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Season 2 Episode 6
October 12, 2022

This is Vulnerability, Part 2

This is part 2 of our 2-part episode! If you haven't listened to part 1, head on over to Season 2, Episode 5 to take a listen! What is Infinite Shelf? It represents the humans on one side of the shelf that’s being stocked and prepared and the humans on the other side that are buying and participating. Where has Ingrid been over these past few months? Listen in as she shares and introduces her new co-host, Kiri Masters.

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This Episode Sponsored by:

Infinite Shelf- Synder
Infinite Shelf- Gorgias
Infinite Shelf- Shopware

Creating Space

  • There is a human-centric shelf. There is a long dinner table. Human emotion, connection, curiosity, and our need for human connection are important matters
  • We need to start normalizing human things in the workplace and check in with our teams to know them well enough to know how they are doing as far as what support they need
  • How do we balance building a culture and getting to know people beyond just transactional task-oriented conversations, especially when we work remotely?
  • Kiri’s top three hacks for creating a rich community within her team are simple to implement and yield really meaningful results
  • “Whoever hasn't created some form of awareness around when their workflow is best, I would highly suggest making some notes to self around that, just philosophically knowing that you need to create space for that.” - Ingrid
  • “It's not so much the balance as it is the blend, and I have permission to not be the best at everything all at once. Because it's just impossible.” - Ingrid
  • “There are occasionally these moments in your life where things must get dropped in order to get through them.” - Kiri
  • We need people around us who will give us nudges to touch some grass, and we need to nudge others to do the same
  • The rest of this season of Infinite Shelf is going to be full of deep dives into the intersection of commerce and what it means to be human, don’t miss it!

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Ingrid: So I remember, I have like fever dreams of the first few months of COVID and everyone's trying to have culture over Zoom and everyone was just unbelievably exhausted and then it was "Friday night, happy hour on Zoom," and everyone was like, "Oh God, no, that's the last thing..." Even the most extroverted people were just exhausted, but it was just the world was in such a challenged place. And being on Zoom, especially on video and things like that, I find to be tiring. I'm more tired at the end of a day of Zoom marathon meetings or video marathon meetings than I am in person, which is surprising. And I'm wondering, how do you balance between having a culture and getting to know people outside of just those transactional conversations of "Well, what are you doing? What's the idea and where is this project," and that kind of thing? And like getting to know people on a human level without having those dreadful Friday night zooms with wine in your hand.

Kiri: Yeah, well, look, if you'll allow me to get super tactical for a minute, I'll share a few things that have really worked for me and in my company.

Ingrid: Please. 

Kiri: So one is just getting off the video. I don't think that you're alone. Video calls are really draining. So can you just have that call audio only or even better, can you get out for a walk? Do that as a phone call and a walk. And I would do this for quite a number of my one on ones. If we didn't have to sit down and review a spreadsheet together, I would ask, "Can we do this as a walking meeting?" And I'm out walking. I'm back in the States now, but for the two years prior to that I was in Australia working on this terrible time zone and so often I'd be walking around my neighborhood at like 11 p.m. at night just talking about, I don't know, PNLs or performance plans for employees. Yeah. So walking meetings, just moving your legs, moving your body, getting outside, getting some fresh air, and not being on video. That is a major hack. And I think anytime someone asks me for a walking meeting, I'm all about it.

Ingrid: Yes.

Kiri: And then one other thing that we do, which is very easy to set up in Slack is setting up informal one on one meetings. There's an app that we use called Donut and it pairs you randomly with people in the company so that you can meet, I guess perhaps for a real-life donut if that works for you. But usually, for us, it's just a Zoom, 30-minute Zoom, and it's just personal. It's not work-related. It's just getting to know people individually on the team, getting to know what they're working on, and facilitating a little bit more of that in-office chit chat that might happen, which just doesn't happen so much online. And then the third piece is just really helping to cultivate some interest groups. So within our department, there are about 60 or so folks. So we've got people who are really into like gaming and World of Warcraft and they'll play games together. And then there's a cooking club where people will share what recipes they've been working on. And my favorite, I set up a couple of weeks ago. I was giving myself a manicure and I was like giving a tip to someone else about hair treatments or something like that. I was like, "I'm going to create the Acadia Beauty Salon Channel," and I created the Beauty Salon Channel. It is so popular.

Ingrid: Sign me up. 

Kiri: We're all sharing our manicures and beauty tips and there are a couple of guys in there who are like, "I'm just here because I've got some beauty clients. This is market research for me." So interest groups and cultivating those because that's something that you in a real-life office setting you have people find each other with like interests.

Ingrid: I love that because you're tailoring the conversation to something that people are genuinely interested in and you're getting the people who have commonalities or things that they want to do versus just like a "Let's get everyone in for an awkward glass of wine" or something like that when everyone would rather be with their children or going on a hike or just taking a nap.

Kiri: Yes. And that's where, there are time zones, which can be a challenge. And for us, where we've got a lot of people in Europe and then people across all different time zones in the states. And so what is someone's 4 p.m. virtual happy hour is someone else's breakfast. And yeah, then there's personal commitments and then there's also energy flow as well. I love to do all my brain-heavy thinking work in the morning and unfortunately, just with time zones, I need to have a lot of meetings in the morning. That's something to kind of reckon with as well as not just what are the times of the day that people are going to be eating and dropping off children at school and things like that, but energy flow. 

Ingrid: Yes.

Kiri: Really, really underrated. I don't know if this happens to you, but a huge personal grievance of mine is blocking some time on my calendar for thinking time or to review something important and it just gets {eh} that is like the least sacred amount of time on your calendar. It always gets booked over.

Ingrid: Totally. 

Kiri: So I have been finding a buddy to schedule a meeting with and it's like totally not a meeting. It is a phantom meeting, but meeting with someone else is the only way that I'm going to get some sacred time on my calendar. I'm like, "Let's set up a meeting, but I'm not going to talk to you."

Ingrid: {laughter} "You're never going to hear from me. You'll have this time free. Do we have a deal?"

Kiri: Do we have a deal? {laughter}

Ingrid: I think that's brilliant. Yeah. And also even just like I think even you having the awareness of what your work energies are and having even the luxury of understanding when that is and blocking time, and then obviously people need to respect time regardless. But just knowing. I think that there are more people who don't even know their workflow style because they've never actually been given the space to observe themselves and learn that about themselves, especially early in their careers. It's really hard because you're just sort of like living across everyone else's schedule and all of the meetings have already been there and there are 60 people on this meeting and you're just added to it. Again, when you're entry level, people don't have a ton of flexibility with their schedules. Whoever hasn't created some form of awareness around when their workflow is best, I would highly suggest just making some notes to self around that. Again, very tactical, but just philosophically knowing that you need to create space for that. And I think creating space is maybe the theme of all of this. In yoga, they talk about like the life happens in between the breaths, so like you like breathe in and then you breathe out. And then that brief moment of time when you're not inhaling or exhaling or being active with your breath is actually when you can expand and when you just are you and you can just be alone with your thoughts or you can have a creative idea finally rise to the surface. And I've always loved that concept of creating space and finding that moment of nothingness for things to grow out from that moment that again, going and having this pause in everything in my life for a moment was really beneficial to create some of that space.

Kiri: I think that's a really nice way to come back full circle here is what did that space in between the breaths teach you? What has sort of changed in your life? Not that every moment needs to bring a lesson, but did you take something away from that?

Ingrid: Yeah, I definitely did. I think that I always was... I definitely subscribed to the concept of having it all or everything has to be in balance. And I realized that there really is no, at least in the short term, like on a day-to-day, I thought every day needed to be balanced with everything that I wanted to be. I want to be a professional. I want to be a leader. I want to be a mother. I want to be a wife. I want to be a daughter. I want to be a really great friend. All of those things are things that are very important to me living my fullest life. And I really did think that every day needed to have some small component of all of those things. And I think that that pause for me helped me understand that it's not so much the balance as it is the blend. And the days that I'm like absolutely killing it at work and just nailing it and being a great leader and being super strategic, finally responding to that darn email, all of those things will happen and I'll probably be missing time with my son or not getting to call my mom.

Kiri: Yeah.

Ingrid: And then the same thing will happen where, okay, my mom really needs me right now, or I really need my mom or my dad, and I'll get a chance to talk to them. But I've probably blown off a one on one that I needed to have and that's okay because I think at the end of like a week or a month or a year and just expanding out how I'm looking at my life and the things that I want to accomplish. It's not all in one day. And I think that actually opened up and gave me permission to not be the best at everything all at once. Because it's just impossible.

Kiri: Definitely. Yeah. I have an adjacent experience. It's not like your experience, but some common threads there in that I sold my company in February and the months leading up to that were very intense and the months post that were very intense. I had to relocate from Australia back to the States with my family and it was an unbelievable work burden, but also a very high emotional burden as well. This is a company that I created and led for seven years and there is still some sort of emotional aspects of that that I'll probably be working through for the next couple of years. But everything had to be pushed to the side. I had to be very careful about how I spent my time and my energy as well. A lot of things just did not get done. And again, with regard to energy flow, it was interesting. I did create a lot of time for physical health and fitness and "healthy body, healthy mind," and that really helped. But certainly friendships... No time for friends. No time for friends. There were things that had to give in that period of time. And now you talk about not every day can have perfect balance. Not every week can have perfect balance. And for me, over the past 12 months, not every year can have a perfect balance.

Ingrid: Totally.

Kiri: Yeah. And now I'm at a point now where I can think about hobbies that I want to invest in. I took a sailing course recently. I've wanted to learn how to sail for a long time. It has been distinctly a non-possibility until I worked through all of those things. So I'm sort of now able to rediscover those parts of myself. Being a friend. But there are occasionally these moments in your life where things must get dropped in order to get through them.

Ingrid: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that it shouldn't always just be up to us to make those decisions or even just have that observation. The decision is ours. But just at least I'm always really proud of when, even though maybe in the moment it's annoying, but when my husband's like, "Are you working too much? Are they working you too hard over there?" Or my best friend goes, "Hey, I love you and I really miss you. Can we just, can we talk?" And the friends I have, I've had for many, many years and I'm so lucky to have them. And they've been so understanding of all of my work stuff because I just kind of always have been very dedicated to my work and my professional life. And it just drives me. I'm really just inspired by it. It gives me energy. It's not just like, "Oh, I'm a slave to corporate America." It's just that it's the blend of like who I am as an individual and who I am as a professional that is highly, highly integrated. And so my friends know that about me. And they've been really respectful, but they also know me well enough to just give me that nudge when I need it. Do you have people in your life that give you that nudge when you need it?

Kiri: Well, it's just going to say during that period of time when you were really throwing yourself into work as an escape mechanism, did those people sort of recognize that and help you to hold up a bit of a mirror to yourself there?

Ingrid: Big time. Oh, big time. Yeah. Yeah. And because they know my patterns and they know me really well. Big time. Yeah. And it helps too. And sometimes I'll be frustrated in the moment when they bring it up and I'm like, "I'm fine, everything's fine." And then like an hour or two later, I'm like, "Okay, they're right. I need to go for a walk." It's like a touch grass moment when we're on the Internet all day and you just actually need to go outside and touch some grass. I definitely have those.

Kiri: That's a good point. I have not touched grass today. {laughter}

Ingrid: {laughter} Touch some grass. That's very important. Yeah. Yeah. And I think also as leaders, we need to encourage some touch grass moments for our teams too. So we're all going through our things and of course they're going through theirs. And sometimes we're so in our own world and our own budgets and roadmaps and meetings that we have to present to leadership and executive planning and all that kind of stuff that we forget that the people who are actually there to help us achieve all of those goals need those same nudges. So yeah, I think having the people in my life give me nudges is another reason for me to remember to give the other people in my life nudges too.

Kiri: That is a great point. So should we give us a sneak peek into what listeners can expect for the rest of the season? I'm excited about it.

Ingrid: I know. I am too. I mean, you've put a ton of thoughts down and I've responded to them. But like, honestly, I want everyone to get to know you. And so, I mean, do you want to try and get after it?

Kiri: Yeah, I'll give it my best shot.

Ingrid: I got you.

Kiri: So when you explained the concept of the Infinite Shelf to me and the intersection of being human and commerce, what came to mind there was what are all the human aspects of commerce and essentially what makes us human? And I found a really interesting list of ten human traits from a psychologist. We'll link to the article in the show notes. But there are ten distinctly human traits that this psychologist identified as belonging, community, creativity, curiosity, family, love, memory, purpose, storytelling, and voice. And so what we intend to do over the next few weeks until we close out the season is to focus on one of those traits each episode or maybe one or two, and talk about how that human trait intersects with commerce. So we've got some ideas brewing. We're going to be sharing examples from friends, talking about our experiences, what we're sort of seeing in the workplace as well, but really honing in on those human traits and how the world of commerce sort of...

Ingrid: Intersects, right?

Kiri: Intersects, exactly. Yep.

Ingrid: I'm very excited about this subject matter. And I think you've done such a great job in pulling out the initial sort of vision for the show and just reframing it in this way of just talking about brands that do community really well. And so I imagine there's an entire episode that we center around community and what that means. And it's not something that you can buy, right? Sure. It probably takes some investment. But what are the ways that you can establish a community? Does a brand expect or does the consumer expect to be part of a brand's community? When do they expect it? How do you start building that? Because I think that a lot of times, or at least the more old school way of thinking in branding and marketing is just like, "Okay, well, you spend and you got to get eyeballs. And the more people that know about your brand, the more people are going to buy it." And that's kind of just like where it began and ended. And for better or worse, it's gotten far more complex than that.

Kiri: It's not the world anymore.

Ingrid: Yeah, exactly. It used to be. Yeah. And I think the marketers' job has gotten wildly more sophisticated and complicated. And I mean, to me and those of those masochists like you and I who are doing it, it's made it more interesting. Right? I think that really if I'm being honest with myself, had I been asked to be a marketer or a CMO or something like that in that old world, it would just feel so one-dimensional to me and it wouldn't be interesting enough. And now that we've layered in analytics and trends and performance marketing and all of these really unique ways of being able to connect with the consumer and measure that and track it and observe it, I think that a marketer's job has gotten more strategic. They're much more impactful throughout, not just in advertising, but in product development and community building, all of those things. So I think I'm getting carried away in the conversation around community and what that means. But that's just to me kind of a sneak peek of the types of conversations that will be having.

Kiri: Yes, bring it on. I'm excited to be here. And thank you again, Ingrid, for sharing this really intimate part of your life story. I'm grateful for you to share that and like you said, normalize those sorts of issues for discussion in the workplace as well.

Ingrid: Awesome. Thanks for holding space for me to have that conversation and thanks for joining the podcast. I think you're going to really, really like it here.

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