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April 22nd, 2020

EPISODE 1: At HP and Patagonia, a Crisis Means People Come First

Tracy Keogh, CHRO at HP, and Dean Carter, Head of Finance, Legal, and HR at Patagonia, are dealing with different challenges at their organizations these days. But what you’ll hear from each leader echoes the same point: During a crisis, it’s people—not business goals or numbers—that need to come first.

Episode Transcript

Chris Weller (00:05):

There are a lot of words we can use to describe what’s going on right now at the places we work: disaster, disruption, anxiety, overwhelmed, and surely many more. Each of these captures a different side of what COVID-19 has brought to the working world; a crisis.

Chris Weller (00:22):

As terrible and real as these new realities are, it’s crucial for everyone’s well being that we remember what is still within our control, and use it awareness to take care of ourselves, look after each other, and deliver what matters. I’m Chris Weller, and you’re listening to Your Brain At Work from the NeuroLeadership Institute.

Chris Weller (00:40):

For this episode and the ones that follow, we’ll be drawing from a weekly webinar series that we’ve been hosting every Friday between our co-founder and CEO, Dr. David Rock, and one or two distinguished guests. Together they discuss what leading through crisis has meant for them and the science of staying focused.

Chris Weller (00:56):

In today’s episode we’ll hear from Tracy Keogh, Chief Human Resources Officer at HP, and Dean Carter, Head of Finance, Legal, and HR at Patagonia. Their stories are distinct, HP, a tech giant, has shifted operations to deliver core technologies where they’re needed most, while Patagonia, a beloved clothing brand, has had to essentially shut down operations.

Chris Weller (01:18):

But what you’ll hear from each leader echoes the same point: in times of crisis, it’s people not business goals or numbers that need to come first. With that, co-founder and CEO, David Rock, to take it away.

David Rock (01:32):

This is not an update on the virus, I’m not going to be talking the science of bio transmission and all that; it’s not legal or HR advice or medical advice. This session is intended to just help you have insights about better ways of leading through this, particularly as an HR leader, or leader in your organization. And we’ve been doing this weekly for the last four or five weeks, and we’ll continue to do it for a while, kind of as things evolve, and as we want to share out different messages.

David Rock (02:01):

And so I’m going to talk for about five minutes or so just kind of sharing how we’re perceiving this as a research institute, and thinking about very, very high level what’s happening in the brain, and what we need to manage for. And then we’re going to hear from Tracy for a while sharing what HP are up, to and then Dean for a while sharing what they’re up to.

David Rock (02:16):

So where we are and where we’re going, we thinking about this for a while and this is … I think it’s really helpful to understand the physiological response that you and your people are having right now, and we are actually experiencing a kind of shock. It actually has a … It’s called acute stress disorder, if you want to look it up.

David Rock (02:40):

It has something in the DSMB, it’s psychological trauma that’s so strong it impacts, or creates, a kind of shock; inability to think disorientation, all of that. We’re kind of moving out of that stage, most people are [inaudible 00:02:53], but most people are kind of moving out of that stage. They’re falling down the stairs and breaking a leg, we’re moving more into the pain stage, actually, realizing how hard this is and actually the adrenaline’s worn off, now we’ve got to deal with pain.

David Rock (03:07):

And then at some point, whether it’s a few months or longer, how to know but we’ll be able to rehabilitate. But I think it’s important to know that this phenomena that we’re all living through, it’s not just a once in 100 year experience, it’s the toughest experience just about everyone alive has had to negotiate psychologically.

David Rock (03:24):

And it’s kind of a 10x game or it’s a 10x challenge than we’ve never had before in terms of managing ourselves, and being out of focus. So I saw a piece recently that said, “Hey, you might be experiencing a little more stress at the moment.” I laughed a lot; no one’s experiencing a little more stress at the moment, or very few people. So I think it’s important to kind of recognize this phenomenon that’s going on. As you think about the stages your organization’s in, and how long the pain’s going to last and all of that.

David Rock (03:52):

There’s a pendulum going on for all of us; this is something we’ve been talking about a lot. We’ve mostly shifted out of the far left, the under-reacting, but there’s this pendulum from sort of thinking that we’ll be fine to [catastrophizing 00:04:04]; and we go there a lot.

David Rock (04:06):

How do you get into the middle? The middle’s really important, because you need to do something very, very difficult. Whether it’s just your family, your team, or your whole organization, you need to scenario plan. Can’t predict what’s going to happen, you cannot predict exactly what’s going to happen, but you’re going to have to develop models for yourself of kind of options, and then think really deeply about them and plan for them.

David Rock (04:26):

That’s the most adaptive thing is scenario planning, that’s what all organizations that deal with disasters do; they prepare for them through scenario. Unfortunately, scenario planning takes a lot of brain space, and you can’t do that if you don’t maintain calm. And that’s bolded there for a reason, but that’s your biggest challenge, personally, and your team and with your organization is to maintain calm in this crisis.

David Rock (04:48):

If you let that go, everything else falls apart. So it’s got to be one of the biggest priorities for organizations is how do you maintain calm. And one of the ways to do that, and kind of working upwards in the middle, is you got to adopt the right mindset; which is really the Stockdale Paradox. Which is this belief that everything will work out in the end, but realizing it is going to be bad, and accepting it’s going to be bad until then.

David Rock (05:12):

And so it’s a really kind of tricky thing to get your head around, but you really have to have that mindset that it’s going to work out in the end, but it’s going to be rough, and accept that, stay calm and get to work at planning and organizing yourself every way you possibly can.

David Rock (05:28):

So that’s what we think is in the middle, we’ve been helping individuals think about that, we’ve been running some open enrollment programs to help people kind of work through it. We’ve been helping organizations with it but, ultimately, we think being able to manage your threat level is probably the killer app, in a sense right now.

David Rock (05:45):

And we’ve been talking about this a lot, if you’ve been watching this the last month, but this is probably the most important piece of language as your tool right now. If you haven’t seen this yet, three levels of threat; it’s really, really important.

David Rock (05:57):

Level one is basically alert but not alarmed, and it’s vigilant. I mean, you should be at level one threat when you go out, for example; you should be vigilant to where your hands are, and your mask, and all of that. So level one threats, basically, there is a danger but it’s not right upon you, and you can still process pretty well.

David Rock (06:15):

Level two threat is, basically, like a huge kick off from kind of distant dangerous too dangerous really, really close and I need to prepare. And so level two threat when your brain kicks into it, and heart rate’s up, you can’t think well, it’s terrible for basically any kind of cognitive work at all.

David Rock (06:33):

If you need to physically run or physically chop wood out or something, then levels of threat can be adaptive for physical tasks that it’s now adaptive for collaboration, creativity definitely, perception cognition, basically everything to do with working together.

David Rock (06:48):

A level three threat obviously is the huge problem. That’s when it’s kind of on to you the danger’s coming at you and, literally, on you. So the really different systems kick in, and the thing to know is that the adaptive place that you need to do your very best to stay at in level one. We’ve got to work out how to keep ourselves and organizations at level one, because that’s where we’re able to actually do the deep thinking necessary to think through this.

David Rock (07:18):

Even on a hospital floor, as much as they can, they’ve got to stay that calm. The more dangerous it is, the more chaos it is, the more you need actually that calm, and that just alertness, but not alarm. It’s a really tricky phenomena to practice, but anyway that’s kind of the story.

David Rock (07:35):

And we’ve been working on [scuff 00:07:37] buffers for years, so thinking about the buffers for certainty autonomy relatedness. Which one’s really, really work well studying that, and then the signals that you need to send to others; and, again, which ones work really well.

David Rock (07:47):

This is our mantra, “Take care of yourselves, look out for each other, deliver what matters.” This is something that we’re saying constantly to each other at [inaudible 00:07:56], it’s something we’re saying to our clients, it’s something we’re teaching; we think these are the three things to focus on in a crisis.

David Rock (08:02):

They’re a little counterintuitive because in a crisis you tend to just burn out and not think about taking care of yourself; but this is marathon. In a crisis we tend to just focus on getting things done and forget to take care of each other. People are reporting a lot more negative feedback right now in their work, in the [inaudible 00:08:19] with us. We have to go after each other.

David Rock (08:21):

People are trying to everything, we actually have to cut back, prioritize and just deliver what really matters. So these are the three habits in a crisis that we’ve been anchoring on and continuing to innovate. But, ultimately, all of them are founded on being able to stay at level one threat and putting in your rituals, habits, processes to do that.

David Rock (08:39):

So that’s my kind of kick off, and I’m going to sort of share at the end a little bit of what [inaudible 00:08:45] is doing if we have time. People have this ability to climatize to the most crazy things that you think would be impossible to climatize to but we do. And I think that’s what we’re starting to see now, people settling into building practices, working out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and kind of working your way through it.

David Rock (09:00):

That’s a great segue to Tracy. Tracy thanks for joining us, it’s great to have you and really enjoy all the work we’re collaborating with you guys on. And love what you guys have as your values and what the firm stands for, and let’s hear from you. What’s been working, what’s been surprising, and-

Tracy Keogh (09:18):

Sure.

David Rock (09:18):

And let’s take about 15 minutes, yeah.

Tracy Keogh (09:20):

And I have to say I’ve been going through one and two as well, so it’s very consistent. So we quickly swung into action as soon as this all started. And we are 55,000 employees around the world, and a big presence in APJ. So for us it started in China and we are the PC printer, 3D printing specialist, and a really mixed impact on our business.

Tracy Keogh (09:50):

Some part of our business incredibly busy; suddenly everybody actually wanted a PC and a printer at home. And the other parts, obviously, as many of you experienced, went completely quiet especially in the business world as people focused on other things. So I think what we started with was creating a multidisciplinary team to address our employee needs which was in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the basic one was safety and understanding what was going on from a health perspective.

Tracy Keogh (10:22):

And so I think one of the first things we did for employees was to have a global call our medical director. We have onsite clinics and we drafted her immediately, and that had an incredibly high participation. Hundreds of questions as everybody was trying to figure out what was going on with the virus, and how it could possibly affect them.

Tracy Keogh (10:44):

And also really creating a cadence of communication from our CEO. Leadership matters so much during these times, and everything you do and say has an [outsized 00:10:55] impact I think, and thinking about that when you’re focusing on your employees.

Tracy Keogh (11:00):

The thing you also get a lot of advice around, because everything just suddenly became sort of chaotic, is really creating a structure. And initially we got some information and things out, but then we decided to create a structure to how we would communicate with employees, and created our calendar, and started populating it based on different sort of themes for the day.

Tracy Keogh (11:24):

We created Motivational Monday, Training Tuesdays, Wellness Wednesdays, Thoughtful Thursday, and then Family and Fun Fridays. And so began sort of programming with that in mind so people could get used to a new cadence of support. Now we’re not a slave to this, if we want to put a session out on a different day we do, but I think it’s really helped to connect with people.

Tracy Keogh (11:50):

The other thing you have to do, and I see this a lot, is even with my team they’re like, “Oh, we have all these resources on the EAP web page.” Which three people go and look at in a given timeframe, so you have to get very proactive with sending things out.

Tracy Keogh (12:08):

I don’t know about you, but suddenly the email has exploded. And so being able to kind of train people say, “Oh every Monday that email from Tracy about what we call a HP spirit now, we’ve created a team that’s focused on that.” They know, “Oh there’re going to be things in there for me and my family.” The other thing I think we did was become much more inclusive and so invite family, friends, everybody wants to share everything now, and so we make a lot of things open to people.

David Rock (12:36):

I like the HP spirit and the creating certainty, you’re giving people that little bit of certainty in terms of structure and a calendar; that’s really nice. The relate as to involving others is really important. I was curious, how often you said the CEO’s been communicating, is that [inaudible 00:12:50] once a month?

Tracy Keogh (12:51):

Yeah, so what we do-

David Rock (12:52):

Okay.

Tracy Keogh (12:52):

Is I communicate one week and do something usually, and he communicates to the next week.

David Rock (12:57):

Right.

Tracy Keogh (12:58):

Every other week. In addition to that, what we’ve done is created these sessions, one of the learnings … And I’ll talk about this later, but is actually Zoom calls are a great way to have a personal interaction with someone.

Tracy Keogh (13:12):

Our CEO used to what I call barnstorm. We’d go to different sites, drop in, do an all hands meeting, and leave. And in many cases, the room wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the employees or whatever it happens to be. We’re doing those calls, we’re calling them Connect with Enrique who is our CEO, and 100% participation. And having the leadership team there in Zoom, in feels you’re having a personal interaction-

David Rock (13:39):

Yeah.

Tracy Keogh (13:39):

And it’s a lot less wear and tear on people and, obviously, we can’t be together. So we’re doing a bunch of different kinds of communication during this timeframe, but the emails that come out from him are very personal and-

David Rock (13:52):

Right.

Tracy Keogh (13:52):

And every couple of weeks.

David Rock (13:53):

Yeah, it’s interesting if you manage Zoom well, if you can see people clearly, you can hear them clearly, and you get the right number of boxes on your screen, you can have a very personal connection with, literally, 25 people or 30 people; you can get up to-

Tracy Keogh (14:06):

Right.

David Rock (14:06):

49 screen. You can have a [inaudible 00:14:08], and it’s quite intimate. And one of the fun things we’ve been teaching, we’ve been it doing for a long time, we started teaching is hand signals, sort of visual cues.

Tracy Keogh (14:15):

Right.

David Rock (14:16):

Like, “Hey everyone I’ve got this idea, I want you to just give me a response. Five fingers is you love it, four you pretty love it not quite there.” Or even have 10, just thumbs up, thumbs sideways, thumbs down. And you can so quickly get responses, “How much do you love that idea? Let’s let’s see some actual responses.” So you can get really fun and creative with that, but the visual cues where you can see everyone actually helps you-

Tracy Keogh (14:37):

And it’s great.

David Rock (14:38):

Yes.

Tracy Keogh (14:38):

The only thing I would say, David, is people need to remember when they’re on Zoom, you can’t look grim or just be … You’re on all the time; somebody’s looking at you. So you need to make sure … Because especially with leaders, if somebody doesn’t look happy one day, everybody thinks, “Oh no it’s a disaster.”

David Rock (14:54):

[inaudible 00:14:54], yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Tracy Keogh (14:55):

Yeah, the other thing I like to do on those all employee calls, because you can’t get all the questions, I actually engage in chat while other people are talking.

David Rock (15:01):

Nice.

Tracy Keogh (15:01):

And so then I’m answering questions that may not raise to the level that people would include. I think one of the … And this is not because you’re on, but I do think one of the most impactful things we did right away was get the webinar out with you talking about how people were going through this, the level of threat.

Tracy Keogh (15:21):

And there’s the neuroscience of it. I’m working with a lot of engineers, they love to hear that. And I almost felt I couldn’t hear the organizational sigh of relief once you explained how people were feeling; it sort of really reduced people’s anxiety. And that was a big hit with people, they shared that with family and friends.

Tracy Keogh (15:41):

We sent out a guide to how to work from home we. One of the things our leaders did was write emails to their teams saying, “Boy, this is really hard.” And to get really personal. I think one of the things that really works is to be personal. This is the most difficult time any of us have ever gone through; it’s an unprecedented, historical event, and people want to hear how you’re experiencing it. and this is what makes people feel connected to a company or not. So you don’t want to waste this opportunity to really to get personal, and be connected, and that’s been hugely impactful.

Tracy Keogh (16:20):

The other thing we did right away, looking at all the needs people have. So right away I realized, “Oh my gosh, parents are …” I don’t have kids, but I’ve learned everything about homeschooling now, and it’s been amazing to see. I thought, “Oh they probably had nice laid out curriculum, and it was …” No, it’s like, “Here.” Throw them home, “And you have to teach them yourself.”

Tracy Keogh (16:40):

So I got four teachers together on a call, at different levels, to do a whole seminar in homeschooling. And it was really impactful and we sent it out, and in two days I had hundreds of people that were on the call and asking questions.

David Rock (16:59):

Wow.

Tracy Keogh (16:59):

And then what we’re doing now is a follow up. And it was just for teachers that were friends of ours that we found. So we found one at the kindergarten level, the mid-school level, the high school level, and then someone who actually did homeschooling. And one of the other teachers had a specialty in special needs, which is another big area.

Tracy Keogh (17:19):

So I think … And I’m seeing some great questions here, but be creative. We’re trying to find … meet your employees where they are, whatever their issues are. And we’re just doing stuff, if it doesn’t work, we’ll stop doing it.

Tracy Keogh (17:33):

But out of that came we’re creating now homework club, where we’re actually setting up teachers to be available for employees at different times so they can actually help their kids with online schooling, because that was one of the biggest issues we heard right away.

David Rock (17:49):

Amazing, that’s great. It’s amazing, Tracy, how personal everyone’s suddenly having to be. Or the people are going one of two ways. I’m still seeing organizations where everyone’s still not on camera, people trying to keep up appearances. And one of the things I find myself saying, maybe once a day, is, “Look hey none of us have had a haircut in a month, so it’s okay. None of us have had a beard trim, it’s okay; we’re all in this together.”

David Rock (18:11):

But there’s some people sort of still trying to … They haven’t got the perfect outfit and makeup on, so they’re not going on camera. And some people are just like, “Hey, here’s my pits, here’s my partner, here’s my family.”

Tracy Keogh (18:21):

Right. And we actually asked managers to really embrace that. And one of my teams did a call where everyone had their kids on their laps; they just brought them in. And so everyone has a dog barking, people had cats walking on their computer; whatever it is that’s actually back to the humanity and the empathy really makes a difference.

David Rock (18:41):

Yeah.

Tracy Keogh (18:41):

I can show you some of the other things, and I’ve gotten a couple of questions I can see that are coming through quickly. We are integrating this our ERGs; some of the other events we already have. And I also … What I did was took people who were our recruiters, for example, and pivoted to them to be on our spirit team. I created the spirit team because I was finding my engagement team overwhelmed with all the work, they couldn’t get things done quickly enough.

Tracy Keogh (19:11):

So make sure you’re pivoting people and figuring out a different way for them to help in the organization. So this is just some of the things we’re doing. One of our big partners is DreamWorks, they use all our technology. So we went to them and got some help with one of their great movies, How to Train Your Dragon, and we’re doing online streaming of that for our employees today actually.

David Rock (19:37):

Oh [inaudible 00:19:38].

Tracy Keogh (19:37):

And then one of the other big things that HP loves to do is volunteering; they’re really missing that connection. So we figured out a way to do a virtual volunteering every Thursday; that’s what Thoughtful Thursday’s about. We set our doctor office hours now because people continue to have questions. Every Wednesday we have doctors hours with our medical director, and it’s global. We have a another doctor from India, so it covers the world. So really making sure we’re leveraging everything across the organization.

Tracy Keogh (20:12):

You have to be careful too about fatigue, because there’s too many things coming out, that’s why the calendar’s available and people can click on it. And, as I mentioned, I send out every Monday an email that has HP Spirit on it so people know, and then they can just poke on the different things they want to attend and the Outlook goes on their calendar.

Tracy Keogh (20:34):

So, just some of the lessons learned, and I’ll tell you some of the surprises. So, obviously, keeping the employee at the center of everything you do. We created this framework so it’s easy to consume, but I would say be proactive. I had to push my team with … I don’t want just the thing that’s out there that you can access, I want us to have an outlook where we’re doing yoga all together as an organization, or some mindfulness exercise.

Tracy Keogh (21:05):

And I think really looking at what people need, showing empathy. We’ve had people who are sick, and we’ve had people whose kids are sick; you have to be able to be there to support them. One of the things … And I’ve talked to some folks that’s “Aha.” Is bring in the experts, you don’t have to do everything. We don’t have time, we’re busy managing everything.

Tracy Keogh (21:28):

I brought in you, I brought in the doctors, you can just host it. I brought in the teachers and I interviewed them, so it’s really the easiest way to do it. I think moving quickly, one of the surprises to me, because I feel I have a very agile team, was they’re like, “Well, we’ll get this out in two weeks when we can build this.” I’m like, “No, it has to be out now, people need it now, we can’t wait. I don’t care if it’s perfect, just get it out.” And so, really moving quickly.

Tracy Keogh (21:59):

And then I would say really use this as a learning moment, capture the lessons learned before you forget. We’re all pivoting now into the next phase, we’re already working on it, and I know we’re talking to you about what’s reentry look when people are coming back? It’s not going to be a big bang, how are you feathering in people? So we’re already preparing, but don’t forget the great lessons you learned at the beginning. So we’ve now built in kind of lessons learned sessions to make sure we’re getting those.

Tracy Keogh (22:28):

And then find the positives; I’ve learned a lot of things. One of the best things about we’ve been slowly but surely moving towards more mobility. All the things we didn’t think we could do at home, we’ve figured out how to do it in a week. And so-

David Rock (22:45):

Right.

Tracy Keogh (22:47):

In India, for example, 99% of our people are home, and they’re still doing everything they need to do; we’re closing the books, we’re doing everything. So making sure you’re learning those lessons now and I think we’ll do communication differently moving forward. We’ll support employees in a different way, we’re actually running a quick redo of all our people strategies, because we’re going to repurpose them.

Tracy Keogh (23:11):

And some things will be structurally different, we won’t have the same things happen in the future, we may not reopen some offices, because we’ve gone mobile and why pull it back? So we’re looking at everything and really trying to learn those lessons.

David Rock (23:28):

Yeah, it’s great, Tracy, a couple of comments before we go to Dean. We’ll just respond to a couple of quick questions, and I have some comments for you, and Dean you’ll be up in about three or four minutes. We’re doing well in time, thanks for sharing all that, just some great things. Can you say more about the virtual volunteering? Like how you had people volunteering, what are some of those inspiring stories there?

Tracy Keogh (23:46):

Yeah. So there are ways that we’re supporting organizations; that’s one thing. We also tripled our match so that people, when they’re making donations, we’re picking places where we’re donating. And then there are other things like you can write letters to people in nursing homes; you do it all together. So we’re figuring out ways to support different groups, medical workers on the frontline; whatever it is.

Tracy Keogh (24:14):

I’m happy to share that as a follow on, because I have a great team that looks at all the different things. We do 40 days of doing good, and so we’re launching them in a virtual way this year, and how teams can pick different activities that they want-

David Rock (24:32):

Right.

Tracy Keogh (24:32):

To participate in.

David Rock (24:34):

A question. I think you guys have some people who still have to be out in the field, they have to be in the office around?

Tracy Keogh (24:38):

Yeah, yeah.

David Rock (24:38):

What have you been doing to help those folks? Because obviously there’s a fairness issue that can really come up. Have you found-

Tracy Keogh (24:43):

Yeah.

David Rock (24:43):

Creative ways to [inaudible 00:24:44]?

Tracy Keogh (24:44):

So I think that is very hard. We’ve had to work to actually procure PPE them, be very industrious in terms of finding things. We have medical clinics on our sites, we went and raided those and got gloves; so I was trying to think of any way I could get protective gear. So first of all, we’re really protecting those people and making sure that they’re safe. We’re also working to figure out how customers can be supported virtually more-

David Rock (25:15):

Right.

Tracy Keogh (25:16):

Than they were before, but we have a lot of protocols in place from a health and safety perspective. And the other thing we’re learning is the lessons from around the world. So China’s getting back up and running, so we’re able to look at what happened to them. And now where Italy was versus U.S. So really looking at people in all the different places that they are and trying to take those lessons, and then share them globally.

David Rock (25:42):

[inaudible 00:25:42].

Tracy Keogh (25:42):

And that’s been really help-

David Rock (25:44):

That’s great. I really love the session we did, I don’t want to be too self promotional. But actually I found it so moving being able to speak to 4,000 people. Was it like-

Tracy Keogh (25:52):

I know.

David Rock (25:52):

4,000 people I think?

Tracy Keogh (25:53):

Yeah, it was. And-

Tracy Keogh (25:53):

I’m telling you, it was like an organizational sigh of relief, people felt like, “Oh my God, now I understand.” The other thing, surprises for me, one is I didn’t realize how productive I was in the office. And I felt when I got home, my productivity plummeted because of all these calls 12, 14 hours a day. And I’m a very positive and stable person, and I find it affects me. I have to be really careful about maintaining my overall mental health, going out, doing things, connecting, turning off-

David Rock (26:24):

Yeah.

Tracy Keogh (26:24):

The computer; that’s really hard. And-

David Rock (26:27):

Yeah, this is a 10x game for us [inaudible 00:26:29]-

Tracy Keogh (26:29):

Yeah.

David Rock (26:30):

This is much harder. And I want to close with a comment [inaudible 00:26:33], just sort of a question someone asked that I think I want to close with that someone said, “Our company’s always worked virtually, and the leadership team hasn’t been doing anything different, or really checking in. Is that a problem?”

David Rock (26:45):

And, for me, that’s an enormous problem because this is the crisis of people’s lives, and what your company does in this crisis will burn in brains forever. This is the crisis of people’s lives so far for most people, not everyone but the [inaudible 00:27:00].

Tracy Keogh (26:59):

And I would just say one of the first things I did for our CEO was I sent him a list of all the direct reports, top talent, our MDs and said, “Call each of them personally and see how they’re doing.

David Rock (27:12):

Nice.

Tracy Keogh (27:12):

Not business wise, you just need to check in.” The other thing I did was I, for example, on my team, I sent games, and puzzles, and things to everyone who had children, I sent it to their children, and I told my CEO to do that as well. I can’t tell you the impact that had.

Tracy Keogh (27:31):

The other thing for people who were high performing, usually I might send flowers or a thank you; I sent them fruit and vegetables. It was they were like, “Oh my God, this is fantastic.” So pivoting today, my team and I were having a charades lunch, and we’re playing charades virtually, and the prize is a corona kit which has toilet paper, antibacterial wipes, masks, and-

David Rock (27:53):

Right.

Tracy Keogh (27:53):

[inaudible 00:27:53] win. So how do you work this into creating that personal environment with people, because this is very personal for everyone?

David Rock (28:01):

It’s extremely personal and very, very difficult and people will just … Their brains will explode if they feel like their leaders don’t care. It’s going to be absolutely huge. Some great comments coming in, thanks so much Tracy. Really, you’re an inspiration, your energy and positivity; I know it takes a lot, me too. It takes a lot but really appreciate it. Thanks for being here with us, and you got 50,000 people to love, and we appreciate you sharing some of that with us so-

Tracy Keogh (28:23):

Thank you.

David Rock (28:23):

We can take some of these ideas away. Thanks so much.

Chris Weller (28:28):

Are you or your employees feeling overwhelmed? Are you able to think deeply? In moments of crisis, we have to take precious care of the limited cognitive resources at our disposal. For teams looking to reengage and work more effectively, analyze solution is Focus, the neuroscience of thriving through crisis. Available in multiple learning formats to meet your needs, Focus is what will help you and your teams keep thriving. Use the discount code podcast30 to receive 30% off when you register for one of our public workshops at neuroleadership.com/focuspublic. That’s podcast30 at neuralleadership.com/focuspublic.

David Rock (29:06):

And let’s hear from Dean. So Dean, great to have you. Patagonia, what and incredible company and how lucky you are. And I’m sad for you that you can’t surf. You and I’ve actually been for a surf, literally.

Dean Carter (29:18):

We literally have been there.

Dean Carter (29:19):

The surf is right now. The beaches are closed and all the big surf breaks. So-

David Rock (29:25):

How are you doing?

Dean Carter (29:25):

Thanks for having me [crosstalk 00:29:26]-

David Rock (29:26):

Through that?

Dean Carter (29:29):

I’ll talk a bit. It’s been an interesting time. And by the way, Tracy, thank you so much, that was really, really incredible, and I love and am inspired by the work you’re doing.

Tracy Keogh (29:38):

Dean I know you’re doing great stuff too, so I’d love to see you on here and nowhere else.

Dean Carter (29:44):

Yeah I was kind of thinking, I’m a little rusty on my [inaudible 00:29:49] course I took on global pandemic. It’s been a while and I really just did it for credits. But I’m like in an emergency, what do you do? You call Tracy, which I did and we [inaudible 00:29:59] in contact with [inaudible 00:30:01].

Dean Carter (30:01):

So David how we doing? I know you said come on and let’s talk about this a few weeks ago, and let’s talk about what we’re doing, and how we’re doing. And it reminds me a little bit of the level one, two, and three stress.

Dean Carter (30:11):

And before Patagonia I was at Sears, and Arthur Martinez was the CEO years ago during our turnaround moment. And there’s a bit of folklore in this moment where he’s talking to the press, or analysts, and they said, “Arthur, what are you doing? What is your strategy?” And he pauses and he looks up and he says, “Really hard to talk about strategy when your hair’s on fire.” And that’s all he says.

Dean Carter (30:38):

And I think there’s we’re working through that moment, and trying to figure out all the things you’re saying: how to be calm in the moment and keep our employees safe. Would say just for perspective of what’s happening in Patagonia, and those of you who follow the company, you can imagine four months ago it was, for us, another record year of sales, and the sun was shining, and the surf was up, and it was another day in the grass eating an organic bowl of food with children on laps and crawling around.

Dean Carter (31:13):

And then when this hit four weeks ago, we closed everything in the interest of safety for our employees. We closed the warehouse, we closed online, we closed all of our stores, and we closed our corporate offices, and our revenue basically has gone to zero.

Dean Carter (31:32):

And so we’re in a challenging situation for sure and as our employees are. And we get a lot of questions, when you say, “How are you doing?” I get questions all the time about what’s going on, and what I want to say is, “You and your beautiful family that I know, your children and I know the name of, they’re going to be healthy and safe. And really soon we’re going to all be back together working, and playing, and in our lives together will be just like it was before.”

Dean Carter (32:04):

And I don’t have answers. And the things that I want to say, and I say more frequently than I want to say, like a lot of you I’m sure, who are in similar situations, say, “I don’t know.” A lot more than I like, So what I do know, and David as you know, we do look at Patagonia as a community.

Dean Carter (32:30):

And so we, and all the things, we’re doing some very, very similar things that are happening with HP and Tracy in terms of supporting our employees. But I really want to lean on two places. A lot of what we do is just the interaction of our employees, be eating together and surfing together, and climbing together, and that is critical to how we work the company. And that foundation has changed, and will be that way for a long time.

Dean Carter (33:05):

So how do we shift this foundation? And a lot of you may be working through this too. How do you shift quickly to keep your values, and live by your values, and keep the culture in a really new and extraordinary environment?

Dean Carter (33:19):

So I’m going to have Lauren [inaudible 00:33:21] talk for a moment of how we’re shifting our community, how we moved very, very fast from platforms that, in the past, really wouldn’t be considered at Patagonia to ways how we’re leveraging everyone to stay together and connect quickly.

Dean Carter (33:37):

And then also, I’ve got Cheryl [inaudible 00:33:39] here, and she leads our Family Services Division. And I think when they talk about two things that are working and things that are surprising [inaudible 00:33:48]. I think the thing that is working is how we figured out new ways to connect, because we’re used to surfing, and climbing, and holding each other’s babies, and those are the things … that’s how we connect. And so Lauren has some ways of thinking about that.

Dean Carter (34:05):

And the other part is what has been surprising in terms of ways we have to help is really around our working parents. What they’re saying, and as you guys are hearing the same thing, the world is completely changed. Not only you have to get work done, but now you’re a teacher. And, perhaps, both parents are trying to work in home, and both are teaching, and helping them play, and working with distractions.

Dean Carter (34:30):

And so Cheryl and the team have really doubled down, and I want her to share some very specific things the team has been doing that may be helpful with what I’m sure are the real challenges that some of the parents are facing. So let’s start with Lauren and how we shifted very, very rapidly, and how we’re supporting how we connect, and then Cheryl we’ll talk with you in just a moment.

Lauren (34:54):

Thanks Dean, that’s really well said. So to just really build on Dean’s point, when we shifted towards remote work and started seeing how the virus was impacting people across the globe, we knew first and foremost that we wanted to figure out a way to help our employees now to keep the uncertainty, and do it in a community based way to strengthen connection in what is, and continues to be, a really isolating experience.

Lauren (35:20):

And we also assumed it was our responsibility to help our employees to adapt to the changing circumstances and manage this new normal, so what we did was we launched a customized Patagonia wellness corner. It’s incredible, we got this up and running in four days, and it offers videos, podcasts, meditation classes, exercise classes taught by our in house instructors, articles, recipes, and even links where to find fresh food to local organic farms that Patagonia has partnerships within the local area.

Lauren (35:53):

The sole intent of this wellness corner is very much aligned to Patagonia’s ethos, which is really to always send a message to our employees that taking care of your physical and emotional health is, first and foremost, the most important of being a human being and also being an employee.

Lauren (36:11):

Because we really believe at Patagonia that taking care of yourself means that you’ll show up better for your family, for your peers, and also for your team. We truly believe that during a time of crisis, that building healthy habits becomes even more important.

Lauren (36:26):

So you can see here on the screen, this is a snapshot. On the left hand side [inaudible 00:36:32] we have a newsletter that comes out twice a week over Patagonia wellness corner. And on the left hand side, or your left, there’s a snapshot of the types of resources that we’ve curated. And we’ve broken that down into four buckets, which is around listen, watch, learn, and eat.

Lauren (36:52):

And it’s mainly centered around how to help employees with things how to navigate uncertain times, how to cope with anxiety and stress, how to work remotely, supporting parents at home while working, and keeping physically active. We also have recipes for cooking healthy food and, most importantly, once in a while we try to share a lot together.

Lauren (37:14):

On the back end, this is a crowdsource site, so we actually leveraged Microsoft Teams to curate channels according to each of the genres, and have people comment on what they’re reading, what they’re listening to, their exercise classes that they’re attending, and how people send us what they like, and the things that are most resonating with them.

Lauren (37:38):

There are a number of live opportunities for our community to come together every single week. We have exercise classes where people, literally … It’s up to 300 to 400 people at a time to morning meditations. And we also have live webinars to our local farm tours that focus on regenerative agriculture, and also great stories from our core sport ambassadors.

Lauren (38:02):

One of my personal favorite things about our wellness corner is that we also have, similar to HP, we have virtual volunteering through Patagonia action works, where employees can sign up for community based activities in their local area that’s related to our mission to save the whole planet.

Lauren (38:19):

For example, this week we’ve launched a virtual activism week such as helping things ranging from you can help with those [inaudible 00:38:27] forests to learning about what you can do to help other people to vote, to support them in EPA to rollback clean corn and create a fuel free economy.

Lauren (38:34):

Some other examples that we have on our wellness site is that all of our recipes, they’re curated by our own Patagonia chefs, and we use Microsoft Team’s channel to have people request the kinds of food that they’re interested in learning to cook, and then we have cooking demos.

David Rock (38:53):

What’s been the most kind of surprising thing that people have really delighted, that people have really delighted by? What’s been the sort of the one resource you provided that everyone was, “Wow, that’s amazing?”

Lauren (39:05):

Yeah, I would say, David, two things, I think our exercise classes have been really popular just because it gives people a break in the middle of the day to take a yoga or a HIIT class, or a Pilates class to be able to move their body. And then I think what also people really love that is the films that we curate which are-

David Rock (39:24):

Nice.

Lauren (39:25):

Related to our mission as well.

David Rock (39:27):

Nice, yeah we started doing, I think, Lisa Rock started doing a yoga class with everyone in real time with our employees and stuff; it was really nice. And I think things that we do together … We started doing a kind of … Actually we haven’t done this yet, but we’re working on a virtual talent show, which is what we’re threatening to do.

David Rock (39:50):

We did a quiz night with everyone that was sort of someone just said, “Hey, I want to do a quiz night, let’s do it.” And many of our people jumped on to that. So I know you guys are really struggling, HP have got some business and stuff, and you guys are in a whole different place. And Dean, I tremendously appreciate you coming along with, holding what you’ve got to hold emotionally and mentally right now. But do you want to share some of the other things you guys are doing?

Dean Carter (40:14):

Yeah I want to go to Cheryl for just a moment. And Cheryl quickly just share the ways you’re supporting parents. But of all the things that have been challenges for people working from home, I think this is the most challenging. And I think the team has really approached this in a really extraordinary way that maybe help some others. Cheryl.

Cheryl (40:36):

Thank you Dean. In all transparency, you guys, after our exercise class on Wednesday, I can barely walk, so at least I’m trapped in my house and don’t have very far to go. So you all may know that Patagonia’s offered on site childcare since 1983, serving children zero to kindergarten, we currently have about 200 children participate in three locations in the United States.

Cheryl (41:04):

And so, obviously, when this happened four weeks ago when Patagonia closed the doors, we quickly had to pivot to what is it going to look to try to support children and families in a virtual environment, which goes against almost everything we believe in with kids? Which is being outside, and playing in nature, and really having these strong connections.

Cheryl (41:27):

So we started originally talking about how to create workspaces, how to create schedules for your kids, how to work in shifts as parents; but really this is so challenging for families. We’re expecting them to be full time parents and full time employees in a time where our company, who everybody feels very passionate about our mission, we’re expecting them to show up, and it’s very hard. So we’ve put some things in place, and we’ve changed, and we continue to learn what’s working and what’s not working. Some may think-

David Rock (42:09):

Cheryl, what do you think is the most effective things that parents have really leaned into?

Cheryl (42:13):

I think they’re loving the live events with their kids, so we’re every classroom is hosting a little live event, even if it’s go find your favorite hat. We’re sending weekly emails with some activity calendars so they know what to do. And also some tips like, “Remember how to set boundaries. Here are some ideas for how to foster independent play. Here are some things to deal with really big feelings in kids.”

Cheryl (42:42):

But the other thing that we started doing this week that I think is probably going to be one of the most vital things we do, is simply holding a space for parents to jump on a call; we hold it, if nobody shows, it’s fine. Each classroom is holding a space every other week where parents can join, they can just share war stories. What is not going well at all, they can connect with one another, we can offer some suggestions if we have them, or simply just listen to what is going on. So we’ll get through this, and we’re going to continue to be creative and not bound by convention like we always are. But it is extremely challenging, so-

David Rock (43:30):

Yeah, and thank you.

Cheryl (43:31):

Do what we can.

David Rock (43:33):

That’s amazing, thanks for the work you’re doing. And the theme I’m hearing is companies are having to adapt super fast-

Cheryl (43:39):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Rock (43:39):

To things they never imagined a month ago they would be doing like, “Okay, we’re in there helping parents teach the kids business now.”

Cheryl (43:45):

Virtually.

David Rock (43:47):

[inaudible 00:43:47] helping people work at how to get food business now. We’re in the where to get people masks from now business, and it really takes something to adapt. And going back to that level one threat, if you’re at level two or three, you can’t work out how to solve those kinds of problems, we have to stay calm.

David Rock (44:04):

And as leaders and as people running these things, we’ve got to find a way to keep ourselves calm so we can just invent things we’ve never had to invent before; it’s really quite something. Thanks, Cheryl.

Dean Carter (44:17):

Well-

David Rock (44:17):

I wonder if we have time for Q&A. Dean, do you want to add some comments [inaudible 00:44:19]?

Dean Carter (44:20):

Yeah. The only thing is at the end of this, the two things that I keep thinking about, in addition to all of the other things in terms of just the challenges that we’re dealing with with the business and what that means for the HR team in terms of responding to the benefits and other things.

Dean Carter (44:34):

But the broad two things that I feel we have to do is mind our community, and those are the things that Cheryl and a whole team of people, and Lauren, are working on is how do we continue to create the connection and the community? And the other part, David, you spoke to earlier is to mind your values. At the end of the day, go back to your values, and as you’re making all these decisions, big and small, mind them because these are the things that stories are made up for the future. Remember when.

David Rock (45:07):

Yeah.

Dean Carter (45:07):

Remember the pandemic, remember for us, the fires and the floods, and what we did during that time, because these will lead to stories that we’ll tell for years to come. And so you want the stories to be the stories that enforce and reinforce the values and the culture. So continue to go back to it and reinforce it. So it just was a really good point David, and I think those are the two things that are our North Star as we navigate through this for our people.

David Rock (45:37):

Yeah, no thank. Thanks for joining us, Dean. Stay on Tracy if you and Dean-

Tracy Keogh (45:40):

Yeah.

David Rock (45:40):

Can stay on. I’m going to ask you both a couple of kind of quick questions, we’ll do some quick answers, we got about three or four minutes as sort of what you’re doing. But thanks to both of you for being with us. But everyone stay with us, we’ve got some important questions and then some closing comments I think you’ll appreciate the sort of close today as well.

David Rock (45:57):

Quick question, I mean, it’s almost like can we even think about it, but performance management. Are you letting people change their goals, or what are you doing with that Tracy? Just a quick response on that.

Tracy Keogh (46:06):

So first of all, we don’t do any ratings, we haven’t for four years, we got rid of that a while ago, I’m not a fan of it. And I think managers should just throw out any expectations, people are just doing the best they can. I would not be doing performance management except maybe in a developmental way of we’re emphasizing for people, if they have time. Some people can’t do their jobs at well, we’re making sure they have training available and development opportunities.

Tracy Keogh (46:34):

But I think one of the things we’re looking at, and this is always a challenge for managers when people are working at home, is how do you measure productivity so managers can feel comfortable? Not in this environment, because we’re all in a crisis, but when we move to a much higher level of mobility, which we will after this, so that people feel comfortable with people working in different ways. And so that we’re using as a learning experience, but I would not be holding people-

David Rock (46:59):

Yeah it’s not [crosstalk 00:47:00]-

Tracy Keogh (47:00):

Accountable; how annoying would that be?

Dean Carter (47:02):

Oh my God.

David Rock (47:03):

Thanks Tracy, what about Dean? Any comments on that?

Dean Carter (47:05):

We’re the same exact place, and we haven’t done ratings in years. And at the moment, we’re letting people … I mean, what performance was and how we would define what that means four weeks ago is very different from what-

David Rock (47:20):

Yeah [crosstalk 00:47:20].

Dean Carter (47:20):

That means at the moment. Yeah and everyone is in new jobs, and new roles, and doing new things. We have people who were making jackets, and are now making masks. I mean, things are changing dramatically, and the great thing is to having the agility of wanting their people to do is fantastic. But we are not focused on performance management.

David Rock (47:41):

You got to in the food business too, could you just get some food together for a lot of people.

Dean Carter (47:44):

Yeah.

David Rock (47:44):

Because-

Dean Carter (47:44):

That business is booming, that is [inaudible 00:47:48].

David Rock (47:47):

There you go, you got something there. There’s a lot going on and I’ve been talking to firms about this as well. To get the quarterly goals, if you can set a monthly goal for people; amazing. But actually what you should do is weekly goals like, “This is what-

Dean Carter (48:00):

Yeah.

David Rock (48:00):

We’re going to get done this week.” And then daily stand up meetings with your close team on camera, “What did you make progress on, what do you need help with?” Just daily, and we’ve done that as well, we’ve got to change that.

David Rock (48:12):

There’s a bunch of questions coming in to me to answer right now, but I think what I’m hearing is a theme here is you’ve got to adapt, and really sense where people are, and then find ways to use your resources that you have in really, really creative ways.

David Rock (48:29):

Like what Tracy’s doing with recruiters who are not very busy right now, like using them for sprint. And what you’ll find is some people actually have more capacity, because if they don’t have kids, for example, and they’re working at home, not traveling, you’re going to have people with 130% capacity. How can they help the people who have 50% capacity?

Dean Carter (48:46):

Right.

David Rock (48:46):

And we need to get flexible with that stuff. I think as a society as we kind of accept how long this is really going to last, which we’re not quite there yet. But as we sort of accept that, we’re going to have to really be honest about supporting the people who have kids versus don’t-

Dean Carter (49:01):

Right.

David Rock (49:01):

In a whole different way.

Dean Carter (49:02):

You bet.

David Rock (49:03):

You got to [crosstalk 00:49:03]-

Tracy Keogh (49:03):

Yeah.

David Rock (49:03):

A whole new level with that, and also people who have to be out in public, they’re in a whole new way, we’re going to have to really address those things coming up.

Tracy Keogh (49:10):

And I would just also say help the business figure that out. For example, so we have folks that work in retail stores, like Best Buy, that sell HP products and merchandisers. Obviously, we’re closed down now, and we committed to pay all our contractors through at least the end of May.

Tracy Keogh (49:29):

So what my sales guys did is figure out those merchandisers with nothing to do, they actually put them on the phones with the people that work on hp.com, and they’re actually talking through the same thing they would have done in the store, if someone came in to buy a product, they’re doing it from their bedrooms.

David Rock (49:46):

Yeah, yeah.

Tracy Keogh (49:46):

So being able to be creative with people who’ve done different roles, you can have them do other things in your organization, because it’s all hands-

Tracy Keogh (49:55):

On deck right now.

David Rock (49:56):

Now is the for growth mindset, now’s the time to just-

Tracy Keogh (49:58):

Yeah.

David Rock (49:59):

Complete the experiment. We’ve been experimenting in a week more than we’ve done in a quarter. I think the big thing is just accepting that this is really, really hard for people. This is probably the most challenging thing people will experience in their life, their whole life as they go forward.

David Rock (50:14):

We have opened up a program called Focus, three modules it’s an open enrollment. And if you’re interested in exploring it, we’ll give you a couple of free places for your organization; it’s an evening daytime. But if you’re interested in kind of digging into our work a bit, we’re giving away free places to people from organizations to experiment and just try it out.

David Rock (50:32):

It’s three one hour sessions once a week for three weeks to really help you focus. So that’s what Focus is, it’s a Focus [inaudible 00:50:39], it’s three one hour sessions. So you’re willing to just kind of throw something in the final poll there, and then I’ll leave you with some closing thoughts. Thanks very much everyone for doing that.

David Rock (50:51):

So Focus would be running in house, as well as externally, and it’s literally take care of yourself, look after your people, doing what matters. That’s what it’s all about, the science of taking care of yourself, looking after people, doing what matters. A lot about being adaptive in that last piece as well.

David Rock (51:06):

So let us know if you’re interested in that, just email back to us if you want to check in on that. And then I want to leave you with this thought, this is the little reward at the end. Remember that the entire planet is sharing this experience with you, and this is an amazing time to be alive. This is something that people are going to be studying and talking about for decades.

David Rock (51:26):

And we’re all alone, this is really tough, this is a 10 times harder experience than anyone has lived through, unless we’ve had a war around us. So it’s tough for everyone, me included, share your humanity, get adaptive. And I’ll close with this, take care of yourself, look after each other, and deliver what matters. So thanks very much Tracy and Dean, I really appreciate you being here with us.

Tracy Keogh (51:48):

Thank you.

Dean Carter (51:49):

Thank you David and Tracy, thank so much.

Tracy Keogh (51:50):

Great to see you guys.

David Rock (51:52):

Thanks so much, everyone, take care.

Dean Carter (51:52):

Good to see you as well.

David Rock (51:54):

Thanks all.

Chris Weller (52:00):

Your Brain At Work is produced by the NeuroLeadership Institute. You can help us in making organizations more human by rating, reviewing, subscribing wherever you get your podcasts. Our executive producer for Your Brain At Work is Noah Gelb, Danielle Kirshenblat is our editor. Gabriel Berezin our associate producer, and Cliff David our production manager. Original Music is by Grant Zubritksy and logo design is by Ketch Wehr. We’ll see you next time.

 

Keep Listening


In this episode of Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock, the CEO and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is joined by Dr. Jason Mitchell, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Together, they explore the concept of in-group and out-group, the effects it has on the brain and behavior, and what we can do about it to mitigate the negative effects and accentuate the positive. The two scientists unpack how we can leverage that knowledge to make interactions more positive and effective, and to make organizations more human.

In this episode of Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock, the CEO and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is joined by Dr. Jason Mitchell, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Together, they explore the concept of in-group and out-group, the effects it has on the brain and behavior, and what we can do about it to mitigate the negative effects and accentuate the positive. The two scientists unpack how we can leverage that knowledge to make interactions more positive and effective, and to make organizations more human.

In this episode of Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock, the CEO and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute is joined by Dr. Jason Mitchell, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Together, they explore the concept of in-group and out-group, the effects it has on the brain and behavior, and what we can do about it to mitigate the negative effects and accentuate the positive. The two scientists unpack how we can leverage that knowledge to make interactions more positive and effective, and to make organizations more human.

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