Finale: Happy People, Happy Customers, Happy Shareholders

If you're a people leader looking for some inspiration, look no farther than this episode with Anita Grantham! Anita is the CPO at Pluralsight, and takes us to school on culture, values, hiring, interviewing, diversity, belonging, internal mobility, and most all—how people teams play a strategic leadership role in the company's growth. Don't miss this stellar finale to Season 1 of Start with Who!



A warm welcome to Anita Grantham, Chief People Officer at Pluralsight. In addition to rocking our world with wisdom about building a modern, strategic people organization—she's also just plain fun to chat with. Listen in to hear:

  • How people leaders can be strategic business leaders—and what to ask the CEO during an interview to evaluate the opportunity
  • What leadership traits are needed for people leaders to lead high-growth teams
  • How to nurture values and purpose within a company
  • How people leaders can focus on "building great products" through creating rather than complaining

And that just scratches the surface. A big thanks to Anita for sharing her wisdom, fun, and Frozen 2 lyrics with us!

Thanks for listening to Start with Who: The Interview Intelligence Podcast! This podcast is presented by Pillar —where we're on a mission to make hiring and interviewing more efficient and equitable. Come check out what we're building, or connect with Grace and Ben on LinkedIn!

This concludes Season 1 of the podcast! Thanks for listening!


(Transcribed by robots...sorry for the errors!)

Anita: Literally, this role succeeds and dies from the top. And so if you have a founder or CEO that doesn't understand that connection to happy people, drive happy customers, drive happy shareholders, then you're probably doomed from the start.

Hosts: Welcome to Start with Who, the interview intelligence podcast, I'm your host, Grace Tyson, and I'm Ben Battaglia join us on our journey as we learn about talent acquisition, hiring and tackle the challenge of building an amazing team. One interview at a time. We've invited CEOs, innovative people, leaders, talent acquisition experts and DIY movers and shakers as our guides would love to have you join us. Welcome to Start with Who.

Ben: Welcome back to the Start with Who podcast, so excited for our guest today. Anita, welcome to start with you. Thanks for coming on.

Anita: Thanks, Ben. Thanks, Grace. Excited to be here.

Ben: Wonderful for those who don't know you yet, would you be willing to give us a quick intro to who you are and what you do?

Anita: Yeah, I'm Anita Grantham. I am Chief People Officer at Pluralsight, which is the technology skills platform for developers. And I have three girls, one dog who is a year old. I love to hike, and be outside and laugh and have fun and anything I do.

Grace: You are super fun. I can attest to that. And definitely bring great laughter to every conversation, which is fabulous. We would love Anita to focus this episode on how people leaders can become more strategic business leaders within their organizations, because that is something that you have done a phenomenal job of clearly throughout your career. So, yeah, I would love to dive in. First on the importance of culture, which is something that we've heard you talk about before. You know, culture drive, strategy to powers growth. So tell us your thoughts on culture and how it's a linchpin to business success.

Anita: Yeah so first on your first point, Grace, I don't know why we're still asking the question around. Why are leaders still aren't strategic? Like, I don't I don't know why, but we seem to still answer that question. So we can talk about that more. But really, because culture is everything. And you have one like I think people hear the word culture and in their mind, the Sanan synonym is, oh, that's positive. That's good. But culture can be anything. And it is the environment in the feeling that you have in an organization. So if people aren't excited about that organization, if they don't feel like it's doing great things in the world, it's not going to drive performance where you could have a flipside, where people really believe in the cause, they really believe in the mission. They feel like they're doing something that's impacting the world. They're going to take better care of your customers, better care of your shareholders. All of that plays true. And we've seen that over and over in the data. So, again, it's like another curious point to me. I don't know why we still have to ask these questions, why we're still making a case for it. 2021 last I checked.

Grace: I love that. First of all, pushing back on the very premise of the question, like, tell us more about that. Why are we asking this question about how, you know, people leaders can become, quote unquote, strategic leaders? Why do you think that is? And what's your problem with the premise?

Anita: I don't have a problem with the premise, but I don't know why it still hasn't evolved. You know, it could be on the backs of the people in the position. It could be on the backs of the founders and CEOs doing the hiring. I think it's honestly probably somewhere in the middle where literally this role succeeds and dies from the top. And so if you have a founder or CEO that doesn't understand that connection to happy people, drive happy customers, drive happy shareholders, then you're probably doomed from the start. And honestly, when I talk to people. And I talk to a variety of people on people, teams of people in the C suite, bounders, you can tell really, really quick. I love this question. You should revisit serve for some of your founders. Culture is really important to you. Great what percentage of revenue is dedicated to culture?

Ben: Oh, love that.

Anita: Right and you'll know right away. How far ahead do you hire people for growth? Who's the first hire that you put in a remote team set up? Like if you're setting up an office in North America or Europe or down under is a people business partner recruiter, your top two and three hire after you hire the site leader. If not, then I would probably question your commitment to culture. And also when I talk to my peers, they're like, well, how do you get what you want? And I'm like, well, it's super easy because, like, the example, I love to give is, oh, we're committed to international growth. We're in North America right now. We have a problem that solves the world's issues. We have to be global. Well, great. There's only one HCM that meets global solutions right now. For the most part, at scale. And that's worked for better or worse. And they're like, well, we can't get the money for work. Damn like, well, then I don't know how you're running international payroll. Like, it's not a question to me either you're committed to international growth or you're not. No wrong answer here. Like no judgment, but that means you've got to fund it ahead of the growth. And so if you're really firm on the strategy, the people part of it should not be a question. But I don't think you can build people strategy ahead of corporate strategy. It has to be in this order. And then that way we can hire, fire and train to anything. But if we don't know what that anything is. And it makes it real tough.

Grace: Wow, I love that.

Ben: I should have done a video because really, if you saw it, it's just me and Grace nodding for the whole time you're talking, it's great.

Anita: I thought you were going to say then that we needed cocktails.

Both: Oh, my gosh. That too! Absolutely yes. There's no what time is it?

Anita: 5 o'clock somewhere. I agree. I'm in Dublin time when it comes to happy hour. That way I'm always in that range.

Grace: That's exactly right. I used to live in Amsterdam, so I'm definitely grandfathering myself into that time zone when it comes to drinks.

Ben: OK, so let's dive in there a little bit more because we watched a video, you did or it was a Ted Talk or a speech. Somewhere where you the theme of it was leadership is in, HR is out. And so as you talk about this idea of an HR or people leader being a strategic leader in the business and for worse across the world, that is oftentimes not how they're thought of. They should be. I agree with you. We love your heartache about leadership is in and out. So can you tell us a little bit more about what that means to you?

Anita: Yeah so, Ben, I wouldn't say they should be like, I don't want people to "should" on themselves, especially people and organizations like it only should be if the founder and board and executive team feel that they want it to be that way. Look, there's a number of other companies that don't prioritize it. And for fair arguments, they do really well. You know, like Steve Jobs wasn't a fantastic people leader, but he was a fantastic product creator. And so that was the way that culture was driven at Apple in those times. Right so, like, I think first, like, I have no judgment on it. My only request is that you get really clear on what you want to be. That's it. Like good, bad or indifferent? It doesn't matter. Just get really clear on what you want to hire, trained and fired to. And so that's kind of one bucket. And that's why that it's really about leadership. First, I don't lead on culture. I am not a culture ambassador. I am not like the forefront of culture. Our CEO is, our leadership team is. What I do with our team is build frameworks for them to operate inside of that creates the performance outcomes that they want. But I've got to build product just like anybody else has to build product. I have to go talk to my customers. Like I just we just did performance management. I said to my CEO, I said, my performance process needs improvement. It sucks. Like what we built a year ago isn't generating what I think it should generate. We've rebuilt this thing every freaking year like it's, oh, it's always different. But this year, we made some improvements with by a large as a customer, I am own process. I thought it needed improvement. And like, look, if my customers don't want to use what we build, I have to go fix that. And take accountability for it. If my customers being leaders and people don't want to use it and they don't feel empowered by it, that's not their fault. Like, I think this is a trap that many of my peers fall into. And like no one listens to me, no one uses my stuff. No one does it on the date that it's supposed to. That's not their fault. You didn't create something good enough for them to want to use. Like, I want people to buy from me not because I'm the only provider, but because I create great products. And if they suck, I'll be the first to tell you that it sucks. Like, as soon as COVID hit, I said to my team, I said, I will kill anything we have running the world has fundamentally changed. Nothing is the same. I'm not committed to any program that we've run. So far. So if you want to innovate on it, let's blow it up. And we continue to work on this as we go through it. So to me, leadership in people practices comes from the leaders themselves. It comes from their commitment to wanting to build high performing teams or whatever that is, and it comes from them wanting to adopt people practices that enable that at scale. If you're growing quickly, which is my jam, I love fast growth. So it's those things. But that's why it's really leadership. It's not HR. HR is a series of employment regulations, payroll box-checking, compliance, feeling things you do to be a responsible business. It is not a strategy. It's what grown up people do in business.

Grace: Oh my god, I love everything you're saying. I need. OK, I definitely in a minute want to dive into what you talked about around. OK, you need to make this something people will use and love and how will you do that? But first, I want to back up a little bit. And I'm curious when a CEO or a leadership team is trying to hire you, like, what do you look for as the OK, this is something I'm going to run in the opposite direction from because clearly people won't be at that strategic part of the business versus this is a company that really puts their money where their mouth is like tips for other people, leaders that thinking the same way as you when it comes to finding the right company.

Anita: Yeah, what's so ironic is we are so like what's the metaphor is the cobbler's kids have to wear shoes. Like, I think actually people leaders are probably the worst at interviewing for themselves. You know, I know in the first jumps I made before I made it to Pluralsight, I was horrible at it. I didn't know what I was looking for. I didn't know what I wanted. You know, we should have. So freely take the advice we give others. So when Aaron and I got together. And I call it to our rainbow and sanjayan conversation, there were a few things that were at play there that were interesting for others to observe as takeaways. One is that the founder CEO, who's the same person, but I think founders are different than CEOs and vice versa. So he's our founder and our CEO. He was in pain around it like the business had hit a wall. The exec team wasn't scaling with the business. He was. Really, in terms that we like to use at Pluralsight, stay awake to, I've got to do something different. And it probably lives inside the people function. And I don't really know what it is, but I need to go find out. And our first conversation wasn't an interview. I was doing a favor to my predecessor who was like, look, just have the conversation like he needs your help. And so we are just having kind of this philosophical conversation. And so that's one, is like the founder wakes up and is like, "oh, like Houston, we have a problem here". And I think it lives in this area. Point two is that you get clear on what strategy you're driving behind. Like the first question I ask any founders, do you want to grow your business? And if so, what is growth look like to you. And what do you want for you? Like what type of exit do you want? A lifestyle business? Do you want something you're growing and selling? Do you want a capital event? What is that? So let's talk about that. And then are you willing, if you choose growth, are you willing to fund the people function ahead of the pace of the business? And that looks like this on a run rate per year every year, all of that. And so if yes to those things, then we can actually have a conversation. And then the final follow up is, are you willing to demonstrate at the highest level leadership, the way we choose to define it? And that looks like a demonstration of our values. I don't want you to talk about it. I want you to go do it. And will you and your team be accountable for what that looks like? Meaning 50% at that time. We just evolve this year. But for the first four years, 50% of our bonuses were paid on delivery to values as much as they were 50% delivery to results. And so are you willing to put your money behind your demonstration of your values? And so for me, if I can check off one of those boxes, I get entertained. But very rarely like that happens.

Grace: I can imagine. Yeah, those are great takeaways for any people leader as they're thinking about making a transition to a different role. And what you said resonated with me, too, as a sales person, sales leader. Funny how I could negotiate deals. But not negotiate on my own behalf, but when it came time for it. So, yeah, I totally get that. I want to pivot over to what you talked about with the complaint, which we do hear a lot around. Oh, hey, no one's using the systems that I set up, like people are filling it out, etc., etc., et cetera like how do you get away from that? What do you do to make sure that they are used, and they're even beloved, what you put in place?

Anita: We have a saying at Pluralsight. I didn't create it. It actually was created by an executive coaching team that we had. And I use it. It's great parenting tip as well. So you can complain or you can create. And I really have no space for complaints, so fine. My product sucks. What do you want to go build with me? Like roll up your sleeves and you know, gosh, I'm just going to say it. Most people aren't committed to equality or fairness. They're committed to themselves. And so when you put those two pillars, which we've always lived by on in our shop and now you have to live by because of the current world that we're in, if you put those two pillars, creation is very difficult in a way that gets what most people want done. Most people want the wild west of interview processes, of compensation of all of that. They don't really want to be held into the constraints of fairness and equality. You can point it out, but it gets real hairy really fast. So what we look to create with people is, are you committed to these things? Like do you believe we should have men and women in every other race being paid fairly? Yes great. Then that means you have to operate inside a range on total compensation. Like that's the only way per roll. Right do you believe that panels and pipeline should be driven to have a diverse slate and therefore increase the level of diversity across the organization? Yes well, then that means you're going to use great products like Pillar, like you're going to spend time on the job description. You yourself are going to develop your own diverse network to contribute to the candidates in the pipeline. And you will also contribute to the people on the panel to guarantee success for different races. Oh, OK, great, great. So it takes a lot of time to set that up. But what it says is, are you committed to these things? If you're not, like, super cool, like I really don't have judgment around it, but that just means you need to go do it somewhere else. And let me be a referral for you, because there's 100,000 startups that will go. Let you run. However you want to run. Because like, let's be honest, startups don't hit this until they get to critical mass. And then they have to be like, oh, crap, now I need to go unwind all that stuff. I mean, it took me two years to unwind startup practices at Pluralsight. Oh, my gosh. You know, and look, everybody does what they do at the time. And again, no judgment. But if you have to get into a scalable system, the rules of the game are different today.

Grace: Yeah, absolutely. We'll be calling you in a few years to sort out.

Anita: Now, can we talk now? I'll save you so much pain.

Ben: Seriously

Grace: Actually, yes, that would be great.

Anita: Please Yeah. Lets us avoid the two years down the road untangling of these webs that we're weaving.

Grace: Yes I just want to point out what I heard you saying that you do is you really start at the most basic element in terms of the Socratic line of questioning to get to understand where people are actually genuinely at with their belief systems and what matters to them. And then you connect the dots to the end point, which I think is just really powerful.

Anita: Well, it was one of the biggest lessons I had in 2020. It was the biggest growth year I've ever had. And our head of diversity and belonging actually taught me this because we just were getting hit in a lot of different angles. And she said, hey, Anita, the question that people are usually asking isn't the question they usually have. It's just like showing up this way. And we have a core value that's called seek context with intention. And really what it means is like I'm here to understand your context intentionally so I can serve you. So I can build a better product for you, so I can be a better partner for you, whatever that is. And that doesn't look like judgment. And it's not seek first to respond. It's not seek first to be heard. It's like a genuine fact finding, investigative with unconditional love line of questioning around. Really tell me, how do you see it? Because everything is so much more complicated now. We're all remote. And I just find this is back to why leadership trumps HR all day long. You have to be a leader to have that level of conversation and it is actually the fastest path to results. Not asking the question, not assuming positive intent, placing judgment first is what creates poor cultural outcomes in poor business performance. It's not the first path that we discussed.

Ben: I love that. And I love, I love how easily and wholeheartedly you're talking about values playing out at Pluralsight. I think that is refreshing and rare and true that that is the core of leadership in an organization is embodying and living out values. I'd love to dive in a little more there because I've heard you talk about your role in fostering purpose inside of Pluralsight. And so how do you think about what that means for you and the leadership team to be fostering and encouraging people inside your business to feel purpose about what you're building and growing?

Anita: Yeah, so I can't take credit for this great work for me. This work first came to me through Jim Collins, where he talks about purpose in organizations and most of those organizations outperform the general market by 10x multiple. So I get excited about that. And then Daniel Pink took a different turn on it, of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. And so as human beings, I believe in that research and I've seen it play out and the data over and over again, that when humans have purpose, when they're up to something, they perform better. And it comes in all forms like we see it all over the world. Now, people are taking purpose on in different forms. Whether you agree or not, it doesn't matter. They are feeling called to action around some cause that they are passionate about. And so why would we not harness that in the work that we do? Because, you know, as much as I love Google and big tech, sometimes what I loved about big tech 10 years ago is they were great at saying we're going to galvanize people around something and treat them really well for it. And they created a lot of good behaviors in small tech companies that I think we should continue to adopt, not just in technology, but if you are able to find a purpose that attracts people and you're going to attract people that do better in your environment, like people love the idea of Pluralsight. But not everybody works well inside of an environment that is Pluralsight. And this is how I describe it to people. I'm like, great, if you can come in and I'm going to tell you, here's point A go to get to point Z, and I'm not going to tell you how to do it. And there's no manual. There's no handbook. There's no two week training like, you got to go figure it out like that works for some people. That doesn't work for everyone. And that's cool. But that's what you want to define in some of these conversations. You know, to democratize technology, skills and productivity is a very definite mission that some people are attracted to and some people aren't. Right and so if I can find who those people are, my pool of qualified candidates is more refined. It saves time. It returns candidates into the system faster. It allows us to really kind of look at, who we have in people and whether they're going to grow and succeed inside our environment, because ultimately, life's too short to do anything, you don't want to do. And I want candidates to return to the workforce finding what they want to do.

Ben: Yes

Anita: And I think the world would actually be a better place if people lined that up from the start. Really understood what their purpose was as a human, how they can match that up with an organizational purpose, and through that. I think you have magic and real happiness in life.

Ben: Yes, absolutely. We want to dive in a little bit to the specifics of interviewing and hiring and how you think about them at Pluralsight and want to kind of pull that thread you just mentioned. So how do you begin to identify this is someone who fits that, who can get to A without all the instructions? What are some of the questions you ask are how do you begin to evaluate that in deciding like if this is someone who can do that. And this is someone who can't.

Anta: So Ben if it's okay, I just want to back us up one step to it. And then I'll get to that question, ok? So I want to back up to the step of the age old job description, and we still do not have the rigor in job descriptions for effective hiring. Like, I just I think people hire for today's pain and they're like, I need somebody to go do this right, especially in fast growth tech. And they don't actually think about, OK, well, what is this position evolved to look like in two years? Like if you ask, most people at Pluralsight say they've had three job, six bosses in a numerous different changes in 18 months. So what are the capabilities that a person must possess to exist at Pluralsight, at the base level, like any team member? Right and it's probably like high affinity for change without direction, love for ambiguity, ability to operate autonomously, without a lot of direction, somebody that isn't afraid of what they look like for asking so-called dumb questions. They believe there's dumb questions. But an interview question I might ask, Ben, is when is there a time where you were so afraid to ask a question, but you knew that you had to? And because you had the courage to do it, you've got an answer that changed the trajectory of your work?

Grace: That's great.

Anita: Right? like share examples. I mean, when was there a time where you were going through a transaction and the leadership wasn't able to tell you anything about that transaction? How did you lead what was effective leadership for you during that time? Hmm? what do you do when a team comes to you and they have all these stories about what they think is happening to the business, and you don't know if it's true or not? How do you answer? Who are you going to be in times of high change and ambiguity and how to stress affect you? How does that play out?

Ben: Well, I'd like your full rating interview guide, please.

Grace: Seriously, it's a great.

Anita: Really it comes from the purpose, Ben, like when you're so clear, this is why I like that strategy is so important. When you're so clear on what you have to go get those things naturally come out. Like, I just I just made those up. I don't have a sheet. Right but it was based on like, you know. But a lot of people do have a sheet. I used to have a sheet for a long time. And it helps perpetuate that. But to me, it's clarity on what you want to achieve with the role, what you want to achieve with the job. It's not about a human, like this is where we get all jacked up. We think about people and we're like, oh, this person is great for this job. Well, and this is where we get into bias. And, you know, again, all the things Grace, that you're solving for, which is awesome. And Ben you're solving for it, too. But like, I want to think about the job and what the job looks like today. And in six months and 12 months, you don't have to take me further than that, but take me through the journey of this job and take me through the span of decisions it makes. Take me through the impact of wrong decision making with the job. What level of autonomy does it have? Does the decision making that it have involved the current team or does it span cross-functionally kind of going through that whole series? And so one of the things our team does is it gets together and we do an in-Zoom kick off with the hiring manager. And we ask all these questions. And we really probe especially for the one off jobs, you know, and we really ask about those things. And we said, and it's better in person than written. We've tried written format before, but we didn't get the result. And we see really describe the vision you have for us in this role. And I think if you're talking about people leadership, you owe it to yourself for this, especially if you have a cult-like culture, you owe it to yourself to go do that. And so we really focus on getting the right ingredients around what we're looking for. And we actually built like a skills training around hiring for our leaders last summer. And everybody went through it. It was on our Pluralsight platform. And we really outlined how it looks to find talent, evaluate talent, and hire talent. All three distinct stages where most people are like hire it and hire it and hire it. Like, I don't care where you get it from. Right just fill the gap. Fill the gap. Yeah and then you look for the evidence of success that this talent has had in their pipeline over time because words are bullshit where Pillar is so cool because you have to understand their actions. And that's why experiential based interviewing questions works so much better. And you look for the pattern because as humans like brain science will tell you, neuroscience will tell you that we're pattern based individuals. So it's I can understand the pattern that they have. I can understand what I can count on from that.

Grace: MHM yes, yes, yes, yes. I love what you're saying about the importance of the intake meeting and the ironing out of the job description. And what actually matters for the role. Because I'll be honest, when I first became a hiring manager, I had no idea how important that was. Honestly like my confession here, I did not really give it the time of day. I was like not focused focus on it at all. I was like, I don't know. Yeah, you're right. Let's just go find the people and bring it to me. And I had it was ridiculous. I had no idea how important it was. And I have definitely had to learn the hard way, how important, how important it is. But is that common in your experience? Was that engagement like in the outset of the process?

Anita: So I look at turnover that if turnover happens within the first year, it's our teams fail. We didn't set up the job description. We didn't source the right talent. So that's kind of how I define it. And so even if the hiring manager didn't know or didn't go through that process, Grace, it's our team's job to make the case for why the time is important. Yeah, especially if they're new to hiring, if this is the first time they've made in six months or whatever it is. I mean, it's like the song from Frozen 2, like Some things never change. And everybody right now is looking for this silver bullet of, like, innovation. And this time, the things that never change is you have to have a vision and a strategy for your company. And you have to write effective job descriptions. Those things are never changing. They may innervate the process. The technology can innovate. But if you're not clear on what you have to go get, that will never change. You always make a bad hire.

Ben Yes, yes. What I hear you saying is, if you're not clear, you can't do the next right thing.

Anita: That's that's exactly it.

Ben: Yes I have three kids as well, so I'm right there with you. And I'm glad you got it.

Grace: I've only seen Frozen 2 once, but I did love it. I have to say.

Anita: It is my favorite. I thought it was far better than Frozen 1. It's so good.

Grace: I'm very tempted to start saying what I know of it, but I will not.

Ben: These are the hot takes we came to this interview for, Frozen 2 is better than Frozen 1.

Grace: Yeah OK, one last question before we go into full like frozen to speed round. Get to know you as a person, Anita. Are there any other hot topics that you have on interviewing like anything you're especially passionate about when it comes to interviewing and hiring?

Anita:  Well, so we focused more on diversity than we ever have this year. And I would say it's all about the two P's panel on pipeline. And as if we're really talking about interviewing and recruiting, it comes on a panel pipeline. And that's it. So how do we know there's a number of different ways we can go. Drive those things. But right now, everybody wants to do recruiting. Everybody thinks they're a recruiter and everybody thinks they can run my business better than I can, which is great. Maybe they can. And I'm game for that. And and what we want to do is we want to get them involved in the process. So the best way is build my panel and build my pipeline. I go out there and refer qualified candidates into the system, you know? And then I think the other thing I was talking about this earlier to our head of diversity and belonging is like things like the parity pledge have really screwed up our system. While good in theory. And like, I'm grateful for the intention of it, no one thought about the second and third order consequences of how do you marry... You know, it's so funny a year ago, everybody was all over me on diversity and panel and pipeline. Now they're like, well, why aren't you retaining people? And I'm like, well, talk to me about a person that you've had qualified to be in the seat who stuck with us for four years. And you say, OK, you're ready for your next big job. But, oh, wait, I'm going to go interview and I'm going to go get a slate. And, you know, if they're better than you, you're leaving. Because that's creating like inside the organization. And so I think there's a reckoning internally on how we match internal progression and retention of great talent while building panel and pipeline and continuing to increase the diverse pool inside and outside of organizations. And so to me, that is the new crux to be solved by all of us here on this call and how we enable really hiring managers to think through those things.

Ben: Absolutely well, thank you for all that. We really appreciate it. I learned a lot.

Grace: The same.

Ben: My head's still sore from nodding, but we would love to dive in to five questions. We end every episode with this. It's a speed round. Just we'd love to hear whatever comes to mind first for you and we'll ask you follow up questions if we need it. So let's dive in. Here we go. First question on the speed round is: what brings you joy outside of work?

Anita. Cocktail hour. Playing with the girls. I have two girls. They're 6 and 8. And then a 21-year-old. And so we do a lot of Frozen. We do a lot of playdoh. We do a ton of art. And so I love doing art. We did valentines for classes. That was super fun. And I love getting out on a good hike with my one-year-old puppy, who is the devil.

Grace: Oh my god, yes, I have a puppy too. And I do not have any daughters, but I love the art. And I love everything you said. It's so sweet. Also, I want to have a cocktail with you, for anyone listening. Anita seems like the most fun person to have a cocktail with, so seriously. OK, Anita, what genre of music do you listen to most? You already mentioned Frozen, of course, is a top artist that is a go to in the house. Who else?

Anita: I wouldn't know that frozen is an artist, but Yeah.

Grace: Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell or whoever the singer.

Anita: That's so awesome. Really in our house. Frozen is the artist know. So we do music education with the girls. And so right now we're doing '80s rock. The girls are really into it. They're very into Bon Jovi at the current time. So we're doing 80s rock on Pandora, kickstart my heart. Motley Crue is my new fan favorite after a town hall or like a tough meeting where everybody just is very passionate about topics, but they're really into Clean, which I quite like.

Ben: That's amazing.

Grace: Yes yes. Oh, Yeah. Great choices.

Anita: And then we've done Dolly Parton music education. So they can do some classic country as well. And that's nice.

Grace: That's what I want to be adopted by. I want to live in your house. Great super fun and super fun. So fun.

Ben: OK, what's your favorite. Go to meal.

Anita: OK, right now I'm having a real problem with chips and salsa. There's this local woman that makes her name is salsa queen and she makes really good different kinds of salsa. And literally I'm just eating chips and salsa for every meal right now. That's amazing.

Ben: Is that a legal name, salsa queen?

Anita: I hope so. I like it. I'm a big fan.

Grace: That sounds I want that to be here in Indianapolis. That sounds like.

Anita: Yhey'll probably send it to you if you look it up. She's a single mom and she started it. It's a really cool story. It was one of the best Christmas gifts. I got this year.

Grace: Oh, my gosh. Yes, I will be I will absolutely be looking at some screen after this. And I encourage all of our listeners to as well. What is one thing you're really excited about doing again, post a pandemic, Anita?

Anita: I want to be doing this talk on a stage with like 5,000 people live in person. I want live events back. And I really want to get off the continent, I want to be back in Europe, I miss my Europeans, I miss a really nice, great pint of Guinness in Dublin. I haven't been to our Sydney office and I'd love to get down under. I just I love to travel and not traveling and not doing live events are the things I miss most.

Grace: Yeah you have the energy to captivate a 50,000 person or 500,000 person a. So, yes, I am excited to watch you on the stage one weekend. So fun.

Ben: OK, last question. Taking it home, we ask everyone who comes on the podcast. This So do you believe aliens exist? Why are we not?

Anita: Yes, they have to. The universe is too big to not have aliens. I hope they're all like ET, you know, maybe some maybe some avatars, some nice avatars would be cool floating around. But they've got super special powers. They've got better technology than we do. I think they'd be fun as friends. Why not?

Ben: Yes, that's great. There it is. I've been a long time skeptic, and so we put this in the podcast mostly to convince me. And it's pretty unanimous. I am a minority for sure.

Anita: Do you believe in ghosts, Ben? I do not believe in ghosts.

Grace: Ben doesn't believe in anything.

Ben: Do you believe in ghosts?

Anita: Yeah, sure. Why not?

Ben: Oh, great. OK,

Anita: Yeah. I think we should do a Ouija board. We should have a Pillar team building. We need to board and see what happens here, then.

Grace: Yes, we will. And we will record that on season two. And you'll lead us in that Anita. I need that:

Ben: Thank you so much. This was a wonderful conversation.

Anita: Thank you so much.

Hosts: Thanks for joining us for another episode of start with who, the interview intelligence podcast presented by Pillar. Find out more about Pillar and how to do the best interviewing of your life and build an amazing team, all starting at And if you like this episode, leave us a review or shoot us a note. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.