My guest on today’s show has one of the most-faced paced jobs on the planet.
Leslie Berland is both the Chief Marketing Officer and the Head of People at Twitter, known affectionately in the company as “tweeps”. She joined the company in 2016 amid a huge drive to sustain existing followers and attract new ones.
Prior to joining Twitter, Leslie was Executive Vice President of Global Advertising, Marketing & Digital Partnerships at American Express. Having joined American Express in 2005, Leslie led a team responsible for creating marketplace demand and customer experiences globally.
Our conversation teased out several similarities and differences – between the work environment of American Express vs Twitter, between leading the marketing function vs the people function, between working at a high strategic level vs a detailed operational level. I was surprised to learn the size of Twitter, given its impact on the world and reach of 300 million daily users.
I asked Leslie how she could manage two demanding full-time corporate jobs and why she took them on in the first place! We talked about the resurgence of Twitter over the past few years and what has been behind it. Do you know that Twitter is booming in Japan?
We explored mentorship and how Leslie looks at it differently. We closed with the value of gratitude and how it is an intentional practice at Twitter – a strong practical tip for listeners.
Leslie’s book recommendation was “Always Looking Up” by Michael J Fox.
Unsurprisingly you can find Leslie on Twitter!
Read the Transcript
Rana Nawas: (00:00)
Hello ladies and gentlemen. My guest on today’s show has one of the most fast-paced jobs on the planet. Leslie Berland is both the Chief Marketing Officer and the Head of People at Twitter. Prior to joining the company in 2016, she was Executive Vice President of Global Advertising, Marketing and Digital Partnerships and American Express. Having joined Amex in 2005, Leslie lead a global team responsible for creating marketplace demand and customer experiences globally. Our conversation help tease out several similarities and differences between the work environment of American Express and Twitter, between leading the marketing function and leading the people function and what mentorship means to various parties. I asked Leslie how she could manage two demanding full time corporate jobs and why she took them on in the first place. We talked about the resurgence of Twitter over the past few years and what’s been behind it. And we closed with a value of gratitude and how it is an intentional practice at Twitter. So let’s get into it.
Rana Nawas: (01:15)
Leslie, thank you so much for coming on When Women Win. I’m delighted to have this time with you.
Leslie Berland: (01:20)
So excited to be here!
Rana Nawas: (01:21)
Let’s start with your life before Twitter. You’d been at Amex – at American Express – for over 10 years and you had a massive role there as their EVP of global advertising, marketing and digital partnerships.
Leslie Berland: (01:34)
Rana Nawas: (01:35)
Why did you choose to leave? Was there a trigger that told you that the time was right?
Leslie Berland: (01:39)
Ah, that’s such a good question. You’re right. I was at the company for 10 years and I really, you know, I grew up at the company. I joined in the communications function, did that for a few years and transitioned into social media work which then transitioned and evolved into digital partnerships and then marketing and advertising and the like. It was a really interesting experience and couple of years there, that very much formed my career and formed the things that I was most passionate about. In my role, as I had mentioned, I had spent a good amount of time building partnerships and launching initiatives with a variety of different digital partnerships and social platforms. One of those was Twitter. I really hadn’t been looking; I had never really engaged in conversations with a company to leave American Express because I just loved it so much and it just was a constantly evolving experience for me. But when Twitter called, it was very…it felt very once in a lifetime. Twitter is a platform that has such an outsized impact for a relatively small company, you know, a huge impact on the world and there had never been a CMO before. So the idea of being able to build and create and help guide with a team a future that was sort of unknown where there was a lot of white space with something that really felt very challenging but really, really exciting. So, with my work with Twitter, when I was at American Express, I got to know a number of people in various areas of the company and what struck me the most was their passion and authenticity and collaboration and heart. So yes, when I got the call initially, it definitely sparked my interest to say the least.
Rana Nawas: (03:26)
Well you said something about Twitter being a small company. I mean, for all of us normal people, you know, with the impact that you were talking about, it feels like a massive company. So how small is it?
Leslie Berland: (03:36)
Yeah and it’s all relative. There are 3,500 employees. But for you know, for context, I worked at American Express where there were 60,000 employees. So it all depends on where you’re sitting. But I know I was surprised when I started conversations with Twitter that the size of the company from a people perspective was what it was. I imagined it being much much larger.
Rana Nawas: (03:59)
Yeah. Given the impact it’s had on the world!
Leslie Berland: (04:01)
Rana Nawas: (04:01)
Alright. Well, American Express is an old company, you know, in a mature, safe industry where everyone knows the rules of the game and things change at a slow pace. And you then move to Twitter, which is kind of the opposite, you know, a very young company, very fast-moving industry. You know, you mentioned a lot of white space and you are the first ever CMO. So what challenges did you face in making this jump?
Leslie Berland: (04:27)
That’s a good question. When I was at American Express, it’s interesting, the roles that I had, especially in my past couple of years, the last couple of years with almost running a start-up within American Express, so we had built the team, I reported to the president of American Express and built a team that had engineers and product leads and a communications function and marketing to drive just innovation and to sort of break through a lot of exactly what you just described. It was: how do we move quickly, have amazing partnerships with companies that are smaller, younger, faster moving than us? How do we create experiences for card members and our customers that they’ve never experienced before and just think about this company and try to revitalize this company in a new way? So that was the mind-set that I had at American Express. We did amazing work. So when, you know, in terms of the transition to Twitter, it wasn’t a culture shock in that way. It was just that the entire company felt the way that I just described, which is a ton of passion, very fast-moving, things ever-changing and, you know, Twitter is the fastest service in the world, right? So, I think there’s speed and then there’s hyper-speed and I think what’s most fascinating about Twitter and I think what was the biggest change and is true for anyone coming into the company is the pace at which things move, how unique the challenges are and, you know, the world is watching! We’re an open platform, we’re live, there’s open conversations happening, there are world leaders having conversations and so the challenges are unique, you know, your day changes hour to hour and it’s just, it’s really both inspiring and exhilarating, sometimes exhausting, but fascinating. You know, I’ve been at the company for about two and a half years, a little longer, and I’ve learned more in my time here than I had in my 10 years at American Express, just because of the nature of what Twitter is.
Rana Nawas: (06:29)
Yeah. Super-fast moving. I can’t seem to get anyone to see my posts because as soon as I’ve posted it seems there’s 10 million in front of them. Any tips for listeners on how to get more engagement on Twitter given the pace that goes at?
Leslie Berland: (06:44)
Yeah, I think it’s all about the conversation. You know, what I love about Twitter and what makes it so special is that you can follow and connect with people. Not only people that you know, but that you’d like to know and I think so much of it is listening and learning and watching and then, you know, replying, asking questions and engaging in conversation is just a great way to be a part of a dialogue and to get to know someone and to connect. Then when somebody continues tweeting and sort of starting conversations, it’s all very interconnected. It’s just a great way to get to know people and to be a part of a conversation that can be a small conversation or conversation that’s much larger. And so, I think that the power of Twitter is really your small community and your small network and also just the large network that exists all around the globe for people that you would never meet or never know otherwise.
Rana Nawas: (07:36)
And we’ll come back to Twitter in a little bit. But first I’d like to focus on something you mentioned twice now I think, which is passion. You keep talking about the passion at Twitter. Well, what do you mean by that?
Leslie Berland: (07:48)
You know, we have an incredible purpose. So, you know, the purpose of Twitter is to serve the public conversation. With that, I think we all feel great responsibility and we see the power of it playing out every single day in ways that are small and then there are ways that are very large. So, I think that people who joined the company, people who stay at the company, have this heart for this work, and they feel that it is very elevated. You know, when people come to work every day, they see and feel their impact in a very real way. Part of that is because it is a young company. Part of it is because we’re a company that’s on a journey and then part of it is what I just described, which is just this amazing purpose and this mission that we all feel very connected to and feel that responsibility and that weight. So, you see it when you meet, we call them Tweeps, like lots of Tweeps all over the world. You see that passion, you see that heart, and I think that’s why people just so deeply love working here.
Rana Nawas: (08:46)
Yeah, that’s amazing. It makes such a difference to the corporate culture. When everybody knows exactly the direction they are going in and everybody is aligned. We have one purpose and we all know exactly what it is and we’re all pulling in one direction.
Leslie Berland: (09:01)
You nailed it. We, for the first time a couple of months ago, brought the entire company together, all of our people from all around the world to San Francisco. We called it “One Team” whose hashtag is #OneTeam and it’s almost hard to articulate how powerful that was. There are people that had been working together all around the world, many of whom had never met in person. We’d certainly not ever been in one room. We brought people from the outside, people on Twitter, whether it be journalists or influencers or just people who use and love the service, so that we could hear from them and connect with them. But then, also, our Tweeps were able to connect with each other and have really vibrant conversation. It was just incredible for anybody on Twitter at that time. They saw the trending #OneTeam for a couple of days and they could see the conversations and the energy that was happening inside, you know, out in the world, which is basically Twitter in a nutshell, right? It’s that transparency, it’s that openness and we live and breathe that.
Rana Nawas: (10:00)
And that event must have had double significance for you because you’re not only the Chief Marketing Officer, but you are the Head of People.
Leslie Berland: (10:07)
That’s right. That’s right.
Rana Nawas: (10:08)
In most companies, these functions are led by two different people. I would imagine two very different people. So why has Twitter chosen to join them?
Leslie Berland: (10:17)
Yeah, it’s such a great question. I think part of it is what I sort of described a little bit before, which is our people are what make Twitter, Twitter, and it’s true of the service as well, right? The people who are talking on Twitter, all of those tweets are who we are. What’s unique about us is that our people quite literally are brand ambassadors. They talk about their experiences on Twitter, but there is so much connectedness between marketing and communications and people. It’s all about listening and communicating and creating amazing thoughtful experiences. I now have teams that we’ve created that do both internal and external. So, I have, for example, an experiential team and events team that was originally very much focused on events that we do externally with partners or with advertisers and with all different types of customers. And that same team is now very much activating and building those experiences for our own people. And that is exactly, I think, how we should approach our work, right? These are all people that we care about. We can help out the people who work at Twitter, we keep care of the people who are on Twitter every single day. So, there were just so many synergies and so much connectedness between these areas and functions, but especially that are very uniquely us.
Rana Nawas: (11:35)
So Leslie, these are two full time jobs, you know, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief HR Officer. How do you manage both responsibilities effectively?
Leslie Berland: (11:44)
So first of all, it’s not me alone, so that I think is the key message. I have incredible, incredible leadership teams across all of those areas, you know, marketing and comms and people. So, it really starts there. There is no way that I would be able to be in this role effectively otherwise. So, there are a number of individuals who were sort of elevated into roles on that leadership bench. And then there are incredible people that we’ve brought in from the outside, and together we’re building something that’s truly special and truly amazing. So it’s very, very, special. But it’s with the support of not just the leadership teams but the teams within.
Rana Nawas: (12:22)
When Twitter approached you to take on this double responsibility, how did you, why did you choose to take it on?
Leslie Berland: (12:31)
Yeah. So, I originally said no. So that is the truth. Because for someone like me whose background is in communications and PR and marketing and partnerships, it’s very different on paper. It’s a very different type of role. So, it really did take me some time to just think about it and understand it better. What I realized upon reflection is that first of all I was working quite a great deal with the people function ever since I joined the company, and I always had just sort of in my past and career. But when you think about it and when I looked at the work that I was doing that my team was doing around internal comms and events and experiences and hosting conversations and listening to our people, I had just a deep, deep care and passion. I love this company very, very deeply. I care about our people very, very deeply. So, I felt that with the support and the leadership from the people all around me, this is something that we could do together that could be really meaningful and very, very powerful. Even when I joined the company in initial conversations that I had with, with Jack and the leadership team, we always think about our people first and we think about external second. They’re both obviously major priorities, but we think about how we are communicating to our people, how do we make sure our people are in the know, what are our people saying about this, how do they feel about this? And so, we take that very seriously and I don’t think a lot of companies have that approach actually. And so, it’s key reason why I fell in love with the place, but also speaks to sort of why I signed on for this. I’ve loved every minute of it.
Rana Nawas: (14:08)
So when you joined Twitter, you joined in a joint role. You didn’t first become a CMO and then CHR as well?
Leslie Berland: (14:13)
No, I did. I joined as a CMO. So, I was building up the marketing function. And then about a year in, we folded the communications function and married that with the marketing team and about a year ago, so it was like a year later, when I took on the role of leading the people org as well. So yeah, no, it’s not what I joined. I didn’t join in as both. And I’ve learned a ton. I’ve learned a ton.
Rana Nawas: (14:36)
What are your key learnings?
Leslie Berland: (14:38)
You know, some of it is quite very tangible, right? I don’t have a formal experience in people or “HR,” so it’s all a learning sort of being on the other side of that; learning and development, feedback and compensation programs- you know, what people love, what they don’t love. I spend a lot of time diving into what we call our pulse scores and results, which is when our people sort of give us feedback. And so, I just spent a lot of time understanding where people’s mindset was and what we were doing well and what we needed to work on. But it was sitting on the other side, you feel and you experience the power of the people team and what they do, but sitting on the other side and understanding all the work that goes into it has been really fascinating. So people have been very patient with me and my learning curve, but I think we’ve been able to marry a lot of the work that we do across all these functions and we’ve made everything just that much stronger in my view.
Rana Nawas: (15:32)
I do think it takes a special person to marry the two functions because I think with marketing you need to be able to sort of look at the big picture. With HR, you need to be comfortable diving into detail, right? On the one hand you need to be super execution, operation-oriented. On the other, you need to be people-oriented. So it takes a special kind of person with a wide spectrum of skills, I think, to manage both.
Leslie Berland: (15:56)
Yeah. Thank you for saying that. Something that you said very much resonates with me, which is getting into the details. I think at any job at Twitter it is critical to be able to think strategically and have a vision – but also to be willing to really get into the details of things and really to get into the tactics and understand how different pieces are fitting together. And I think that’s also very different from other companies, especially big companies; as people progress in their careers, they sometimes end up being just farther away from the day to day and I personally thrive from the day to day. I love seeing how work is coming together. I love seeing the passion from the teams that are doing the work. I love understanding the challenges and trying to sort of break down barriers. So, I think in this role, I think you nailed it, that it is especially important, but I think in a lot of different roles at this company it is quite critical.
Rana Nawas: (16:49)
So at every level of Twitter, ideally, everyone should be equally comfortable with the big picture and also sort of rolling up your sleeves.
Leslie Berland: (16:56)
I think so, yeah.
Rana Nawas: (16:58)
Well let’s talk a little bit more about the people side, Leslie, if we could. Let’s talk about mentorship. What do you think the value of a mentor is in the corporate world?
Leslie Berland: (17:08)
Yeah, I think, you know, I think about mentorship differently than I think most people articulate it or how I’ve seen people experience it. I see mentorship as all about learning and I see that as happening, and I say this in my own career happening at all levels and it does not necessarily happen laterally. I know that I have learned most throughout my career from people who are either, you know, colleagues and counterparts and/ or people who are on my actual team. And so, I think sometimes we fall into this rhythm or this understanding that a mentor needs to be somebody more senior than you. And while that is – by the way- completely amazing and you can learn from people who have like 10 years more experience or people who have had different walks of life in their careers, I think a critical piece to mentorship is sort of the side, the side mentorship and the up and down mentorship that people should be looking out for and gleaning from every single day. But I think it’s everything. I think open mind, open eyes, looking at the things that you want to emulate and strive to learn from and to be and the things that you know you don’t want to be is equally as important as well.
Rana Nawas: (18:20)
So you’ve had a variety of mentors along the way and are you saying you choose them wisely?
Leslie Berland: (18:26)
Yeah, I think “choose” is a strong word. I think that I try to learn and listen from everyone around me all of the time. So it is kind of a daily thing for me. Um, you know, I always take note and say, you know, that person handled that really, really well, like – that was a tough challenge and that person really showed up well and in an honest way and in an authentic way. Or you know, I’ll never forget, there was somebody a couple of years ago on my team who was the most junior person in a room of like 25 people, and she just held court. Her name is Steph, if she’s listening, she just held court. She came in, she was fearless, she was brave, you know, there were complicated issues but she held herself just with confidence and openness. And I still remember – I remember where we were. It was six years ago in a conference room at American Express. And so, I think it’s those moments that are really very inspiring to me. You know, I’ve been very fortunate to have people that I report to. Jack is such a unique person. He’s so special. There is so much to learn from him. And I learn from him every single day. And I feel the same about my leader at American Express, Ed Gilligan, was the president of the company who passed away suddenly and unfortunately, deeply unfortunately, when I was there. But I’ve had leaders in the past who were not good leaders, frankly. And I learned a ton from that. Learning what not to do or learning how to work around, or because of a situation that you’re in, is some of the best learnings that I’ve had. So, I look at mentorship very very broadly. And I think it’s an everyday thing. I don’t think it’s something that you have to schedule or choose or decide or put in some sort of box or framework.
Rana Nawas: (20:05)
People often ask me when I’m sort of giving speeches and talking to groups of women, how do I get a mentor? How do I get the right mentor? It’s not an easy question. I mean, how would you answer that then?
Leslie Berland: (20:18)
Yeah, I would say seek out the people that you want to work with. I would look at it that way. And again that goes back to the point that it doesn’t necessarily have to be somebody more senior than you. I think, you know, look at those people who you feel are leading with heart and with focus and are able to get stuff done and find ways to work together. And then of course, you know, I’ve been reached out to before with people who want to grab coffee and have conversations and I love that and I’m always very open to that and I’m also in sort of a formal mentor relationship right now. But that is part of an actual mentorship program that we have here and that’s awesome too. But I think you learn most from mentors when you actually find opportunities to work for them or work with them. There are so many opportunities at Twitter to do that and other companies everywhere, whether they are special projects or tied to employee resource groups or ERGs. Find out what they’re sponsoring. Find out how they volunteer and the work they’re doing there and see how they get it done. That, I think, is the best way to learn from a mentor.
Rana Nawas: (21:24)
How do you sell it to a senior person? Because a lot of the senior people I’ve met throughout my career kind of look at being a mentor as a burden that they don’t see the value in it. They feel, you know, “I’m so busy, my time is already so limited – I just don’t have time or energy for this.” What would you say to them?
Leslie Berland: (21:42)
Speaking for myself, in my career, I have learned way more from my mentees than possibly they’ve learned from me. I think that mentors, or people who are asked to be mentors, need to understand and should understand that they have so much to learn from people who are sort of seeking out or who are younger or earlier in their careers. There’s a freshness in their thinking. There’s an openness. It enables you to step out of yourself. So, I’ve been asked questions as a mentor that I’m like, you know, I haven’t thought about this that way. I haven’t thought about my career that way. I’ve never been asked that question before. So, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection and stepping out of your day-to-day and stepping out of your sort of, you know, removing your blinders and having to such an open conversation where you can learn so much. You know recently I’ve spent, which I really enjoy doing, time with groups of people so it’s less one on one mentorship, which is hard, right? Schedules are crazy and it’s hard to keep up with but I love sitting in a room. I did this last week I think, or the week before, with just 25 women and they were women in product, which I’m like, you all have to teach me all the things, but we had such a great conversation and the questions were so interesting and so good. And again, I walked away just like on a high from it. They were thanking me and I’m like, “no, really thank you.” Can we do this again?” So yeah, I think it’s all about mindset and how people are approaching these opportunities.
Rana Nawas: (23:10)
Well, you mentioned you were talking to a group of women, Leslie. You do a lot of work with women I believe. Can you tell us more about that?
Leslie Berland: (23:16)
Yeah, when you say work with women… first of all, I work with women every single day, so there’s that. You know, Twitter is a platform that obviously has shown to have such power for women’s voices whether it’s bringing together women to celebrate or bringing together and connecting women for issues that are impacting us like the #MeToo Movement and Time’sUp and the likes. We created a platform ourselves called Here We Are, which was really bringing voices of women and women across different interests and industries out to the forefront. It was something that we did at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There was sort of an awareness that came that there were no female keynotes at that conference, that it was all male and we created our own events and put women on a stage and it was just magical and it sparked something very very powerful for us. We did a similar event in Canada. We did an event in Cannes back in June with Kerry Washington and it’s all about this. Here we are, like if you’re ever saying that you can’t find women to be speakers or to be leaders, like, here we are! And it’s been a really, really amazing journey and amazing experience. So there’s so much more to do here, but I think that our platform is uniquely powerful in this way and I think that’s been seen time and time again.
Rana Nawas: (24:39)
Well let’s go back to Twitter and internally what programs do you have to get more women into leadership or what initiatives?
Leslie Berland: (24:47)
Yeah, absolutely. So we have, it ranges across the board, goals that we set across hiring and bringing women in and also promoting women into leadership roles and that’s across all functions in all areas. So we have company-wide and then based on different teams and organizations as well, and there are many ways that we seek to do that. Some of it is recruiting strategies that the team is actually honing in shaping right now from events and experiences, to development and leadership programs that we have at the company, both sort of broadly, but also specifically for women. We have a women at Twitter group and it’s strong and vibrant and amazing. We actually have a coming, just a discussion, a conversation with that leadership to understand what women leaders across the company are asking for and what they feel they need to grow and to get to the next level. So it’s very much a holistic approach and I feel, obviously as a female leader at the company outside of whatever role I have, very accountable for this. But we all are. The whole leadership team is as well.
Rana Nawas: (25:54)
A question I had about Twitter because during my research I found that many believe that Twitter has seen a resurgence in popularity over the past couple of years. I don’t know the numbers. Is that popular belief true?
Leslie Berland: (26:06)
That is true. So, you know, the company has been through a lot of change throughout its history. When I joined the company, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder, had just come back. He had just returned to the company as CEO about six months prior. And so, there was a lot happening at the company at the time. Our user growth was stalling. There was high attrition at the company. We hadn’t yet had sort of the key focus of what we were for and where we were going and things started, you know, with Jack coming back and a leadership team being put in place, to really go through a turnaround. Early in that time, Jack and the leadership team set a vision for the company and sort of our, what we call, our job to be done, which is about keeping people informed and then discussing what’s happening; a real sort of focus area for us. And the whole company has gotten behind that, aligned behind that. We work from a marketing side on the brand identity and really what Twitter is, which when I joined was a still a big question. And it’s still, for some, you know, around the world with so much opportunity to tell our story and be clear about what Twitter is for, but really honed into sort of Twitter being what’s happening and what people are talking about at its core. We, you know, hired new leaders from the outside, we’ve promoted within, the product has gotten smarter and better. We’re really very much now focused on the conversations that happen on Twitter and that being so differentiated for us and so core to who we are. And so, you’ll see a lot of product work relating to that specifically; how to sort of spotlight those conversations and elevate the most meaningful conversations for you, which you touched upon in an earlier question. We’ve done a lot of work around abuse and harassment. There’s so much work still to be done, but we’ve been tackling that. We have amazing leaders in place that are really now working very cross functionally. So, there’s just been a lot of change in my time of being here the past two and a half almost three years, that has really seen a company, when people definitely thought we were down for the count, come back around and evolve and emerge. And I credit Jack for his leadership and the tweaks around the world who have worked so hard to turn this around and have done amazing things. So amazing to see.
Rana Nawas: (28:22)
And so how many people use Twitter today?
Leslie Berland: (28:25)
Uh, 300. About Three Hundred Thirty million active users.
Rana Nawas: (28:31)
Oh My God. That is enormous!
Leslie Berland: (28:33)
A lot of people. And we look at daily active usage, like how many people are using Twitter every day. And we’ve increased. There has been double-digit growth across our top ten global markets. People are using Twitter more every single day. And again, it’s just the product has been getting, you know, just better and better and there’s so much more work to be done. But, you know, the results are a reflection of that.
Rana Nawas: (28:58)
So outside the United States, what are your biggest markets? Like two or three biggest markets.
Leslie Berland: (29:03)
Japan is huge for us. So, it is amazing what is happening in Japan. Like when we looked at the research around the world, I was just talking to you about people understanding what Twitter is for, it very much in Japan was very clear to people from the very beginning. It’s amazing to see sort of how that’s evolved, but it’s very, very vibrant. But Saudi Arabia is big for us. Brazil is big for us and we’re just seeing a lot of awesome growth, you know, in those markets as well.
Rana Nawas: (29:33)
And so I gleaned this and I’m going to put this in the show notes. I think what I’ve learned is the purpose of Twitter is to serve the public conversations. All right.
Leslie Berland: (29:41)
That is correct.
Rana Nawas: (29:42)
Great thank you. Alright, let’s see. Before we wrap up, I’d like to ask a few personal questions, if that’s okay with you.
Leslie Berland: (29:48)
Sure. Of course.
Rana Nawas: (29:49)
What is a book that you would recommend the listeners to read?
Leslie Berland: (29:51)
I actually just read the autobiography from Michael J. Fox who you may be familiar with. So he has an amazing career, but he also has Parkinson’s. The book is called “Looking Up” and it was a really, really inspiring, very grounding story. And to see his experience and what he’s done for health and disease awareness and how he approaches this disease every single day and how he keeps the mindset that he has has been amazing. So that’s my most recent.
Rana Nawas: (30:25)
And with respect to mentors and role models, you said you had a lot throughout your life. Is there a woman who’s influenced you in particular?
Leslie Berland: (30:34)
So many. I mean on a real personal note like my mother and her grandmother too, but specifically my mother whom I’m very, very close with. She’s a psychologist. She worked in a New York City school system. But what’s amazing about her that I’ve reflected over, and I’ve done this recently, she has probably the most positive attitude of anyone that I’ve ever experienced. Like I can’t imagine a time where my mother woke up in a bad mood. And I’m like, yeah. And I have two kids myself and a husband and I just think about that every day and you know, as our mood swings one way or the other and it’s not like she, you know, thinks the world is perfect, but she wakes up every day, just grateful. Grateful for her family. Grateful to be alive. Grateful for, you know, for just being present another day. And so, I think that’s something that I felt growing up. But as a mother, now that I reflect on it, it is something that really inspires me. You know, I try to lead with heart and to lead fearlessly and I care deeply about the people that we work with every day. But I’m very mindful in how I show up because sometimes days are crazy and there’s a lot going on in our lives and I just think about my mother and I think about how she showed up and has shown up and continues to show up every day. And that’s been, that’s been extremely inspiring.
Rana Nawas: (31:54)
The power of gratitude, huh?
Leslie Berland: (31:56)
Rana Nawas: (31:57)
I am trying to instil this in my children. My four-year-old, you give him one apple, he doesn’t say thank you. He is like “I want one more.”
Leslie Berland: (32:05)
I know. It’s hard right? It’s really, really hard. I have two. I have two sons myself and we live in New York City and it is, you know, work to keep your kids balanced. It really is. And for them to understand the world and to understand what’s happening and to keep them being grateful and understanding how blessed we all are. So yeah, I feel you. I feel you.
Rana Nawas: (32:27)
I keep telling myself maybe he’s just a little too young for gratitude, hoping that, you know, at some age – I don’t know what it is, seven, ten, whatever – that it’ll just click into place if I keep harping on.
Leslie Berland: (32:39)
Funny. When you were talking about mentorship and I mentioned Jack, I think I’ve come to learn that it’s almost like a practice. And it’s something that he actually, I’m speaking on his behalf, does every day. He’s very focused on sort of waking up and centering on what he’s grateful for. And we as his direct report team, it’s actually something that we do every couple of weeks. We start with gratitude around the table – what we’re grateful for, and that can be something personal. It can be something professional. It can be something small. It can be something big, but it’s an amazing way…And I started doing that with my leadership teams, but what I love about it is first of all, it’s just so centering and so grounding, but also you learn a lot from the people that you’re with every day. You know, there are times where somebody will say, you know, I’m grateful for my father’s health because he, you know, last week was X, Y and Z or I’m grateful that my husband was able to take care of the kids because it was really hard for, you know, X, Y, and Z and you’re suddenly, you see the whole person. So yeah, I think that is something that I think is really inspiring and about Jack as a person, but something that he’s really instilled throughout, I think, the company.
Rana Nawas: (33:47)
And I love that as a practical tip for listeners. If we can all kick off our day just saying a few things that we’re grateful for, I’m convinced it will shape the day. Because when I remember, I haven’t yet made it a daily practice, but when I do remember to do it, really, my day turns out much, much more beautifully.
Leslie Berland: (34:06)
Absolutely! And that’s why I love being with children as well because they see the world so purely. So, my kids are getting a little bit older now, but I just love seeing the world through their eyes. They sort of bring things down to the simplest core when there’s so much noise and distraction in the day-to-day otherwise. So, it’s very humbling. It’s very humbling. But I love being around kids and I love that purity of thought.
Rana Nawas: (34:26)
Yeah. Well you haven’t been around my kids Leslie, you know?
Leslie Berland: (34:32)
Yeah. Let me be very, very clear. My kids were up until 11:30 last night, so let me be clear that I don’t have this,at all, under control.
Rana Nawas: (34:41)
Great. Thank you. This has been wonderful. Where can listeners find you?
Leslie Berland: (34:45)
Rana Nawas: (34:47)
I had a feeling you were gonna say that, but I had to ask. Super. Leslie, thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much.
Leslie Berland: (34:57)
Back at you. No, I’ve loved it. Thank you so much for the questions and the conversation.
Rana Nawas: (35:02)
Great. Alright, all the best.
Rana Nawas: (35:05)
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