How can we find meaning in life and work?
Have you ever wondered about what the role of a Chief of Staff at Indeed entails? Chris meets with Vera Hinojosa, his Chief of Staff, to talk about meaning and purpose.
Vera has worked at some of the world's biggest companies including Dell, HP, Arthur Anderson and NetSpend and on that journey a pivotal moment helped her to find the meaning and purpose in her career. This led her on a path of deep introspection and research. She gained a masters in human dimension of organisations at the University of Texas, Austin and she joined Indeed in February 2020. This discussion will focus on why meaning is so personal, how to go about discovering and embracing your own meaning and how to create meaning and purpose at scale.
The discussion took place during Hispanic Heritage Month and Vera shares some reflections on her heritage and how it shapes her career today. You leave this discussion with new ways to create meaning for yourself and your teams.
- Hello everyone, I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed, and welcome to the next episode of Here to Help. At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs. This is what gets us out of bed in the morning, and what keeps us going all day. And what powers that mission is our people. Here to Help is a look at how experience, strength, and hope inspires people to want to help others. Today I am delighted to be joined by Vera Hinojosa. Vera originally joined Indeed as the Austin site director for our product technology and engineering teams. She started in February of 2020, just a couple of weeks before COVID turned the whole idea of a site director upside down. Last October, Vera stepped into a new role as my chief of staff, and will spend a little bit of time exploring exactly what it is that a chief of staff does. To be fair, it's not really the easiest thing to pin down. I just went back and reread my original job description from three years ago when I hired my first chief of staff. And I'll just read it here. I am looking for someone to help me scale. The business is growing, but I can only be in one place at one time. My chief of staff will start by spending a lot of time with me, joining me in meetings, spanning every area of Indeed, in Austin and around the world. You will learn about the business, learn how I think, what questions I ask, how I communicate pretty quickly. You will become my proxy, meeting with anyone from new hires to senior leadership, representing my point of view and keeping me in the loop on what's going on. You will share your insights on product strategy, organizational opportunities, and help me craft all internal and external communications. You will learn a lot. I think that's a pretty good start. By the end of the episode, I hope you'll have a little bit better idea, but more importantly, you'll get a chance to get to know Vera as I have. Vera, thank you so much for joining me today. And...
- That's my signature move. You know better than anybody's what I do. Thank you for having me.
- So let's start where we always start these conversations. Tell me how you're doing today Vera?
- I'm a little nervous. I'm very excited. I'm honored. This podcast was really significant to me during the pandemic, and so it's sort of surreal to be sitting here with you today, in a really good way.
- Well, let's start by expanding a little bit on what I talked about in the intro. So you are my chief of staff. You took over the role from Lisa Ramirez, who you also knew and worked with for many years before joining Indeed. Can you tell the folks listening a little bit about how you see the role of a chief of staff, and how you managed to take this role on, while we were working from home, and then sharing a co-working space, and then now back in offices, and back traveling around the world?
- Yes, so how would I describe the role? It's definitely, at least from what I've seen, with the rest of the chiefs of staff at the company, it's very specific to the leader and the chief of staff, what it turns into. I think some of what you described is right on, I feel like there's a certain amount of volume there that is sort of unbelievable and unexpected. For example, I often think of it like this "I Love Lucy" skit, where somehow she and Ethel end up working at a candy factory, and she has to box candy. And then the machine starts to move faster and faster. And she's like throwing it over her shoulder and putting it her in her pocket and putting it in her mouth. And she's just trying to make sure it lands in some place. I think my job is a little like that. I try to make it land in a better place than my pocket, but I will not lie, occasionally I have found like a five or six day old something that I was supposed to do in my pocket. It's fast, it's furious. And it's also really, really invigorating every single day, because you have a mission that is very clear to the company and to me. And so every day I wake up and it's very invigorating. The other thing that I want to say is that I definitely, I take full accountability for being your chief of staff. I'm it, I'm where the buck stops, but I have a group of people that work with me and you every single day that are a huge part of what makes this work, right? So Chrissy, the deputy chief of staff, and Verna Lee, the assistant chief of staff, and Nicole Snaza, who's your EA, we've developed this kind of scrum, where we sort of back each other up, and we make sure that people can take time off, and that people can be away, and people can get COVID in Paris, and things keep moving. And so, you know, it's a team effort, too, at least for me, it is.
- So I'm just curious- in this analogy, am I Ethel?
- No, I'm not sure what you are, to be honest with you, but every time that I think of, you know, just an average day, there's just all kinds of things coming at me. And they're not all the same size or the same shape. And they come from all different areas, and that's the challenge and that's the fun.
- It's a very vivid image for me having grown up on Lucy. If anyone who's a little, maybe younger, doesn't know this reference, just Google it and you won't be sorry. So it is September 19th. We are having this conversation very near the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, which started on the 15th of September. What is your relationship to this celebration? And can you talk a little bit about your early experiences coming to and growing up in the US?
- Sure, I actually was born in South America. I was born in Columbia, Bogota, Columbia, and I moved to New York city when I was nine. And we lived in New York City and the Connecticut area on and off, my mom and I, for about six years. I feel like I was sort of raised in Queens, New York because they were very formative years. I lived in a multi-generational household with my grandparents and with my aunts and uncles and cousins, very, very close. And that was definitely a formation experience for me, very foundational in how I even sort of see the world today. And, you know, Hispanic Heritage Month is so interesting to me, in that when I started work, as you alluded to earlier with the Lucy reference, right, I'm of a certain age, definitely straight up Gen X. And I don't think we spoke about Hispanic Heritage Month at work for the bulk of my career. I want to say that it was like, I don't know, the past six years, maybe. I know that it became a month in like 1988 or something. That's when I graduated from high school and I literally never had a relationship with it until fairly recently, I would say in the last like seven years, six years, where companies started talking about it and people started talking about it in a very different way. Interestingly, it's in the past six or seven years, that for me, I've had sort of a shift in how I view my place here in the US, right? So, I live the American dream. I'm absolutely certain of that, right? Like I should be the poster child. I got here, I was an immigrant, my mother worked really hard, I worked really hard. I went to school, I got good jobs. I changed the trajectory of my life 100%, based on that formula that they gave us through every possible channel I can imagine, TV, radio, you know, word of mouth, whatever it is, it was a thing you heard about. And I think I live that. I think to a certain extent I live it today. What I had not realized until about like 2016, when politically things started sort of moving very differently in the United States, that it didn't have to be that way. Like it could have been far more different, far more difficult and far different than my experience, which was hard, but generally positive in that if I worked hard, and I sort of did the thing I was supposed to do, I would get the outcomes of the American dream. And so, you know, one of the things I wonder sometimes now, is what are others experiencing as they go through their twenties and their thirties, in a time that is very different than the one that I went through them in.
- So let's talk a little bit about those experiences you had and your career, which brought you to Indeed, but you went on, you know, an interesting journey along the way. Can you talk about that journey and what some of the pivotal moments were that changed your outlook and where you were going?
- Yeah, so pivotal moments. I graduated with a finance degree in 1992 when we finance majors had collapsed the economy yet again. And so I couldn't find a job. And the jobs that I was sort of getting offered were accounting jobs and I knew I didn't want those, just for me, accountants are lovely people. And so I stayed and got an MIS double major. I had already taken some of the courses, so it was fairly easy for me to just reach 18 hours and just do it. And I went consulting immediately after school. And I went to work for one of the big six firms. I think there are four of them now, and I consulted for a few years. And I think one of the formative things was the fact that with a consulting company of that magnitude, I immediately understood what industries I wanted to work in and what industries I did not want to work in. So manufacturing, yes, telecommunications, no. Retail, yes, healthcare, no. It was very, very clear at an early age. I was probably 22, 23, and I also realized that there were things that I didn't want to do anymore. So I knew pretty quickly that coding wasn't for me, nobody should cry that much coding. It just was not the thing for me. And so Anderson was wonderful, and they gave me options, right? They're like, okay, there's other stuff to do. Let's go do something else. And I found that I liked business analysis, I liked project management, I liked working with the business and with the systems. So that was very formative. I spent most of my career actually doing that kind of work. I settled in somehow into very, very large global implementations, probably because the companies I was working with were very large. But SAP, Oracle type implementations, ERPs were sort of my bread and butter for, you know, the bulk of my career. And then one day I decided that I was going to try to go to a startup, and I'd never done that before. And it scared me to death and I got a coach, and I was like, okay, you need to coach me through this transition because I am sure that, you know, I'm just not sure what to think. And she was like, sure. And I thought this is a six month conversation, right? Like we'll interview, we'll get in. We'll sort of be in there for three months with the coaching and then, you know, we'll be done. And that was 12 years ago. I still work with the same person on any variety of things every day. And so that was also a very formative thing for me. And then probably the next iteration of that, is that the coaching that I was receiving, the work that I was doing, and the management that I was working under sort of conspired to help me want to sort of do things differently. And I didn't know what I was feeling at the time, I didn't know what it was exactly. I just knew that the way I had been doing things, which I think you could summarize it as like, high quality, on time delivery. Like, that was what I did, right? That was like my LinkedIn tagline. Like, this is what I did, high quality, on time delivery. This is what I do. And it just wasn't enough anymore. And so I decided to become a personal coach. And I picked this one thing because it had actual, like in person classes. And I remember leaving one on a Sunday afternoon one day, 'cause there were weekend classes, and I just had done an exercise with the class, and I went out to my car and I sat there, and I just started to bawl, because I realized that I was not living the life I wanted to live. I was living a great life, wonderful life, but the person who I wanted to be was nowhere, right? The things that I wanted to focus on, that meant something to me and that made me want to get up in the morning were not necessarily high quality on time delivery. It was the humans, it was the teams that are resilient and happy and work really hard and then want to do it all over again. And I'd taken that for granted up to that point, completely for granted. And even be behaved in ways that I look back now and go, oh, that's wasn't my best moment, right? And so I cried, I cried, and I called my coach, and I told her, you cannot let me forget that I feel like this right now. This is a really big deal for me, it's pivotal. And so I feel like that was sort of the start of like the second phase of my life, if that makes any sense.
- So one of the things that you talk about a lot is the idea of meaning, and that we're going to spend a little time really diving into that. But when you discovered this sort of meaning for yourself, it sets you on a path to really want to, I think, explore it further and to integrate it. Can you talk about how you define meaning and, you know, what that exploration has meant for you?
- Yeah, I'd love to. I'd love to talk about this for like every day, all day. So what I realized that day, it took me a long time to name it, by the way, it wasn't like I knew instantly what the name of the thing was. But what I realized was that I had found something that really mattered to me in my life, and that my coaching and sort of a bunch of experiences had conspired to make that happen. And I realized that the huge pivot that I had made, if I could help one person like have a tiny percentage of that pivot, I would feel fulfilled. Like it didn't have to be like a life changing, life altering thing, like it was for me, just like a thread. And I started looking for that. And what it meant was that I showed up every day very differently at work than I had up until then, right? My goals were completely different when I showed up at work. Now I was still, because I'm still me, interested in high quality on time delivery. But how I approached it was just completely different. And nobody said, hey, what are you doing? You're completely weird now. No, everybody was like, hey, this is good, I like this, this is great. And I realized that I was resonating with my own self in a way that people were receptive. And then Lisa Ramirez and I were at lunch one day, and she's like, hey, I found this master's program that I think you'd like. And I was like, okay, but I've applied to every MBA on the planet, gotten into some of them and never gone. And she's like, it's not an MBA. It's called human dimensions of organizations. And it's about creating or looking at organizations and leadership and innovation through human centered lenses, like psychology and sociology. And I was like, oh my God, I'm so in, like I'm in. And I applied, and I got in, which I remember thinking, I got in and I hadn't even told my husband I applied. And so there was this like moment of, oh, this is really happening. And in that master's program, I spent two years really focusing on what I wanted to know, which was, is meaning coachable? I have my meaning, I found it. I sort of get to play with it every day. How do I help others do it? Is it coachable? And it allowed me to merge two things that I'm really interested in and really passionate about, and I wrote my thesis on it.
- We at Indeed, obviously, and me in particular, I spend a lot of time talking about Indeed's mission to help people get jobs. And in some ways I think of my role as Indeed's chief mission officer. Can you talk about, through your research, and then through your experience since, what is the importance of having a mission for employees to find their own meaning?
- I think it's huge, right? And, it's hard to sort of explain without explaining, like the definition of meaning that I used. It's one that's come up in the past 20 years or so. And the idea is that meaning is actually comprised of three components. One that is cognitive in nature, context building, understanding your situation, because you can't begin to do anything about it until you understand it well. And then there's also this motivational component that they call purpose, actually. And it's about goals, and setting goals that align with whatever it is that your situation is. And then there's a third component called significance, which is what I call the existential portion of meaning. And like, what is it that I'm doing here, with like in my life? What am I doing on the planet? And all of those three things create meaning. And so the mission at Indeed does a couple of things really well. One of them is it expresses significance, of like, are you here to help people get jobs? 'Cause if you are, this is your place, right? Like it's really aligned. The same thing with the cognitive portion of it. The cognitive portion of it is, do you want to get up every day, and log on to Zoom for eight hours, because you want to help people get jobs? 'Cause that's your reality. That's what you're doing every single day, right? And the alignment that that creates is so important, right? Because I get up every morning and I'm like, woo, people getting jobs. Jess, right, she woohoo's in every meeting because she's here to market so that people will get jobs. A lot of us feel that way. There are people out there who won't, they're like, you know what? I want to save whales. Awesome. That's clarity that they get from our mission that is not the intended result, but it's an awesome result in the area of meaning. I'd rather work with, you know, education, I'd rather work with pets, dogs. Whatever it is, that clarity and just putting it out there does everybody a service.
- Clearly for a company like Indeed, you know, we put that front and center. It is who we are. Certainly every business doesn't have that, and it doesn't mean that that people can't find their purpose or meaning, in a particular role in a particular company. But really, I guess part of the other thing is that I think some of this stuff might sound, to someone that hasn't really dived into it, that it's maybe conceptual and philosophical, and we're here to talk about work and sort of doing my job. How would you coach someone to start thinking about starting to find their meaning?
- So the first thing I would say is that meaning doesn't have to mean that you quit your job and go lead a nonprofit. It can mean that, absolutely. But you can also find it in threads every single day. It's not just this big block where you take up 60% of your life with this meaningful thing. That is not necessarily what meaning can look like. Meaning can look like seeing a conflict, seeing a person who's in conflict, and really seeing them, and saying, I see you're having a bad day, how can I help, right? You can find meaning in the smallest tiniest things. And it's probably the biggest takeaway that I want folks to sort of noodle on, if they noodle on anything after this, is that meaning can come in threads, not in blocks. You can run these through your life, in all areas of your life, all the time, as long as you know what you're looking for. And so there are multiple ways of finding meaning. One of them is reactive, which is basically a reaction to trauma most of the time. Something like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, where this mother took her pain and turned it into action and a very purposeful mission. The other one is called social learning. And that's the idea that you can watch somebody and see what they're doing and see their outcomes, and go, I want those outcomes, maybe I'll do the same thing, right? And then the last one is literally just like, searching for meaning. Like a proactive exploration of what makes you tick and what matters to you. And again, it doesn't have to be giant and lofty and heavy. It can be, it really matters to me that animals are treated fairly. And so I am going to go volunteer to clean out stalls on Saturdays, or I am going to volunteer to write legislation, because. It can take any number of different avenues. And one way to start- I had a lot of help, I'm just going to put that out there. I had a lot of coaching, I had coaching training. But one way to start is to sit down for ten minutes, just ten minutes quietly, and write down the things that matter to you for ten minutes. You'll run out of things before you run out of time, and that's okay. Then look at your list and de-dupe it, 'cause you'll find alignment between certain things, and then prioritize it and look at your top five. And then look at those top five and say, am I serving those right now? Am I honoring these values that I say are the five most important things in my life? And if you're not, you're not alone. So don't worry about that. That could very well be the outcome. But as GI Joe says, like knowing is half the battle, and just to completely mix metaphors, Maya Angelou says, when you know better, you do better, right? So both of these things apply, and if you know what you're looking for, then you can start looking for it. Now that's sort of the, how you do it. But there's a component to it that I think is very real. And it gets a little crunchy, but it's very real. When you're touched by meaning, when you're connected to something that matters to you, you feel it in your body. I have been on the verge of tears since this conversation started, and it happens every time I talk about meaning, that's just how it surfaces for me. Like there's this pressure behind my eyes the entire time I talk about it. There's a catch in my throat the entire time I talk about it, because it's like this like weird happiness, just dying to get out. Everybody has that, but we don't listen to it. So listen to your body, go do something and then listen to your body. You have a list. When you're doing something that has to do with that list, listen to your body. And you will feel that connection, that very real sense of, oh, this is different than anything else that I do all day long. How is that? Why does that matter?
- I want to go back to something that you mentioned briefly in that last response, about trauma and you have talked before about trauma as one route to meaning. Can you talk just a little bit about the sort of collective experience that we've all been through with the pandemic, and how that has sort of given an opportunity or in some cases, forced people to confront their own meaning?
- Yeah, I think forced is the right word. I think we were stripped down to survival, all of us. All of our routines were just wiped away, right? Even the folks that still had to go to work, the first responders, that wasn't routine work, right? So everybody was just stripped down to survival, immediate security. And what happened was there was a vacuum, and so humans are wonderful meaning makers, right? In the absence of a mission, we will find one, and the absence of meaning we will create it. We are just naturally creating context all the time because it's literally what keeps us alive. If we don't understand our situation and that, you know, there are not dinosaurs anymore, but there are 18 wheelers, we will not be alive for long. And so during the pandemic, the stripping away of everything happened, and what was left was a vacuum. And we all started creating it however best we could with the, what was essentially absence of blocks. And it was, I think in the truest sense, a creative process, where each one of us had to recreate what mattered to us, and where we were going to spend time, and what was going to soothe us, truly, in a really, really hard time.
- So one of the other things that we've talked about before is the connection between personal identity and meaning. Can you talk about your own intersectionality and how that impacts you and your meaning at work?
- So I've thought about this a lot. Like a lot, with my coach and on my own and in therapy, about how it is that I came to see my world as narrowly as, you know, on time high quality delivery. How did that happen? And I thought back about it a lot. And I realized that I was raised in a multi-generational household, where there wasn't a lot of talk about anything like meaning and purpose such as it is, such as we're talking about it right now. But there was talk about duty, and doing the right thing by your family, and doing the right thing by your community, right? And I had this conversation once with somebody who is also a Latinx woman, and she said, meaning is a luxury. And so I'm here to say we deserve luxury. Period. We deserve it, absolutely. Now it's interesting because in hindsight, right, as I really thought about this quite a lot, my grandpa was the epitome of duty, he just was. And so when I think about that sentence, of like in my Hispanic household, duty was king, that's whose face comes up. But now that I've like, thought about it as an adult, and with the framing of like all this research that I read about this, I realize that he was living meaning and purpose every single day. He used to do this thing, that as a kid was mortifying, and as an adult I love. We would walk down the street in New York City, and there would be these giant, like giant console color TVs, just sitting on the street, and he would unscrew the back and he would look around, and he would get like this look in his eye, and then we would go back home, and then he would go back and get it. And he would go find a transistor or a vacuum tube or whatever tiny part had failed. And for a dollar or two, fix this TV that had been trash. He was like a sustainability guy before it was a thing. And he could not walk by something that was broken without fixing it, period. If a door was making a noise, if a doorknob felt funny. And he was a fixer. This is how he found purpose in life, is making things a little bit better and rejecting the idea that, you know, something was unfixable to a certain extent.
- I've heard that story a bunch of times now. And I love it so much. Well, so I find it interesting first of all, because it has nothing to do with his work. And maybe he would he'd fix things at work, but like that he was able to find this sort of everywhere. So thinking about this idea of people, either choosing to go on this exploration or it being forced on them as with the pandemic. So what happens when someone actually has this sort of insight, and says, oh, this is my purpose. And realizes that it's actually in conflict with what they do for a living, and what do they do next?
- This is hard. And I have this conversation a lot as a coach, right? And the conversation is, I can't take this job anymore. I need to go find a new one. And, my first stop is okay, we can do whatever you like. And in the process, we're going to explore how this job can be what you want it to be. It's not the case for everybody by any means, but I think it should be your first start, if nothing else, because it gives you really clear data for what you are looking for. If I say, oh, in this job, I want to be able to work on helping women get jobs, and your job literally doesn't help you do that. Well, your next job should. So again, it's back to this exploration of what is it that you're looking for. I am a firm believer in the threads of meaning. And so when I went back to work, you know, when I had this huge epiphany, I worked there for another, oh my God, eight years after that epiphany, in the same job, right? I hadn't really thought about that. Because I was able to take those threads of meaning and just either place them or pull them, but be in contact with them in my role as it was. And some of that for me, was really focusing on creating a team that loved being a team. And I'm still in touch with all of them and they're wonderful people, and we had such a great experience together building that. Other ways was realizing when I needed to dig for some managerial courage and say the thing that needed to be said, so that a team would be safer, so that a team would be healthier. So I was able to find those threads of meaning, and I think most people can. That said, I am always 100% supportive of anybody who wants to look for something else. Because as I said before, this isn't a luxury. We all deserve this, every single one of us. And so it's okay to listen to your heart on these things. And I know that at least for me, security and duty were really front and center for a very long time. They can coexist. All of this can coexist together.
- So I know one of the things that you have spent a lot of time thinking about is the role of ritual and symbols, and what they do to help create meaning. Can you talk a little bit about that?
- Yeah, so it's actually the idea of creating structures to support behaviors. And so there's this book called "Smart Change" by Art Markman, highly recommend. And he talks about changing habits, it's all about creating structures that support those habits, right? So it's the equivalent of meal prepping. It's the equivalent of, if you lose your keys all the time, put a hook by the door, and just get into the habit of putting your keys up there, and then you'll never lose them again, right? It's the equivalent of that. And I think Indeed, for example, has put in place a ton of ritual and a ton of symbols to remind us every day what we're here to do. The t-shirt, "I help people get jobs". That is a huge symbol that you see in the office every single time, right? You're in the office, you see it in the street. We talk about the t-shirt. Everybody wants the t-shirt, everybody loves the t-shirt, because it's a symbol of something bigger, and it reminds us like, this is what we're doing. It's literally like an outlet for meaning where you just plug in. I think Here to Help and the Q and As are good rituals. Rituals that helped us put structure in place in a time where, as I said before, we had been stripped down to nothing. We just had nothing. And all of a sudden we had this thing on Mondays and this thing on Wednesdays. You know, here with my family, the Wednesday Q and A is called "the movie", because my husband would say, is it time for the movie? This was during the pandemic. It became a very different experience when I was actually working on the movie, when I started working for you. And now he's not allowed anywhere near my desk for the movie. But for a long time, my husband watched the movie, because it was a ritual that helped him connect, anchor to something, in a time that we were very much adrift, all of us.
- Just talking a little bit further about then, sort of that meaning and purpose and mission at Indeed. What do you think happened? And you talked a little bit about the movie piece. Like what did remote working do to how we thought about creating this, and sharing this collective meaning that was different than when we were all together all the time.
- I think sort of by definition, we lost our anchor to the office. We just lost our anchor. When I was looking for a job in fall of 2019, when I was interviewing with Indeed, I interviewed with a company, that was doing purpose consulting. Can you even imagine, right? And I stopped talking to them because I was like, I can't work from home, and be the only one in the company that's remote. This is crazy, I would never do this. This was about six months before we went home for two years. So I think we all lost our anchor, and whether we knew it or not, we were all trying to create new context and new goals that fit a new definition of meaning. So the function office used to have happy hours. We had happy hours on Thursday nights after our big meeting, or Friday night after our big meeting. And it was odd and sort of strange. And, you know, we had margaritas delivered, which in Texas was a new thing, and that was kind of weird in itself. But we were all just trying to create the context so that we could understand where we were headed and where we were going and what it all meant. So Indeed has done an excellent job, I think, of giving us sort of those threads to hold onto and to re-anchor us. And going back to the office was actually kind of weird because now we're anchored differently. We're anchored differently to each other, and we're anchored differently to the office. It's no longer somewhere that pulls on us and draws us every single day, but there's something there, but the connection has changed.
- Yeah, I mean, I think one of the interesting things about, you know, the whole conversation about finding something that is deeply meaningful to you and being able to see that in the work that you do, and it might not be the thing that your job title says that you do, is that when we're all together, physically, clearly everyone's working and doing their job, that their job title says they're doing, but there's so much else going on, that there's almost more opportunity there that, especially when the pandemic started, I think it was very easy to slip into this Zoom meeting and the next Zoom meeting and the next Zoom meeting and the next, it was like all business. And so the opportunity maybe to find those other connections or those threads was compromised. And so we certainly had to do a whole lot of extra work to introduce things that we could do collectively over Zoom, that weren't just necessarily the thing that you were doing, because I know for me the first couple months, it was just wall to wall business. And even the sort of, I mean, what we eventually landed on, on having these conversations and starting with the, how are you doing? Because suddenly that question became so important, but, so let me ask you then just for, 'cause you spent most of this time talking about it from a perspective of, for an individual, finding their own meaning and it's on you and to some degree it is on you to go through the self exploration, but for anyone that's listening, that might be an employer trying to think about, well, how can I create space for people to explore this themselves, or to find what is the purpose and meaning that we have to offer here? How would an employer get started on something like this?
- I think mission we already talked about. I think having a mission aligns your workforce better than just about anything else. If you're really living it. If it's clear, if they understand what it means. I think having a mission takes that cognitive aspect and like kills it, right? It's ready. OKRs are actually the motivational piece, right? This is what we're doing, it's very clear. Here's the list. Great, we have the motivational piece. So that leaves the significance piece, which is actually the harder one. And it's not without a shadow, right? So one of the shadow pieces of the significance piece in the workplace is that it is up to, and very important for the employer to not sort of keep reaping without sowing, right? So people who are deep in meaning and very passionate about something will tend to have stronger resilience. They will have better health, they'll have higher subjective wellbeing. And all of these things, if an employer chooses to take advantage of it, they can, because they'll work longer and they'll be able to, because they've got this connection to meetings. So it's really important for an employer to realize there's a shadow side to this that you need to be aware of. But allowing space, you literally said it. I think our IRGs are really, really good example of how we allow people to have space, to explore something that matters to them, and not just explore it as like, I'm in an IRG, and there's this one very specific thing that we stand for, but literally have fireside chats and conversations about topics that somebody is passionate about. Allowing that and fostering that is really an easy, almost easy way for employers to participate in this.
- So one of the things that is almost too much top of mind for everyone right now, and pretty much every conversation, certainly within Indeed, but in the outside world is around this future of work. What is the role and how important are purpose and meaning in framing that conversation?
- I mean, I literally just sort of rattled it off. Humans that are connected to meaning are just better. They're just better off. It's like the next gear in human evolution, in my opinion, because if you've got connection to meaning, you've got all this fuel. That by the way, if you connect to meaning, this is the most amazing thing, and I'm going to quote Maya Angelou again, but you know, it's like creativity, you don't spend it. The more you use it, the more you get. And so I connect to meaning, and literally the second that I realize, oh, I helped somebody, it fills my cup. It just gets refilled immediately. That unending power source is huge. If a human is connected to meaning, they're a different employee.
- Well, this is a limitless load of a topic we could definitely, and we have spent a lot of time talking about it before, and we will continue to spend more time talking about it, but we need to land the plane here, so let me ask you in closing the question that I always ask at the end, which is looking back now over the past few years and everything that we've all been through, including and especially all of the challenges. What has left you with some optimism for the future?
- This was hard for me, which I thought was interesting. I don't know what it says, but I need to explore that. Here's what I came up with. The willingness, the desire, the courage of the millennial and gen X generations to speak truth to power fills me with optimism. Their ability to take up space and speak up and speak out. Every time I realize it's happening, I take it for granted, but when I see it happening, I go, wow, that's awesome. That could really be a force for change. And it makes me optimistic.
- Well, Vera, thank you so much for joining me today in this conversation, You have sat on the other side of the prep sessions and the interviews. And I was really excited to get to share this conversation with you today, and thank you for everything that you do, selfishly for me, but for Indeed, and for all the people that you work with. And thanks for being here today.
- Thank you, it's literally my pleasure, literally. Thanks Chris.