The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 46

Becoming a site lead, bootstrapping new teams & re-thinking vacation in a pandemic

with Sarah Clatterbuck

Jul 06, 2021
Sarah Clatterbuck, Sr. Director of Engineering, YouTube & Google Zurich Site Lead @ Google, shares the story of her transition as a site lead during the covid-19 pandemic. We cover her past experiences that helped prepare her for the role, what it was like bootstrapping a new team during a pandemic, re-introducing teams to in-person work, AND the story behind her 18-day staycation & its impact on team burnout.
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SPEAKER

Sarah Clatterbuck - Senior Director of Engineering, YouTube & Google Zurich Site Lead @ Google

Sarah joined Google in 2018. She is leading engineering teams working on the Creator Economy at YouTube. Prior to joining Google, she was a Sr. Director of Engineering at LinkedIn focused on Application Infrastructure. Prior to joining Google, she was a Sr. Director of Engineering at LinkedIn focused on Application Infrastructure.

She previously held roles at Yahoo! and Apple while progressing in leadership ranks. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of San Francisco and her graduate degree from San Jose State University. She is passionate about getting girls interested in technology and from 2013 until 2018, she served on the board of Girl Scouts of Northern California, leading the board STEM task group.

"You can't worry about pleasing everyone because there are many thousands of people that I'm trying to represent. But you can try to think about what kind of decisions optimize for the most good."

- Sarah Clatterbuck


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Show Notes

  • What is a site lead and the reporting structure? (2:28)
  • Why Sarah became a site lead for Google Zurich and what the transition was like (6:57)
  • How is the tech industry, community & culture in Zurich different from Silicon Valley? (10:52)
  • Sarah’s past experiences that helped prepare her to be a site lead (13:16)
  • Possible career paths & surprise lessons after becoming a site lead (19:00)
  • Bootstrapping a new team during the COVID-19 pandemic (22:15)
  • Integrating remote hires to in-person office culture (25:19)
  • How to help your team feel included (27:07)
  • About Sarah’s YouTube Channel (29:41)
  • Sarah's 18-day staycation & combating burnout in your team (31:34)
  • Rapid Fire Questions (35:20)
  • Takeaways (41:32)

Transcript

Patrick Gallagher: This is really a special conversation, Sarah, specifically, because the very first podcast episode that we released over a year ago, we actually featured your talk from the 2019 ELC summit on Managing Difficult Conversations. And I know I've mentioned this to you beforehand. But the lessons of which from that talk I revisit before every challenging conversation that I have. And I found it immensely helpful.

And so really, I think what's really special about this conversation is this is really a welcome back to the podcast, Sarah.

So thank you so much for joining us!

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah, absolutely happy to be here. And I think when we met, I wasn't even an international person maybe. But then, you know I've become one since then. At least when I met Jerry.

Patrick Gallagher: And that's really what we're part of here to talk about today. So I know that we've planned to cover a couple of topics. So we're going to talk about, you know, becoming a site lead outside of Silicon Valley, bootstrapping new teams. We'll touch on a little bit about integrating remote new hires back in person, and recharging.

For somebody who is unfamiliar with the concept of a site lead, what is a site lead? What do site leads typically do? What's sort of the scope of what you're working on there.

What is a site lead and the reporting structure?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. So basically, I mean, I think it could be slightly different at each company but maybe an overall theme that exists, which is... I'm basically stepping out of the silo of my operational role and looking at the site more broadly. And what are the concerns of Googlers across the entire site? Whether or not we share a product area that we work on. And so that's the big thing is just taking that broader view, thinking about how to make the culture of the site great. How to make sure that we have a really robust leadership pipeline.

And these things that maybe if I was just working in YouTube, I would only be concerned with, you know, how is YouTube going in that regard, but not really thinking more broadly.

Patrick Gallagher: That sounds a really dynamic exposure to some of the more people-oriented and culture-oriented dynamics of an organization.

What's it been like I guess, immersing yourself at that level, with those types of conversations where it's about the broader people of the organization, the culture and the leadership planning?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah, I think it's been a really good challenge. You have to represent many diversities of opinions as a site lead and empathize with many different opinions. You can't worry about pleasing everyone because there are many thousands of people that I'm trying to represent, but you can try to think about what kind of decisions optimize for the most good for the most of these people that you're representing.

Jerry Li: How does the reporting structure work? Is everyone reporting to you? Or they have their own line of communication or line chin's report. And then you are taking overall responsibility for developing the site there or...?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. So it's more of an influence role than a reporting line than an authority role, I guess. Basically, I still have my operational role and there are folks who report to me as part of that working on YouTube. But no, the site does not report to me. It's more like I'm representing leadership to the site and then conversely representing the needs of all the employees back to leadership and headquarters.

I think there are some companies that kind of co-mingle the site lead role as an operational role. So you might see job listings out there that are like, "Oh, come manage our whole New York site or come manage our whole Bangalore site" or whatever.

And in that case the site lead may have management responsibility for the folks there. But I think, within our context, the site is too big to consider that kind of thing.

Jerry Li: You have a team, or this is a more of a individual role?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah, so there are, There are a few of us that actually work together as site leads because it is such a large site. And then we also have some programs support and stuff like that, that works with us.

Jerry Li: Well, thanks for the clarification. I guess a lot of us have never been a site lead but may heard of it and see other people doing it. But this is really helpful to getting the clarity of what this role is about, at least in your case. And this is quite helpful.

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. I mean, I think like I said, each company may have a different spin on this and I think it depends on the structure of the company and like does the group of engineers at a site all work on a single concept in which case, it probably does make sense for the technical leader at the site to manage those engineers or is it more broad, right? Is the site kind of representative of multiple technology areas of ownership or product areas of ownership. Then it makes sense more for the site lead to play a broader influencing role rather than a managerial role.

Why Sarah became a site lead for Google Zurich and what the transition was like

Patrick Gallagher: So let's start with your experience about becoming a site lead for Google Zurich.

So what's the story behind that Sarah?

Why did you decide to become a site lead for Google Zurich... in addition to all of your other operational responsibilities? What's the story there?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. So, I mean, I didn't actually come to Zurich to be a site lead for Google. But I actually came in an operational role. So I came to work at YouTube and to lead an engineering team focused on developing more of the creator economy on YouTube.

And I guess I'll talk about what kind of brought me to that role. And then I'll talk about, how I thought about taking on the site lead responsibilities.

I felt somewhat as a leader that I was missing something in my toolkit that I had grown up in and around Silicon Valley and then had spent my entire career there. And I felt that I was maybe missing something in terms of like, cross-cultural leadership, flexing my style a bit more. And I felt maybe it was a little too easy. So really had been thinking for a while about doing an international assignment and had been looking for the right thing to do that.

I also wanted to take an international assignment in a non English speaking country. So I would be forced to learn another language well or, well enough I'll say! At three years I'd say I'm well enough in German, but not well. That was sort of the role that I came to do here and why I came.

But then after I'd been here for a while and integrated in the company and in the site, I felt like being a person from Silicon Valley being, a native from there and then having spent, at that point, a substantial amount of time being integrated here in this culture that I could add value as someone who could communicate and empathize both directions as a leader.

And so that's why I took on that role which is basically a 20% project for me.

Patrick Gallagher: What was the transition like into the role? The moment where the opportunity sort of presented itself. And then now you've sort of assumed that project. What was that transition like?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. I mean, like any new role, I had a plan to onboard into it. And so had various leaders at the site that I wanted to meet with. I wanted to meet with all of the employee resource groups and the leaders from those, basically get to know all the players and all the kind of different concerns that existed around the site.

And you know, I onboarded into the role, not that long after the whole COVID pandemic started. So I think that added an additional complexity overlay just to onboarding into the role. And then also to the work that we do, because now we're not just concerned with, maybe more simple problems, like, do people like the design of the office?" And " is the food program going well" and all of that.

To like, "Okay, is everyone all right? Can everyone be productive?" What are like the whole new class of concerns that have come up as a result of the pandemic.

Patrick Gallagher: So here you are making this big transition. So you've gone from Silicon Valley now to Zurich, you're transitioning into your new role focusing on the creator economy. And then now you're also taking on this project as a site lead. But you have this unique perspective where, like you mentioned, you're able to bridge the gap and to make observations and connect dots that otherwise other people may not be able to notice.

From your observations how is the tech industry, the community and the culture, different outside of Silicon Valley with the different groups that you're interfacing with?

How is the tech industry, community & culture in Zurich different from Silicon Valley?

Sarah Clatterbuck: I mean, I can only speak to this location. Right. I don't know if I could over-generalize to like the entire tech industry that exists outside of Silicon Valley. But Zurich is a very attractive location for people to come from all over the world because you know, we have this very high quality of life standard that everyone talks about.

I would say that the folks that I interact with represent probably a lot more national cultural and linguistic diversity than any other tech kind of presence that I've been in before.

I'd also say like another difference is that people tend to stay a lot longer where they're working. So I think that's maybe a difference with Silicon Valley. Generally, I think in "the Valley" people tend to stay, you know, two, three, four, five years at the outside in most cases. And there's just a lot of people, you know, whether at Google or at other companies I know nearby that are in the, you know, 10, 12, 13, 15 year range with their companies. So that, seems a little bit different.

And then I also think there's like this Swiss overlay to the whole thing where, you know, we have this notion of direct democracy in Switzerland which is a bit different than the political system in the U S. And so I think you see this idea that good ideas can come from anywhere and everyone has a voice.

And I think it fits really well with the Google ethos overall as well. Like that's maybe a set of values that Google has had for many years. So it kind of works with the Swiss system.

Patrick Gallagher: I feel like a lot of people, a lot of organizations have intentions to create that type of ethos where like, "Oh, we want to empower everybody's voice." So it must be really refreshing have that as part of like the overlaying environment that everybody's like, "oh yeah, like, Empowered individual voices. That's just our life." That's really cool.

I'd love to talk about the path to become a site lead... What were some of the past experiences or the things that you felt best prepared you for the role that looking back helped sort of mark your path to become the site lead?

Sarah’s past experiences that helped prepare her to be a site lead

Sarah Clatterbuck: I would say, essentially preparing for the role, at least in the type of form that my role takes is really about getting out of the strict boundaries of your operational role and working more with people across the company on different projects.

So things that I've done in the past that prepared me very well were getting involved in you know, career ladder development, things like at LinkedIn. Where you're looking more broadly across different parts of the company, not just for your team. Or working with employee resources groups. So, being like an executive sponsor for the women in tech at LinkedIn. And then now I've done that role for women at YouTube EMEA and also for our Google Women in Engineering in Zurich.

So having these side projects that span more of the company or the location that you're in helps prepare because it broadens your vision of, concerns that people have of issues that are top of people's minds

So I'd say that's probably the best way to prepare is to look for, you know, citizenship work within your company that takes a broader view you know, maybe across your whole discipline or across the whole company or across a location and a region.

Patrick Gallagher: Can you share an example from your experiences that you mentioned about executive sponsorship in the role with YouTube or just helping shape the career to ladder development at LinkedIn...?

Can you tell us a little bit more about one of those experiences just to highlight sort of that cross-functional company-wide citizenship project that can help prepare people?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah, maybe I'll talk about a couple of examples specifically. So, at LinkedIn, when we were maturing as a company, right? You move from like all your job descriptions being senior suite staff suite to like, oh, now we have data scientists. And the UI engineers and whatever other type of specialist role you might think about.

And so one of the projects that I took on there was developing the UI engineer specialization, the ladder, the interview process, and all of that. And so that gave me exposure to the executives across engineering. Right? Cause they all were hiring for this specialty. And so had an interest in the development of the ladder. Working with like HR to make sure that the way we were thinking about it was in line with all the other software engineer ladders. And just bringing together different domain experts in that specialization who could help, form the question sets and the criteria that we think about at each level.

Another project when I was at LinkedIn as an exec sponsor, for the women in tech there, we worked on building this kind of apprenticeship program for high school girls specifically where we would bring them in for eight weeks during the summer and actually have them... almost as like junior interns. And they would actually behave as engineers in the team and get that feel of what it's like to be in a tech company.

And the goal was to just help them develop the identity of being a software engineer. And then hopefully they would go on to complete their studies later.

But you know, again, developing that program required a lot of expertise that I didn't have just from my role as a software engineer, software engineering leader. And so, you know, again, I needed to pull together executive support from around the company for this, budgets. I needed to get HR involved because like, "Oh, we're going to invite minors onto campus for eight weeks in the summer..." and that has like a bunch of complexity to it.

So these are the types of projects if they come along or if you, envision them yourself either way, these are good types of projects to get more exposure to thinking broadly.

Patrick Gallagher: Those are incredible projects. I think the one you shared about helping young women engineers help form their identity around being an engineer is such a powerful project.

What I find is when I look back on my career and all the strange, weird projects personally, that I've been involved in that have prepared me now for what I do...

... It's kind of weird!

Do you find that the same thing when you look back on like some of the different things you've been involved with about how they prepared you?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. I mean, I think that you kind of take these things on because they're challenging, but you don't really know what it is you're learning in essence until you look backwards. Maybe you have some hopes for what you would want to learn. And then you take on the challenge and then you learn a bunch of stuff. And then later on, you're like, "Oh, I'm really glad I did X, Y, and Z back then, because now I feel more prepared to take on this new challenge."

Patrick Gallagher: Absolutely. Here you are you're in this, world of, influencing of, of representing the people of your site and helping address different concerns and cultivate leadership. What are some of the things that like, as people get, yeah, more involved in that type of work, like what are some of the possible or potential career paths that open up as a possibility after becoming and developing that skillset as a site lead.

Possible career paths & surprise lessons after becoming a site lead

Sarah Clatterbuck: I think it's a pretty flexible type of experience. So I think the things that I'm learning, I could probably take in many different directions.

One of the things that I was actually thinking about is that public service would have been a great preparation for the role, I think. And vice versa, like having done the role, I might be more suited to doing a public service type of role.

Patrick Gallagher: Because of like navigating all of the different stakeholder relationships and interests...

Sarah Clatterbuck: So many different constituencies and like everyone has super valid things that they're concerned about. And then like sometimes all of these things are in common and sometimes they're not. Like sometimes things are mutually exclusive that people would want out of their experience at a company or in a city or what have you. Right.

And so I think that, this is good training for being able to take in, empathize, listen, to all of those different perspectives and then attempt to make decisions that benefit the most people.

Patrick Gallagher: Has there been any surprise lessons... Cause I feel like navigating so many different constituencies is just a messy human challenge.

Has there been any surprise lessons that have come up about navigating those types of relationships?

Sarah Clatterbuck: I don't know if anything really surprises me. I guess maybe the true diversity of opinion and experience that people bring. I mean, I think oftentimes you think of you know, well, we all have these values that we ascribe to as a company and goals. And so, you know those are the things that we have in common.

And then, you know, you see that, there's just a whole diversity of needs and experiences and desires that extend beyond those frameworks. And so, you know, I don't, I guess that is somewhat of a surprise in just the sheer diversity of those things.

But honestly, I think, having experienced working with teams of hundreds, you see that already.

I think it's exponential, right? As you go from like hundreds to thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

Patrick Gallagher: Absolutely.

To pivot the topic a little bit, Sarah, you know, I think one of the unique experiences that you've had over the last year is essentially bootstrapping and building an entirely new team remotely during the pandemic. And so we would love to get some of your insights from that experience.

And so I think specifically, how did you do that? Like what worked? What didn't? What are the challenges that came up? We're getting a team from nothing to something, what was that experience like?

Bootstrapping a new team during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah! Yeah! That's been pretty adventurous to start a couple of new projects in the last year. The first challenge is getting everyone on the same page about how you're going to start, how you're going to build the team how you're going to organize yourselves

That's kind of the first challenge and especially doing this across multiple time zones and, you know, back. in the before times, as people like to call them we would have had a summit and we would have all gathered together for like a week in some corner of the globe, you know, in the same time zone and really hashed out, what's the vision, what's the mission.

What are the tactical things we're going to do to get started? And so that whole process is like a little bit messier, I think just in the current situation. Or you end up doing shorter summit, like things on video conference and then doing a lot of different one-on-ones to triangulate.

And then of course there's just like all of the logistics that become so much harder. You know, just even getting people to Zurich because we're recruiting from around the region and also around the world.

And so things that used to be relatively straightforward are just more difficult. And so we have people starting from various places and eventually ending up here. Which, you know, introduces more times zones more complexity in that regard.

And then I think, building out a leadership team more in this time it just takes longer, again, logistics, it just takes longer.

And so one of the challenges is that like, we've been able to hire a whole bunch of junior people, but then we have like a few senior people with many, many junior people reporting to them until we get the rest of the leadership team in place. And so that's been interesting.

But I think Google has done an amazing job of quickly pivoting all of the like onboarding and getting people their equipment and all of the orientation to a virtual format. So I've been really pleasantly surprised with how quickly people seem to be productive. I don't know if everyone feels productive, but they seem to be productive.

Which is amazing given the logistical changes that have happened.

Patrick Gallagher: The unique perspective here is that you now are building this team and it's growing fast. And I think many of us are sort of in this period of uncertainty where, as we gain the ability to have those types of like in-person summit type experiences again... or allow people to come back into the office to whatever capacity they want to... I think the big question is like, for all those people that just got hired, that have existed entirely remotely, what will their experience be like once you introduce in-person?

How are you thinking about integrating your team back into an in-person office culture as like, whatever the phase of that rollout looks like... What's been your thought process or approach with that?

Integrating remote hires to in-person office culture

Sarah Clatterbuck: I don't think that we fully know yet because we can't fully project when the after comes, I mean, I think we're going to be in a transitional phase for awhile I think it will be interesting. And we just don't know how soon we'll be in a position to be more similar to before. But I think really what I'm focused on is making sure that people feel very included in whatever way, they're interacting with the team, whether that's fully virtual, partially present or fully present in the office and making sure that's as inclusive and seamless as possible.

And then, I think the thing I most look forward to is just being able to bring people together for something fun or for a summit. I mean, I think that's where the real kind of bonding happens and where you form social connection that then gives you the confidence to ask people for help or whatever later on.

I really look forward to being able to bring that back, but I think all of the other things are going to be hybrid for a while. And so my real goal is just to make sure that everyone is as included as possible and feels that they have the access that they need to information and to people to be effective.

Patrick Gallagher: Like giving people, the feeling of inclusion in the process that's what I've heard from a lot of the engineering leaders that we've been working with is, you know, how do you make people feel included even if they are remote?

What's been your approach to that. Do you have a certain framework or is there sort of a cadence or a structure that you've introduced to help people feel a part of the communication and connected to the team?

How to help your team feel included

Sarah Clatterbuck: We've done a few different things. Some more successfully than others. So I think for the whole first three or four months of the pandemic, I was giving people a question every day in chat and trying to engage them in some sort of maybe quirky dialogue or something that didn't necessarily have to do with work, but might create some social belonging, you know, like what's your favorite kind of cheese or do you hate cheese? what's the story there? That kind of question.

So we did that at the beginning. And then I think a couple of things that seem to be working better are I make sure that I meet with all new hires in their first whatever few weeks. Hopefully they've had a couple of weeks just to orient before we talk, but they haven't gone too long.

And I really want to use that time to get to know them as people, and then also have that chance to set the why of what we're doing as a team. So I think that's really important.

And then, you know, we have various gatherings that we do on a regular basis, like coffee chats lunches, that sort of thing. We try to stay away from lunch hour now actually, because people need to prepare food. That actually takes time. I figured it out.

You used to just walk to the cafe and food would magically appear on a tray thanks to the awesome people who do that work. But. You know, now it's like, okay gotta have an extra 30 minutes to put together food.

So I kinda try to stay away from lunch hour and the do more like coffee chats in the morning or the afternoon with people.

Patrick Gallagher: That's great. We've had to avoid doing like early morning or lunchtime meetings, primarily because we want people to be present and to engage. And some people are a little bit more bashful when it comes to talking and eating at the same time.

So it's hard to be on a video call and eating a sandwich. We've optimized for you know, times when people are a little bit more I guess, physically available to, to be present in chat.

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. cooking. It can be a fun thing to do right now. Actually, like I've done a couple of cooking classes with folks and that's, that seems to work pretty well.

Patrick Gallagher: I wanted to rewind a little bit, Sarah, You know, you mentioned you're focused on developing the creator economy. You yourself have a YouTube channel! Running a YouTube channel it's hard. Like creating videos is really difficult.

Tell us about your YouTube channel, what you love about it and what you've enjoyed about it.

About Sarah's YouTube channel

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah! So when I started the job working on YouTube and especially because my job was focused around helping creators... I really felt "Okay, you need to start a channel..." So you just even know what it is that creators go through and just have more empathy for their work.

I would say, you know, the amount of time that I can dedicate to this as quite small, obviously. But essentially I decided, well, I'm going to just capture footage from things that I would do anyway. Things that I find interesting. And then learn to edit and post some videos.

So at this point I have, I don't know, maybe around 50 or 60 videos, they're all on topics.

Patrick Gallagher: That seems like a pretty big number...

Sarah Clatterbuck: yeah. Yeah. I mean, they're not long. Most of them, I think the longest one is maybe 30 minutes. But most of them are in the like three to four minute range. And I just kinda take footage when I go hiking in new places or, you know, exploring different cultural traditions around Switzerland or neighboring countries basically.

Patrick Gallagher: I think one of the things that stood out to me in this conversation in a lot of our interactions is the intentionality that you present as a leader. And a lot of what you do to really role model really great behaviors for your team, but also to really role model the types of values that you want to cultivate for your culture. Including the 18 day staycation, giving people the permission to recharge and to take time off and to prioritize themselves.

And so , I went down a rabbit hole and I followed all 18 days of your posted about it on LinkedIn. I was inspired by your snowshoeing experience. So I went snowshoeing like the following weekend.

And so I would love to hear, like, why did you take that staycation? Why did you document it? What was it like and what did you learn from that experience?

Sarah's 18-day staycation & combating burnout in your team

Sarah Clatterbuck: I took the staycation because, you know, I think I hadn't necessarily recharged enough last year. Like, I had a ton of plans in the first quarter that basically just got canceled. And then we sat on our hands until summer and like worked all the way through until summer last year.

And did finally take a bit of an unplug in the middle of summer to go hiking.

But then by the time I got to the end of the year, I was Definitely feeling a little crispy and under vacationed. And I knew that a lot of folks on my team and a lot of folks that I'd talked to that are peers in the industry, or whatever had like taken zero vacation during 2020.

And I don't know, like there was this kind of mentality going around of like, you know... "Well, I can't go anywhere interesting so I'm going to just save up my vacation until I can."

And I just kinda realized like, the way that I was feeling was pretty burned out by the end of the year. And like I figured everyone else had to be feeling the same way. And so it's like, okay, let's get a little bit creative and think about what time-off could look like that's not necessarily going to some you know, exotic destination, but it was really refreshing.

And so took the 18 days over the holiday time at the end of the year. And did lots of like snowshoeing hiking. Studied for German because I wanted to take a test in German competency this year.

And so, you know, that's what I spent my time doing. And then I decided I'm going to post every day to LinkedIn, like what I'm doing, because I feel like people just aren't giving themselves permission to do something that's away from work because of the lack of travel

In some sense maybe not everyone would have felt comfortable with what I did. Right. Like...

Patrick Gallagher: yeah, I'm, I'm looking at 18 days Like... cause I'm totally caught up in like the Silicon Valley hustle culture of like, ah, know... you gotta be it's all hours of the day. You gotta be into it. And so I have to like consciously remind myself that it's okay to take time off. So yeah, outwardly I look at that, I'm like, "Ah! I don't know if I could do that."

Sarah Clatterbuck: Yeah. And I mean, I think like there's people who wouldn't feel comfortable just from an ambition standpoint, like, "Oh my gosh, what if I take 18 days, people will forget who I am!" this kind of thing. And then I think there's also folks who like, didn't feel really comfortable emerging from their houses, right? So people have different levels of comfort in the pandemic, depending on their own situation. And, you know how comfortable they feel going away from home.

And I was, you know, going on day trips that would take me a couple of hours away from my house into the mountains or whatever. And I don't think everyone would have felt possible to do something like that. But I think there, there were lots of things that people could do even constrained to the house, that are very different from work. Right?

Like we all have that cellar or that garage that really needs to be organized and like, why not now? Or, you know I've always intended to learn the guitar. Why not now?

Right? Like there's just so many things that you can do even at home that are a mental break and then just come back refreshed and ready to look at work again.

Patrick Gallagher: That's great. I'm so inspired by your story, Sarah. Giving people the permission to take that time off, to explore those new types of things. Like purely for the indulgence of learning something new, like German or ukulele or whatever that new thing is for folks.

Rapid Fire Questions

Sarah, we have some, some rapid fire questions for you...

The first one... What are you reading or listening to right now?

Sarah Clatterbuck: Ooh, Well We've discovered a couple of new German singer songwriters that we're listening to. Love to, and are two that come to mind. Helpful for just practicing the structure of the languages, hearing songs in the language. So that's pretty cool.

I just read a good fiction book called Moonlight Child. What else am I reading?

I'm reading The Color of Law. So I've been really trying to devote some substantial time to like racial justice topics and trying to understand experiences and perspectives beyond my own.

So I, I had like a list of five books in this area that I read last year. And then I just started on the Color of Law which is fantastic. Like I just had no idea how much the deck was stacked in my favor. And this has been quite eyeopening.

Patrick Gallagher: Thank you. Next one, Sarah, what tool, methodology, or framework, has had a big impact on you?

Sarah Clatterbuck: So I guess we did a lot of work with a guy named Fred Kaufman at LinkedIn. He's known for this conscious business kind of topic. And he had this concept called "Clean Escalation" where you try to like resolve misalignments or conflicts quite quickly. And in the open with your peers.

I think that's had a pretty big impact on me. I felt it was a very different way of thinking about things that I really appreciated. And so I actually re rolled that within YouTube, with a couple of Google nuances on it. And we've been trying to practice that as an organization.

Jerry Li: That's a good topic to dive into. And I remember vividly that's one of my favorite part of the book for Conscious Business because when I'd been reading that many times.

Patrick Gallagher: Could you give the quick headline summary of clean escalation? Is it something you can capture in like a sentence or two.

Sarah Clatterbuck: Let's see if I can package it in a sentence or two, essentially, like let's say myself and a peer disagree on something. Maybe it's a technical approach to a problem. Or maybe it's a prioritization question or something like that.

If we can't agree, then we try to within five business days resolve the problem by continually going to the next level and iterating up levels until we reach a tiebreaker or a decision.

And the whole idea of it being "clean" is that we always go together. We always present both perspectives. So I wouldn't go to my boss and be like, "Oh, this person wants to do it this way. I disagree. Here's why..."

I would, go with, with that person together to our respective bosses and be like, "Hey, here's perspective one here's perspective two. Here's pros and cons. We can't really come to a decision. Can you help us?"

Patrick Gallagher: Next rapid-fire question...

What's a trend that you're seeing or following that's been really interesting or something that hasn't hit the mainstream yet that you think people should be paying attention to.

I'm also thinking like maybe it's something really interesting from YouTube that's starting to bubble to the surface that many people are starting to watch... but I know that may not be the case...

Sarah Clatterbuck: What's... what's the coolest upcoming meme and on YouTube... Yeah. I think like the most interesting thing that's going to be emerging over the next, years is like, what does the future of the tech industry look like from a workplace standpoint? Right.

Like we know it's going to be different. I don't think we know exactly how, and there's like every form of opinion from like, let's all go back to the office five days a week, as soon as possible to like people who never want to go back to an office and everything in between.

And there's, so many questions that those different opinions open up. Right? I think there's like, talent going to be global and outside of time. How are we going to, you know, compensate people globally if there's like a fully virtual future.

I think there's like a ton of interesting questions in there, you know? Like what is collaboration going to look like for engineers? In the longterm? I mean, I think we've all put together things with duct tape and rubber bands to do this, but I think there's going to be entire tool sets that are potentially gonna emerge for better collaboration.

And, if I were to try to guess at what 10 years from now looks like I could come up with three completely different theories and I could support all of those with data. So it's going to be really super interesting just to see what happens.

Patrick Gallagher: I totally agree. Last one for you, Sarah, to close us off...

Is there a quote or a mantra that you live by, or a quote that's really resonating with you right now that you'd like to share?

Sarah Clatterbuck: I think the golden rule always serves me well, you know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or perhaps even beyond that I think that kind of serves leaders well to be in that servant mindset.

Patrick Gallagher: Wonderful.

Sarah, thank you so much for spending your afternoon with us and helping welcome Jerry and I to our Wednesday. for sharing your perspective and story from everything from, your journey becoming a site lead and all of the different constituencies and lessons you've learned to sharing some of your stories about helping people inspire to take a break into rest, into, to recover.

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