Podcast

Scaling Up [S5.E5]: Reimagining the face of corporate America with Elias Torres (Co-founder) and Dena Upton (CPO) of Drift

Part 1 of the People and Culture mini series is with Elias and Dena from Drift. In this episode we discuss their approach to diversity and equality. The culture at Drift is a true melting pot of cultures, resulting in a workplace brimming with creativity, mission, and empathy.

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Ed (02:32): Elias, and Dena, welcome to this special episode of Scaling Up. It’s one part of a two-part mini series where I’m going to laser in solely on people and culture and hopefully illuminate some amazing growth stories through this lens. What I’m really hoping to elicit is not just the why drift is a culture first business, but also importantly the how and how this is enacted and operationalized. And Dena, you are very much the inspiration for this little miniseries. I heard you on a podcast with Elias’ co-founder David, and the interplay between you as the CPO and the founder was just a wonderful and fascinating dynamic. So hopefully I can try and recreate that. I’m going to start with you though, Elias, I want to start with the vision. The cultural vision for what you wanted drift to become.

Elias (03:22): Whenever you start a company, you have to understand that you can’t be timid, you can’t be shy, you have to have a big goal, right? One of our first goals is that, and that kind of frames a lot of different things, is that what kind of company you want to build. So, you want to build an enduring company. I didn’t want to build something that it was like with David that, oh, it’s like, oh, we’re going to be 20 people and so forth. No, we want to build an enduring company means that customers get value out of it. It’s long-lasting IPO keeps growing global company number one in, in the market, right? That’s the kind of aspiration you have to start with. Then second, we said, what is it that personally motivates David and I? This is building a skill and a company is a really hard thing.

And so, you have to have something really deep within you that makes you want to get up every day out of bed to do this, right? And for us is really to create the new face of corporate America, right? We are two people of color, Latin American descent. I came here, I’m a first-generation immigrant, and it’s really difficult to be an immigrant in this country, right? It’s like a lot of ceilings, a lot of glass ceilings, a lot of limits, and not a lot of opportunity. For us, we wanted to be able to show corporate America, right? What kind of companies can be built by people of different descent, of different color in, in this country? So that’s what drives us every day, right? It’s the burden that we carry of how we become role models. And then I keep saying, and right? And then the third one is that really what, what do we do for our customers is we want to be the new way businesses buy from businesses. We believe that there’s just so much friction in the buying process in the B2B buying process, and we’re like, how about we create a diverse company in America that solves this big challenge for the whole world of simplifying the way that people buy from each other?

Dena (05:17): Yeah, I was going to say, I’m jumping in. I think what’s really important about what Elias said is the order in which he said those two things. Our company, and both DC and Elias say this all the time. It’s 98% people and 2% product. And he just said that in his answer to you, that he talked about the people and the reasons why he built the company before he talked about solving the B2B business buying experience. And that says a lot about the foundation of how both David and Elias have built drift and how we operate from a talent perspective.

Ed (05:49): You beat me into the punchline because I was going to call exactly that out. Obviously, the deep mission around diversity and equity and we’re going to dig into that, but obviously that needs to be wrapped around this customer centricity and that has flowed through every single decision that you make. I’m curious as to your role as a founder and in your mind in setting and maintaining this culture and this cultural vision that you’ve just laid out.

Elias (06:16): I think that this is one of the biggest differences of people don’t understand diversity in this country, right? Because when you are white and you are founding a company like most founders are, and they, they say like, what’s the framework that you do it? They’re looking for some framework of how do we build a diverse company? I don’t have a framework. It’s built into me, right? It’s, I have a whole different perspective and that’s why we need diversity in this country, right? And across all levels, across all industries, across all positions. I don’t need a framework. It’s kind of like asking a woman like, what’s your framework for being a woman? You know what I mean? Do you have a framework for being a woman?

Dena (7:02): No, I just am.

Elias (7:04): You just are, right? And so, when you ask me that question, what’s the framework? Is there is no framework, right? I want, I know what it’s like to have come to this country with food stamps, right? I, I know what it’s like to go to so many places where there’s not a lot of people that look like you. I know how hard it is to find a job. I know how hard it is to retain a job. I know how hard it’s to fundraise. I know how hard it is to get customers and so forth and so forth, right? So, there is no framework that I need to be reminded of when I’m looking at, at our company and saying, how do we make it better? How do we give more, share this opportunity that we have earned with others?

Ed (07:45): Ali, that’s a wonderful answer in many ways, just living and breathing the essence of the culture that you’re trying to create. And I, I feel almost embarrassed to ask the question. I guess Dena, to bring you in here. What’s your role as the CPO? Not just the CPO, as many people would probably attach to the title, it’s very strategic as to your job inside the business. Can you describe your role having heard this vision in trying to enact it?

Dena (08:15): I take the responsibility very seriously. I mean, I, the reason I came here is because I wanted to work for two founders that many organizations talk about diversifying their team. It’s the buzzword right now. But I wanted to work for two founders that were diverse so that I could learn from their experiences and ensure that I’m operating the talent function in the same way that they’re describing it. When Elias and DC talk, all the decisions that they’ve made have come from a place of ensuring that everyone across the organization has an equal opportunity to advance regardless of where they came from. And so that mission needs to be executed in our, how we attract talent, how we retain talent, how do we advance talent. And so, it is my job to operationalize what’s in DC and Elia’s head and in their heart about how we function across the organization. And it’s not easy to do, especially in light of many of the challenges that we’ve had over the past couple of years because that traditional way of thinking has been challenged and we’re embarking on a new way of working. And one that we ensure that everyone across our company has an equal opportunity to do the best work of their career. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Ed (09:30): And Elias from a founder’s lens, the role of the CPO in enacting this vision, how have you ensured that Dena has been intertwined within the business?

Elias (09:41): Well, the thing about it is that we as founders have to grow from being in the weeds and trying to do everything right? And as the company grows, we hire an executive leadership team that is, has to execute everything. They, they basically have to run the company, right? And so, the question is how do you build communication and synergy between us and them? The way that we do it is like, I make myself available right? To the company. And that is creates opportunities for me to hear stuff that I can then report back to d There’s things that I will hear before Dena does because someone, a Latin American and African American will come to me and say, I’m having this issue, right? Or, or I’m able to really open up the conversation to learn what’s happening and give feedback to Dena because this is the problem with, with lacking diversity, right?

Is that you might not understand other people’s situations, right? What could be affecting them in the workplace? What could be affecting them at home? I remember, there was a software engineer that we had. He was Latin American, and then people thought that, that he was having performance problems because he was coming really late during the day. He started missing for about two weeks. So, people thought that he didn’t want to work or that he is having some issues. And the reality, what happened was, is that I, I went for a walk with him and found out that, this is the first time he was getting a good salary in and he found out he had a lot of cavities and so he had a whole bunch of appointments, but he hadn’t told anybody that because he was embarrassed to say that, right? And when you are more affluent and you grew up in a good area with a lot of income and you went to the dentist all along, that’s not an issue.

And so that’s something that people just didn’t grasp. It’s not a normal thing you would just say. And so, he was about to put in a performance plan, but it was able to understand that, right? And why did I understand that? Because when I graduated from college, I had 14 cavities, and I couldn’t pay for them when I was in college. And so, until I worked at IBM, I had enough salary to go pay for all that exercise because dental insurance is not that great in the United States. And so, you only get paid for your cleaning, but not for those repairs. And so that’s the thing I can get and extract and pass along to the rest of the team. And it’s just little by little we just going to be sharing experiences and give different perspectives so they can make different decisions and help people grow and support them in a different way that they, they need

Ed (12:10): Not only is it hard to grow a business, we all know that we know the scaling pain points, we know the scaling pain points of just trying to grow culturally in a regular environment. And yet you are adding this complexity, but deeply because of the mission of trying to create the new face of an American workforce. And it’s incredibly inspiring and it’s coming through so strongly. So, thanks for sharing. Dena. I’m curious as to, in your mind, what makes a great CPO? What are the hard skills? What are the soft skills and what’s the advice for anyone who is wanting to be a great role model in in the CPO seat?

Dena (12:48): Well, there’s a bunch of things, but I think you have to be a business leader and a people leader. You have to be data driven. You have to understand what’s happening across the business so you can translate whatever obstacles our business leaders have into a people function, whether or not that’s attracting talent in a different part of the world, or if it means we’ve got to approach things a different way. I think you have to have a business mindset to be effective as a people leader. And I also think that making decisions with data is incredibly important to really understanding what, not only our people are telling us, but our business leaders are telling us as the challenges that face them. And so being able to migrate between both of those things and then also moving from tacticals to strategic is incredibly important, especially in a hyper-growth company because we’re lean, we’ve got small teams, we’ve got to deliver more, fast. And I think having the ability to move up and down tactically and strategically is incredibly important too.

Ed (13:51): We’ll dig into a few of those things, some great call outs there. Do you think your background of being a business practitioner helped in that viewpoint? that you, you weren’t a traditional HR through the rank’s kind of CPO?

Dena (14:03): I do. I joke because I used to program in C++ for my first job. I wasn’t very good, but I did and I, I worked as a consultant, so I have a business background. I think it’s really helped me, but you can acquire those skills even if you didn’t actually complete that wasn’t part of your education. You can get exposure and learn on your own. You’re in with and understanding the data points of our business leaders. So, for me it was an advantage because I grew up that way, but I think it’s been helpful for me to understand and appreciate the complexities, especially in a scaling organization.

Ed (14:37): And what about when you were on the search for a CPO, what were the key attributes that you were looking for and what did you see in in Dena that really shunned to you?

Elias (14:47): Dena came highly, highly recommended by our, our CFO, Jim because they used to work together and log me in. So that’s a positive and negative, right? The hiring from the networks. Cause that is not really helpful for diversity. And so that is important. People that know how to work well together, right? And that has seen the movie before, right? So, it is extremely important. , things that I’ve learned in hiring executives is that you have to have a clear definition of who you’re looking for in that they’re not too disconnected from the problem that lies ahead. , when you’re, when you’re hiring people, you’re hiring them for two to three years to tackle on the next scale level, right? , kind of like scale right from I read and it’s like when you move up every one of those echelons from one to 10, 10 to 50, 50, a hundred, a hundred, 500, 500, a thousand, 10,000, you need people that know how to handle that space because it changes dramatically from the prior stage. So, Dena has seen a lot of those faces. And so, we wanted someone that was, capable of handling that because sometimes you can’t, you can’t take the risk from someone that’s never done it before and go and help us grow to 500 to a thousand people, right?

Ed (16:01): Yeah. It’s an interesting call out in terms of different people for different scaling challenges along the way. You’ve seen what great and what big looks like Dena and so to, to help drift on that journey. As Jim, the CFO is just a wonderful person to be able to lean on. The culture is obviously living and breathing, it’s ebbing and flowing. You are on a hypergrowth journey, lots of new ads in terms of seats. How are you maintaining that culture? I know you talk about every ritual that Drift practices is contributing either in a positive or negative way to the culture. How are you thinking about that as you go on this hypergrowth journey?

Dena (16:42): It least, and I were just talking about this a few minutes ago, there’s some curve balls in it. Rituals are incredibly important to us, and they’ve been important to maintain consistency. As we’ve moved to a digital first organization, we, we start our week together with Monday Metrics and we end it with what we call Friday Show and Tell. And Monday Metrics is a chance for everyone across the organization, regardless of what their position is, to understand the high-level metrics of the company. Know everyone knows what our ARR is, net dollar retention. They know what product features we’re launching; they know who we’re recruiting and who we’re hiring. So, no one has an excuse for really understanding the high-level metrics. And we’re incredibly transparent about how we are achieving against our goals. That kicks off the week together. We put our arms around the organization in a virtual way and then Friday show and tell, we bring the whole organization together.

One person from each department talks about what they learned that week, lessons learned. There’s a CTA for individuals. So, we see each other, all of us together twice a week. And then we have quarterly meetings and other meetings we’re, we’re trying to figure out the cadence of how we see each other. Because in this digital first world, what we’ve found is that people are missing connection with each other. And so yes, we’ve made a commitment to be digital first, but not remote only and not digital only. And so, we’re, we’re trying to sort out the cadence around how we connect with each other. Because that’s the piece that’s missing. I think if you develop those, and we’ve onboarded like 300 people completely digitally and they’ve never met each other. And so, we’re trying to think of ways to connect the team outside the office or outside our, what we call conversation spaces, but outside our conversation spaces, inside our conversation spaces so we can really develop those relationships. And that’s stickiness. That’s what we’re trying to conquer right now.

Ed (18:29): We’ll touch on this digital first workplace because it is a hot topic, but to get into the weeds that there’s been so much goodness already. You talked about data and understanding it deeply as a CPO, what are the tools that you use and report to Elias as the founder around engagement or performance? And how do you think about enacting on the trends that you find?

Dena (18:52): Yeah, so we do a couple things. We have a simple NPS survey that we run every quarter. It’s how likely are you to refer Drift as a place to work? And we report on tenure report on ethnicity, we report on what’s happening across each department. We look at attrition every week now practically, but we’re looking at attrition. Are we seeing individuals are treating at a greater rate that are in an underrepresented people or females or what’s happening? And then can we hone in on that data? And then of course we’re understanding and looking at our business metrics. So, our sales reps achieving quota, are they, are certain reps achieving, hitting quota higher than other reps? And how can we dig into what that looks like and how can that potentially guide the types of people and the profiles of people that we go after? So that’s kind of the high-level data that we look at. And I report out to our entire executive team. It’s a people first culture and making sure that Drifters are doing the best work of their careers is not just my goal, it’s the entire executive team’s goal and something that both David and Elias are very much into ensuring that we’re improving. So, it’s a shared responsibility as well as DEI efforts and statistics that we have. That’s, that’s a shared responsibility across the entire executive team.

Ed (20:10): Elias, I’m sure you were involved in a lot of initially the hiring of the business until it just became unfeasible. But I am curious in terms of hiring at scale and velocity, how you’re thinking about that in a digital first world now for you, but also over time, how have you thought about testing for cultural fit and red flags as they’ve come up that maybe Drift isn’t the right place for someone to do their best work?

Elias (20:38): Oh, that phrase, Oh, that phrase. Well one is that early stages of companies, founders struggle. They don’t realize the amount of time they’re going to spend the rest of their lives recruiting and hiring, right? And so, I think it’s a struggle because most people like, I don’t know, I’m just going to stereotype and be like, you might be more in sales or you might be more in engineering, right? When you’re starting a company like the founders. And so, no one comes and starts a company and says, I’m a recruiter, right? I’m a, you don’t start CPOs don’t start the company, right? Or, or like VP of recruiters.

So, what happens is that everybody struggles with this at the beginning. They don’t realize they’re always like asking in the forums for early founders, like, which firm do you use? How do you hire? And a lot of the reasons why companies don’t grow is because they don’t have the ability to find people. It’s not necessarily financial or fundraising, right? They can’t keep up with the demands of the team and the customers are bringing.

And so that’s something that I already had learned that at HubSpot, right? And I mean, very, very meticulous about that. And you need an internal team. First employee was the recruiter, right? And that’s something that most companies never would do, right? That was, part of our secret sauce of like, you, you need to grow to 10 people. We can do it very quickly. A founder could not do that alone, in the early days and build code or talk to customers or sell product. And so, you need to build an internal team. It’s 100% worth it.

It’s almost like there’s almost, I don’t know what size of company could not afford getting a recruiter if they value their time in any way or they value the price of paying a recruiter fees, right? So, you need to find and build a team to support those functions. You have to have a strict process. It takes so long to hire people. And if you waste your time with a bad process, with a bad experience, with a slow offer, you, you’re wasting your time because you kind of have to talk to like 500 people to hire one when you lose a candidate for a bad offer, a bad salary, a bad equity, a presentation, and so forth. So, you’ll have to be flawless.

And so that’s something that we hope always invested a lot of time, even though I was involved doing that, I was constantly building the team Pre Dena and post Dena that, right? Where like, we need a massive team to be able to keep up the demands of, of the team here. And we need to be ahead of the whole company without people. We cannot execute our plans. And so, we have been growing that and investing in, in that part of the, of the company consistently.

Dena (23:19): And I would say that that is Elias’ superpower. Our, our VP of recruiting is tightly connected with Elias to make sure that we have a pulse on what’s, what are we seeing in the market, right? What are our offer acceptance rates? What’s the funnel flow through? What are we seeing? And Elias has a pulse on that as the founder in an area of the business that he really cares about. He has always cared about. He’s not as involved intricately as he was in the early days, but he knows at a high level where our hotspots are in the recruiting process, where we might be struggling, where we’re doing really well. And it is really important, especially for our senior level hires, to have that connection with one of our founders as we’re courting them because, so we, for talent going on right now, and we’ve got to make sure that it’s a well-run orchestra as we’re bringing talent in and exposing them to Drift.

Ed (24:29): Is there any tension between this mission to build this incredible diverse workplace and yet testing for cultural fit when you’re interviewing? Because part of cultural fit might be that the candidate is outside that and hence diverse from what you are trying to create. How do you manage that tension?

Dena (24:50): Elias and DC in the early days, established eight leadership principles, right? So, there are values, they’re how we make decisions, they’re centered around our customers, and we use those in the interview process. So, when you’re hiring for culture fit, we look for value fit and individuals that can thrive against those leadership principles of putting the customer the center of everything we do, acting with respect and trust, having a bias for action, several other leadership principles that would be demonstrated in the interview process and asked by our interview panel. So those LPs were thought of in the early days and they flourish throughout the organization. So, they are woven into how we interview, how we progress talent across the organization, how our leaders show up. And they’re really valuable for us to sort of test culture and allow us to attract and retain diverse talent.

Ed (25:49): Great answer. There are people who can’t make the scaling journey, unfortunately. There are certain people who have great skills in startup world scale up. And now as you are now a very large company, their skillset might not necessarily suit the current journey that you’re on. How do you think about ensuring that releasing employees back into the wild, so to speak, that they still have a great experience and are still net promoters, if you will, of drift, even though they may have left the company?

Dena (26:18): Yeah, I mean, Elias can jump into here, but we look at the entire sort of employee journey or journey as someone joins the organization, whether or not they’re a candidate, they get promoted to manager or they’re an alum, and the way they exit is incredibly important, right? We, we know that people will come and give their tour of duty with us and make us more, more marketable and intern our promises to make them more marketable. And maybe that’s two years, maybe that’s three years, maybe it’s six years. But we want to make sure that wherever they go, they’ve had an incredible experience at Drift and can take that to their organization. So, the way we off board individuals is incredibly important. They’re part of our Drift alumni, they’re included as we communicate things that are happening across the organization. And we celebrate them when they leave, which is hard to do, but it’s important to make sure that they’re going on a new journey and they’ll remember their time and maybe potentially come back. We’ve had a handful of boomerangs that have come back.

Ed (27:18): That’s the greatest sense of you’ve achieved everything that you’ve just described if people are coming back. For sure. Elias over to you. In regards to, we’ve heard the mission and vision around building this diverse company. Can you talk through the evolution of this, and the principals involved actually enacting it? How have you thought about actually scaling the DNI of the business?

Elias (27:44): I mean, I think that that’s in some way has been kind of like a personal journey. I think it’s my personal journey here. I, I don’t know so many stories. It’s just that I live the living in somebody else’s home having food stamps, working at McDonald’s, cleaning offices at night with my mother and picking up furniture at other people’s houses because it was what is still. And it was funny cause this weekend my daughter just went off to college, so the boys were in the same bedroom. So now they got, they have their own bedrooms, and so they’re getting new beds. They’re growing up, right? And so, we had some people come over and they wanted to pick up the beds, right? And I felt like they were kind of a little bit embarrassed or like picking this stuff up and they had no idea that I did the same, right?

It’s different, right? And so like, I was there helping them and it’s like taking the stuff apart and loading them into their car, they, they spoke Portuguese, and so we were finding ways to communicate. And so, all that stuff is just gives me a different perspective, right? And so, I had that, but in a way I kind of, for the majority of my life as, as a professional in the tech world, I kind of never worry about it. I had this weird focus of like, I never saw myself different. I kind of was naive. I kind of ignored the challenges that I was facing, and I just simply plowed ahead, right? It’s just like I, I never saw myself as different than any other than anybody else. And so, I just kind of was fighting to succeed and to win regardless of who I was. I, I, I wasn’t even embracing it in any way. I just knew that I was slightly, slightly different, slightly, right? Dena

Dena (29:44): No, but that’s the authenticity of it. Do you know what I mean? Like, that’s why people are so approachable, and they see Elias as someone and DC as someone that has achieved unicorn status, and I can too. And so that’s what Elias is saying. He didn’t think about himself as anything different, and like we’re trying to pull that out of his head on how we operationalize some of these things.

Elias (30:09):But the thing is, I didn’t think about it. And so, what happened is it was only like a recent thing in the past four years that I usually will speak at conferences in Silicon Valley, in New York, Boston, Europe, whatever. And I’m never thinking like I’m a Latino, right? It’s kind of like Latino was like a hidden thing of mine that all of a sudden was like, oh, he speaks Spanish he knows this, or he knows about this thing. But I didn’t know that that’s who I was, right? I was just trying to be like everybody else. I was being a chameleon. And in the past four years it started realizing, right? I got; I was invited to speak at this event in Boston for the Latino community. And when I was at this place, it was the first time I was in the green room with all Latino speaking speakers.

And so, it was the first time I connected what I normally see when I’m with my family in Tampa for Christmas, right? And it’s like, blah, blah, blah, blah. I have like different circles and when I was in Tampa, I was like, I’m with the Latino community, and when I’m in Boston, I’m with the tech community. And when these two worlds collided that day, I realized that I had a mission, and a purpose right? That I now needed to bring out to the front my identity. And now I opened my eyes to the challenges more than I ever did. And now I see completely different, right? And so, and so that’s kind of the evolution. So, it was not like when we first started Drift, we wanted to have perfect balance on the board, perfect balance on the leadership team with, with all kinds of diversities.

But I didn’t have this special personal purpose, right? Which is how do I help the people that I know and understand the best, which I would say Latin American, and learning more and more about the difficulties in, in the challenges of the African American community in the United States. So, it became more personal recently. It wasn’t something I quite understood what my role was. And then more and more Latinos are coming to me and saying, you need to help us with this. You understand this is your charge. And so, I’m taking a lot of feedback from mentors and from everybody in the community of what to do. And so, it’s constantly evolving.

Ed (32:26): There’s no doubt that you’ve become a beacon of Latino leadership and it’s amazing to watch from afar. Dena, what about the principles surrounding this in terms of ensuring that you, you are meeting the DEI goals?

Dena (32:42): Yeah, I mean, it is, as I said before, it’s like d and I is in our DNA. It’s just DC and Elias are diverse. And so, I think it helps to attract individuals to the organization. But we’re constantly monitoring. So, we’re 40, almost 46% females across the organization, 38% females in tech, almost 14% underrepresented people across unit organization. We’re above benchmarks. And so, we monitor that, we show that to our Drift team. We talk about it externally, but it’s not good enough. what I mean? It’s not good enough for DC and Elias. These are, we’re, we’re above tech benchmarks, as Elias was saying, but we’re not yet where we want to be advancing underrepresented people in the tech space. It’s, a battle. It’s every single person that you hire. It’s how you promote. It is person to person combat.

Ed (33:38): What about being digital first? I imagine part of the decision to be this digital first workplace in many essence was interwoven with meeting some part of DEI because you can work anywhere, be paid the same and actually is I imagine about equal opportunity as it is just people having flexibility

Dena (33:58): Because of what was happening with Covid. We sort of went through a one-way door that we couldn’t go back through. And going digital first was, the main reason was to ensure that everyone across the organization had an equitable experience. Meaning they had the same advancement opportunities regardless of whether or not they were in Boston, they’re, or they’re in Kansas City. It’s not about desk time, it’s about outcome and output. And so, yes, it has afforded us the ability to hire people from anywhere, which has allowed us access to diverse talent that we wouldn’t have normally been able to talk to. Because historically we had hired in San Francisco, in Boston, in Tampa. And so now we have the entire map of the US and we’re global now. So, we’re hiring in London and Australia too. So, it has, recruitment process is easier to get to talent, but at the same time these large tech companies are doing the same thing we are doing. So, we’re, we’re not just competing with the local tech companies, we’re competing with everybody because a lot of organizations are doing the same thing in hiring people in all sorts of regions.

Ed (35:07): Let’s zoom out for a second, Elias, back to you. Just in terms of the role of the board and how that has potentially been constructed to support you in this journey and its function and importance and what kind of reporting do they ask for in regards to the people and culture and scaling the people and culture of the business?

Elias (35:27): The thing is that our board as, I know it’s a Latino in me or something, but it’s like we’re very relationship driven, right? It’s the people in the board historically at Drift are people that we have had personal relationships with and so for example, Izhar from CRV, someone we known for, I don’t know, I think David has known him for like over 20 years, right? I known him over 10, right? He, he took my whole family to Israel on a trip. And so like we know each other deeply well. We know our families; they know my children. I don’t know, it’s like a different type of relationship. Pat Grady was with us at HubSpot. Larry Bond was with us at HubSpot as well. And so, these are, these are people that known us for a long time.

And so, they know as personally, they know what drives us and they know what we care. And so, it’s really, an unconditional support about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it because they see the fruit of it. So, it’s not, the dynamic is very good because we are just like, they can see what we do publicly. Dena reports, makeup composition, hiring, attrition, EMPS, all the data is presented to the board, but they trust that we are figuring out and trying to share with the rest of the world what we’re learning because it’s a journey is a battle is really difficult, to balance that. You cannot always hire for perfect balance in, in distribution. Our diversity, we’re an amazing melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and people and identities. And so, we, we have to constantly figure out how to recruit, how to attract, and how to retain the best people out there, right? And so, they’re super supportive of us, right, from that perspective.

Ed (37:18): And Dena, is there any other reporting that they are actively encouraging you to present to the board in terms of their interest? Is running deep in your function?

Dena (37:28): I think Elias touched on it. I think diverse makeup across the organization is incredibly important and we report out on that. But I think also advancement through the different diverse segments across the organization are important to them. Again, I think I talked a little bit about this earlier. So are we achieving more females than we currently have represented the same thing with URPs. So how is diverse talent mobilizing across the organization is important too. And they like to see, are we making improvements there around inclusion? We just ran an inclusion survey. We run that every six months. So, our different pockets of talent experiencing drift in different ways, and we drill into the data that we receive in those surveys.

Ed (38:14): One last question because it’s been wonderful to hear why Drift is culture first and how it’s culture first. And to have the interaction between you two has been really special. So, thank you for that. But to wrap it up, keen to hear from both of you, what, in five- or 10-years’ time, looking back, what would cultural success mean for Drift?

Dena (38:35): Close your eyes?

Elias (38:37): This is an exercise that Dena does.

Dena (38:39): I did this at our, is laughing. So, I, I started at Drift, and it was like a couple months after we had a kickoff, and I told everyone in the audience to close their eyes where we close your eyes. We’ve just finished our first earnings call. You’ve got people speaking multiple languages from 20 or so offices. We’ve just launched our new book. I said, what does success look like for us? It’s a diverse team that’s spread out across the world that is over subscribed to our open positions. Like, we’re not going to look for people, they come looking for us and they have to write essays to work at Drift. And so, it’s this magnetic culture that’s incredibly transparent across the tech sector. And so that’s what success looks like for me.

Elias (39:24): Dena is way more eloquent than me and, more ambitious. I, I’m the older person here. And so like, I think that I keep evolving what success means to me. And I think, one is like in some ways I’m trying to disappear, right? And trying to be, not about me, but about just individual lives changing, right? It’s just like, I don’t want to drive myself crazy about a specific amount of countries and languages and earnings and how many quarters in a row we beat them. I don’t want to because I just care about individual people. Like if, when I sit down with somebody from Drift and it’s like, oh, I’ve been here three and a half years and like how we’re doing, I just had of conversation with, with somebody here and I’m like, spend a long time.

Are you growing? Are you getting the support? Because it just, in my experience, I’ve seen so many people grow from a support person to a vice president of product from an engineer to a chief architect, from a product manager to chief product officer, and people achieve all kinds of success. And so, like to me, any individual story of those is really success, right? Is that we build this company for people to, to improve their life and achieve their own version of the American dream, right? And so, that’s kind of how I just measure it and try not to drive myself crazy.

Ed (40:56): You too should be very proud. You’re not only building a massive business that will have a huge impact on the world, but you’re doing it the right way. And to watch that from afar, as I said, is an inspiration. So, thank you so much for your time. It’s been wonderful to have you on the show.

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