Candidates should approach the company they want to work for with deliberate ambition, armed with adequate research and the will to uphold that company’s values. Today’s guest, Hadley Haut, did exactly that on her way to becoming Executive Director of Talent and Culture at The Atlantic. One thing that her company has managed to do successfully is maintain its office culture after the difficulties of the pandemic, and our guest explains just how they did it and why working in-office is still extremely valuable for all employees.
[00:00:05] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.
[00:00:12] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to understand how they make decisions, where they’re willing to take risks, and what it looks like when they fail.
[00:00:22] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.
[00:00:31] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt something was missing.
[00:00:39] 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.
[00:00:52] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson, and you’re about to hear the best in the biz. Talk Talent To Me.
[00:00:58] RS: Talking talent to me, today is the Executive Director of Talent and Culture over at The Atlantic, Hadley Haut. Hadley, welcome to the show. How the heck are ya?
[00:01:07] HH: I’m good, Rob. Thanks. How the heck are you?
[00:01:10] RS: I’m really great, too. Thanks for asking. You are my first appointment. My first call on a Monday morning, so you’re a great way to start the week, I have to say. I’d like not bothered to look at emails or anything yet. I was what like, “You know what? I’m going straight into recording with Hadley, going in fresh here on the week, not being colored or affected by all of the other demands on my time.” That should tell you how excited I am to speak with you.
[00:01:31] HH: I’m really excited to speak with you, too. I’ve had three zooms already, but I’m in a different time zone than you. On the East Coast, that only makes sense, but I’m removing all of that from my memory and fresh starting here with you as well.
[00:01:49] RS: I love it. Yeah. Wipe it out of your brain. No zooms happened, even though you’re halfway through your Monday. We’ve been trying to do this for a long time. We first connected I think like in March or something. We just went back and forth. Time got away from us, but you hung with me. I just wanted to say, thank you again, for being here. You have a really interesting background, loads to get into. I should think most people know The Atlantic. They’ve probably seen it through their various feeds and have read The Atlantic, if they bothered to be out there in the world and tried to be up on current events. But for people who don’t, would you mind sharing a little bit about who The Atlantic are? Then we’ll get into your role, too.
[00:02:24] HH: Yeah, for sure. I can elaborate if I’m not giving you enough. So you let me know, I’ll be as picky as possible. The Atlantic has been around since 1857. We began as a magazine. I mean, honestly, and what really brought me here is the mission of The Atlantic to abolish slavery. I mean, that was one of its core functions when it started literary commentary, articles in politics, foreign affairs, the economy, culture, arts, now more than any time in our history, technology and science, but always a big part of it. Just to offer a place for intellectual debate, and coming from the point of view of no party or clique. We now have many platforms that we publish on, including audio, video and different iterations. Yes, is that giving you enough? I mean.
[00:03:20] RS: Yeah.
[00:03:21] HH: You all need to read The Atlantic, if you don’t read The Atlantic.
[00:03:24] RS: If you’re not reading The Atlantic, you’re blowing it, frankly.
[00:03:27] HH: You’re blowing it. You’re messing it up.
[00:03:30] RS: It’s so interesting you go all the way back to the 1850s, because when I speak to people who work at companies who’ve been around a little bit, they will say somewhat proudly or smugly, we’re not a new company. We’ve been around since the 80s. We’re 40 plus years old at this time, to which you would say, “Ha, cute.” What does that mean, do you think –
[00:03:47] HH: You know when they say that, but yeah. I know what you mean.
[00:03:49] RS: You wouldn’t say it. You might think it and it might be true, but you wouldn’t say it.
[00:03:53] HH: That’s fair.
[00:03:54] RS: When you think of that extra 140 years that The Atlantic has on companies that would be considered somewhat old by today’s standards, what does that mean for the culture and how you approach the role, knowing that there’s this legacy behind you?
[00:04:10] HH: Wow. Well, we didn’t talk about this beforehand. No, that’s a really good question. I mean, for me, it feels magical being connected to our founders, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe. People who have written history, literally written history, and also challenged ideas and pushed curiosity and comfort zones for over a century and a half, like this is what I do, right? This is how I’m part of it. I’m not a writer. I mean, I think I am sometimes, but this is how I can contribute that, I mean, I pinch myself. I just can’t believe how fortunate I am. I think that that’s the big value working here. I think that’s, I mean, that’s certainly what brought me here. Literally, stalking the company like, “I have to work here. This terrifies me. I have to be here.” But you’re a part of history, on the right side of it. So speaking truth, and approaching ideas in new and not always comfortable ways.
[00:05:23] RS: I don’t think I’ve had someone sit with me on this podcast and tell me that it’s not important for candidates to be connected to the mission, right? Everyone will say, “Oh, yeah, of course, that’s what you want from candidates.” Is it more so the case at The Atlantic when you rattled off some names there early abolitionist, early transcendentalist, people who are hugely important the culture of this young country. Is the connection to those individuals, does that come up at early stages of interviews? Like if someone were to say, Transcendentalism, is that some new age perk? I’ve never heard of that. Would that be enough to be like, okay, maybe you’re not a good fit for The Atlantic? How important is it going to be connected to the early stuff?
[00:06:02] HH: Yeah. I mean, look not totally issue, but like put aside the Transcendentalism question, specifically, but that language hasn’t come up, but I like how you approached it. Yeah, I think a big part of the role of our recruiting team and that function and the talent side of what I’m accountable for, I think it’s our job to assess candidates on whether we can give them what they want. If they don’t want and when I say want, I mean like, have a deep desire to be part of this piece that we can offer, which is the things I just mentioned like why I’m here, why The Atlantic was founded.
I don’t think we’d be investing in someone who have long term potential here. We pay competitive salaries, all of those things, we give growth paths, but you don’t go to The Atlantic for the big fat tech paycheck. I mean, there are things that people can expect and deserve and ways to show value monetarily, but the deepest, most special, most unique value are those things. Yeah, that is important that a person feels a connection to them, and desire to be part of it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been very long. They wouldn’t feel good and excited and inspired every day in the way that we want anyone to hear, with the exception of some tough days.
Still, having that connection is really important, because it is also really hard work. It’s a blanket statement, but it’s real. It’s real. It’s not fluff. It’s not just the knees are really important, it’s not a new product connected to how a social TikTok can spent like that stuff, then maybe we’ll use, maybe we’ll partner with, but that’s not our core function. That’s not what we do best. Feeling a connection is what we do best. Yeah, you got to have it, I think to be, not to be hired, but to be a successful hire.
[00:08:08] RS: Yeah. Yeah. I like how you said, you tracked down The Atlantic. You use the word – you stalked the company, because you really wanted to work there. I do think that’s the best way to identify your next new job, because you can be really deliberate about the kind of company you want to work for. I fear most people are really passive. It’s like, “Okay, when I do a job search, what companies pop up were hiring for my skill set? Or let me go back through my LinkedIn messages and reconnect with the recruiters who have reached out to me in the last year and a half.” But you were a little more prescriptive. Fast forward past the point of, “Okay, I want to work for The Atlantic.” What was your process for getting in and landing the role?
[00:08:50] HH: I think I applied to a few things that were not really right. I don’t even remember initially, maybe through LinkedIn messages, whatever. When I made the decision, “I want to work with The Atlantic,” it was specifically. I know you asked me now. I know, you asked me to pass forward fastest, but I feel like it’s important for the story. I’m just going to ignore that.
[00:09:11] RS: It’s an important podcast thing. Before we move forward, let’s go back.
[00:09:16] HH: Yeah. Sorry, not sorry. I don’t know. But that The Atlantic, I wasn’t like, I grew up with The Atlantic, it was every day in my parents household. It’s nothing like that. I came to understand what it was and be familiar with it and started reading and hearing there, because a friend started writing for The Atlantic when David Bradley bought The Atlantic in 1999. A couple years later, he approached one of my friends, or engaged with one of my friends who was writing at the Crimson who was a sophomore in college, a friend of mine from childhood, who I respected so much. His name’s Matt Quirk. He is a wonderful New York Times bestselling writer now. Wrote some political thrillers, please check it out.
He was a sophomore in college writing for the Crimson. The owner took an interest in the work he was doing and said, “When you graduate come work for me.” Like, Matt, going to work there, I had such respect for Matt and thought he was so brilliant. Also, just someone who I respected a lot. He worked there for a long time before he started going off and writing on his own. He just always said the best things about The Atlantic. Then I read The Case for Reparations, which I think is a lot of people’s gateway game changer. Ta-Nehisi Coates piece that won the Polk award in 2014, 2013, 2014. I read that and like, it changed the way I look at words. It changed the way I read. It change the way I see myself – like all the things that I think The Atlantic does so brilliantly, and individually, exceptionally.
I was like, “I have to work there.” I mean, I was in fashion. I wasn’t challenged. I was working with really smart people, but I was just like, “I can’t not work there.” It’s terrifying. I’m a full on imposter. I just have to work there. I was basically like, “Oh, plunge the toilet.” So you know, whatever. I applied to some jobs, we just got him on LinkedIn, just elbowed any way possible. Ended up getting an interview for, I think one of those jobs or one of those LinkedIn messages and actually maybe not LinkedIn. I think a sleuth email addresses from other things. This day and age, this is like when it wasn’t as easy to get an email address. I was making them up, getting bounced backs.
Then just weaseled my way in and a number of interviews. I think like 13 interviews total, maybe over a number of trips to DC and New York at the time was under Atlantic Media, which was The Atlantic Quartz, qc.com, which was pretty new and also The Atlantic. There was no one doing any HR functions on the ground in New York. I figured that out and pitched it that way. I don’t know if it really did anything or inspiring any new thoughts for the role, but something worked where they ended up hiring me to be the talent and culture person in New York. So for all of Quartz and then for The Atlantic, most specifically on recruiting when I came in for The Atlantic.
[00:12:25] RS: They created a role around – Yeah. Yeah.
[00:12:29] HH: That sounds great. I don’t know that it was that. I think I just manipulated things. I think a lot of it was coming into the company and carving out that role, myself and failing in some ways and developing the role in other ways that I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t want to be a recruiting function attached to The Atlantic, or Quartz, or Atlantic Media. I wanted the other things that I had had in my last job that would allow me to eventually be where I am now nine years, this is nine years ago, almost nine years later, really forming the culture, part of talent and culture, helped me put that, really means – because I’ve never stopped feeling quite enamored with the mission and the values. I don’t know. Am I even answering your questions?
[00:13:19] HH: Yeah. Yeah. – No. That’s helpful. So, you wanted to focus more on the culture side. How did you go about that? What were some maybe early things you did to take stock of what the culture was, and then put a circle around it and promulgate it?
[00:13:32] HH: Well, I think. I mean, I had a huge advantage coming into a company. I didn’t know this at the time, but The Atlantic is so defined by, driven by, and really shaped and reshaped still, by our values. So the spirit of generosity, the force of ideas, and the sense of belonging, they’re not just words, that these are things that this is our mission state, like all the bullshit you hear in.
[00:13:59] RS: Let’s laminate it on a poster and put it in the cafeteria and never talked about it.
[00:14:03] HH: Yeah. Then you start somewhere and you’re like, “Where are those words? What happened?” Here, it’s that drives not just how we engage with candidates or speak with candidates, but how we have informed our review process or onboarding or growth paths or scaling. I mean, every single thing. I think it was less me. I mean, maybe me being pushy, for sure, but less like me and things I did and more, just really lucking out and being hired by a company that really does exist based on these fundamental values, inherent kindness, no egos.
There are egos here and there, but inherently kind people. People who are insatiably curious, the force of ideas, finding the truth, helping voices be heard, or helping voices exist that just haven’t been heard. That’s not just stuff that translates in the work itself, the journalism, we’re all here to support. That stuff that if you’re doing it right, I think, and running an HR side of the business. The component of the business, then those are the things that are driving all of the decisions you’re making, too. They really do that here. I mean, I guess we really do that here.
Yeah. People are just allowed to bring their full selves. I mean, HR is not a thing that whatever be the profession. Anyone I’ve known my whole life would say, “That makes sense for Hadley.” Like I cannot do an Excel spreadsheet, I cannot – There’s so many things that in a comically bad way, I just can’t, but a company that really will see you for your unique value. I live that every day, every workday, every day and experience that. So I can easily advocate for it, because I know that it’s true. I’m not lying. That’s special. I don’t know if I derail from your question, probably.
[00:16:04] RS: No, it’s okay. We’re just chatting. Now, before we get too deep in the weeds here and talk about your current role at The Atlantic. You spent a good chunk of your career in the agency world. I love it when people have your journey. They start in agencies. Then they wind up in house, because you get two different perspectives on it. I’m curious now that you’re in house, how do you look at agencies? How do you evaluate them? What do you think they should do differently? Can I just have you go off on the agency question here at the top?
[00:16:34] HH: Yeah. You’re just going to have to stop me when it’s too much. Agencies make so many mistakes. The biggest one is not knowing the client. Also, just not – Yeah. Not making a specialized attempt to be a partner. I don’t want some engineer who’s been sitting in your back pocket that you farmed out to every other. I mean maybe I do, but why? Tell me why. Is it based on what I’ve shared with you that I need for this role? Or is it more often than not like, “Oh, they’re getting picked up by a lot of clients?” Go and head hunt for the job that like, I’m not really hiring an agency for their bank of people. I think that’s a big misconception.
Yes, you need that, but as an agency, but more than anything to have a network to draw on and say, “Hey, we’ve had a good relationship. I don’t know if this is quite right for you, but could you recommend a direction I go in.” I just feel like it’s not a specialized experience for the candidates going to agencies often and also for the company. I mean, I’ve met recently, in the last year, with a couple agencies where I asked really basic questions about The Atlantic. I mean, they may as well said, “The Atlantic Ocean is a place I visited. My grandparents lived in Florida.” I mean, it was so – it was just no connection. It’s like, do your research. I mean, what candidates am I going to get from you if you don’t even care? So just a good person I’d hire who really has a connection to The Atlantic, an agency with someone I’m working or partnering with, who also does is critical, really hard to find. I think there’s so many agencies now and really set someone apart.
[00:18:28] RS: Do you think that happens when agencies get a little successful when they get a little bigger, and now they have higher volume, they have more clients, more roles are working on and then they are incentivized to be a little more formulaic with their approach?
[00:18:43] HH: No, I just see it happening all the time. Small, large, new old, I mean, part of that is based on, if we’re talking about contingency agencies, which I think we are. Retained search is just so much different. I get that your income as the person that the agency I’m working with, depends on filling the role. I just think there’s so few recruiters in the agency world that I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with. I mean, they’re successful, they make a lot of money, they can make a lot of money, because they’re matching people, matching, matching, matching. For me, I’d like to say for the plan, but it’s not just. It’s also me can make this personal, “Urrgh.” But don’t throw spaghetti against this wall to see if it sticks. Like no, and that’s the go to. It’s just, there’ll be long-term repeat business.
Also, I’m a big evangelist for anything that I even, I will tell everyone about my great experience with you. Of course, no one knows that until they know that. So I guess people don’t think it’s worth the time investment to develop relationships, but relationship building with companies and people at companies and HR people at companies. I mean, I’ve been here nine years, but you think that’s a little more than usual, essentially. If I was someone else probably moved on a couple of times and like a good experience with an agency, I bring that with me. I think it’s a myopic view. It’s like a short sighted view.
[00:20:22] RS: An agency that when you say, “I’m not just hiring an agency for their bank of people.” You want an actual, meaningful search, but also a meaningful relationship with the people that they might recommend. How do you assess for that at the top if you were going to, “Okay, I have a use for an agency at this time in my hiring journey with this company.” How would you come to understand the agency was that way or had that approach to matching people to your company?
[00:20:48] HH: It’s about the questions they asked in our initial conversation about a role. Also our initial conversation before we work together on any role. Yeah, that’s really important. It’s like someone showing there’s an interest in understanding the company. Agencies often don’t ask these questions that I think are critical like, who doesn’t succeed? The last five people who have left The Atlantic, what was one thing that you would say? All of them had that maybe didn’t serve them the best in that environment. Ask me tough questions, challenge me, or how am I going to think you’re challenging anyone else before you bring them to me? So just being a little more strategic and like engaged. I mean, at the very least just know, read a couple articles.
[00:21:35] RS: Yeah.
[00:21:36] HH: Yeah. I don’t know. Know who owns us, yeah.
[00:21:40] RS: I have a corollary experience, which is that there are these agencies that represent podcasts speakers now. They will like pitch you to put speakers on the podcast. So I get these several times a week. People will try to make me feel they know my show. They’ll be like, “I love your podcast, because blank.” Then they will proceed with just the most generic, unmeaningful two sentences, where I’m like, “You’ve never listened to a second of this podcast, it’s so obvious to me.”
[00:22:06] HH: Yeah.
[00:22:06] RS: I especially love how you blank like that blank you send to everyone. I can totally tell. It’s so transparent. It’s so obvious, they’re doing that. It’s like, okay, so you understand the need to form a relationship, but you also are not willing to put in the actual time. Like you want, you would rather try and trick me into believing that you have done the work rather than actually do the work. That is just a great way to get absolutely blocked from ever emailing me again. I feel like it’d be a similar thing with agencies, where you can tell if they took the time to try and figure out a little bit about The Atlantic, or at least enough time to ask the right questions about it to know more.
[00:22:43] HH: Yeah. It comes down to respect and respecting my time, respecting their own time. If they’re not respecting their own time, how am I going to expect that they respect a candidate’s time. If that candidate is someone I hire or any human in the world. I don’t want them – it’s really hard looking for a job. No one should be treated with anything other than respect for their time at the very base. That shows me that they want and they’re representative of our company when they’re on one of our shops or sourcing for one of our jobs. That’s what it comes down to.
[00:23:20] RS: Yeah. Yeah, exactly that. What’s going on right now, though? What are you working on? What are the campaigns you have employed at The Atlantic at the moment?
[00:23:27] HH: Yeah. It’s such an interesting time from a talent and culture, HR perspective. I think every company is dealing with this in their own way. return to office, what a unique time to be in HR. We have our headquarters split between New York and DC. I’m more responsible. I mean, I’m based in New York. We’ve been working on an office we just recently opened, but we’ve been working on it for a long time, pre-COVID. It took longer than we thought, because of the pandemic, but a lot of people have moved. A lot of things changed in the last several years while we were still working on this building.
Now we’re like, what does this look like? What is Monday through Friday? How do we do this? A huge part of a lot of the work of our best work is done tapping someone on the shoulder, or popping into a room, or physically actually live. We managed okay and did some things even better during the pandemic when no one was in person. How do you rectify like what you thought needed to be in person and what really didn’t, and what’s even better not, while still wanting people back in the office, because we have this space it’s now open. Yeah. That’s a challenge. We talk about it a lot.
[00:24:46] RS: Yeah. Is it a challenge, because there’s disharmony? Is there like a misalignment between what various groups want?
[00:24:53] HH: Yeah. I think it’s difficult, because I go into the office pretty frequently. It’s a little annoying logistically for some decisions I made during the pandemic, I used to be walkable to work. I like my apartment much better now. So I’m happier in life, but it was definitely an adjustment and took not just one or four times going into the office, but now that I’ve been in enough and consistently I’m going to, I definitely get energy from that experience. Not everyone is the same. I think certain teams and a lot of our teams, especially based in New York. We have about half of edit based in New York, but mostly all of business for a great portion of business, and product and engineering.
I think when people are in there, that’s palpable. I mean, I talked to folks about it. They unsolicited, share that. Wow like, that was, it was really annoying coming in this morning, but like ah, that’s so great. But if you’re going in and other people aren’t there to feel that and feed off that with you. It’s like chicken-egg. It’s just like without people there, the other people who would feel that aren’t going to feel that. It’s just finding a new balance, but it’s definitely weird.
[00:26:13] RS: Yeah. What’s going to happen? Do you think it’s going to be a hybrid like two days in a week, three days in a week? Is there going to be like the hammer gets dropped and it’s like now we’re back in the office and that’s that where in person company, or how do you expect this thing to roll out?
[00:26:26] HH: Well, I can’t really speak to that or I might be rolled out, you know what I’m saying? But no, I mean, I wouldn’t be. But yeah, that’s the question. I don’t think it coincides with, or is aligned with our ethos, or values to say, “Mandatory, everyone must be in the office every day again.” I don’t see that happening. That said, I think some of the only ways to get the consistent people in every day is to say this is mandatory. I don’t think that’s what we want to do. Right now, we have encouraged back to office three days a week with the opportunity for anyone to be there more. I’m usually in like four days a week.
I’ve directly felt the value. I know that some people haven’t had that opportunity yet. I think for right now, to answer your question, a big responsibility I feel and want to take on is finding ways to make that exciting for people. I don’t think it’s like happy hours on Thursdays. Everyone bagels on Friday. Though those things are nice, I think it’s like, who are we? What can we do? Like some stuff we did before the pandemic and during, and we still do now but just making it a more an office thing, like cool things where we get to learn about one another. It’s not like from Book Club, to guest speakers, to Lunar New Year celebrations.
We do something called the Atlantapedia, which is really fun. People can present anything they’re into and everyone can bring their lunch or it’s casual. It’s led by employees. It’s not like a company thing. People can just talk about stuff they’re into. So someone did one on pizza. Someone did one on black holes. I mean, our head of data science is she’s literally an astrophysicist. She talked about black holes. We did one on the deep dark web. I was telling you about this in some of our pre-screen time together. We made it fun by physically putting a typewriter. A typewriter is a device people use before computers for any type of written document. A typewriter–
[00:28:30] RS: There was no backspace key. There’s no save button.
[00:28:33] HH: I don’t even know what those buttons are, but that’s how were done. We just put it in a storage closet like an hvac closet or something, a cardboard box ,and people could do the most anonymous old school way submit questions, the tough questions about the dark net ,and people did. Then we had someone come and talk about it with one of our employees who comes from that world and it’s really into it. It was fun and kitsch and cool. Some more stuff like that. That speaks to who we are being curious, getting to know one another. Not just like, what’s your favorite color? Do you like bond me? But more than that, just like book club. We always try to have someone. I mean, we all vote on the books and have snacks and drinks and try to bring in someone who was involved with the book. Luckily, we’re The Atlantic so sometimes we have some little net.
[00:29:26] RS: Yeah. You can do that.
[00:29:27] HH: But not all the time, but yeah. Just making life more fun and richer, making us smarter.
[00:29:34] RS: The typewriter is a fantastic example. I’m sure just because of who works at The Atlantic, I’m sure they were tickled pink by this possibility to go and give anonymous opinions on a clicky-clacky writing device. Was it to solicit employee sentiment or what did you use the output for?
[00:29:53] HH: No. I mean, it was just one of many Atlantapedia sessions where we were going to be talking about the dark web. I was thinking with one of our engineers who started Atlantapedia with me like many years ago, just as a way for people to be social, but also smarter and also get to know each other more. I mean, it was just totally like how can we have people ask the real questions that everyone wants answers too that they might have trouble asking or feel embarrassed to ask.
The anonymous piece of the deep dark web is the most intriguing and cool. That’s what we’re all here to talk about. Should we have them fill out an anonymous survey online? Like well, that not really anonymous, like we got someone on it. I don’t know. We just came to the point, does anyone have a typewriter? I think I know someone who has a typewriter. I’ll put it in here. It’ll be like, we’ll make a sign. I forget what the sign said, this is years ago, but stuff like that – I don’t know if I answered your question.
[00:30:53] RS: Yeah, I know. It’s clever. You’re like, look, I don’t need an IP masks to make a deep dark survey, right? Like let’s just do this the old fashioned way.
[00:30:59] HH: Yeah. Yeah. It’s the original, anonymous.
[00:31:03] RS: Yeah. Yeah. The Atlantapedia is a great example, especially connected to, okay, you want to hire people who are continually raising the bar and smarter and making the rest of the company more curious. I’ve been in a couple of companies that did that, where like once a month or something. An employee can present on anything. It took a cultural slant. I don’t know if that was deliberate or if that was an accident, but the ones I remember where we, one of my co-workers is Hawaiian.
So she did this presentation about a little bit about Hawaiian history. Then there was an activity where we all made this awesome like Spam musubi. Then there was a treat. We all ate our Spam musubi together. So she explained why Spam was so ubiquitous in Hawaiian culinary culture, just in case anyone’s curious. I’ll save you a Google. It’s because spam doesn’t spoil. It was left there by the military after World War Two.
It was as important stopover for the Pacific fleet. Then there’s all this meat that didn’t spoil. So the Hawaiian are, “Well, we got all this meat, let’s figure out how to make it good.” So then, that’s why you get so much awesome spam recipes out of the line, folks. That was one example. It was just, yeah. It was a way to connect. Guess what, you can’t eat Spam musubi remotely, right? You can’t assemble it remotely. That’s like a reason to be in the opposite, something that I got to experience, because I was sitting next to my co-worker who was telling how to do it –
[00:32:20] HH: Yeah. I love that.
[00:32:22] RS: That was a rich experience. I wouldn’t have had –
[00:32:23] HH: Yeah. We had someone on our marketing or consumer marketing team, Ashley. I won’t use her last name, but nothing but brags about her. She did one on the history of MSG, and the deep systemic racism that comes with the history we all know or we’ve all heard, or assumed. We all sprinkled MSG on our lunches. I mean, it’s salt. It’s just salt. No, it does not give you headache like if it’s just salt, more alarming and delicious. Learning about that was spoke to a lot of Atlanta key things from our founding principles to just, we all left that day smarter. I mean, the goal is anyone we bring on. We need to commit to them leaving smarter every day. A little smarter than when they walked in.
Sometimes it’s a keyboard shortcut, but more often than not, it’s something in person serves like running into John Hendrickson in the kitchen, right after he gave his first on air interview about his Biden interview and a piece on stuttering like, that’s a part of history. That changed I think the way Americans voted or considered their vote in that election. Derek Thompson, who’s endlessly brilliant, help debate any entertainment, anything or technology with anyone in the hallway. Jim Hamblin, I mean, I could go on and on like, but like, this is the stuff that’s like, “I can’t believe I get to be a part of this.” I think a lot of that same person, not all of it, but a lot of those unique opportunities are in person things that I don’t want anyone not to experience. Every employee here deserves that. You can’t really say you might run into someone and like had this – it has to be something that happens. It can’t happen if we’re on our zooms only.
[00:34:26] RS: Yeah. It’s worth reflecting on the reasons you are a part of a company. Yeah, okay. You need to get paid, right? Everyone’s got bills, number one. Maybe the output, the actual 100% on task part of your job of like the function you will fulfill. Obviously, those are the big ones, but then after that, why do you belong to a company versus being a consultant or a freelancer? Why is it important for you to be in a group of people? Like okay, healthcare, right? Things like that. That could be a reason to be a part of a company. But what else do you expect to get out of this setup, right, this arrangement of all of these people working on the same project together?
I think that’s worth reflecting on. You may find that one of your answers to that could be also reasons to go into work. At The Atlantic specifically, it’s like, “Oh, well, in addition to this, to paying my bills and enjoying my function. I also am aligned with this mission of speaking truth to power and this journalistic pursuit, but then also, who are my peers, these really interesting people who I can learn from, and I can learn from them better if I was in the hallway with them.”
The advantages of working remotely are so obvious. It’s like, “Oh, well, the commute is better. I can do laundry in the middle of the day. It’s easier to be around my family, and I can pick my kids up from school.” Like sure, there’s a long list of those. I just feel like the converse is a little unexamined. I think people are served, just their minds have been made that remote is better. I would push people to reflect on it. If that’s always going to be the case –
[00:35:57] HH: Totally. I think it’s nuanced. I mean, for us, it’s different than a company where. I mean, a big part of joining The Atlantic, like we’ve been talking about from the beginning, is when it’s the right person and the right fit. I think a big part of it is being part of this special conversation je ne sais quoi, but it’s that special thing that, and like you just said, a lot of it’s all of that. Like just who you get to overhear or witness writing, sitting at their desk writing the next thing they publish maybe, what they were writing or editing there. It’s just like, I mean, it takes my breath away. It’s like part of history.
[00:36:41] RS: Well, Hadley. As we creep up on optimal podcast length, before I let you go, I would just like to ask you to share some final wit and wisdom for the folks out there. It sounds like you’ve been really successful in making this role your own and doing it your way. What advice would you give for people who want to pursue a similar out in their career and want to have a job that shapes their skill set, as opposed to just fulfilling a preordained kind of role?
[00:37:07] HH: Great question. My answer would naturally not include any brevity or pithy length. I think it’s simple. It’s like, just like you should always have, I mean, I don’t always have this, but you should always have your resume up-to-date. In that same vein, you should always be knowing what you like, knowing what feeds you, understanding how you’re inspired, how you digest. I mean, for me, and relevant to this position, how do I digest the news? What stories really engage me? What gets me excited, animated? Those things are probably in all companies, so becoming the expert in all of the things that add value to your life, whether that’s a skincare company, a nonprofit, a media outlet, a podcast. Then start knowing the people who work there. What are their backgrounds like?
When you’re ready for a new job, the best thing you can do is reach out to a company where you really want to work, because that’s the first thing anyone’s going to notice, who’s hiring you. I mean, we added a question. I’m certainly adamant about adding to our application is, why The Atlantic? I mean, you would be so – maybe you wouldn’t be shocked, how many people cut and paste the first line of our About Us Page? I mean, it’s just like –
[00:38:36] RS: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:38:36] HH: When there’s a personal connection to something, life is more fulfilling. You do better work, you change, you make a difference in the world. That’s it, even if it’s just your energy, which isn’t adjust. I mean, that’s huge, but it doesn’t have to be some groundbreaking company that’s creating watermills in third world countries. Like that’s yes, that’s very much – that’s great. But you being positive, and putting energy in work, and curiosity into life. No matter what the company. You’re contributing to the world. That’s it. That’s my macro answer to that. Yes.
[00:39:15] RS: I love it. It’s relatable. It’s something that you can put into any role. Like you say, it doesn’t have to be highfalutin. It can just be in the way that you show up to work. If you’re happier and more inspired, you will do better work and you will–
[00:39:26] HH: You’ll be kinder to others and inspire kindness. We could use a little more kindness in this world.
[00:39:33] RS: We absolutely could. I feel a little more kindness having spoken to you, Hadley. So at this point, I would just say, thank you for being here and for being yourself. I have loved chatting with you today.
[00:39:41] HH: Oh, my God, back atcha, Rob. Thank you. I look forward to continuing to be a listener. It’s Talk Talent To Me.
[00:39:51] 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 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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