INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast

Transforming brands and lives across cultures - Emily Chang, CEO McCann WorldGroup China

February 21, 2024 INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast by Nick Lall Season 2 Episode 10
Transforming brands and lives across cultures - Emily Chang, CEO McCann WorldGroup China
INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast
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INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast
Transforming brands and lives across cultures - Emily Chang, CEO McCann WorldGroup China
Feb 21, 2024 Season 2 Episode 10
INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast by Nick Lall

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode of the INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast, we were joined by Emily Chang, a powerhouse in the world of international marketing and business strategy.

Currently CEO of VML West (and CEO of McCann Worldgroup in China at the time of recording), Emily's storied career spans influential roles at global giants like Starbucks, Apple, and Procter & Gamble, culminating in her profound impact on brand building and customer experience across continents.

Beyond her corporate achievements, Emily shares her personal journey of caring for orphaned children, echoing the themes of her bestselling book, "The Spare Room."

 This episode delves into Emily's unique ability to blend business acumen with heartfelt philanthropy, offering listeners an unparalleled insight into the mind of a leader who thrives in the face of change and champions the power of cultural understanding.

Join us for a deep dive into the life of a woman who reshapes markets and lives, proving that the path to success is as diverse as it is inspirational.

Subscribe and follow the INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast on SpotifyApple, or Google.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

In this episode of the INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast, we were joined by Emily Chang, a powerhouse in the world of international marketing and business strategy.

Currently CEO of VML West (and CEO of McCann Worldgroup in China at the time of recording), Emily's storied career spans influential roles at global giants like Starbucks, Apple, and Procter & Gamble, culminating in her profound impact on brand building and customer experience across continents.

Beyond her corporate achievements, Emily shares her personal journey of caring for orphaned children, echoing the themes of her bestselling book, "The Spare Room."

 This episode delves into Emily's unique ability to blend business acumen with heartfelt philanthropy, offering listeners an unparalleled insight into the mind of a leader who thrives in the face of change and champions the power of cultural understanding.

Join us for a deep dive into the life of a woman who reshapes markets and lives, proving that the path to success is as diverse as it is inspirational.

Subscribe and follow the INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast on SpotifyApple, or Google.

00:00:00 NICK LALL
to the INSEAD Emerging Markets Podcast. I'm your host, Nick Lal, and I am joined today by Emily Chang. Emily is the CEO of McCann World Group in China. Prior to joining McCann, she was a CMO of Starbucks in China, where she opened up the first Starbucks roastery outside of Seattle in Shanghai. And her previous roles include Chief Commercial Officer at the Intercontinental Hotels Group and Head of Retail Marketing for Asia at Apple. She's also on the board of SOS Children's Villages, which is the largest NGO dedicated to the care of orphaned and abandoned children, and her efforts towards that cause go far beyond just sitting on boards. She has cared for orphaned children in her own home since she was a college student until today, and she has published her own Amazon bestseller titled The Spare Room, which shares some of the stories of the children that she's met over the years. So I'm thrilled to have you on the podcast. I have got to be honest, when I reached out, I was pleasantly surprised that you wanted to be on just because we've definitely had a lot of really impressive guests, but no one with a background quite like yours. But then when I started digging a little bit deeper and reading more about you and ended up reading your book on Kindle, I realized that you're really an amazing person. And I think there are so many things that we could talk about beyond just your career achievements that I mentioned from your life story, being born in the US to immigrant parents, and then returning to China and ending up where you are. And I'd also want to further explore your personal missions, which I just touched on. But since this is an emerging market podcast, and we are primarily focused on the emerging market countries that our guests are working out of, and I guess China does still qualify as an emerging market, I was thinking that maybe we could just start out talking about your career journey, what it was that initially brought you out to China, and what made you decide to fully relocate there and build your career there rather than in

00:01:43 EMILY CHANG
thank you so much for having me. I think that was the sweetest, most authentic introduction I've ever heard. And it's my pleasure to be here for two reasons. One, I love NCF. I did an executive program there and thought it was outstanding. And second, I think it's important to take every opportunity to contribute and to build into people who are interested in learning. So thank you for asking. What brought me to China initially when I was at P&G? That was I in, think, 2002. The easy answer is I raised my hand. I think sometimes we underestimate the value of simply saying, yeah, I'm interested or consider me. And we overestimate how much other people think of us when we're more junior in our careers. We think, oh, they'll know. They'll know that I'm interested in this or they'll know I would consider that. They'll reach out to me and tap me on the shoulder if they think I'm suitable. Not necessarily. People have so many things on their mind. There are so many younger people in the organization. Stand out by raising your hand. So in P&G, there is this sort of online system where you put in your interests, where you would be willing to go, where you would not be willing to go, other functions you might consider. So I remember coming in and I didn't know a lot about business. I simply just checked most of the boxes. But yeah, I would do that. Yeah, I would totally do that. All of this is an amazing learning opportunity. So I think the easy answer is I had checked China, but I would be really interested to work there. My Chinese back then was pretty terrible. It was, you know, household Chinese. I could absolutely understand you if you told me to go make my bed or get ready for school, but business Chinese, workplace Chinese, not as much. So that was an amazing opportunity, getting to work in China, exploring to expand my influence on the Pantene brand, which I love and still use to this day, and also improving my own Mandarin, which was a huge value add.

00:03:33 NICK LALL
Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you really got to work on interesting things in P&G, whether it was Pantene or other products, and getting to go out there in China at that time. So I guess it was at Apple where you decided that you were going to relocate to China full-time and actually be based there. What went into that decision? And was it also just you were presented the opportunity and you decided, I'll raise my hand to take it? Or was there any other thinking

00:03:57 EMILY CHANG
a lot of people, when they get exposed to the opportunity to go abroad, they think about it for a really long time. They take what we call a look-see trip to go explore the market, look at housing. I took it sight unseen. When Apple reached out, I really wasn't interested in leaving P&G. So actually the much deeper consideration for me was, am I really leaving Procter & Gamble after 11 years? I love this company. I also recognize that I had a couple of leadership roles that were really important in terms of women's leadership and diversity efforts. And I know the message it sends when I leave the organization, but I wasn't leaving a company I loved. Rather, I was chasing an opportunity that I could not resist. When Apple first reached out, I actually thought it might've been a hoax. I'm like, really? Are they recruiting me? I don't know anybody there. Why would they consider me? I've never worked fully in retail. I've never worked in tech, but I had checked a lot of boxes for them in terms of having had China experience, having had retail experience with Walmart and having worked across a variety of different business units. So frankly, once I'd gotten my mind around, wow, I think I really am leaving my beloved Procter & Gamble, it was a really easy decision. And you know what? Is China gonna be super easy to move to, live in? Of course not. But is this a dream job? Yes. So look, I'm gonna save the company's money and save everybody's time. I don't need a look-see. I'll figure it out when I get there. So I just said yes. The reason I think it was a dream job is, first, it was very stretching. I think if you are provided a job opportunity where you kind of look at it, you're like, oh, that's basically what I'm doing now. Maybe I'll take it for more money or a nicer title. I would challenge, is that a dream job? What was a dream job at Apple was not the title. It was not, you know, the money. It was, can I do this? Oh my God, I get the opportunity to help define the face of Apple in Asia. I have an idea what that looks like. There's so many things between here and there that I'm not exactly sure that I can deliver, but that to me is the best place to be where there's a really challenging business remit on a very exciting business, an exciting brand. And you know that you're resourced and supported, but you don't exactly know how to get there. That just kind of gets all of my senses tingling. Sure.

00:06:12 NICK LALL
Yeah. It makes sense. It's more about the opportunity itself rather than the title. And it seems that by chasing the opportunities that excite you and allow you to go and learn, you've gotten the titles, but that doesn't seem to be what the goal has been. I guess in terms of that, you've achieved excellence across a lot of different industries, whether it was marketing tech, customer goods, hospitality. Are there any practices you implement that allow you to grow and learn so quickly in all these different fields? And then I guess even geographies, whether it's US or China, what would you attribute that ability to grow and learn so quickly to and approach everything with that level of enthusiasm

00:06:47 EMILY CHANG
you do? I think it's coming to every day with a growth mindset and with a learning mindset. Growth in the sense of opposite of fixed mindset, right? It's not that this is a zero sum game. It's not that I've got to hold tightly to the things I have or I might lose them. Growth mindset says, hey, there's enough for everyone and then some. It is about being expansive and looking at big opportunities with a sense of opportunity, with a sense of optimism and asking the question, what's possible? I think coming to the table with a learning mindset requires humility. It says, I'm not an expert. It says, there are a lot of things I don't know yet, and I'm willing to admit I don't know. You know, sometimes I get asked to do talks or people ask me my thoughts on AI or on blockchain, chat GP, you know, all these different questions, and I don't pretend to be an expert. In fact, as a generalist, I would say I know a little bit about everything, just enough to be dangerous. But if you want to know what I think or the questions that I have about these things, then let's have a discussion. I think we give ourselves a lot of unnecessary pressure when we feel we need to be the expert of something. And I think, you know, nobody's very, very few people are really, really the expert. We're all learning. So if you embrace that learning mindset, you'll find that you can exercise a lot more agility. And then you're constantly growing instead of feeling like almost shrinking in a sense of protecting your knowledge base.

00:08:12 NICK LALL
makes a lot of sense approaching life that way. I think it can be helpful for everyone. When you first came to China at Apple, you clearly had to come in with that growth mindset and be ready to learn. What were some of the biggest learnings you had in terms of the differences in marketing between China and the US or other countries? And what would be the top things that Chinese consumers care about that may or may not be different? I think the interesting thing to me about China is that it's sort of leapfrogged the West in a way when it comes to technology and you have these super apps that can just do everything for you. And just in general, the society is much more technologically enabled. So I was curious, whether it was that or other cultural differences, what were the biggest learnings you had coming to China and learning to market to the population there?

00:08:56 EMILY CHANG
Well, we're just coming off the Super Bowl here in the States. And it really stresses the importance and to some degree, the reemergence of television. And that is serving as such a stark counterpoint to the fully digital social ecosystem of China. There are a couple of questions in there. If I were to answer where I see China most engaged, I would say three things. Oh, and they all start with the letter E. Okay. I would say they are experiential, and they all start with Oh, the letter I would say they E. are Okay. engaging, experiential, and expeditious. Experiential in the sense that it is not enough to push content out. People just have much higher expectations. They expect to be engaged. They expect to be immersed in something. So it's not just, hey, I've got this water bottle I'm selling to you. It's come here, try it, feel it, understand it in web three, and then try it out yourself before you consider purchasing it. And then when you purchase it, here are all the different ways that you can get it into your hands within the next two hours, which is the expeditious part. So everything is incredibly immersive and that can't come to being without incredibly good, solid data. Data underpins everything. It helps us understand who our consumer is, where they are, their preferred payment method, how to reach them, what content is most relevant to them, how we even package the offer, and then how we create an experience that is delightful to them, that isn't just in response. It's no longer a world of call and response. It is a world of proactive. I know you so well. Let me delight you and thrill you in ways that you hadn't even imagined.

00:10:37 NICK LALL
mind talking about some of the experiences that you've created for consumers there or an example of what that could be?

00:10:43 EMILY CHANG
Well, we work with the North Face, for instance, and we have for quite a while. But recently they came to us and said, you know, we wanted to create some NFTs. And I think a traditional agency might say, OK, sure. But we really interrogated it and said, OK, why do we want to create NFTs? What does it serve and how do we create an experience? How do we engage our consumers in a meaningful way? So we created a series and it was inextricably tied to the brand story and the brand experience. It came with a purchase. So it was something that was unique and specifically curated for people who love the brand and have purchased something that is a limited edition. I would say that is a way that we're not just kind of grabbing on to the latest shiny object, but instead we're saying, how does it serve our brand and how does it serve our consumers?

00:11:33 NICK LALL
So it should actually serve a purpose, I guess, what you're saying. Yeah. In service of the brand in the long run, rather than just chasing the shiny objects. So I think I want to switch gears a little bit to your personal mission and maybe we can talk about how that's related to your work as well. But maybe you could talk a little bit about what your idea of an offense and an offer is and how that's led to your personal mission in

00:12:00 EMILY CHANG
I'm not a particularly admirable person, I think. It's not like I was raised with the sense of define your life purpose. It's not like I landed on it and said, this is going to be my life mission. I think sometimes we hold people up on a pedestal that they don't deserve to be on. I think rather, I just interrogate myself a lot. I reflect a lot. And as I land on things that kind of resonate with myself, I try to share them with other people. So I guess that's the first thing I'd say as a precursor is there's nothing particularly admirable or different than you. It's just that I think a lot about stuff and then I share it maybe more proactively. When I came up with this construct of offer an offense, it was because I initially had this idea of sharing an anthology of stories because our family has cared for 17 orphans and vulnerable children in our spare room over the last 22 years I just wanted to tell some of their stories because I think they're so extraordinary these young people children babies but it started to evolve and I guess if there's one thing I do well is I flow with it. And the agility that comes from, you know, always having this learning mindset is somebody asked me to do a 10X talk. And I thought, oh my God. And by the way, you know, there's a wide variety of 10X talks. This is the one that was in the Shanghai theater, speaking to 10,000 people. It was huge. And there was a nine month prep period, like the formal 10X process. And that was tough, but also wonderful because it forced me to ask, what is the idea we're sharing? It's not just stories. It is the idea that everybody has a spare room. So the spare room started to evolve in my mind to become a euphemism. And what it is, is the intersection of these two ideas. The more I started thinking about this TEDx talk and talking about people, talking about the idea with people, I started to realize people generally fall in one of two camps. They either know their offer, they know what they're good at, but they're not sure where to direct it to be more contributive. Or they know the offense or the opportunity. They know the thing that they want to go do something about, but they ask themselves, what can I do?

00:14:04 EMILY CHANG
about, but they ask themselves, what can I do? Well, if you can define your offer and your offense, imagine a simple Venn diagram, that intersection, that space between, I'm calling your social legacy. Because I think big ideas like purpose are maybe overused and a little bit abstract, but social legacy simply says, legacy is about leaving something better than I found it. And social defines the space in which I want to have that impact. So for the spare it's a small social It's 17 people in a room in my home, me, room, legacy. but it encapsulates all the things that I have to offer. It allows me to bring the very best of who I am. And it allows me to direct it toward those specific people, babies, children who need it the most. First of

00:14:44 NICK LALL
I got to say, maybe you're selling yourself a little bit short. I think it's really amazing what you've done. But at the same time, yeah, I definitely take your point that writing a speech or writing a book, it helps you structure your thoughts and help you understand what your purpose is a little bit better. And I really like the framework. I started thinking about it myself as well, just because a lot of times I think about, you know, what are things I care about or what I'm passionate about, but it's much more abstract when I think what actually offends me in life and what can I offer to change that, that makes things much more concrete and helps me be like, oh yeah, this is actually what I should focus on because I can actually, first of all, have the motivation to do it. And then secondly, it's more concrete what I can do. And so I think it's great. I guess the next question would be, when it comes to leadership, how do you approach leadership and your organizations? And what kind of impact do you look to have on the organization and also the people in the organization that

00:15:37 EMILY CHANG
my leadership style is probably, I would say, engaged,

00:15:44 EMILY CHANG
vulnerable. Maybe that's not the combination of words you would think of for most senior leaders, but I think it's important to be engaged. Nothing makes the organization feel distant like a distant leader. So engage not in micromanaging, but engage in being visible intentionally, being available, and demonstrating warm care. Those would be the ways that I would describe my engagement. I think the authenticity borders on vulnerability sometimes because I want to be real. Because when you take down those walls that automatically come up, don't underestimate the walls that come up with a title, with a big office, with whatever people put on you as a perception. I think the intentional leaders will recognize those things and intentionally pull them down because all those things create barriers between humans. as humans, then they can really feel that care, that engagement and say, this person really wants to support me. This person really is here for my success. I mean, ultimately that's what creates workplace engagement. That's what creates a sense of loyalty. We're not loyal to companies. We're loyal to people who believe in us, who have our back. That's the kind of leader I want to be. And I know that doesn't happen by accident. It happens by being deliberate in letting people know I'm here for them in the tough moments, rolling up my sleeves, engaging with them over the weekend. And I think that's where the word vulnerability comes in a little bit because we have to be a little bit more real. We have to say sometimes, maybe I don't know the answer, but let me jump on the call and help you with it. And I think that's why the spare room concept transcends into the workplace. It was not something I necessarily intended. I was just thinking it's our spare bedroom. For many years, the people around me, including those at work, knew there was an X, Y, and Z young person living with me. They would come to the office, they would come to events, but I didn't talk about it too much. But then I started realizing when I do talk about it more, when I do introduce the it more, when I do introduce the kids to people, they start recognizing that there is something a little bit different. And perhaps, you know, no one maybe had voiced it, but if she cares enough about this little boy who she didn't even know, then how much more does she really mean it when she says she cares about me, who she knows, and I'm in her organization. So I found that this idea has helped me in my career because not only am I living with intention, I'm leading with authenticity. And I hope to help everybody who reads the book or comes across the concept of the spare room land in that same place. Sure.

00:18:18 NICK LALL
sense. The managers or leaders I've had that made the most impact on me, or I felt were the best leaders, were the ones who were vulnerable with their personal struggles and personal goals in life. And also just were willing to show that care outside of the normal work hours. So that's definitely an excellent leadership trait. You've come in at very high leadership positions at several different companies. I was wondering, how do you identify what needs to be done and how do you decide how or in what order to carry it out? How do I identify what needs to be done and how do you decide how or in what order to carry it out?

00:18:46 EMILY CHANG
How do I identify what needs to be done? And you're talking specifically when the agenda is change management, yeah?

00:18:54 NICK LALL

00:18:54 EMILY CHANG
Yeah. Three things come to mind. The first one is to avoid the cliches. How often do we hear leaders or see on corporate banners, what got us here won't get us there? Or the only constant is change. These are true things, but I don't think they're intentional enough. And certainly they're not specific enough. I think we need to be specific. We need to be choiceful with our words, and we have to define who we want to be and how to get there. That leads to the second idea, which is I think it's valuable to think like a coder. What does that mean? Don't give an overarching ambiguous vision. Provide specific steps to success. You don't say, I want my character to get to that minefield. You say, you take two lefts, you turn, take a right, go straight, climb the hill, right? You get specific. In the personal world, consider your goals. How many people say, I want to lose five pounds? Maybe a lot. How many people go, yep, there it is. I just lost five pounds. Less likely. Instead, think like a coder. What are the tangible steps I can take to losing five pounds? I will choose to run three times a week. And every time I run, I will increase my pace by five seconds a mile. Now I'm getting tangible. And if I do this over time, I will lose five pounds in the month. So I think when we're talking about change management, we have to avoid those cliches. We have to get intentional and specific. And then we have to provide those hows by coding how we're going to get there. And then I think the last thought is we don't want to deploy. We want to engage and enroll. If you dictate a plan, people will be like, okay, task received. Versus if we say, hey guys, what do you think we need to do? I think everybody recognizes we probably need to change to some degree. How are we going to change? So for instance, at McCann, a lot of folks have talked about traditional 4A agencies are a thing of the past. Well, I don't know entirely a thing of the past, but we do need to evolve. How do we need to evolve? I can come in as a person who didn't used to work in agencies and dictate a plan. But how is that going to land? How is that going to resonate? I'm not even from the agency world. So instead, I listened and I engaged with my team. And then our leadership went off site a couple months after I joined. And we all talked about, here are the things we love and we want to retain. Here are the things we do think need to go away. Here are the things we think need to evolve, call it, start, stop, continue. And then we said, words have a lot of impact. So let's define very specifically what our vision is. If what got us here won't get us there, what is there? So if we're not a traditional four-ways, what are we? And I remember having this conversation, are we a marketing solutions company? Are we a creative firm? We finally said, do you know what we are? And we can all say this. I will rattle it right off because if you have an engagement and you have a vision that everyone's aligned to, you should all know it off the top of your head because that's what you want to be. We want to be your trusted partner that delivers tailor-made strategy and creative that lands on the market. You can tell I've said it a thousand times. Why are we a trusted partner? Because we're not just creative. We're not just marketing solutions. We're here to help you figure out what you need to do to create the best outcome. Maybe the NFT example is one that we had talked about earlier, or maybe it is referring back to the humility we talked about in an earlier question as well, Nick, which is maybe we don't always know, but we're going to be your trusted partner. We'll deliver that tailor-made strategy and creative. And that last piece I think is also important. We will land in the market. It's specific. So avoid cliches, think like a coder, and then engage and enroll the organization against the vision.

00:22:32 NICK LALL
That makes a lot of sense. I think that, again, listening is definitely the greatest first step. When it comes to your last point you made about kind of defining the company's why or mission, how has the experience been working between the U.S. and China for these global brands? And how have the corporate cultures of the two influenced each other in this world?

00:22:51 EMILY CHANG
interesting. I spent half my career in the U.S. and half my career in China. And I think each can learn a lot from the other. It's a little disturbing to me sometimes when the media from each country probably to some degree vilifies the other. And I think that's such a shame because when we're so different and we come from different backgrounds, different places, and different schools of thought, I think that's the best way to really understand what the other side is thinking about and what drives them and learn and take something new. So for instance, China is such an old country, yet when it comes to business strategy, maybe they don't have as much of the traditional frameworks, the traditional sort of processes that we are used to in the States to create milestones that set up success. Maybe that's why China's growing and leapfrogging to your earlier comments so much, because they move really quickly. They define failure differently. They kind of say, hey, I'm just going to put this out there. I know it's flawed, but there's nothing that's going to teach me as quickly as putting it out in the public domain and seeing the feedback. And then I'll quickly adjust. I'll tweak constantly, not launch for one month and then turn back and look and see how it did. But by the by the minute, understand second, what's working and what's not, iter fixing, one month and then turn back and look and see how it but by the did, minute, by the second, understand what's working and what's not, fixing, iterating, and improving. So China's much more willing to go out with a minimum viable product, but perhaps they can learn and benefit from some of the frameworks, some of the best practices that we have from the West. I think the West looks at China, you know, I remember five, 10 years ago, they talked about WeChat as the copycat brand. Well, that's changed quite a lot from a narrative standpoint. China's agility is second to none. I think the U.S. can learn a lot about this sort of what I call the definition of failure, per se. Maybe we can be a little bit more willing to put something imperfect out there. Maybe we can flex and learn more quickly versus hitting these sort of large, solid milestones. So actually, I think the China and the US organizations, I think the cultures have a lot to learn from each other. And in fact, when I'm recruiting, I get asked this question a lot because I interview and I hire a lot of people in my jobs. What am I looking for? There are a couple of things. One is teachability, curiosity. One is grit, agility. But fundamentally, especially when I'm hiring for China, and maybe this is true in any other international markets, I'm looking for what we call purple people. They're blue and they're red. They understand. They're not just bilingual. That's the lowest common denominator, right? They understand both cultures. If you can understand what drives China, what drives the U.S., if you can understand the commonality and understand the differences, you can serve as an effective bridge. And I think in many ways, that is a key to success for international companies operating in China.

00:25:45 NICK LALL
to success for international companies operating in China. Sure. And I'm not sure if this is too detailed, but maybe can you talk about the interview process and how you'd be able to suss that out in employees?

00:25:53 EMILY CHANG
That's a great question. Interviews are probably one of the things that we don't train enough behind and are so important. If you think about where the company's investing, there's nothing we're investing in more than humans. And how do we select the most important asset we have in our company? We spend 30 minutes and then we shoot the candidate to somebody else. They spend 30 minutes, we shoot them around the corner. And then maybe we all recap. Sometimes we just send an email. We're like, everyone like him? Yep. Check. Okay. Let's do it. Oh my God. Is that how you would buy a paper factory? Is that how you would invest in the latest technology? People are so important and deeply understanding them. Pausing to explain to them the remit. Pausing to get them fired up about this job. And then pausing to make sure they're going to be a good cultural fit is so important. And I think I've learned because I've hired so many people. And man, I've gotten it wrong sometimes. I think about, I have in my mind, the worst hire I've ever had. I was really, really needing a leader for this role and he fit every single checkbox and I had a high expectation. But you know what? God help me. It's not about the checkboxes. Yeah, he had that experience and that experience. He's done this before. He's done that before. Yeah, I checked the references, but reference are what they are. What I should have done is check the culture fit. I should have understood deeply. Does he really understand China? Does he really understand US in the sense of here is what our company represents, what we want to do. And does he understand the ability to bridge? I think if I'd asked those questions, the answer would have been no for all three. So that is a lesson I will carry for the rest of my life because when you hire the wrong person, y'all, you know, it is painful. I think the interview process therefore is not individual 30 minute conversations. And on my oh, calendar, I've got to interview somebody now. process, therefore, is not individual 30-minute conversations. And, oh, on my calendar, I've got to interview somebody now. Okay, quick, clear the desk and bring them in. Let me see their CV. That's not how we interview. We pause. We plan ahead. We look at their CV a day in advance. And then we think about, what are the questions that I want to ask this person? What do I want to learn in our time together? It is not the standard pack questions. It's going to be, oh, this person's really experienced. Can they pivot from a traditional foray where they have incredible experience that I don't have a need, but can they pivot to the future of what we want to be? How do I understand? Can they serve as a trusted partner? How can I understand? Are they willing to roll up their sleeves and make sure it lands in market? So then starting with the end in the end being what I want to learn mind, about this candidate, I'll craft the questions and the engagement that I need to get those answers. That's a very different way to engage candidates. Maybe that means I spend an hour. Maybe that means we have two separate goes. Maybe that means we first align who will interview this person and who's going to ask what question. Sometimes we intentionally ask different questions. Sometimes we intentionally ask the same question to see, you know, in comparison, retrospectively, how the answers were shared. That's the way to learn as much as we can about the most important asset for our company, the people that we're bringing on, and retain the humanity behind the experience.

00:29:09 NICK LALL
fit is probably most important. I guess I can see that the leadership positions you would be interviewing people for when it comes to these really large organizations, how do you ensure that the right people are hired from top to bottom? And also, once they are hired, how do you ensure that they are engaged in the same goals that you're trying to drive

00:29:27 EMILY CHANG
really important that it's not just my decision because it's so important that the person fits the culture. What that means is I want to hire outstanding individuals. I also want to craft an outstanding leadership team. Those are two different things. One, I might have an absolutely outstanding candidate for a role, but what if they don't get along with the rest of the leadership team? Are they going to create a great experience? Are they going to look like part of a unified team, which is so important for the broader organization? So I have walked away from outstanding candidates who feel like they would really have a culture clash with the rest for of outstanding my team. candidates who feel like they would really have a culture clash with the rest of my team. On the other hand, I have people who would look like an amazing culture fit. I remember there is one of my general managers who kept sort of endorsing this one candidate and just said, oh, I love her. I want to work with her. This is going to be so amazing. But she didn't have the specific attributes I needed for that individual role. So for us as leaders, let's not compromise. We have to find the and. We have to find the outstanding individual leader who can do the job and who will fit the culture of the team. And, you know, I would say the last thought is, it's okay if they have some sharp edges. This doesn't mean everyone is like smooth as a round marble and they all roll around together. Rather, it means they fit each other like a puzzle piece. You sometimes one person might have a sharp edge know, it means they fit each other like a puzzle here. Rather, You know, piece. sometimes one person might have a sharp edge here. Hey, but this other leader is particularly strong in that area. So they balance each other. If we focus so much on mitigating our weaknesses, we all end up with sort of dulled edges. And think about a pizza. A pizza pie is round. But if you look at each individual slice, they're pretty sharp. But when they all fit together, they make a perfect round. So I think there's opportunity to flexing, recognizing imperfection, and not trying to rub away every sharp edge, but saying, as a team, do we balance each other's edge? And we're going to be so much

00:31:20 NICK LALL
the effort into creating that leadership team that balances each other out, then that can create the sort of organization that even if it's not all your decision, you can trust that it will be carried on down throughout the organization. Maybe going back to the leadership team, you must have a lot of different ideas pitched to you. How do you decide which are the ones to go forward with and which are the ones that are worthy of your time and the organization's time and effort?

00:31:45 EMILY CHANG
right. There are so many ideas out there and so many of them are good, right? There's one of the best books is Getting from Good to Great. How do you define the great? I guess I would think about three things. Does it touch my head? Does it touch my heart? And does it touch my soul? There's so many things that touch my head. That means it's intellectually stimulating. It gets me to think and think differently. That's super exciting. But there are so many of those. Does it also touch my heart? Does it evoke emotion, inspire me to do and to be better? And then why soul? Like what is soul? Is my soul stirred, that deepest place within us, how we encounter the world? Those are the best ideas. They're the ones that are intellectually that challenging, allow me to think differently. They inspire me to do and they change the way that I engage better, with the world around me. So head, heart, and soul.

00:32:38 NICK LALL
Maybe one last question, if you have an answer to this. Do you have any rituals or daily practices that allow you to stay in touch with the heart and soul and mind or brain, as you said, just to make sure that you are serving all three of those when you make your decisions?

00:32:52 EMILY CHANG
Yeah, I think it's really important to focus on our own wellness as a leader, because if we're not bringing our best to the day, we can't give our best to other people and then we can't help them be at their best. It's kind of logical. At the same time, I think there's this fine line to balance. On one side, you do see a tendency to over-invest in self. There's been such a dialogue around self-wellness, self-care. If we get too focused on ourselves, we're not focused enough on those around us. On the other hand, there are those who are constantly seeking to support other people, to engage the team, and we're stretched too thin, and the desired outcome maybe is also not achieved. So it's that middle harmonious space where we're managing our energy. We understand where we thrive. We understand the space in which we are best able to exercise the gifts with which we've been giving. And then we can give the best of that to the world around us. then we can give the best of that to the world around us. So whether it is sort of micro choices, like I start the day not looking at emails, how tempting is it to just pick up your phone as soon as you wake up, you're still lying in bed, your sheets are still warm, and you're immediately looking at what came in through the night. I would guess most people do that. Every single morning, I work really hard to not do that. I look at my calendar and I think about what's the most important thing today. I think about what do I want to accomplish today? And then inevitably some thoughts come to mind on, okay, that means I'm going to have to do X, Y, Z. Oh, I need to make sure she schedules that room. Oh, I need to make sure he brings the right team to this meeting. And I start by putting things out, not accepting the requests and demands and needs of other people in. What's the difference there? I'm leading on my front foot. I'm going into the day saying, this is what I'd like to accomplish. Here are the things I need to get those things done, which are going to be the best thing for my team. And then let me look at where the help is needed. Because if you start in responsive mode, you may just be fighting fires all day. And at the end of the day, you look back and you think, what did I accomplish? Besides, you know, help a lot of people and spread myself too thin. So I think that's one of those things from a micro standpoint. And then I think from like a macro standpoint, we have to know our run rate. We are too easily burned out because we run at a hundred percent. You know, there is sometimes this sense of, God, I have to show FaceTime. I have to be busy. I have to be busy all the time. If I have a down moment, I'm going to go wash the dishes. Maybe that's what it is. Or maybe I need to go look ahead to do the next thing. Or I have all these projects piling up. Actually, if we're running at a hundred percent, we have no flex capacity. So then when a crisis emerges, or we do occasionally have to pull an all-nighter for something that really is burning, we have the energy for it. So we have to get comfortable with a slightly lower run rate. My run rate is still pretty high because I have high energy. Mine's maybe 90%, but I leave that 10% buffer occasionally to hike. Or occasionally, I make sure I build workout time in there because being fit is part of my wellness. Other people may say, I just need to eat a really good home cooked meal once every other day, at least, right? So that takes time. Cooking is time consuming. Know what your run rate is and get comfortable with it. Get a little unapologetic with it. Yeah, I went for a hike. Yeah, I stopped to cook a gourmet meal from scratch because then when you need me to run at 140%, I have that flex capacity.

00:36:15 NICK LALL
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much for joining us. This is a really enjoyable conversation and really happy to learn more about what you've done.

00:36:25 EMILY CHANG
believe the time went that quickly. Thanks for having me. Thanks for your great questions.