Episode 25

People leaders aren’t the CEO of culture, they’re product managers — Credit Karma’s Colleen McCreary

This episode is with Colleen McCreary, the Chief People Officer at Credit Karma and former CPO at Vevo, The Climate Corporation, and Zynga. Colleen shares why she thinks of her role as the product manager of the systems that run the company, flagging problems founders are likely to run into and detailing her approach to compensation, performance, rewards and recognition.

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Colleen McCreary: [00:00:00] CEO's basically have to be like one hit wonder pop stars. They kind of have to keep singing the same song over and over and over because people don't remember, you have new people joining. They haven't heard you sing that song. Companies are just, and founders in particular can be very much like moving on to the next thing.

I'm moving on to the next thing and small company, big company, people don't come along the journey that quickly. So you have to slow down to be consistent. You have to stay on message.

Brett Berson: [00:00:32] Welcome to in depth, a new show that surfaces tactical advice, bounders and startup leaders need to grow their teams, their companies, and themselves. I'm Brett Berson, a partner at first round, and we're a venture capital firm that helps startups like notion, roadblocks, Uber, and square tackle company building firsts through over 400 interviews on the review.

We've shared standout company, building advice. The kind that comes from those willing to skip the talking points and go deeper into not just what to do, but how to do it with our new podcast in depth, you can listen into these deeper conversations every single week. Learn more and subscribe today@firstround.com

today's episode of in-depth. I'm really excited to be joined by Colleen McCreary as a repeat chief people. Officer Colleen has more than 20 years of experience in HR, operations, recruiting, and M and a working at a really interesting set of companies through multiple IPO's and acquisitions. Coleen started her career in university recruiting first at Microsoft, and then at electric arts in 2009, she dove into the startup world joining Zynga when it was only 130 people.

During her tenure as chief people, officer the company rapidly grew to nearly 4,000 employees and then went public after leaving Zynga. Colleen served as the chief people officer at the climate corporation, as it navigated through its acquisition by Monsanto, she then consulted as interim chief people officer at  and Twilio.

And then after heading up people at vivo, Colleen left the music video platform to join credit karma where for the past three years, she scaled their systems and help steer the company through both its acquisition by Intuit and the pandemics impact on the business kicked off the conversation today by talking about why code is easy, but people are hard in it.

Just sharing what surprised her most inner experiences scaling startups from early stage EPO. Colleen explains why she designs for the 80% and focuses on clarity, context and consistency. She walks us through some really tactical examples of that work, including how her team approaches compensation at credit karma and why they do promotions quarterly.

Colleen also shares some great perspectives on the role of chief people. Officer, I particularly liked how she talked about not being the CEO of culture or happiness, but rather the product manager of the systems in tools that run the company. We spent the last part of the conversation, digging into those very systems from how rewards and recognition were incredibly different at Zynga and credit karma, to why career growth.

Isn't just about a promotion. In addition to sharing her take on whether we should double down on our strengths or focus on correcting weaknesses when it comes to performance. Colleen we're counts the most valuable piece of feedback she's received in her career. I really enjoyed this conversation because we got to dig into the people problems.

She sees time and time again, as startups scale rapidly. And I think it will be a really useful roadmap for first-time founders and early people leaders. I really hope you enjoy this episode. And now my conversation with colleagues. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I'm excited for this conversation.

Thank you. Now that you've kind of done the chief people officer thing, a ton of different times, super early through IPO and acquisitions. Want to start by maybe exploring what surprised you most about building and scaling the people function across these different chapters of your career? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:04:36] Sure. I think universally founders and early leaders underestimate how hard the people work is.

They think it's really easy. I thankfully worked with a great super senior engineer early on at Zynga who had been around the block a few times. He had always said like, code is easy. People are hard. But I think part of the reason, so many leaders end up with this catch-up that they have to do around their people space is that they just think it's the easy stuff.

Building the product is hard, selling a product to hard. I can handle all of this other stuff. And in fact, on more than one occasion, I've had a CEO say to me, like I spent all of my time dealing with these people challenges, but I don't need to hire someone super senior to handle that, which is just such an ironic statement.

The other thing is that. Everyone assumes that what they've seen before with respect to people, processes is the way it should be done. And so a lot of what you capture, especially when you're scaling is people coming in who are saying, like, when I worked at blah de blah, we did it this way and this is what we should do.

And the practices just continue without ever assessing like, okay, well, what problem are we trying to solve? Or what culture are we trying to build? Or what do we want to put into place at our company? And I would also say that the reverse happens sometimes where it's just a rejection of everything.

Someone saw last company. Like we don't need managers. We don't need job titles without ever really understanding actually people like structure. And that's probably why you see managers and job titles. And then I think finally, like there's just a lack of appreciation. From so many folks outside of, I would say the startup world, that just how hard it is to start and run a company.

I think that there's just this misnomer that it's an easy thing to do that everybody can do it. And then you've only worked at big companies. You join these small companies and you're like, whoa, this stuff's hard. 

Brett Berson: [00:06:25] So on the second point, why do you think that people stuff is so difficult? And I agree with you.

I think one of the things that I've noticed in the last 13 years at first round in working with hundreds of companies is once you get to some level of product market fit, 70 or 80% of what a CEO is thinking about or spending time on is somehow people related. It's either getting the right people on the team, getting people off the team, managing people, et cetera.

It seems endlessly difficult. And I'm curious why you think that is. I 

Colleen McCreary: [00:07:00] think it's because every individual is different. At the end of the day, you're dealing with unique scenarios now summit, there's a lot of pattern matching that you can do that. Like once you have the experience, you can start to see, oh, this person might be motivated by their ego.

And so I probably have to approach them differently than the person who really is just like, all I care about is solving this one problem type of thing. So there's, there's this nuance of people are all individuals. And I usually ascribe it a little bit like manager training, which many companies will be like, you know, this is the solution to all of our problems.

So if we just a better manage our training and I laugh about it, because I say, I think being a manager is like being a parent because as a parent, you can take as many classes as you want. You can read as many books as you want, but when that kid shows up. That kid doesn't come with a manual directly for them and not everything works that came out of the manual and it doesn't show up exactly how you read it or how it happened in the class.

And, and you just have to live it and experience it. And you have to put a lot of time and effort into thinking about like, oh, what did I just do? And why did I do that? And did that work or did that not work? And could it work again? And is it the person or the situation that's causing this? It's actually requires another level of thought.

And I think people either lack the experience or they lack the internal motivation to understand how people are motivated, why they're motivated about different things. And then how do I approach that person differently? It's just hard 

Brett Berson: [00:08:39] with that sort of belief that we're all weird and different and complicated.

How does that impact the way that you think about people systems or. Designing people, organizations or crafting culture? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:08:57] Well, I think the nice part is that there are some universal theories or practices that do tend to work on the whole. You're always going to have these outliers on one end to the other.

It's like anything in life. And, and I find that you really have to tailor what you're doing for the 80%, not the a hundred percent, because you'll have this 10% on each end. I designed for the 80%, but I try to give context to the other 20%. So I think it's very easy to fall into the trap to cater to those edges that people who are always complaining or always cheering about everything, and people get really sucked into tuning into those folks who happened to be loud versus the people who.

I might more thoughtfully have questions or concerns or those kinds of things. And people are somewhat predictable, which is a nice thing to be able to go with. We do know that there is this craving for structure and hierarchy, as I mentioned, and that even starts when people are young. And so you're going to want to provide clarity to people on where decisions being made and who's making them, and how do I get what I need from them?

And that, you know, that people inherently are self motivated around doing things that will benefit themselves. So, Hey, you want to set up the system where they know if you achieve X, Y, Z, this is the outcome that will happen to you. These are the next things that can happen to you. I mean, so much I find with.

The processes and systems and tools are really at the end of the day, just providing clarity and context. And then my third C in this one is consistency because people will react not just to what they hear as we know, but what they're actually seeing in practice. And so you have to provide the clarity of what you're trying to do or achieve and how that works.

And then the context as to how you got to that decision. And then you have to do it over and over again. So, and that will generally work for 80% of the people, at least for the, I show up, I know what I'm supposed to do. I know how to keep my job. And ideally you you've done a broader set of things where people are understanding of why they're there and what the reward system is to keep them there.


Brett Berson: [00:11:20] on the idea of clarity, context and consistency. Can you talk in your current role? Like what the systems or things that you actually do as an organization, how they map to sort of each one of them? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:11:34] Sure. So I'll talk about everybody's favorite topic compensation. And when I joined credit karma, when I first got there, they had culture amp for their employee engagement survey, which we still use.

And I think it's a great tool. And only 40 something percent of the employees had said that they felt like their total compensation was fair. And when I first joined a company, one of the very first things I do is I go in and I do a very deep set of one-on-one. So I spoke to a hundred people and my first 30 days, one-on-one when I got there and the size and number of people changes obviously based on the size of the company.

And I have a little formula. Not a big secret. I want to talk to you obviously that everybody in the management team, and then I always want to talk to the people who are considered stars by the leaders. Cause it's kind of interesting to see who those people are. And then I want to talk to the people who've been there, the longest, which are not always the same people.

Sometimes they are. And through all those conversations, I found out that no one understood how they were paid. No one understood how additional equity grants are made or what systems or tools where people didn't understand how they were going to get promoted. And it traditionally had a lot of companies that is, it's just this like black box of like, well, somebody makes a decision and then this money shows up and I'm supposed to decide whether or not I keep it.

I want to stay here. And this is, I keep the money or I don't. And so we spent a lot of time on this is how you're paid. And explaining all of the pieces. I literally, when we redid all of our compensations, I got up on stage and I had an all hands and I walked through, this is how you're paid. This is what Radford is, which is this database of all of the companies who submit their compensation information, just like us.

And then we get to kit it coming back. We pay at this percentile and this is why we do this. And here are the companies who are in the Saturday night. I spent a lot of time just trying to understand like how compensation works and the context as to how we got to, how we were going to pay people. And then we said, this is when we look at your, you know, we do a market review twice a year.

These are the dates. This is when you can expect to understand that or hear that we continue to reiterate that. And continual meetings, we talk about it at new hire orientation, we have a whole slack channel. That's just about. Compensation questions, equity questions, those kinds of things that people can continue to ask.

We have go pages set up so people can understand it because it's like a fundamental piece of the value proposition of why somebody is at a company and it was taking up so much time. This is the thing. I mean, if you don't provide all of those pieces, all you're going to end up doing is talking about compensation all of the time.

And it's just one of those things. It's important to people. And if they don't have the clarity, they don't have the context and they don't know when things are going to happen or when things can change. You'll end up just instead of working on the things, the product, your customers, those kinds of things.

You're going to end up spending all this time, trying to appease people or to give them the clarity around. Hey, do I believe that I'm being treated equitably relative to the folks around me? 

Brett Berson: [00:14:53] That's a great illustration. And so are you constantly thinking about in the different facets of the company, how are we doing on clarity context or consistency?

Or is it just something that's kind of rattling around in the back of your head? Or is it operationalized in some way? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:15:10] I think that I am like the product manager of the systems and tools that run the company. I'm not the CEO of culture. I really not the CEO of happiness, which we could have a whole discussion on that word.

My job is to build the systems and tools that support the work that our leadership team has decided need to get done. And so like any great product manager, I do think it is my job to consistently be looking at all of these are these tools working. And I wouldn't say that I do it. It's not routine necessarily that I go through.

Oh, are we doing this correctly? Are we doing that correctly? Are we doing this? But I do think. Whenever we go through one of these cycles. For example, we always do a retrospective of like, we just went through this market review in February. What could we have done better? Are there better tools that we could have done it?

What are the questions that came up? Can we answer those questions? Can we get ahead of this? I think we've iterated on our promotion. We do promotions quarterly. It keeps us ahead of market. People don't have to wait so long to feel like they've proven things out. It's a lot of work though, to facilitate a promotion cycle with calibrations and trying to do it equitably four times a year.

But we think it's the right thing for our business and for our employees. But four times a year means you're going through the cycle over and over. And so we're continually going back. Every time we do a cycle of like, how could we do it better? How can we do it faster? How could we provide more clarity?

And we've been running like this for at least the promos piece two plus years. Now we just did a whole new manager training for all of our engineering leaders on. Hey, we've streamlined the process. This is the new process. Here's the information session. Here's our slack channel. We're going to post this training up on a deck because we're realizing that every, you know, one of the things coming out of COVID is that not everybody can be there always at point in time.

So it's better when you can record things. So I don't want to say that I'm officially like, oh, every three months I look at these processes, but every time I go through a cycle or we're using a tool, my team knows it's just now habit that we go back and say like, okay, we just finished this. How do we make it better?

How can we improve it? What did we miss? And the same thing on the leadership team, my job is to make sure that all of them, before I roll anything out, fully understand and can speak to it because I can't be the only one who's out there or even just an HR person talking about things. 

Brett Berson: [00:17:35] Another thing that you mentioned a few minutes ago that I just wanted to follow up on is when you came into credit karma, you did this listening tour.

You talked to a hundred people and kind of different personas. When you sat down with someone, what did you ask them in those meetings? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:17:49] I have a little bit of a script do some, I mean, some of it is just sort of sees where it goes or it takes off. I always ask them how they ended up at credit karma or at the company that I'm talking about.

Because I think you find out a lot about motivation and what they were looking for and to some extent what they were sold or with the vision. And then I ask, why did they stay. Because then you can see if there's a mismatch between those two things or if they're harboring any, anything around that, people are usually really excited to tell their story.

So it's a bonus in that respect. And then I sometimes will ask where they worked before, just to give it a sense of kind of where their point of view might have been developed. And then I ask what are the things that they think are working really well at the company, which in the tech industry is generally harder for people than to point out what's not working well, which is the next question.

Generally, people are really excited to tell you all of those kinds of things. And then I asked them, what am I not seeing or hearing that they think I should be listening for? And then I asked who else they think I should talk to. And then usually it takes like 30 minutes and I get a lot of information at the end of all of that.

I actually wrote up sort of like an Amazon style. Six pager of here are the big themes that I heard. I started laid all the information. And then here are the things I thought the management team could go after. And then for myself here are the three priorities. I think I'm going to go after, and here's the timeframe I think I can accomplish them.

Sometimes it's normalizing what's going on in the company. That's like the number one thing I find with especially startups and smaller companies is he'd just have to normalize the experience for folks, because if they've never been through it before, they've never seen rapid growth. I've make this comment all the time that like the pain that you have of adding chairs to the deck is way better than the pain that you have of taking the chairs off the deck.

Like the idea of growth, all of the problems or growth are good. I mean, those are the problems you want to be having because when you are a non-growth, those are so, so much worse and so, so much more painful, but no one knows. They only can go with what the experience that they've had or maybe that their friends have had.

And so if all of a sudden, a bunch of people are quitting and no one's talking about it, they don't necessarily know what's going on or why that's happening. So one 

Brett Berson: [00:20:07] of the things that this makes me think of as you sort of come in and you do this diagnostic to try to figure out what's going well, and what's not what we should fix, what we should leave alone.

And given you experienced this at so many different rapidly growing companies, I'd be interested to know what have you found that might seem bad, but actually really doesn't matter. And are there any things that you picked up that might seem innocuous, but it's actually really bad and does need to be fixed?

Colleen McCreary: [00:20:37] Well, it's at the second one first. I think that one's easier. I think the, not talking about the problems that are going on in the company and just letting things fester, the attrition one comes to mind. Cause it feels like it's so common that. It's normal when companies are scaling to potentially go through these valleys and mountains of attrition.

And that's just because the company is changing so much. What people signed up to do in the early days is not what they're going to be doing as the company grows and changes. You know, you get to own everything to get to own every decision to get too involved in every decision. And then all of a sudden they don't.

And then it's all about being specialists and being really good and very deep and uncertain things. And maybe that's not what people signed up for, or someone had great experiences and could lead a team that was 10, 20 people. But managing managers is a whole new level of complexity and they're not ready to do that and stuff.

I tried to bring some innovative from the outside. And what companies do is they, they just ignore it. They think that like, everybody sort of knows why people are leaving, or it's not that big of a deal. And, and attrition isn't necessarily bad. It's not, I think it's very healthy, but if you're not talking about it, people assume the worst.

And so my. Coaching is the, I know it's painful. I know no one wants to talk about it. I know you really want to just focus on the mission and focus on our customers and focus on what's going well. But if you're not talking about the things that are not going well, you're really setting yourself up painfully for the longterm as well.

One of the things I just started to do in our all hands meetings was saying like, okay, no, one's asked about X, Y, Z. I know you're thinking about it. Whereas I want to talk about it right now. We're going to talk about that. I think you can't just pretend that you have your head in the sand is each won't have any trust.

So that one is a, I think on that. And then the other question, I think the, the complaining about the snacks or the perks are Google does this, and Facebook does that at all. Like, people spend so much time rat holing around all of that kind of stuff. And like that actually really matters. I always used to say like, look, if the, if the loudest thing that people are complaining about is the snacks you're doing pretty well.

At the end of the day, if the things that people are complaining about are these very peripheral, the tools don't work that well, or the snacks are not that good, or you're not paying for the kickball team this year. I was like, you're doing pretty well. Let it go. You and I both know that that's a big deal that chatter, I mean, people get all sorta or wound up about that.

And then these it's so funny to listen to these management teams, like, but they just keep complaining and we can't afford to buy those drinks. I'm like, oh my God, really? You're going to be fine. It's all gonna be fine. Don't worry about 

Brett Berson: [00:23:21] it. You mentioned this a little bit about attrition, but the other sort of adjacent topic I was interested in is, is as if you've seen so many companies go from small to big and have scaled rapidly, what are the themes that you just see over and over again?

How would you group the types of things that you see time and time again? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:23:41] One of the other big things that always tends to happen is I think there's just a general lack of leadership. It's at every company, when people say like, Hey, what's the biggest problem you're trying to solve. I'm trying to solve for a gap in leadership.

And when I'm talking about leadership, it's not about a manager, managing someone, it's people being comfortable, voicing different opinions, pushing back, carrying the water on messages that no one wants to hear finding people with that sort of courage to do that and bring people along on the journey with it, just this incredibly hard finding people who can do that at all levels.

It continues to boggle my mind, how challenging that really is. I think there's another note on. The whole five or engineer there's this whole belief system that's somehow wrapped up in Silicon valley. If I just find this one person, they will magically save me. They'll save the whole company. If I, if I just had 10 of those engineers, everything will be so different.

Or if I had 10 of these people and it's never that at the end of the day, yeah, people are critical. They are the lifeblood of the company. It is the most important thing. It's usually your biggest cost. It's whether or not you're going to succeed or fail is whether or not your talent can create the products or the experiences that your customers or members want.

But if you are solely wrapped up in like these 10 people or this handful of saviors, You're never going to make it. You just won't scale. It's just not true. It doesn't exist. It's fake. It's not going to be that different. And then I think the other piece is the, oh, if we have this big IPO, everybody will want to work for us and everybody will want to be here.

And it's all about this big, huge financial outcome or perceived outcome or those kinds of things, which I also think are like, you can't hang your hat on that, but it is a small company, big company thing, because when you become a public company, if you don't really focus on what matters, people will hang their hat on the stock price as being the determinant of success.

And it's just hard to unwind. I think early, you have to focus on why you're here, what you're doing, why it matters and. CEO's basically have to be like one hit wonder pop stars. They kind of have to keep singing the same song over and over and over because people don't remember, you have new people joining.

They haven't heard you sing that song. And then you can add song number two, once you really feel like everyone understands song number one, which is your mission and why you're here and what you're trying to do. And then you want to add this other thing. You can add song number two, and you know, all of us go to concerts.

And we know like when I go to Bon Jovi, I want to hear living on a prayer. I don't really care about everything else. I want to hear living on a fair, the companies are just, and founders in particular, it can be very much like moving on to the next thing. I'm moving on to the next thing and small company, big company, people don't come along the journey that quickly.

So you have to slow down to be consistent. You have to stay on message and you have to give employees what to believe and how they're going to define success. And if you use IPO or stock price, something that you really do not control. You're going to be in for a lot of pain later when things get Rocky.

And unfortunately I've learned that the hard way I've lived that. So I'm exceptionally sensitive to it. 

Brett Berson: [00:27:08] On the point you were just talking about around leadership that there's often a void when you define leadership and kind of an interesting way. Some of it's being willing to tell people things they may not want to hear, who were the people that were like 10 out of 10 in your career, if you were to score them on leadership and what did they do, or what did it actually look like?

Colleen McCreary: [00:27:30] The first person that comes to mind is a man named Mike stern. At the time I met him, he was a 26 year veteran of Monsanto. It only worked at Monsanto PhD and he had run their biggest business at Monsanto, which is the seed business. And it was like my second week at climate Corp. And he was sent in to take over as the COO of climate corporation.

We had just been acquired. And he knew nothing about technology. And Harry has been sent from St. Louis, Missouri out to San Francisco to this billion dollar acquisition they had just made. And I piled up a pile of books for him on like, here's how tech companies work. Here's how startups work. You should listen to these podcasts.

They'd be super helpful for you. And he was a rapid study very quickly on the business and who we were and how things worked, but he was incredibly thoughtful. And he's the person I learned the most about the context setting. Like if you just slow down and give the context and let people follow you on the journey and he was willing to make hard decisions, but he very much lived up to the.

Don't give people more than they can handle in one setting type of thing. Another very young founder, bill Clara, co, he was the founder of, we pay really just proved the point that it age doesn't matter, that you could be empathetic and have this growth mindset about learning and surrounding yourself with people who are better than you.

And one of the hardest things as a CEO is having to get rid of somebody or having to cut a line of business or telling people things aren't going well, and how you do that and how you build trust and how you bring people along in the journey. They're just a lot of people who are not very delicate about that.

And then my current CEO, Ken Lynn is actually pretty great. I don't necessarily want him to listen to that and hear that, but he is pretty great. And it's why I stay at companies. He sucked me into credit karma, both with the mission of the company, but also he is somewhat introverted and very collaborative and very thoughtful.

A little slower to make decisions because he wants to hear every point of view. And he was not like any of the founders I'd ever worked with before. And that was basically the sell to kids. Me to join was like, come work with me. You've never worked with anybody like me before. And I really hadn't, he's committed.

And you can see in the history of the company, that, that thoughtfulness really resonated in terms of how we work with employees, how we work with partners and certainly the business that we're in. So I think those three I've learned a lot from them. They never shied from the hard stuff, which I find so many people run from it.

Can you 

Brett Berson: [00:30:17] share a story to kind of bring that to life for any of them when you were sort of most impressed with them exemplifying the way that you've defined leadership, what that actually looked 

Colleen McCreary: [00:30:27] like? Yeah. I think it's easier to pick the current stuff. Right. I mean, the things that you've been living through, so I'll give some context just out of the.

Crazy year that we just went through it, credit karma, 20, 20 global pandemic COVID that hit all of us in so many different ways. Every company felt something. We announced that we were going to be acquired by Intuit on, I think it was February 24th, I'm remembering correctly. So that was really, really thoughtful decision, hard decision.

Ken had to make that announcement clearly was emotional about telling the company this and what did it mean and what was important? And it wasn't even closed. We went through a very long department of justice, antitrust review, and then COVID hits and the financial markets tighten. And in our world, we make revenue.

When our members who are part of credit karma actually take a product from one of our partners. So a personal loan or a credit card or a mortgage or those kinds of things. Well, when the credit markets tighten, no one's lending. No, one's giving out those products. And so our revenue went to the floor.

We're supposed to be acquired by this company. Our board is very focused on making sure all of these things happen. Thankfully, we were profitable. We had this money in the bank and we had to go through a process of like, how do we financially survive this? And there were a number of voices in the room around all of this who are like layoffs, layoffs.

This is like huge noise and Ken and I, and other folks with the management team. I mean, we spent three weeks to try and figure out like, what is the best thing that we can do for everybody in this situation? And didn't rush into doing anything. Didn't rush to pull a trigger. And I had started a practice where right when COVID hit and I still do it to this day where I send a Sunday email to the whole company talking about what's going on.

Things that are happening in the world. I originally thought it was going to be this, like, you know, Hey, are you going home for like four, six weeks? Check your email on Sunday. We'll tell you whether I have to get back to the office. Little did I know that I started using that vehicle. We decided to start telling people that like, things are hard.

We don't know what we're going to do yet. We're creating some instability amongst folks, and that team had never done a layoff before either. I had unfortunately done that in my career many times, but no one on the management team had ever been responsible for that before. And it was not a rush to judgment.

We spent three weeks looking through all of our options. And then at the end of that time, we set a date, a deadline, which was May 1st and on May 1st we had an all hands meeting and we told everybody we were going to tell what we were going to do. And we actually decided to do pickets. We decided not to do a layoff.

And Lisa just said, from our value set, that's not who we were. We weren't going to lay people off. We would rather take the hit financially as a company. And try and keep people in jobs. And he could have had me give out that news. I mean, I'm pretty broad shouldered. I'm usually the one who sorta lays things out in that way.

And instead he he's like, no, it's my company. It's my job. I'm the CEO. I'm going to lay this out. And he did. And he was super thoughtful about it. And we also knew that we were going to lose people. People are going to quit. And we had all this instability going on with everything you need. You have COVID you have this pending deal that no one knows what's going to happen with your revenues cut more than in half.

You don't know what the job situation's going to be. Even. This is a massive amount of weight for people to carry. And it was just really thoughtful and delicate. And we answered every single question there I'd come up with this idea that we can take all of our recruiters and move them around the company, which is what we did.

So we put people, took recruiters, they became product managers and BD people. And. Legal people. And it was just a leap of faith in the team and our different ideas and that we could make it, but then also owning the message and owning the follow-up the message. And it was also a good learning for him too, because he came out and walked everybody through it.

I walked people through the actual details of how we were going to move people around and when the picket would start and what did it mean? And all these kinds of things and the backlash. So to speak from employees on blind, which I personally don't log into, but, and is used in, people do share, I have like little people who share stuff with me, so I kind of know what's going on, but it was that Ken was the savior and Colleen was the mean mean person.

And Ken really took from that, like, God, we just have this bias issue of like you. And I said the exact same thing and how did it happen? And I love that. He also felt like he learned from that. And now he will refer to that like, Hey, Coleen and I are completely aligned here. This is our decision that we're all making, but it was incredibly powerful at the time.

And I think it spoke a lot to who we were as a company, but the thoughtfulness of the entire process was really bad. 

Brett Berson: [00:35:26] Thanks for sharing that. I wanted to switch gears and go back to something we were talking about a little bit ago, going back to kind of the mental model that your job is the product manager of the systems.

And tools of the company. How would you describe like the different products then, or systems that you think about and own? Right. If you lead product at a SAS company, part of the product might be new user onboarding or something that happens in the home screen or some there's a product manager that focuses on email and the email part of the product.

And so how would you describe like the different parts of the product that you own and think about and want to improve? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:36:06] I'll say one of the great lessons I learned that's connected to this is when I was at Zynga, we had a value called BCO and mark Pingus the founder and CEO, you stick, he would literally like to drop in to a suite where people were working and he would walk around and be like, what are you CEO of?

What are you CEO? What are you CEO of? So you've got really good at training. Your employees very quickly on like you are the CEO of hire to start. For example, in my group that used to be, there was somebody who that was their whole job, their CEO of hire to start. And so in my case, I'm sort of the CEO of the attraction process.

So w how do we talk about talent brand? How do we bring people in, what are the processes and lifestyle? I mean, the traditional talent acquisition recruiting pieces, and then there's onboarding. And that also is in my world. And I don't own all of the pieces, right? In every situation. There's somebody else who truly owns those kinds of things, but from a systems and tools perspective that falls into my bucket, and then how people are rewarded, how they're recognized, and certainly any form of their career progression or the career journey or growth as we call it, I'm responsible for providing the systems and tools for those pieces.

I also think I'm responsible for the systems and tools. Around what we refer to traditionally as a graceful goodbye at credit karma, which is the idea that it doesn't matter why somebody is leaving, but we want to make sure that it's a positive experience. And in my case at credit karma, I also own all of communications.

So PR internally and externally, which means that I think a lot about how are we telling our story and our narrative inside of the company, but also equally important. How are we telling that narrative outside of the company? And I think it's incredibly important that those two things match, because if they don't, you're going to run into issues on either side, you're going to run into issues internally where people are getting their information or defining their experience based on what the outside world is telling them, which is not healthy.

Even if they're telling them they're amazing and awesome, and you're worth so much money and all those kinds of things. That's not a healthy mindset. In my opinion. I think you want people who are. Building the narrative based on their experiences inside the company and how you operate in the decisions you make.

And then I think the external world is important as well. It's obviously for our members and our brand and our partners. So there's a lot of pieces to that. So a lot of stuff and a lot of systems and tools running around at the same time, 

Brett Berson: [00:38:30] let's talk about, some of them may be in a little bit more detail, and I thought maybe we could take a few of those in and have you teach and talk about what you've designed and probably most importantly, why you've designed it.

One of the really valuable ideas you you shared a bit ago was that this isn't all one for one translatable, right? It's not like I did this at this company. This is how we're doing it here, stamp it out and move on that it's all culture and context and company dependent. And so maybe we could take something like the reward and recognition bucket, and you could kind of teach a little bit about.

What are the pieces of that? What do you do? And maybe why do you do it? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:39:12] It's a really interesting one because it's a journey for me personally. One of the things I was thinking about in the upcoming of having this conversation was like, Hey, what are the things that I've really turned on over time? What is my mind changed on?

And I grew up in these big companies that were quote, unquote, pay for performance meritocracy. And I really don't believe in a lot of that anymore. I just think it's so incredibly hard to really do that for most employees. Well, I think you can build out a career architecture for people and you can set up competencies and achievements that they hadn't need to make in order to get to the next job.

But I really think this sort of. Every six months, this person's phenomenal or this person's not phenomenal or how much more phenomenal. And do I give them $2,000 more of those kinds of things. Like I've just unwind that. And right now I'm working at a company that is very much a all for one sort of one for all type of company.

And when I got there, it was very traditional compensation. Like, Hey, you're at this job, here's the ranges pay ranges, blah, blah, blah. And once a year you could get a bonus. Or I think it was like zero to 15%. Your manager would determine it and these kinds of things. And, and one of the things that I realized was, and this is not just a credit card roadmap, but it, lots of companies is like, managers are really not that great at setting the right expectations.

And then also being able to evaluate, what percent should I give this person? And so re compensation should really be all tied up in that, but the value system at credit karma, the values are around helpfulness and empathy. And ownership and progress. And actually if you put them all together, they spell hope and the culture is such, it's all about the good of everybody and why we're here.

And when you think about how you reward people, then you should think about like, okay, if we're really this all for one, we want to do what's best for everybody culture. And occasionally we will have people who are really standout owners or delivering things that make progress. How do we, how do we look at those two things?

You had to put a bunch of tools on the table and was like, Hey, is this bonus program really driving those behaviors that we say that we want, or the things that we care about and what we kind of came to the, at the end, we were like, No, it actually doesn't really do much. And frankly, I think a lot of bonus programs, they're like, oh, you've got your company percentage and your individual piece.

And most people, unless you're a general manager or you're on senior leader of the company, you don't control, what's going to happen for the entire company. Why should your pay be connected to what happened? And that way you have equity that could tie everybody together in that way. So we made the decision to do away with most bonuses, with the exception of the most senior people, whose bonus would be connected to the company's goals.

And we rolled it into base pay and just said like, Hey, we're going to pay you for the job that you do. And we pay everybody the exact same thing, whatever job that they are in, we don't do merit increases or anything like that. And if the market moves your pay moves. So it's an, a very extreme example and it works where we are because it matches the values.

And it rewards people in that way. And then we have an exceptional impact program, which is once a year and you can nominate yourself, you can nominate somebody else. So it's tops down, bottoms up and we give an additional equity grant to people who've really shown some sort of exceptional impact. And it's selected by a senior leadership team versus at the individual management level.

But the fact that, you know, it doesn't matter if you had four managers or those kinds of things. If people were going to move around a lot, you could still get considered and have your work considered for an equity is one of those tools that it's the best people are incentive to stay because they've got equity on the table.

That's sort of keeping them there. And everybody wins. We all win when our best people are all continuing to stay at the company. So, I mean, we really designed this reward, structure and recognition structure. To map the company that, who we said we were and why we were doing that. Now I'll tell you this set of choices that we made.

I do have some critics. I have some people in that 10%, 20% sown, who are they call it my socialist communist pay program or, or those kinds of things, which, you know, it's kind of funny, but it works because it's the choice that we made now when you're at another company and you do have some sort of true belief of like, we believe in meritocracy.

And that's what the value set has been at the company. And we value the individual more than the necessarily the whole. And we want to double down and triple down on these 10 people. If that's the culture, then you would design a culture that delivered that extra bonuses or huge stock grants just for those people.

Or you would, Hey, I pay these people at this high end and these jobs at the low end, or I see companies that extrapolate, Hey, I'm going to pay product and engineering at the 75th of market. And I'm going to pay everybody else at the 55th market. Those are all just choices that you make and the rewards and recognition zone.

And then I think you have to think about the other pieces. Like, are there ways that you can do peer recognition? How do people want to be recognized? And is that like coffee with the CEO? Is that a party? Can you just have to kind of figure out what are those different pieces when they come together that people understand, like, again, it goes back to why did we do this?

What are the choices we made? And can you explain it? Which I think is usually the biggest challenge for folks is like, can you explain why you do what you do? 

Brett Berson: [00:44:49] I was really interested in the concept of the exceptional impact award. Do you mind explaining that in a little bit more detail, how it sort of set up at credit karma?

Colleen McCreary: [00:44:58] We call it EIP. It's the exceptional impact program. And we basically keep a running Google form. It's not that hard so people can nominate themselves or their peers. And it's open all year. Although we traditionally awarded in December. So in October we do a whole, Hey, EIP season is here. It's open. Do you want to nominate someone, nominate yourself, nominate your peers.

We intentionally designed it to be around impact and not just performance, because I think there's a difference there between what is the work that you did that really has changed some sort of direction in the company or for our members or for our partners. We wanted to be much more about this idea that you did something that was going to potentially have this sort of lasting experience for who's involved.

And we give examples. So we have a whole go page where we give examples of somebody in growth. Marketing came up with this idea and then they ran a test and you know, it generated. X many more clicks and those kinds of things. So those are super tangible. One time we had somebody who, one who in my team completely redid all of the employee resource groups and how they engage in their experience and activities.

And then we have a group of senior leaders from each business unit that are allocated a stock pool that they can give to those employees. It's not a public recognition. So we don't tell everybody about it. It goes to about 10% of the employees will receive it. And it's not a given just depends on who's nominated every year.

I think it's worked really well for us. We've only done it for two years now. So it's still relatively new are 

Brett Berson: [00:46:43] other mechanisms like this or programs that you've built in this bucket that we're talking about in reward and recognition that might be a bit different or interesting that you could share.

Colleen McCreary: [00:46:52] Certainly, I think Zynga was much more extreme. I don't know what they do now, but back when we were there and this was during the startup times, we created this massive awards program there. It's funny, our, our former CFO there he's the CFO of Facebook now. And he's always said like that awards culture was just something really special.

He's like, I've just never seen it anywhere else. But, and we did these quarterly awards and we intentionally designed them to derive after the values that we had, there was like a, a founder CEO award or the CEO mark gave his Tesla for a quarter to people at the time the Tesla is brand new. I was kind of an interesting thing.

We had this Atlas award, which was all about the people who are like holding up the company. And that was, and I try not to use money for those awards. We use like trips and experiences. So you got like $5,000. To go travel somewhere. She had the time off and take you or your family or whatever to go travel somewhere.

We had a green Baret award so that people who saved the day, that one, I didn't really like so much because you're kind of sending the culture of like, oh, these people who come in at the last minute swoop in and save, you are maybe more valuable than people who wrote the software correctly, the first time type of thing.

But it was culturally something that we had. We had these MVPs, they won like a smaller award. And then we had the Zynga spirit award and that was a hundred thousand dollars invested stock. And we gave that out. Yeah. I usually like once a quarter, someone got that and it was generally somebody who had a long history and some sort of big win and it went to junior folks and very senior folks who would win it.

But that awards culture, the idea of recognizing people a lot. I think it's great. It doesn't really work with where I'm at now. And it also depends on like where you're at and your company cycle, what can you afford? And those kinds of things, but just that idea of your name on a plaque and you get these experiences, people loved that it was a very beloved type of thing.

Brett Berson: [00:48:56] It's cool to hear you talk about that because it's a great compare and contrast from a culture perspective. And my understanding is the credit karma culture is quite different than the Zynga culture. And so it shows how these tools and mechanisms and systems really have to be in service of that. And you have to be very aware.

And if you were to take that exact Zynga thing and apply it to your current culture, it would never work. It's also interesting to think about Zynga as a gaming company, and there's a gaming mechanism that goes along with these rewards. And so you can start to see how some of those things fit together 

Colleen McCreary: [00:49:28] a hundred percent.

Correct. Exactly. And, but that's the job, right? I mean, so when you talk about being the CEO of rewards and recognition, it's the. What are we trying to accomplish? What are our values? How do we live these and then building? And that's why just taking whatever you did at your last company doesn't work. 

Brett Berson: [00:49:47] So next, I want to just talk about some of your ideas around career growth and maybe some of the mechanisms or systems you've implemented, or at least you think about in each company that you've worked out.

Colleen McCreary: [00:49:59] Sure. I think career growth is one of those terms that people throw around and there's not really a definition. And part of what you have to do for your employees at all levels is give them a framework for what does career growth mean? And currently at credit karma, we do this subsidy for professional development for every single employee.

We've built out the job architectures, which we call a job framework because we don't want it to be a ladder where people feel like they have to go directly up. And instead you want people to feel like they can maybe take a path somewhere else or do something else. And that would be career growth. And then we also built all of our real time.

Feedback tools. So, you know, in the absence of a performance review, per se, or which we don't do, or in the absence of the sort of 360 feedback, which people get attached to, or those kinds of things, we had to put other tools in place for folks, and then teach the employees along the way, which we do via questions and slack and answering those things head on which we do via trainings for managers and employees on how to manage your career.

And what does growth and development look like? And I mean, you really feel like you end up having to spell something out because everybody's got this misconception or, or a conception and their head of well career growth is a promotion, which I generally think is the, the assumption three times a year at credit karma, we go through this process where we do peer perspectives.

It's not feedback. We call it perspectives. Feedback is such a scary, loaded term. We wanted to detoxify it. And there's no really, in my opinion, great tool to do that. We've. Kind of bastardized culture amp to some extent and told people, skip all these three steps and then pick the people that you want to receive that from.

We don't require it. Although we just completed that cycle, the first one for this calendar year at credit karma, and we got 85% participation, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. And we tell people to think of this as giving advice or getting a perspective from folks. And we partner that with then setting up this extended period of time with our manager.

So instead of a regular one-on-one you do this broader. Hour, long session that we call the karma combo. And it's supposed to be this combination of foresight and insight into what you want to do, which in combination should be this discussion around what are the things that you want to develop and grow in that I am very direct and I continue to push this message over and over and over.

Whenever I, I see a comment in slack that says like, well, I didn't get promoted. So I'm clearly not growing anymore. And I just. I literally will be like, I actually think you're framing this incorrectly. It's not that cut and paste. And that needing new people, working in a new environment, working with new products, it is growth and it is development, but you have to keep framing that for folks.

And I often times, especially for people who've been in the same type of job for long periods of time, I sort of say it's like being a teacher in a lot of ways where if you're a school teacher, you could potentially do that job for 30, 40 years. And I don't know of any teacher who wouldn't say that they grow every time they have a new class and that they have to learn new skills and they have to new things, but they still love being a teacher.

So part of this, again, goes back to reframing for people and expectation around growth and helping them decide for themselves where they're at in their own careers, what they're aspiring to do. Because the idea that you can just keep promoting and promoting and promoting it sort of times out at some point.

And I will say like, one of the tricks of the trade is I would create, if you have, especially people who are more junior in their career, create a bunch of levels, create these half steps, create four levels of software engineer. Before you get to senior software engineer to give people a sense of progression.

You also have to be prepared for the ramifications of how do you describe each of those levels and what are the differences because people will ask and they will want that level of clarity to understand how that works. But that worked really well for me. And then I will also say that one of the other big tips I learned around career growth is people that can be very attached obviously to their titles and what their external perception is.

And. I don't actually care about any of that. Like, if you want to call yourself the CTO of this one feature that you built, and this one product who cares as long as within the framework of the system of the company that you're in at the people are sort of leveled and paid appropriately for the work that they're doing.

Does it really matter what someone puts on their business card or LinkedIn or any? No, it really doesn't. And, and I'll tell you at Zynga, we operated in this studio model. So game studio model, and every game had its own general manager. It had its own CTO. It had its own head of product. It had its own head of production.

And it was great for retention because people loved having those titles and they got to feel like they were really owning that. Now you could have somebody who was just a senior software engineer who got to be the CTO of XYZ game, but they still got to say that they were, that it also confused everybody in the external market trying to hire people.

So that was actually a side benefit as well. When you 

Brett Berson: [00:55:15] think about people growing in their careers, do you have thoughts or approaches to people doubling down on strengths versus mitigating weakness or investing in weakness? 

Colleen McCreary: [00:55:25] I love this question. I grew up in sort of the culture of give feedback. If corrective feedback work on the things that you're not good at work on all of that stuff.

And then I read this book nine lies about work, which I loved, and I was very mad. I didn't write myself, but it's great. And they talk a lot about this stop spending so much time on weaknesses and start focusing on strengths. And I actually had to really work at that because I loved the concept of that.

Like why do we spend all this time trying to convince people or mold people into what they're not. And then instead encourage people to, to strive for being even better at what they're already naturally good at or what they enjoy philosophically. I love it. It is a very hard change for a lot of leaders, self included.

To move to that direction because my natural tendency is to pick out the things that are not necessarily going as well, or if you think they need these other skills. And that's the framing is to say like, Hey, you're amazing at this. And maybe these are the opportunities for you because when it comes to recruiting and bringing in talent and selling a vision and selling a message, you are phenomenal.

But when it comes to your empathy or your ability to play in the sandbox with others, or potentially make hard decisions, you're not great at those things. And maybe you don't want to spend time going down those paths, but it is different than the paradigm that most people who've been in the workforce for 10, 20, 30 years are used to.

But I think it's huge. I personally have been trying to do more of that. And then I frame it of the, Hey, let me give you some advice on here's this other set of skills that you may need to develop over time. And it's your choice. Are 

Brett Berson: [00:56:59] there structural or mechanisms that you can change to encourage this.

New way of behaving or it's more narrative and story where you're just constantly explaining and teaching this idea, 

Colleen McCreary: [00:57:13] you want to focus on strengths versus the corrective piece. I think you can switch your tools to focus on those kinds of prompting questions. You know, if you have something like a peer feedback or a upward feedback, or those kinds of tools that you're using to switch the questions, to all focus on how people show up, what are their strengths?

There's a lot of work around this from the university of Michigan, where a lot of this positive work came out of in the mid two thousands. And it really didn't pick up steam for a long time. And I remember I worked with a coach who had me do this reflected best self exercise. It was this idea of going back to your peers and some people that you've worked with and asking them for examples, when you've shown up as your best self.

And when they think of your best work, what are those competencies and what are those things? And when you see that picture, the feeling that you have as an employee that is so different than when you do a traditional stop, start, continue type of exercise, it really does flip everything. And you will find that employees will react and respond very differently.

I do that when I'm mentoring people, I forced them to do this exercise because so many people haven't been down this road before. And my other perspective on this is in general, people are inherently defensive. And so the more that you sort of pick, pick, pick, pick, pick the more defensive they're going to be, and almost dig in on certain things.

I say, it's almost like quicksand. Sometimes that people just end up in this hole where they're just kind of pulled down because of the constant beat on the negativity, and then they can't get themselves out. I wanted to end 

Brett Berson: [00:58:58] by talking about, in a little more detail, a few of the tools in this career growth category that you were mentioning, and one was peer perspectives and the other was the karma combo.

And it would be great if you could explain sort of what those actually look like in some detail, maybe in the case of the karma convo. If I was watching that go on, what are the pieces of 

Colleen McCreary: [00:59:17] that? So the karma combo it's driven to be, we use 15 five as our regular feedback tool. And what we do is we actually literally flipped the questions to make them these more insightful types of things.

And, and we do that intentionally to be in the sense of like, we want people to reflect. So just share it out there. So the reflection piece, and the question is what was the most meaningful observation that you've reflected on from your peer and or upward perspectives? And then we even give like a, this question is prompting you to consider what was the light bulb moment or new information.

That surfaced. And what's the value of having those insights. And we asked some other questions for folks to think through. And we even say this question is intended to facilitate insight and awareness of the potential differences and how you perceive yourself at work and how others experience working with you.

And then we ask a question about learning. And so when you get these perspectives again in four to six months, which characteristics do you want folks to recognize as improvements? Or what strengths do you want to continue to leverage? And again, we do the whole, like, why are we asking you this? So explore possibilities and opportunities to enhance success and growth in your role are aligning your values.

And then we look for action. So what actions and support do you need? And do you want between now and the next cycle to make this a reality? And then same thing we say, identify what actions you will own for your own growth and development, be a champion of your development. And then the fourth question is like enablement.

As a manager, what can I start, stop or continue that will help you in your growth journey. That's it, there's no expectation that this is like a permanent record or that this is connected to like promotions or anything like that. The expectation that is that we tell all managers to schedule at least an hour for their employees.

They don't have to respond in like a document unless they know that their employee does better with written feedback. But we do ask the employees to answer those questions so that there's a framework for the discussion, but that's what that karma combo is. I mean, it's all about what are you seeing in yourself and your role, and then in the future, what would you like to see in yourself and your role and what can we do to help facilitate that?

Brett Berson: [01:01:28] Separating this from leveling and comp, I guess intuitively makes sense. As soon as you tie anything with comp and leveling, you end up over rotating on that part of the conversation versus introspection and growth. But I'm curious, are there downsides to that or issues that you've had with separating those types of conversations with actually where somebody is in your career framework that you've developed?

Colleen McCreary: [01:01:56] Well, this framework works really nicely at the company that I'm at. We don't really have bonuses. You can get promoted multiple times a year, so it's not like locked into any certain timeframe. Most people have appreciated that these are sort of optional experiences. The karma combo. We really do. We put a lot of pressure on it.

I talk a lot about it. It is something we can track because it's in 15 five, which is a manager employee tool. So we can see if somebody's at least attempted to fill it out versus the perspective piece, which is really just sort of peer and upward feedback. And it works nicely because we intentionally design it to not at all.

And we really push on this, which is we don't want you to be penalized for. Learning and growing and getting that perspective. And we find people are more honest than they normally would be inherently. Unless you have it out for someone you tend to not give like really corrective of helpful perspectives or advice to people because you don't want to hurt them in their review or their promotion or those kinds of things.

Then I actually will say I had an employee, a senior engineer who said, you know, it might be nice if we had a different system where maybe you gave the feedback that the manager can see this perspective, or you could still do it anonymously because I'm not really comfortable, but I really want to tell this person some helpful things or the manager isn't seeing it when he said, I know that this isn't supposed to be involved in your promotion or anything like that.

He's like, but I just wonder, I don't know. Yeah, it was a good piece of feedback. We might just try and figure out a way to do that. But what I have found at least in this system is that people. Are much more honest about what the opportunities are because they know there's no sort of downside to someone.

Now, if you had a different kind of culture, you might not necessarily see the same result. 

Brett Berson: [01:03:45] And the one other piece, you mentioned this, the peer perspectives or input to the karma combo. What is the content of the peer perspective or what's the 

Colleen McCreary: [01:03:53] prompt? The peer perspectives. As I mentioned, we took culture amps 360 module, and we stripped out all the self review and manager review and all that kind of stuff.

And we just kept, which is they have this really nice strengths and then opportunities sections, which are literally like competencies. And then you can check off like four strengths for the person and then has a little comment box and then opportunities for development box. And you can pick which competencies are in there and you can leave a little common or example, and then there's like a comment box at the bottom, and you could probably pick and choose some competencies, even if you wanted to build that yourself and not use somebody else's product.

I personally, and I literally, when I emailed the company, I email the whole company, Hey, it's open. This is the time we're going to do this. Blah, blah, blah. I literally will attach the email that I sent to the people who I asked to do my perspectives. I'm very open about it and say, Hey, I'm working on empathy right now.

And so I would love for you to give when you. Are doing my perspectives. I'd love. If you could think through that, we're coaching people. If they want to use that as a way to get perspectives on a certain competency or a certain area or something that you're working on. But I literally attach a copy of my email that I, every time that, Hey, this is what I'm working on and letting everybody see what I send out.

I also have somebody asked me for a perspective and I had 24 people asked me. So it's a lot, which is nice. I take it as a compliment. I don't do it anonymously. So the tool set up anonymously, but I actually always put my name. So it's easy. I'm one of those people that I always want to be clean with folks.

I don't want there to ever be a surprise. You should never. Wonder what I think, or if I have quote-unquote feedback for you, I will likely give it to you directly. And so there'll be nothing that will show up in there that you've never seen before or heard before or anything like that. So I have nothing to hide.

And so I just put my name on it and I'm trying to encourage more of that culture by both role modeling it myself. But then also talking about it a lot more and maybe over time, you won't need a tool like that anymore because people will just be doing it regularly. That'd be the ideal scenario 

Brett Berson: [01:06:02] given world talking about feedback.

Maybe we could just end with the question of what's been the most valuable feedback you've gotten in your career. That's been most useful to you personally, 

Colleen McCreary: [01:06:12] I actually would say very early on, I got feedback about not expecting so much from everyone around me and that just because I was sort of hard charging all of the time.

It didn't mean that. I should expect that everybody else operates the exact same way and that that's the right way to operate. And I still use that feedback, not just for myself in terms of thinking about things like, oh, where are people are at? Where do they in their lives? What are sort of going on, but actually sharing that with other people, especially people who are usually earlier in their career, early in my career, I just took no prisoners.

I just expected everybody was going to do things all the time. And I, I had a manager early in my career who I was just was frustrated with a lot and I just didn't think he was adding a ton of value. And I don't know why he was there, why he did that job. And I didn't think he understood what I was doing or those kinds of things.

And I look back now and I think about how hard I was on him and his wife had just had triplets and had been on bed rest for six months. I can only imagine what all was going on in his life at that time that I had zero empathy for. At that point, uh, reflect on that now and just thinking like, God, what a jerk I was, but that meeting people where they're at and not necessarily assuming that everybody is going to be in the same pace or in the same place as you is so helpful because you just sort of drop all of the assumptions.

It's hard, but I think it's really helped me in my own career. And it is speaking to that. People used to always talk about doing like a nine box of performance and potential. And it really isn't about potential. It's kind of where people are at right now. And I think we use the word trajectory or those kinds of things, because depending on your circumstances, you have, you probably do have a lot of potential.

You just need to know where you are in your life right then and there, and what the opportunities are and how does that fit in the framework of, of the company and the job that you're doing? Well, that's 

Brett Berson: [01:08:02] such a wonderful place to end. Thanks so much for spending this time with us. 

Colleen McCreary: [01:08:06] No, thank you for having me.

It was really fun to think about all of these pieces in one time.