The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 177

Harnessing Professional Strategies & Tech Performance Tools for Personal Growth

with Chris Cravens

Apr 30, 2024
Chris Cravens (Former VPE @ Splunk and CIO @ Uber) shares practical tips for applying professional strategies / tech performance tools into our personal lives - to increase intentionality, goal setting, and habit formation in all aspects of our lives. He shares why it’s so easy to dedicate 90% of your time & attention to work while only dedicating 10% to your personal life and reveals from his own experience how he discovered a better work-life balance by applying OKRs, goal setting, postmortems, and deep reflection. We also cover frameworks for identifying feeling-based goals, building habits & accountability within your personal life, combating negative self-talk, and rewiring your brain to focus on the present & not dwell on past failures.
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Chris Cravens is an industry veteran with a quarter century of successes delivering measurable value for high-growth enterprises in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. An avid change agent and catalyst for transformation, Mr. Cravens has led major global scale-up and transformation efforts for Software Engineering, Information Technology, Security, Facilities teams. As the first CIO at Zynga and Uber, he led critical functions that enabled scale from small startups to major global enterprises in record time. Mr. Cravens led digital transformation at Splunk, scaling revenue from $800M to $2.2BN in three years by reimagining and supercharging Go to Market capabilities with automation and high value software capabilities that drove greater deal size and velocity. Currently, Mr. Cravens provides expert consulting supporting Private Equity and Venture transactions and transformations and is an active Strategic Advisor, Coach, and Investor to startups delivering innovative, disruptive technologies to accelerate digital transformation.

“I would just keep doing things like that because of that philosophy of in the absence of clear leadership, step in, be the one who is responsible and it goes back to that anxiety from childhood. There are people who have much healthier outlooks, and I've just never been wired that way. So I have to kind of question each decision I make as I go to do a new thing or take on more stuff. 'Is this the right thing for me to do right now, or am I making my life harder?'”

- Chris Cravens   

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  • Chris’s experience of his first week @ Uber (2:02)
  • Borrowing professional life tools & using them in your personal life (4:53)
  • Why it’s easy to give 90% of time to work & only 10% to your personal life (8:26)
  • How Chris navigated his own transition (14:34)
  • Treat a sabbatical like a job (16:15)
  • Adding OKRs to your personal life (19:36)
  • Strategies for assessing feeling-oriented goals (22:05)
  • Combating negative self-talk & treating yourself like you would a good friend (24:58)
  • How Chris’s frameworks have shifted over time when setting personal life goals (27:11)
  • Reflection questions to help illuminate where to center your focus (29:35)
  • Applying positive self-talk within a work context to your personal life (32:39)
  • Incorporate blameless postmortems into a personal context (35:38)
  • Strategies for better habit formation (37:00)
  • How to overcome feeling a lack of motivation to start a new habit (38:08)
  • The significance of having both clarity & accountability (40:56)
  • Tips for rewiring the belief that you can accomplish a goal (45:27)
  • Rapid fire questions (48:21)


This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer -

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at

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