is happening as we speak. That was really exciting to me and so I started  my career sort of in odd jobs in the interactive space, I then worked in publishing and then, as  an entrepreneur, starting my own product with a good friend of mine and then finding myself at a  

social impact agency and that was really exciting because I realized, when I shifted out of being  an entrepreneur, that I was sort of soul searching and talking to a bunch of people that inspire  me and I was like, “Maybe I should take a year abroad and volunteer at this place” and my  friend’s dad who runs a non-profit was like, “Or, you could do what you do in design and  technology for us” and it was like this lightbulb that I could actually do mission based work with  the skills that I already had, versus trying to bring labor somewhere else that I had no  experience doing. 

[0:03:20.2] RS: What then pointed you at Area 17? How’d you kind of discovered the company  and wind up there? 

[0:03:24.3] HK: Having that epiphany, I found myself first at an organization called Purpose  where I was the head of creative and honed my understanding of how to create impact and  

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what I realized I really loved was not necessarily running campaigns and building that  opportunity with clients but actually being the behind the scenes person that was helping to  build the organization itself and the teams and the experience that the people within the walls  were having. 

When I left there, it’s funny I had told myself I didn’t want to work in the agency and I’m sure  we’ll talk more about some of the things that I think are opportunities within the agency world  and what we are able to do at Area 17 but a good friend and recruiter actually, being a great  

recruiter, understood my intention and interest and she said, “I know you don’t want to be at an  agency but I really need you to meet these people at Area 17 because they’re doing things  differently and they care about the same things you did.” 

I’m so grateful to her that she introduced me to Area 17 because she was absolutely right, I  found myself speaking to Kemp and George who I’m humbled to be their partners today and the  first thing that George said to me was that, he didn’t want to be just another digital agency and  that everything that we do at Area 17 is about making great work and living great lives and it  was as simple as that. 

That felt like a brief I was interested in supporting and we quickly found the opportunity of how I  could be a big part of shaping that with him, with them, sorry and here we are today. 

[0:04:58.7] RS: Fantastic, thanks for sharing that and I’m really interested in your focus on  storytelling, the way you prioritize storytelling. Because everyone is the protagonist of their own  story, right? Everyone is the main character in their own lives. You have an opportunity when  you’re hiring someone to help them tell a chapter of that story. 

If you can position that role, that opportunity in terms that position them as the main character in  their own life, you understand what it is they’re trying to accomplish and you explain how you’re  a stopping point on that journey, then you’ve won, then they’re going to sign up, then they’re  going to want to join your company and they’re going to really do good work for you. 

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It sounds like that’s kind of what happened when your recruiter friends connected the dots and  said, “Hey, I know you don’t want to go to an agency but there is a value-based alignment here.”  Is that fair to say? 

[0:05:50.1] HK: Yeah, absolutely. I like what you’re saying there too because I think one of the  things that’s always really exciting for us is not only why we should choose someone and why  they’re the right person that we get to select. Rather, why should they choose us and making  sure that it’s always a two-way dialogue. I think a lot of that happens through storytelling as well,  through a dialog in the interview process and making sure that I don’t think anyone’s going to be  successful if they don’t want to be where they are. 

Of course, there are jobs that are just jobs but when you ware working in an area of passion, I  think you really need to be able to stand up and be proud for what you get to do every day, how  you get to do it, who you get to do it with and so for us, when we’re looking for talent, of course  we want to find the best that’s out there but we also want them to see the best in us and see  themselves within our walls and understand, “I get to be part of this community and this is a  community that I believe in, my values are aligned, my purpose is aligned and this is a place  that I’m going to be able to elevate that to another level”. 

If we can do that for someone, I think that is just the best opportunity that we can offer, not to  mention, gain. 

[0:06:59.1] RS: Right, of course. Can I have you reflect a little more on the, “Some jobs are just  jobs” part of what you just said? I’m so interested in this idea of how much can we reasonably  expect from our work and I think there’s this pressure to be like, “I am fulfilled by my work, I am  aligned with the mission of the company, we are creating a better world, I love my colleagues,  this is like a passion for me, I feel creatively filled at work” et cetera. 

All of these things that are outside of the base agreement of work, which is, “I sell my labor to  you so that I have money to afford the things that I need in my life”. Food and shelter and  everything else. Where do you come down on that, given a sufficient amount of privilege, right?  Are jobs just jobs? Is it fair for people to be like, “Listen, I don’t really care about this company, I  

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don’t care about my coworkers, I clock out at 4:59 PM and I don’t think about it until I check  back in and then that’s all I think about work” 

When it comes to like, the good life, I guess, where do you come down on that? 

[0:08:03.1] HK: I mean, I think there’s absolutely space in this world and necessity in this world  for both, right? I think there’s that sort of trope of work to live versus live to work. My view is that  both of those are a bit wrong because at the end of the day, I think work is inherently a big part  

of all of our lives unless you’re so privileged to not need to do that at all but in the significant  majority of us, either need to work in order to have a life at all or we are inspired entirely by our  work and it’s a big part of it. 

I think work to live is a not really giving enough credence to the fact that it is still part of your life  to be working and in fact, it’s 70% of your life for most of us and live to work is sort of, as if you  don’t have a life without work. What I like to say is that, the idea of work life balance  conceptually is meant to be a good thing but semantics are important to me and I like to think  about it as life-life balance because when you say work life balance or those other sort of  phrases that I was just saying. 

It inherently pits work as something separate entirely from life which I think is just wrong,  whether you love your work deeply or it’s simply a necessity of how you get the means to be  able to live your entire life, it is still a big part of your life. Especially if you’re of the group who  are passionate about your work and want to contribute to society and the world around you  through your work. 

If we say, “Don’t worry, we’re going to give you a great work life balance” we’re inherently  saying, will you think it’s important that you have a life and work is this thing that we’re going to  massage a little bit to be a better antithesis to that but we’re still saying that it’s separate from  life.  

If we say life-life balance, we understand that work can be something that is a really valuable  add to your life and a valuable part of your life. I really like the concept that your professional life  

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should be something that we celebrate and make as great as it can be in parallel to allowing it to  be something that empowers your personal life. To be great and celebrated as well. 

I really like this concept of flipping a bit on its head and saying, let’s call spade to spade and  understand that work is a big part of life and life, life balance is maybe something that we all  need and want but we can do that in a way that doesn’t put work down or always sort of make  work a bad guy because I think for me, the inspiration for what I do and get to do is to make  work something that is a benefit for someone’s life. 

For the clients that we get to serve, partners that we get to work with. It should be something  that has the opportunity to be wholly good. 

[0:10:56.0] RS: That’s so well put Hannah. This notion of work life, you’re so right, it makes it as  if it’s work versus life and you’re kind of saying, nothing here at work will be fulfilling to your life,  right? 

[0:11:09.0] HK: Right, exactly.  

[0:11:10.8] RS: To the point where we need to draw a line in the sand so that you still feel  happy and fulfilled as a person because it ain’t happening here. Who would want that, who  would choose that willingly? 

[0:11:20.1] HK: Exactly. I mean, you know, speaking personally, my work experiences have  been a huge part of my life. A lot of my friends have come from my experiences at work, a lot of  my inspiration and passions have been surfaced while at work, I’ve learned a lot about who I am  and the things that excite me and hopefully have contributed back to my colleagues and my  personal life through those experience as well and likewise, I think what’s important about the  idea of life-life balance and how we approach our experiences and with Area 17 is also inviting  people’s personal passions right back into the work place as well. It goes two ways, right? 

Saying that who you are as a person shouldn’t stop at the door, it should be something that you  are expression and that is a sense of belonging when you are at your workplace because you  

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get to be who you are, not this sort of bland version of yourself that is cookie cutter to what the  workplace is expecting you to be. 

[0:12:21.4] RS: Yeah, even that, there’s so much nuance to it because I’ve heard that the  opposite side of the spectrum from work-life balance is “Bring your whole self to work” and that  can’t be it either because there’s some parts of me that I don’t want to share with my coworkers,  right? Everyone’s got that or there’s some parts that you can’t share. 

Here’s an example, in San Francisco, they have the Folsom Street Fair, which is the like a  public sex parade basically. If someone goes to that, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it  at work, right? You know, we have our own puritan belief system to thank for that but it’s just  like, that’s a part of you but you can’t bring your whole self to work in that because you’re going  to make people uncomfortable. 

What is the balance there, what is enough, where do we draw the line between, “Yes, I’m  fulfilled by work but I keep this piece of me to myself” rather than ask you to draw and paint a  broad stroke, where do you come down it now? Where is the balance between your own  personal Hannah-ness and how much of yourself do you give to your work? 

[0:13:19.0] HK: I mean, I’m someone who is a pretty — who I am where I am, I don’t think it  changes too much from place to place but I think what’s most important is to acknowledge that  everyone’s different and I think that’s also what — that sort of — where should we stand is not a  right or wrong. I think there’s certain things that are about ensuring equity and ensuring comfort  and ensuring safety and security, that is the responsibility of a workplace. 

Sans that — I think it’s about, I think we’ve learned this even more during this time of the  pandemic, that people are wildly different and what fulfills them and what they want to bring to  work or bring home from work is different. We’ve seen people really uncomfortable with having  their art or partner or friends or whomever in the background of their zoom and we’ve had  people that feel, it’s kind of exciting you get to see a little bit about who I am and neither one of  those is right or wrong and I think when I’m looking to how we want to update our experience for  our team, it’s listening and learning through those experiences and understanding that there  

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really isn’t a right or wrong and how dare we as a company, dictate how people should show up  at work besides those things that are really about comfort and security and wellbeing. 

Rather, how can we create a space that offers context for all types of people and allows for  people to truly be themselves and yeah, whether that is, I think it comes to remote working or  working at the studio, I mean, there’s so much that is proposing that because people have said  they have enjoyed the ability to work from home and have flexibility, that defacto means,  everyone in the world should work at home because that’s what we’ve heard. 

It’s not looking at all sides of the story. I mean, personally, I don’t enjoy working at home. I love  the flexibility to have that option but I crave the opportunity to listen to my peers, interact with  one another, be inspired to help my job and do the things that I need to do to ensure people are  fulfilled. I can’t do that when I’m sitting alone in my home. I need to be able to hear and see how  people are existing and collaborating in order to serve them. 

[0:15:43.3] RS: Yeah, it’s not — it’s some combination of, it depends and have empathy, right?  Which is not like a sexy thing to write in a tweet or in a headline, grabby blogpost, right? People  want silver bullets and they want easy, well demarcated answers and for something as varied as  the human experience, which is what you’re dealing with when you bring people into an  organization together to work on something, there is no easy answer, right? You have to, just  like you say, say, be flexible. 

[0:16:17.4] HK: Absolutely. I think flexibility is something that is so important for this next  chapter of what a workplace is and what a work experience is but it also, I mean, I’m quoting  from Netflix, the no rules, rules book of — wait, let me — now I think I’m quoting Spiderman,  freedom becomes responsibility. It’s either Spiderman or Netflix, I’m not sure. 

[0:16:45.9] RS: Yeah, Uncle Ben and Spiderman. 

[0:16:46.0] HK: The concept being that the more flexibility that we can afford to our teams, the  more responsibility that invites in return because at the end of the day too, it isn’t a one to one  relationship. When you offer flexibility to one person, especially when we understand that  everyone’s different. 

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There, one person’s flexibility is different and choices within that are different than another  person’s flexibility and when you have, whether it’s five people, a hundred people or 7,000  people, that flexibility becomes somewhat exponential and so the responsibility to one another  and the commitment to one another needs to be something that has clear standards and  expectations so that we all are being — taking and we are all taking and benefiting from the  flexibility but we’re also not taking from someone else because their flexibility might be different. 

Having shared-standards I think is one of the things that can allow for greater flexibility, greater  autonomy and ultimately, a shared work experience that is fundamentally different from one  person to another.  

[0:17:54.5] RS: What kind of processes, behaviors I suppose, what kind of action can  companies take to ensure this is the case of their company, to empower people to sort of design  their work life however is best for them? 

[0:18:10.4] HK: I think first and foremost is listening and I’ll say, we do a lot of listening but we  can always do more listening. I think listening to people, learning about them as people and as  professionals is number one. Number two, what I think is really exciting that Area 17 has always  had as our sort of decision making framework is a values based decision making framework,  making sure that our understanding of one another is about the values we share, ours are rigor,  curiosity, kindness, courage and je ne sais quoi and for us, and for me especially, I mean, I  make almost every single decision that I make day to day and hour to hour, month to month,  based on those frameworks, whether it’s especially in the hiring process.  

You know, we want to be understanding. It is not whether someone is good or bad in their  skillset, it is how and when they apply those shared valued to their work and their behaviors with  one another and that’s not to say that those are the right values.  

They’re our values and everyone within our walls really share those and when we confront a  situation where those values are being challenged that’s what we want to talk about is it’s not  just because it’s the — it is sort of a code of conduct that we can have but it can be something  

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that drives how we offer our benefits, how we invite new talent into our company and how we  treat one another fundamentally.  

[0:19:43.6] RS: Can you describe what je ne sais quoi is as a company value?  

[0:19:47.1] HK: Absolutely and I will start by saying we’re a French and American company and  je ne sais quoi does not translate well to French funnily enough since it is French but it is an  English saying and it really just means that I can’t put my finger on it, right? It’s the wit and  whimsy that make us as people who we are so we really want to, you know, what we’re saying  when we say that one of our values is je ne sais quoi is that it is a value of humanity.  

It’s a value of individualism, it is a value of character and there isn’t one character that we want  because if we could say what it is, it would be a word not a phrase that means I can’t just put my  finger on, that I don’t exactly know what, you know? It is that thing that we feel not something  that we can really tangibly get at and that’s something that it is sort of a quirk in what we like to  say as one of our values and kind of bring some of our character as an organization to the fore  but ultimately, it really means that.  

It means be who you are and make sure that person is interesting and ready to be part of the  team.  

[0:20:59.2] RS: Yeah, that’s special. You are the first person I’ve spoken to who has that as a  value, so I am just delighted by it frankly. All of this translating founder vision and mission into  values, translating values and the behavior, screening for those behaviors, et cetera. This is  traditionally the domain of VP of talent, of a CHRO, of a chief people officer, that kind of  individual. You as a chief operating officer, what made you want to point your focus at it and  prioritize a senior own role?  

[0:21:32.7] HK: It is a great question and one that is funny because it never even really  occurred to me that having a focus on people wouldn’t fundamentally be what a COO’s job is,  right? Because at the end of the day, to me our business doesn’t exist without our people and  that’s something that has been from central to who we are from day one and 19 years later, it’s  only just more pronounced.  

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I think it really comes down to what we do, right? We’re human centered or user centered  designers and I think that what we do in our work is not only try to look at what is going to better  the bottom line of our — the organizations that we work with but how are we going to  understand how people fundamentally interact with the experiences that we make in order to  bring that back to the organization and allow for them to have impact.  

It is a people first approach to our work and I am inspired by our work, so a lot of what we do at  the senior leadership level is think about the same thing. Our users are people, the people that  are a talent within our walls or I keep using that phrase within our walls as if we still have them  

every day but virtual walls, virtual and physical walls, it’s the partners that we get to work with  and clients that we get to work with.  

Those are our users and if we are not thinking about the experience that they have day to day,  we aren’t going to be able to have a — if we aren’t putting them at the center of our decisions,  the return is never going to be there because at the end of the day, I think of people first  approach is a business strategy. Sure, it is the right thing to do to treat your people well and to  long for fulfillment and create a space that allows for people to do great work and that is true.  

We are inspired by giving that opportunity to our people but it is also fundamentally that happier  people do better work, people that are fulfilled and have a purpose do better work and all of that  allows us to have greater return in our business, which ultimately allows us to give more back to  our team and to our partners, et cetera.  

Instead of thinking about how can we make more money by pushing our people to do the best  work, we are thinking how can we create an environment that allows our people to do their best  work, which in turn will naturally bring us the right return that allows us to fuel that engine further  and further.  

[0:24:04.2] RS: Enabling people to do their best work as a key driver of business results makes  all the sense in the world and it feels like it is part and personal with your greater approach of  just allowing people to do their best work in whichever way they decide and that I think is a  

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winning position in the narrative about the future of work because you often see the extremes in  this narrative about how we’re all going fully remote.  

We are breaking the lease on our office, we’ll never see each other again, right? We’re going to  be a fully remote company because people don’t want it but again, I think the real answer is it  depends. There are people like yourself who prefer to be in an office and that makes sense, so  when you read these narratives, when you read these think pieces or what have you, people  prognosticating about what the future of work means, how do you kind of react to that and what  future do you see?  

[0:24:55.1] HK: I think it’s a great question and something that I love to think about every day.  My view is that these narratives that sort of say, “Hey, we have proven it. Remote work was  amazing. Everyone was able to have their same productivity or maybe even better productivity  and the economy is going up now” and this that and the other thing and all these narratives that  can say remote work is the future, right?  

That’s a fair hypothesis, however, I think it is not looking at or it is sort of placing a veil on some  of the other realities that we’ve seen. We have seen some of the biggest mental health crisis  that have existed in the modern day. We have seen more loneliness that has ever existed. We  have seen a lot of people feel struggling a lot with stopping working that they are kind of  breathing into the rest of their day and that life-life balance just goes out the door because one  part of that life just sort of consumes the other.  

Some of these narratives I feel are honestly kind of putting the business value that lots of  businesses are seeing and saying, “Oh great, I will cut the cost of my office and I can prove that  this is something that people want because the surveys that we’ve had said people want remote  work, therefore, we will just cut this and we are going to send everyone remotely.” I don’t knock  businesses that feel that’s right and that their team say that that’s exactly what they want.  

However, for us and I hypothesize for the greater majority of the — of working experiences that  it isn’t as black and white as that. I think that what we are realizing is that yes, flexibility is  something I think most of us have embraced and really, really enjoyed and benefited from but it  

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isn’t a statement that ends there. It is saying, “Okay, that we’ve understood but also we’ve been  lonely or we felt overworked or we felt confused about how to build friendships”.  

We have new employees who haven’t met anyone and don’t have those relationships from prior  to the pandemic that they brought into the virtual world. How do we create those? You know, it is  not looking at the things that are harder so for me, it kind of goes back to what we were talking  about earlier that people are different and we need to create environments that offer context to  all the people and so I think that for me, the future of work is about understanding the office  space or we call it a studio but as a benefit and something that we are bringing back in.  

Not because we are going to force you to be there but rather because we understand that for  many of us it is a benefit and for many of our clients, it is a benefit to be in the same room as the  people that we are working with. It is for certain context. It is a big, big benefit for being able to  work quicker or think more creatively or enjoy the smiles you get to see and the interactions that  you have.  

It is not often that you have a big brainstorm that goes endless hours online and you leave it  being like, “Oh my god, I am so energized” versus that can happen all the time in person  because you laugh and you can joke around and you can see body movements and you have a  more natural interaction. I mean at the end of the day, we’re human, right? We like to be in each  other’s presence and so I think that that we definitely have all understood that in our personal  lives and I think we’re pretending that it wasn’t a big value of our professional lives and some of  the narratives that at least I am reading.  

I think it’s really about balance and finding that right balance and I don’t think we have the exact  right answer, so for us we want to create context where we’re learning and offering that balance  and iterating as we go and making sure that we are not making hard decisions of exactly when  you need to be in the studio or exactly how you should approach this, that or the other situation  but rather understanding, “Wow, we’ve learned a lot that there are lots of different ways that we  

can approach the same work day and let’s try out all these different context and experiences  together and find the right balance.”  

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For us, we hypothesize that our studio is going to be more bubbling on Tuesdays and  Thursdays because that is sort of what we’ve seen during the pandemic that people have  gravitated towards the studio in those days, so what does that mean? Maybe we are going to  have more programming or events during those days because more people will naturally be in  the studio. Are we going to force people to come on in Tuesdays and Thursdays?  

No, because also other people might choose Monday, Wednesday, Friday because it is quieter  and they like to come into the studio for a quieter experience, so it is all about kind of listening,  learning and creating environments where people can self-select the right way that they use  those benefits rather than trying to design a solution for myriad interest.  

[0:29:59.1] RS: Yeah, I think that’s so true. This narrative that remote-first is the way forward  like solely remote, fully distributed team. It does sort of dismiss how work was done up until two  years ago, right? Say that there was nothing redeeming about that and I have been very critical  on this podcast about how the nine to five work day is outdated and was based on a time when  that was when there was light outside and there was no Internet so you had to do it then.  

You know, some of that I stand by still. I still think nine to five is arbitrary but when you said that  like, yeah, we are humans, we are tribal creatures, we want to be in each other’s space, think of  relationships you’ve have with previous coworkers. Some of my best friends they are people  who I met through work and I don’t have those similar relationships with current employees who  I met solely on Zoom.  

If anyone on Hired is listening to this, you can Slack me, you know? We can be friends but  yeah, it is so important and I think we are making this judgment on how work should be done  based on such a relatively small amount of data, right? On two years’ worth of — really just  worth of productivity and then maybe some employee surveys but the employee survey, I don’t  know, can we trust people to select work?  

Big work decision like this and that are in their best interest necessarily because when you  answer that work survey about would you rather work at home or in an office, you’re going to  stay at home because you can think of all the, you know, I don’t like my commute and I like  

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being able to do laundry in the middle of the day and I like being able to spend more time with  my partner, have lunch with him every day.  

I am like sure, no one wants to take that away from you but are you forgetting all those things  about — the collaborative things that happen in a workplace, the relationships you forged with  coworkers, the clear demarcation point between work and life if that is something you want and I  don’t know if you are thinking about that when you answer those survey questions.  

[0:31:55.4] HK: Absolutely and I think it also discounts muscle memory, right? I mean, for a lot  of us it has been a long time since we had a regular commute to work and valuable experiences  that happen within the work day. You know, it has been two plus years of a lot of us working  remotely and trying to grasp and embrace the benefits that it had, so that’s the thing. That’s the  muscle memory we have right now versus when I’ve had experiences myself and hearing from  our team that coming into the studio it is almost like this, “Whoa, I almost forgot that this was so  awesome.”  

Just having a walk-in meeting with someone and one of my favorite ways to have a one-on-one  is to go for a walk with someone because it is inherently a nice human way to have a  conversation with someone. You don’t have to stare at each other’s eyes, which is a little bit  awkward for a lot of us, right? It is just sort of this inherent thing looking at your own face is not  normal in a conversation, you know?  

[0:32:55.2] RS: Yeah, great point.  

[0:32:57.9] HK: There’s a lot of things that are just odd about the virtual experience that I am  grateful for it because it has been something that has allowed us to still run a business during  this time and as a technology business, I am super grateful for the fact that we’ve all better  understood how important technology has been in our experience in the last two years, so it is  about embracing the things we’ve learned and realized are fundamental to our ability to do  things differently but also remembering, “Wow, yeah it was really nice to just grab lunch on a  whim and not have to plan it five days in advance” or deciding to just go grab a coffee with  someone and learn about something.  

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TTM 223 Transcript 

Bump into someone in the kitchen and have a great idea about the project that you’re on or just  overhear someone else having a conversation that gives you an idea. Those things are  impossible to do virtually and I think it’s a sad world if we don’t bring those opportunities back in  and I think it is interesting too to think of the flip, the things that we’ve learned that for myself,  I’ve always been someone that loves being in the studio interacting with other people but I also  learned how valuable flexibility is as well.  

I spent last year this time, I spent a month living at my parent’s place and working as well and it  was a beautiful experience to be able to spend a full month with my parents, seeing who they  are in their retired life and all the while working and having a shared experience there that I  never would have thought to do, right? I never would have been like, “Hey guys, I am just going  to go work remotely for a month.”  

People would have been like, “Well, that’s kind of weird and arbitrary, like what? Are your  parents sick?” “No, I just wanted to spend time with them and interact, you know?” It just would  have never occurred to us versus now, it’s like because we have proven out the capability of  working remotely, we can understand that those flexible environments are something that we  can offer and gain as people and it doesn’t need to be a decision on how we work but rather a  benefit, an opportunity of how we can work.  

[0:35:09.6] RS: Yeah, well said. Hannah, before I let you go because I don’t know if we are  going to find a better bookend than that, I do want to ask you one more question though, what is  your favorite period of history to study?  

[0:35:20.1] HK: You know, I think I always wasn’t about a specific period of history but rather  social history. I am not someone that was like, “Oh my god, I love this specific time period and I  want to know everything about them.” I am a breath not depth person, so for me, I’d be more  interested in learning about the at home experience during every war because that is an  interesting interaction for me of like what was the implication of something that was happening  over here that’s in most of the history books that was the history is war.  

But what is interesting to me is how the rest of humanity was coping and interacting and  learning about one another during those same times. I think for me, it is always about human  

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TTM 223 Transcript 

interaction and that was what has always been fascinating to be about history and truly about  the Internet because I feel like the Internet is just history in the making, you know, every single  moment we’re sending a text or sending an iMessage I guess or whatever.  

Anytime we’re sending a Slack message, anytime we’re watching something online, et cetera, it  is an engagement that is happening and documented in a way that has never been in the past  and so I think there is something really fundamentally interesting about the Internet being a  living history and especially a social history and yeah, I guess my answer is I won’t answer. I will  only say that I like to learn about how people interact and see how that might shape future  generations.  

[0:36:52.3] RS: Your answer is “It depends”.  

[0:36:54.8] HK: My answer is it depends, exactly. 

[0:36:58.7] RS: Hannah, this a delight. Thank you for being here, for sharing all of your  experience and wisdom with me. I love chatting with you, thanks for being on the show.  

[0:37:04.5] HK: Yeah, it’s been super fun. Thanks so much for having me and I hope many of  my thoughts were valuable to everyone.  

[END OF INTERVIEW] 

[0:37:11.1] RS: Talk Talent to Me is brought to you by Hired. Hired empowers connections by  matching the world’s most innovative companies with ambitious tech and sales candidates. With  Hired, candidates and the companies have visibility into salary offers, competing opportunities  and job details. Hired’s unique offering includes customized assessments and salary bias alerts  to help remove unconscious bias when hiring. By combining technology and human touch, our  goal is to provide transparency in the recruiting process and empower each of our partners to  employ their potential and keep their talent pipeline full.  

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TTM 223 Transcript [END]  

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