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The Art of Healthy Work Cultures

The Art of Healthy Work Cultures

Simple Adjustments to Energize and Empower Your Team

This episode is hosted by Dan Titmuss.

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In This Episode

Arts administrators wear a lot of hats, and that trend has only intensified as our industry finds itself in recovery mode. With all of our energies focused on audience re-engagement and revenue growth, organizational culture can often take a backseat. But with more news of quiet quitting and high burnout levels, investing in your people has never been more critical. Discover simple adjustments you can make today to lead stronger teams and create healthier work cultures that energize and empower the people around you.
Digital Download with Ali Blount

Dan joins fellow senior consultant Ali Blount to review newly released benchmark data from CI’s clients and share inspiration as you begin planning for the upcoming winter season.

Media Moment with Molly Shoemaker

Dan chats with CI’s Director of People Operations and Recruiting about finding your footing with flexible work and helping your team thrive in and out of the office.

CI to Eye Interview with Snehi Bhatt

CI’s President, Priya Iyer Doshi, sits down with a longtime friend and Leadership Development Executive at Admired Leadership to discuss the key pillars that set leaders up for success.

Kevin Bianchi: Hey there, it’s Kevin, Senior Operations Coordinator at Capacity Interactive. This year’s Digital Marketing Boot Camp for the Arts is going to be another incredible conference from CI. We’ve got a great lineup of experts to help you become a stronger arts marketer, leader, and champion for the industry. It’s all taking place in the Big, Bad Apple, and there is no better place to find artistic inspiration than in New York City. So mark your calendar for October 26th and 27th at the Time Center in New York. What’s your next step? Registering at capacity interactive boot camp dot com. And I would hurry because space is limited, and tickets are selling quickly. I hope to see you there!

Dan Titmuss: Hi everyone, and happy summer. In the nonprofit world, arts administrators wear a lot of hats, and that trend has only intensified as our industry finds itself in recovery mode. With all of our energies focused on programming and revenue growth, organizational culture can often take a backseat. But with more and more news of quiet quitting and high levels of burnout among employees, it’s never been more important to invest in your people. Which begs the question, how do you revamp organizational culture while you still have a to-do list a mile long? Today’s episode is all about simple adjustments you can make today to lead stronger teams and create healthier work cultures that energize and empower the people around you. I’ll chat with Molly Shoemaker, CI’s Director of People Operations and Recruiting, all about remote work. In the era of Zoom fatigue and “can you see my screen?” we’ll talk about how to find your footing with flexible work and help your team thrive in and out the office—slash living room, slash bedroom, slash beach, if you’re lucky. Then CI’s President, Priya Iyer Doshi, sits down with Snehi Bhatt from Admired Leadership. Together they delve into the key pillars that set leaders up for success and provide heartfelt advice tailored to the emerging leaders on your team. We’ve got a lot to cover—but first, CI consultant Ali Blount swings by the pod to discuss holiday campaign planning. It might seem early, but I’ve already seen some “Christmas in July” sales in my feed. We’ll review newly released benchmark data from CI’s clients and share inspiration as you begin planning for the upcoming winter season. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Dan Titmuss: Okay. Let’s start with our Digital Download. Today we have a special holiday themed edition with everyone’s favorite senior consultant, back by popular demand, Ali Blount. Ali, welcome back to CI to Eye.

Ali Blount: Hello. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be back and talk all things holiday with you in the heat of the summer.

Dan Titmuss: Exactly, right? Doesn’t it feel so, so appropriate to be talking about, uh, the holiday campaigns right now? I can hear like all of our listeners groaning that we’re already talking about holiday campaigns, um, and we get it, but a lot of our clients are actually launching their campaigns in the summer, right?

Ali Blount: Yes, they are. Um, I’m already running campaigns… it’s mid-July. I’m already running campaigns now. I just ran, I just finished a campaign for a theater company that was putting their Christmas Carol on sale. That campaign saw a 3000% ROI, return on investment. So just to give you a sense, we are starting now. Um, it’s, it’s really never too early, I would say. I can’t really think of a time it would be too early to start.

Dan Titmuss: I mean, it totally makes sense. Like if you’re planning going home, for example. I plan on going home, and my mom was already talking about getting tickets to the panto, right? Those plans are already in motion.

Ali Blount: Oh, yes. I’m getting a ton. I have two young children. I’m getting a ton of emails already about fall pajamas and Christmas pajamas already being—not just selling but being like restocked because they already sold out. I absolutely fell prey to it. I absolutely already bought my children themed pajamas for the fall and the Christmas season. So I am… people are buying into this. Even if it feels crazy, people are doing it now.

Dan Titmuss: Yes, exactly.

Ali Blount: If your tickets are on sale, we should be advertising them. Um, you know, some people do a “Christmas in July” fun thing. I’ve seen a lot of cute summertime stuff. I love—there was one ballet company that did their Nutcracker in the, you know, the big Nutcracker costume, went out and threw a first pitch at a baseball game for their local team.

Dan Titmuss: Oh, fun.

Ali Blount: Yeah. Super cute. So there’s lots of fun things that we could do or like have the Nutcracker, you know, frolic in in a fountain or something. Lots of fun things we can do for the summertime to make it fun.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah. Just classic summer things like frolicking in a fountain. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the summer.

Ali Blount: Especially in a big heavy Nutcracker costume.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah, sure.

Ali Blount: We can go do something fun for, you know, the Christmas Carol ghosts, let’s say for Halloween. So even though it feels like it’s a lot to be talking about the holidays now, we can make it fun.

Dan Titmuss: So let’s talk about orchestras and presenting venues, places that have a ton of holiday shows back-to-back. Should they be really inundating everyone with holiday messaging right now?

Ali Blount: Yes, but I would say that they should be doing it in a strategic way. So if you are the type of organization, as you said, like a performing arts center or a, an orchestra that’s going to have, let’s say like six different holiday programs, I would not do a specific campaign for each of those, especially not right out the gate. I would maybe start out with, um, some sort of content that’s gonna showcase your full array of holiday offerings. So that could look like a trailer that, you know, that is showing off just general holiday programming or, you know, diving into each of your programs. It could be a carousel that’s gonna show each—you know, let’s say you have six programs—it’s gonna be one slide for each of the six programs. So something that’s kind of like upper funnel acquisition that’s really going to show off all of the things that you have.
And there’s lots of ways to do that. And then that type of, you know, bigger picture content could lead into somebody clicking on it and going to a landing page that is going to tell them what all of those specific holiday offerings are. So you have that, you know, big trailer and then when you go to the landing page, people can see, oh, here are the six programs. And then they’re gonna click and they’re gonna self-select what they are most interested in. So rather than us running six campaigns and guessing who might be interested in each, people will tell us they’ll click and they’ll end up in the retargeting pools for each of those programs. And then when they’re in the retargeting pools, we can serve specific content that’s just about that program to them to hopefully get them to seal the deal and purchase. So it’s a kind of tiered strategy that kind of moves people down the funnel with that like broader, um, curated type of acquisition content.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah, and from like an SEO dork perspective, that is really appropriate in terms of having all of those different levels. Um, for example, like having a landing page that is holiday concerts in general at your performing arts center or orchestra, um, that’s a really strong way of like executing SEO because it means that you have one page which, you know, you can target, you can uh, sort of create title tags that really speak to holiday things to do, holiday shows. Rather than having that appear on a general landing page of all of your concerts or a more specific one of like just Handle’s Messiah or just The Nutcracker.

Ali Blount: Yes, exactly. And the data really supports this. We did this type of strategy for a symphony and they started out, they did a trailer video and then people went to the landing pages and self-selected, and then we retargeted. That campaign had a 709% ROI. It drove over a hundred thousand dollars in revenue and 38,000 page views on Meta. We ran that same kind of broad trailer on YouTube and the return on investment, the ROI, was 2900%. So we are definitely seeing results for this type of strategy.

Dan Titmuss: Those are really excellent content suggestions. And also one of those things we often come across is what we call The Nutcracker Problem. Um, basically, you know, if you have a production of The Nutcracker year after year after year, um, then you’re gonna have a landing page for ‘21, ‘22, ‘23, and 2024. Well, those kind of compete with each other. And so there isn’t an appropriate landing page. Um, and it’s, you know, you can fix that by adding like 301 redirects, which take a user from an old page to a new page. But if you have it year after year, it does start to become this sort of tangled rats nest of 301 redirects. And so, you know, allowing yourself to create a static page that’s the same year after year, um, is a really nice way of thinking about that, I think.

Ali Blount: Yes, I love when I, you know, I’m starting with a client for the first time, let’s say, and I see that their URL is like, whatever organization slash Nutcracker.

Dan Titmuss: Yes.

Ali Blount: Yeah, it gives me such relief because I know beyond all the important strategy points that you pointed out, another great one on our end is that then you have a retargeting pool that has existed this entire time. It, we don’t keep resetting it back to zero with every year that we create a new page. So, you know, let’s say somebody’s visiting a page in May and June ‘cause they’re interested in seeing if tickets are on sale yet. They might not even know when you are on sale, and maybe you don’t even get—they don’t get an email cause they’re not on your email list, but you can retarget them because they visited the page, which is not something you can do if we keep rebuilding pages over and over. So it’s an important, it’s like you said, it requires some forethought, but it’s an important strategy that actually is going to help save you money in the long run from having to rebuild your retargeting pools. And that’s why we’re talking about this now. You know, it’s July, we’re talking about this now so that there’s time to implement all these changes. This is not a conversation that we can have in September or October or November. These changes already, you know, this all needs to be, the ball has to be rolling by then.

Dan Titmuss: One of the nice things about holiday programs is they tend to have a lot of name recognition and broad appeal. So you can cast a really wide net when it comes to acquisition. Do you think there are specific channels or formats that work really well for this kind of programming?

Ali Blount: Yes, all of them.

Dan Titmuss: Oh great. Okay, cool.

Ali Blount: Yeah, I mean, when you have The Nutcracker, you know, you don’t need to tell anybody what the plot of The Nutcracker is. People are going to see it based on the fact that it is The Nutcracker. So it’s a much easier sell, which means that it can translate to all of the different platforms. You know, we all, we talk a lot about how Meta is so excellent for storytelling for arts organizations. It’s a good multimedia experience. You can tell lots of different stories about your programming. I would also really lean into Google this year. Google has really expanded their machine learning offerings in big ways and it is really gonna be cost effective to run on a lot of the Google platforms. I’m loving Discovery right now. I think Discovery is such an amazing placement. I’m seeing excellent results there. Um, Performance Max is another one that’s really great.
So this is a time where I would start tapping into those and seeing what’s gonna work for your organization with those, uh, platforms. And we see a lot of results to back this up. I wrote a blog post that kind of dives into a lot more of these holiday campaigns. So you’ll see a lot of the data there. But just to kind of give you a sense, um, you know, Performance Max, for example, we ran that for a Nutcracker campaign and it drove 166,000 page views at 8 cents each, which is very, very low. It’s much lower than we typically see for shows. So we are definitely seeing a lot of excellent results on the Google platforms, especially for this kind of programming.

Dan Titmuss: You know, it can be a big switch from using static banner images to Responsive Display Ads, right? It’s a big change in how you sort of think about these things. And I would say if you just wanna dip your toes in the water, maybe try running two campaigns at the same time or two ads at the same time and you know, just testing it to see if it works for your organization.

Ali Blount: Yes, exactly.

Dan Titmuss: I think big name shows like The Nutcracker are really good at getting new people in the door, but something that we hear all the time is that marketers don’t know how to keep those people coming back. Um, and that’s really important for our industry, especially as we’re still in a time where we are rebuilding our audiences. Um, do you have any advice for audience retention?

Ali Blount: Yeah, so I would take advantage of the audience that you have that already purchased, that already raised their hands and said that they’re interested in you and your programming. And what you could do is you could take a list of your ticket buyers, you could serve out a discount offer to them on social and, you know, try to reengage ’em and say, you know, “Come again with 10% off,” let’s say. We did this for a campaign for Rudolph the Musical and it drove 10 purchases and a 42% ROI, which when you consider that we only spent a couple hundred bucks and that those are 10 people who might not have come again or purchased again, that’s a really big impact. It’s much less expensive to do that than to have to pay to get entirely new audiences into our future shows.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah, we’ve often talked in earlier episodes about that Bain study that says it’s far more expensive to reacquire lost audiences than to just keep them in the first place. It’s like cheaper to shop from your own closet than it is to go and get new clothes.

Ali Blount: Yeah. It’s so important to do this. I think it’s crucial, honestly. You know, people always talk about how maybe they have their Nutcracker audience or their Christmas Carol audience and they just, they don’t think they’re gonna come back. But you never know unless you try. We might as well. Like I said, it’s not gonna cost you a lot of money. We might as well try to serve out ads to them, see who we can get back. Maybe there is some percentage of those people who definitely only want to see The Nutcracker every year and that’s their thing and that’s fine. But there’s definitely a percentage of people who do want to see your other programming, but they just don’t think about it. It’s not on their radar. They don’t know about it. So it’s our job to educate them and bring them back into the fold.

Dan Titmuss: Mm. And one last question. What is the earliest date where it’s appropriate to play holiday music?

Ali Blount: ? Um, I’m a bad one to ask ‘cause I actually… I shouldn’t be admitting this publicly. I don’t love holiday music.

Dan Titmuss: I also—can I also admit this? I am not a huge fan of most holiday music.

Ali Blount: I feel like I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this and I’m gonna get like hate mail or something.

Dan Titmuss: This is a safe space. We can, we can admit that.

Ali Blount: Yeah. Safe circle. I don’t know. I mean, like, December 20th?

Dan Titmuss: Wow, that’s late. My birthday’s December 19th, so I hate anything taking away from it. So yeah. The 20th works for me as well.

Ali Blount: Yeah, that’s my husband’s birthday. That’s why December 20th is on my mind, that I feel like that’s… I’m like in the holiday spirit then. Unlike my mother who will listen to it like now, you know, anytime year ‘round.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah.

Ali Blount: And I’m like, let’s wait a little. Let’s…

Dan Titmuss: Yeah, let’s push it back. Yeah.

Ali Blount: But we wanna do our ads early though. Even though I don’t listen to holiday music early, we should do our ads early.

Dan Titmuss: All amazing tips. So bottom line, it’s never too early to embrace the festive spirit, even in July.

Ali Blount: No, it’s important and crucial I would say.

Dan Titmuss: Excellent. Thanks so much for being here, Ali.

Ali Blount: Thank you for having me.

Dan Titmuss: For today’s Media Moment, I’m joined by Molly Shoemaker, CI’s Director of People Operations and Recruiting, to talk about workplace culture and how to do remote work right. Molly, welcome to CI to Eye.

Molly Shoemaker: Hi Dan. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

Dan Titmuss: I’m so excited to have you on the podcast. Um, and this is like a perfect episode for your podcast debut because you play, well, a huge role in shaping organizational culture at CI. And we’re talking about your favorite podcast, Work Appropriate!

Molly Shoemaker: Yes, we are. I love this podcast so much. Not just as somebody who works in the HR space, um, but also just as a human existing in the world, just trying to take it day by day, one foot in front of the other. Um, so Work Appropriate is a podcast hosted by a writer and a journalist named Anne Helen Peterson. I am such a big fan. Anne Helen, if you’re out there, call me. Um, and she always brings on really amazing guests to talk about different work-related topics. This episode of the podcast that we listened to was called Remote Work Done Right with Marissa Goldberg. And she is the founder of a company called Remote Work Prep. Uh, so this podcast covered the trials and tribulations of remote and flexible working arrangements.

Dan Titmuss: So we have been fully remote for three years, say?

Molly Shoemaker: Three years. Since 2020… March of 2020

Dan Titmuss: March of 2020. Oh. Yeah. What happened around then that made us go fully remote, I wonder?

Molly Shoemaker: Can’t think of anything.

Dan Titmuss: Can’t think of anything, yeah.

Molly Shoemaker: Yeah, we went home one day in March, um, because it didn’t feel like it was safe to come back into the office. Um, and that was now over three years ago and we haven’t been back since then. But it wasn’t like so many other decisions that we or other companies can make where you might survey the staff, you might do some research, you might do, you know, some sort of cost benefit analysis to say, you know, we’re going remote now. Um, we made that decision because we had to, and we were so focused on, rightfully so, um, taking care of our people that we weren’t stopping to say, are we being the most intentional? Are we doing this the best that we possibly could? Um, and we know that that is the experience that many, many, many other companies, um, also went through at the same time.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah. So in the episode Anne and Marissa framed flexible work as a skill that you can practice. Um, and I think that’s so interesting. Um, what do you think of that framing?

Molly Shoemaker: Yeah, that really resonated with me. Um, like we said, this was something that happened for so many companies so quickly. And, uh, when you’re in survival mode making decisions like that, I think it’s very understandable that your first priority isn’t, you know, let me, let me step back and, and think about this in sort of a larger context. Um, and I think many of the things that I think we have found to make our remote work environment successful, um, our skills and our things that needed to be unlearned and relearned as we figured out how to make this work happen remotely. We, um, were lucky in that we happened to have already had many of the technological tools that make remote work easy. Um, and actually before the pandemic, it’s worth noting, we did have a couple of remote employees. So most of our staff was in New York and we had a smattering of remote employees at other, um, parts of the country. Um, so there were, you know, we, we were dipping our toes in, um, but we were not necessarily thinking about the next step. How does this affect our meeting cadence? How does this affect the way that we interact in meetings? Um, how does this affect how we bring on new employees and try to teach them how to be part of our company culture?

Dan Titmuss: Yeah. Um, what were some of the successes and challenges within CI’s transition to a fully remote company?

Molly Shoemaker: Yeah, I think one of the biggest takeaways that I had was that basically everyone at all levels of our company needed to over communicate. Um, for example, um, if I have somebody on my team and I am just wondering what they’re up to, and our old office setting, it was as easy as me just like maybe looking at their computer screen. Cause they’re probably sitting right next to me and saying, oh, I see that they’re doing their work. Amazing. Um, and when you’re remote and you don’t have that visibility at all, I think it can be really easy to climb the ladder and say, I haven’t seen this person. Their light isn’t green. What does that mean? Are they working on this thing? Do they know that there’s a deadline? Etcetera. And what we’ve realized, at least for us for right now, the antidote to that is everyone over communicating what they’re doing.
This is actually a great point, um, Marissa brings up in the podcast, which is the idea of a “my week” Slack channel. And if you have Slack that can work. It could be an email that you send, it could be in a Google Doc, like, the system doesn’t matter. But just the idea of having one place where everybody on the team is going to say like, here are my top five priorities for this week, or here are three questions I have coming into this week. And by setting the expectation that that communication is happening, that allows everyone involved to say, all right, there’s a system. So it’s okay that I can’t see you, or it’s okay that your light isn’t green because I see that you have this list of things that you’re working on and that’s okay. I don’t need your light to be green.

Dan Titmuss: They talked a lot in the podcast about how, um, measuring time is not really an effective management strategy. So saying like, you worked five hours on this is not the best way of figuring out how work is getting done and managing people. Lots of programmers feel this where they have like a sense of flow. Uh, and I have some friends who work in software engineering and they talk about this a lot. Like if they get interrupted, that like two-minute interruption spreads over like 15 minutes. Whereas if they have like an hour or so of high energy work compared to like, you know, a couple of hours of low energy work, they can get 10 times more done in that hour.

Molly Shoemaker: And I think one of the things that we do similar to that is encourage people to block off focus time on their calendar to say like, I’m here, I’m working, I’m just unreachable because I’m doing deep think work, or I’m doing highly detailed work that, um, it’s gonna be helpful if I’m not interrupted. Um, and just like setting up those systems. Um, another thing that they talk about in the podcast is really like formalizing those systems. So again, it’s not like this is this unspoken agreement that you and I have, it’s no, like, this is what focus time means, this is what constitutes an emergency. If that comes up, you need to ping me. Taking the time to say like, you know, like, what, what would be reasonable? What are we okay with as a company like standing for, um, in, in this area? Taking that time to do that and not just assuming that everybody is going to be on the same page. And I think that goes back to the over communicating and being as explicit as you possibly can. I do think part of being a remote company is just saying it’s going to just involve more explanation. It’s going to involve more documentation. And if it doesn’t, then a lot of people aren’t going to be set up for success in that way.

Dan Titmuss: Hmm. One of the things that they mentioned in the podcast was to do with mentoring, um, and how finding a mentor in a remote work environment can be a lot more challenging, especially if you’re someone who might tend towards more of like an informal mentorship, like making friends, I think they said it’s like making friends in your thirties and forties, or like, it feels like you’re sending a formal proposal, like, may I have your hand in mentorship? That sort of thing.

Molly Shoemaker: Yeah. And I think we, we were lucky in that we had a mentorship program when we were in person that we were able to adapt to a remote space. And I think, again, like having a program, having a process really helps because it means that it’s not just like me being weird and asking for something. It’s part of the onboarding system that I’m going to be asked if there’s someone on staff that I’d be interested in being paired with or, um, that there is a skill that I’m looking to hone and like somebody who knows the group better can pair us up together. Um, and I think like the thing about mentor programs is like they don’t have to cost any money. And the other, my other big recommendation for them is that they be time-bound and giving it structure so that it’s like, you know, we’re gonna plot out what your meeting cadence is going to look like for six to nine months. After that, if you hit it off, amazing. Um, and if not, and you just wanna say, that was lovely, thank you so much for your time, I’m good… that’s okay too.

Dan Titmuss: Molly, you’ve done a really great job in leading CI through the switch to remote work. If someone’s listening to this and they don’t work in HR, but they see an opportunity to improve their company’s approach to flexible work, how should they get started?

Molly Shoemaker: I think one of the great ways is to put yourself out there and to indicate interest in something. Um, that might mean like starting a Slack channel and saying like, I love summer blockbusters. Like, let’s talk about who’s seeing Barbie and who’s seeing Oppenheimer this weekend. Um, and that could be a Slack channel if your company works with Slack. Um, it could be an email that you send out and just say like, this is the time where I’m gonna have lunch and we’re all gonna do this together. Um, we have a colleague, Alison, who is a star baker and led us through a couple of bake-alongs during the pandemic where we all—she kind of passed along a recipe ahead of time and we all made something together, probably seasonally appropriate.

Dan Titmuss: The recipes were really good as well. I remember it was like snacking cake was one of them. And a galette was the other. And they were very, very good. Yeah.

Molly Shoemaker: Reach out to Alison for all of your baking needs in the future. And, uh, the other thing I would say is don’t let your metric of success be that, you know, everyone at the company is doing it. Um, something that I have found over the past three years is like, there are people who really need that connection at work, and there are other people who have lovely congenial relationships with their colleagues, but like, don’t need that extracurricular feeling, and that’s okay too. Um, so the people who will want to do the activity, will do the activity and the people who don’t want to will not do it. Um, and so I think like you will drive yourself like to a bad place if you’re too worried about like a hundred percent participation in things.

Dan Titmuss: I think it’s safe to say we’re both extroverts who like being around other people now that we’re working remotely. What are some ways that you’ve started to find community outside of work?

Molly Shoemaker: Yeah, so looking back on my experience working remotely, remote work was very lonely in the beginning. Um, but something else that came out of the podcast that really resonated with me was that wasn’t necessarily because of work, that was because there was a global pandemic going on. And everything that I did before was closed. I couldn’t, it wasn’t safe for me to go out. The only person that I was seeing, um, was my partner, um, who is lovely but is not enough for me all of the time. Um, and I saw that once I could start socializing after work, um, and, uh, getting back into some of the hobbies, getting back into community theater or, um, uh, running or meeting people in my neighborhood, um, I really started to see the benefits of working remotely, um, and the flexibility that it offered and that then I could also do these things that I loved doing.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah, I get a lot of zen out of chopping vegetables and like putting stuff on a stove and letting something boil. I’m a huge cooking dork. Um, so like making time to do that in the middle of the day, or I know that something needs to be on the stove or in the oven for like a few hours, like putting that on in the middle of the workday, going back to work and letting that permeate. That’s definitely something I’ve really enjoyed.

Molly Shoemaker: Yeah, there are so many applications I think for the flexibility of time. Um, and I think like more generally, anecdotally, I am seeing a shift particularly in folks who have been in the workplace for a bit who just don’t need the same kind of socialization at work that perhaps was expected pre-pandemic. Um, I think where we are right now is a far cry from the, like, my office has like free kombucha and a ping pong table and we offer yoga classes all the time and like this and this and this and this and this, which are all very lovely things. Um, but I think that what the flexibility of remote work shows us is like, oh, I can have lovely, warm, wonderful conversations with my coworkers and maybe they’re just my coworkers and that’s okay because I have a very rich full life outside of work. Um, where that’s, that’s where I, that’s where I am extracurricularly. Um, so like, that’s anecdotal. Um, and I, but I have a gut feeling that we’re gonna see more about that in the coming years.

Dan Titmuss: Yeah, I’m definitely a fan of Work Appropriate after listening to this episode. Are there any other episodes you’d recommend for leading healthy work cultures?

Molly Shoemaker: Absolutely. If not all of them. But I know that’s probably unrealistic. Um, the most recent episode is about disability at work. Um, that’s definitely an area where I still have a lot of learning to do myself. And so I recommend that for anybody who’s interested, um, in that work. It’s also Disability Pride Month. Um, uh, two other ones that stick out in my brain are a recent one that’s called Do I Need Work Friends? Um, and another episode called Making Parental Leave Better. Um, which I think does some really good work on, uh, explaining how different kinds of companies, um, can be more parent friendly.

Dan Titmuss: Molly, this was such a great conversation. What a podcast debut. Uh, thanks so much for being here.

Molly Shoemaker: Thank you so much for having me. Thanks Dan.

Priya Iyer Doshi: So Snehi, hi and welcome to CI to Eye! Thank you so much for being here.

Snehi Bhatt: Oh, thank you for having me, Priya.

Priya Iyer Doshi: It’s just so funny to me to be sitting across the virtual room from you. I feel like we should tell our listeners a little bit about our history. So, um, I will let you start and then I can pepper things in.

Snehi Bhatt: Um, yeah, let me start the story off by saying I was in my twenties and, uh, living in the big city in New York City and, uh, met the right connections and heard about this off-Broadway show that was looking for backup dancers, and that’s where I met you Priya. The, uh, Broadway show was called, uh, it was based off of Romeo and Juliet, um, based in Delhi. And I thought that was such a unique frame and yeah, we, I think for the hours that we put in, really connected all of us. Yeah. And, and that’s how we met.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Through thick and thin. Lows and highs in that rehearsal room. Well, it feels like a lifetime ago. That was like what, 2014, nine years ago? I don’t even know. It just… so much has changed. You were in a completely different career path. I was in a somewhat different career path, at a different job anyway. I hadn’t even come to Capacity yet, which is like kind of wild to think about. I don’t know. I definitely, I definitely did not think that we would be sitting across the virtual room talking about leadership today, but I don’t know. It makes sense I guess in some ways.

Snehi Bhatt: Oh, yeah. It’s been wonderful to see you grow Priya, personally.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Oh, ditto.

Snehi Bhatt: Right. From young single women in the city to, now, you’re married. Congratulations.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Aw, thank you.

Snehi Bhatt: And you’ll probably hear me huffing and puffing throughout this, it’s because I’m very, very pregnant.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Congratulations.

Snehi Bhatt: Thank you. And that’s a lot.

Priya Iyer Doshi: It’s a lot. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I’ve always found with you Snehi this, there’s an authenticity to you that just comes from you always driving from what you know to be true inside of you. And to me it just makes a lot of sense that you are now here working with Admired Leadership, where such the core of what Admired Leadership talks about is really authentically being a leader. And that is different for every different human. So, you know, in a lot of ways I understand why the universe has done what it’s done and why we are sitting here today. Um, so I’d love if we could just start by evening the playing field and you sharing what Admired Leadership is. Just give us a lay of the land.

Snehi Bhatt: So, Admired Leadership started off 35, 40 years ago with our founder and CEO Randall, who was a tenured professor, was in the leadership development space. And one of his first clients, you know, asked him, “Hey, come into this company and find me my best leaders.” And it’s a very large oil company. It’s multinational, thousands of employees, and he was certain that anyone that we came back with would be a name that he would know. And after we did a lot of 360s and, you know, did our research, we came back and we said, “Oh yes, we have two great employees. There’s one gentleman out of a rig off of Africa, and one in North Dakota.” The CEO did not know either one of their names. And so he was a little befuddled. And he said, “What do you mean, out of all the heads of businesses and all my direct reports, you’re saying that I only have two great leaders?” Randall says “Listen, you have good leaders. You have leaders that get great followership and great results, but you don’t have leaders that can do both well and consistently.” And we noticed time and time again that these leaders and the people that we interviewed around him always used the word, or are most likely use the word, admired. So we said, what do admired leaders do differently? That really got us thinking. We love studying leaders. We, we love uncovering behaviors. And the leadership in that is not just what you say or, you know, the differences between you and I, but rather it’s what you do. Right? Yeah. And the authenticity of being a good leader. And what we think is admired is someone who’s admired at work, but also admired at home. When we talk about leaders, we don’t mean a manager. If you can make people and situations better, you’re a leader.
You’re a leader at home, to your partner, to your kids, to your friends, to your family, you can impact any situation and make it better. And that makes you a leader. And, you know, we, we really don’t believe in the one and done kind of leadership. You don’t choose not to be a parent one day and be a parent the next, you, you can’t just not be a, uh, a spouse or a friend one day and and do it the next. So we want you to think about being a leader every single day and then one step at a time.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Yeah. It’s very intentional. There’s such an intentionality. I think that’s, that’s one thing that I’ve been really impressed by in the exposure that I’ve had to admired leadership, um, through the daily emails and the field notes. And that is definitely something that’s, that’s drawn me, the intentionality of, of the brand has drawn me in for sure.

Snehi Bhatt: Oh, absolutely. And we want you to think about being a leader every single day. And then, you know, having leadership on top of mind. And that’s where the field notes come in. What I like to call them is just nuggets of wisdom, easy reads. Maybe two minutes long of just topics that we’ve come across in the last 40 years. Uh, keeping leadership in mind. What are the things that are going on? Uh, what you should you and your team be thinking about. And these field notes came about on our platform after we launched the platform. And I don’t think I went into this, I’ll, I’ll go ahead and tell you about it. Three, four years ago, we decided that we needed to launch the platform, um, and take all this robust content that we have and really bring it to the world and bring it to leaders that really need it.
And that could be parents, it could be, um, which we’ve seen a lot of uptick in in principals, teachers, coaches, faith leaders, because this just wasn’t material that was available to them. Yeah. Uh, traditionally coaching one-on-one, um, advisory has been reserved for leaders at big companies who could afford the time and, and investment in doing so. But actually creating this platform was really to take that content and provide it to the leaders who are still in their early journeys of becoming a better leader for the entire community. We just wanna spread the word and start the discussion on leadership and how you could be effective every day, one step at a time.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting because we, Capacity Interactive has just become a big fan of Admired Leadership over the course of the past year or so, I would say, especially, and we, we use the platform and those, the the different modules that you’re describing within our team leader meetings every week. So in the second half of our team leader meetings, we usually focus on one module or one specific video and sort of have discussions around that. So that’s become an integral part of the way that we are developing our own leaders inside of Capacity. And then those, those field notes, I mean, I, for some reason, I feel like the universe knows when I need to get one of those and what the topic needs to be. It’s hilarious to me. So last year at Boot Camp, right before I was about to go on stage, there was one about nervous energy and how it’s a, it’s a good thing.
And I was like, how did Admired Leadership slash the universe know that this is exactly what I needed to hear or read right now? And we, um, well I’m, I’m actually using the model I saw in one of the more recent ones. Uh, in one of our, we have like quarterly leadership retreats, uh, once a quarter for our, our rundown team, our leadership team at CI. And there was a recent field notes around, um, levels of consensus in the six levels of consensus, which we’re gonna use, uh, for an exercise in our, our quarterly retreat. So they’re, they’re incredible. Everybody, if you have not signed up for them, please sign up for them. They’re so scannable, they’re like a wonderful start to the day. And in a lot of ways, I, I find them incredibly grounding. Like oftentimes there are certainly new ideas that I come across in those, but half the time I just find them as a, like a touch a rock moment.
Like, I just, they ground me, they remind me, they give me perspective, um, which is I’ve just found to be super helpful. So plug to sign up for those field notes and definitely check out the platform as well. Um, big fan of those. Um, but I wanna go back to something that you said earlier. You described and Admired Leadership’s approach or perspective of leadership as defined by behaviors. You described that as contrarian. What, what does it actually look like in practice for leadership to be defined by a set of behaviors and how is that different from what you see society perceiving leadership as?

Snehi Bhatt: Yeah. So right now, if you look at the leadership space or the industry, it’s quite robust, but most of it is focused on differences. You see a lot of these assessments out there that’re saying, oh, I’m ISTP, you’re ENTJ. That’s why we don’t get along. Let’s figure out how we’re gonna, you know, work out how we will work together. And when you’re starting off, you need to, to learn to be self-aware, you need to understand, to read the room. You under need to know what makes you tick, what motivates you. But after that, when you become a leader, very often you don’t know what to do. And our contrarian view is, Hey, what about the similarities that great leaders do that you don’t. And that’s why I say we don’t like to focus on the differences, but rather think about how you can resonate with everyone else in the room who might be very different.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Which to me, sort of flips the script a little bit in, in, in a positive direction, in a more optimistic, instead of focusing on what, where you’re falling short, focusing on what it is you have to gain. I think it’s hard oftentimes when, when you’re training a new leader, maybe someone is managing people for the first time, or somebody is leading a client for the first time. I think it’s really easy to fall in the trap of prescriptive feedback where you’re defining success by it, looking the exact same on different people. I do think what you are describing, the simplicity of the pillars can be communicated in a way that is concise, clear, and it can manifest or look different on each leader’s body, mind, soul, et cetera. So I’m just curious from, from your perspective, both yourself as a leader and through the exposure that you’ve had to various clients over the months and years, what are you seeing a lot of people coming up against that is hard to overcome?

Snehi Bhatt: Universally making time to lead? Mm. I think that’s very hard. Everyone is busy, um, at home, at work and, and really thinking about carving out time for leadership, carving out a big rock, right? What’s a big rock of yours, Priya, maybe going to the, the gym or making sure that, you know, you spend time with your husband or whatever it may be. In the personal side, same thing for work, right? I wanna make sure that I carve out time for a great up and coming rising star, right? To make all those priorities work, and then think about making the time to lead. I think it’s always been a challenge.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. It, it’s hard, I think, to continue to practice. Perhaps that’s, that’s what you’re, what you’re saying too, I think there isn’t really like a finish line you can get to as a leader, after which you, you crossed the finish line and now you’ve graduated into leadership, and now you can sit here and be a leader forever. Like that doesn’t exist. Uh, at CI we talk a lot about this idea of iterative optimization. So instead of setting goals that feel several months, years down the line, or feel completely out of reach, instead of taking that approach, taking an approach that allows you to take one step in the direction of where you ultimately want to go, as opposed to, how am I just gonna get from point A to point Z tomorrow?

Snehi Bhatt: Yeah. It’s far harder to wake up and be motivated every day, but it’s much easier when you’ve built in a discipline.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve talked about this idea that leaders, leaders are anybody, leaders are not just people who are managing others. Leaders are not just people who have that in their title or who sit in a certain place in the hierarchy. Any, anyone can be or should be a leader. Um, so I’m curious, how does somebody who perhaps doesn’t have that actively built into the structure of their role, maybe they’re not directly managing, coaching, mentoring people on a daily basis. How does a person like that grow their leadership skills when the, the practice, to your point, isn’t as built in to their day-to-day or their function and their role?

Snehi Bhatt: Yeah, and I think it goes back to the simple idea of how can I make this situation better? Or how can I make this person better? What can I do? And it’d be very, very simple, right? Um, hey, I noticed that my, that someone, the janitor needs help with picking up trash because it’s overflowing. Maybe I’ll stop and try to help him along the way, right? So we also, it goes back same to that idea of we want you to be, be better at work, at home, everywhere, because that will translate. You can’t truly. I don’t, I haven’t met someone who can be different in every single situation. Yeah. There’s somewhat, you flex, there’s stylistically you have to flex in different situations. You have to adapt, and we understand those differences, but really it’s just, I’m a good leader because I make people and situations better.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. I love that. It’s so simple, but it’s very impactful. Snehi, what, what is one piece of advice that you would give to an emerging leader today?

Snehi Bhatt: Well, Priya, you know, when I think of an emerging leader, I think of myself, uh, quite a few years ago. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna answer your question with a story. And it was when I was just convinced that I had to dive deeper into the finance world, I thought, well, listen, it’s not like me, but I’m gonna start networking and I’m gonna start talking to people, maybe make the right connections. And, you know, when I started doing this, I was of course a little bit insecure, like everyone is. Am I gonna be the right person? Thank you, ma’am. Thank you, sir. Thank you for your time. Thank you so much for your time. And I told this one, one, uh, leader that I met, and he was a managing director at that time. And I said, frankly, I was like, thank you so much for giving me your time, but I’m so confused.
Why are you giving me this much time? What’s, you know, you’re giving me so much attention, I haven’t received that yet. And he goes, oh, I’m selfish. Very, very bluntly told me. He goes, I’m selfish because you’re talent, and I don’t want talent to go anywhere else besides my team. And guess what, 20 years down the road, when I believe you’re gonna be incredibly successful, maybe I can ask you for that connection or for advice or to help me with my next steps. And it just completely flipped my view. My time is also quite valuable in different ways. So when you’re really thinking about, oh, I’m gonna bother this person. Or, you know, I don’t, they’re so busy, they’re not gonna have time for me. Why would they, why would they wanna talk to me?

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah.

Snehi Bhatt: Trust me. More often than not, leaders are surprised when they offer up their information that people don’t take them up on it. So be bold, reach out, make those connections, and remember you have value to add.

Priya Iyer Doshi: That’s powerful. That’s great.

Snehi Bhatt: Yeah.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Uh, is there an aspect of leadership that you’re focusing on or is top of mind for you right now as a leader?

Snehi Bhatt: Yeah, it’s, it’s funny. Um, we always say, hey, practice first on the low impact areas of your life or, or where, um, you have trust built in, right? Yeah. So I practice on my husband. Don’t tell him, hopefully he doesn’t listen to this. And, and my child. Cause it’s easy to do, and you can see that day in and day out. Okay. She is mimicking things I didn’t know I do. There’s certain motivation she has that just doesn’t… she’s too smart. Sometimes she’s gonna forget what I said yesterday, so I have to be careful. Right. So there’s a lot of things that in parenting I found behaviorally that I just have to change. Right? Okay. Positive reinforcement. Sure. Um, but what are the behaviors to get me there? And, um, I think what I’m really working on is to have a voice. Now, this is not the behavioral view, but I’ve, I’ve found my voice over the year. As a, as a young Indian southern woman, I’m all sorts of complicated, but it’s always, put your head down, work hard, speak up only when you’re spoken to, and more recently, um, to get out of that mindset. I’ve also started doing something where I, uh, offer information of what I’m working on, not as to say, Hey, I’m doing all these things, but rather FYI this is what I’m working on. I just need you to know, let me know how I can help you in this, in this, in this area. And I think that’s very much impactful in my leadership to just say, it’s not that you’re, uh, speaking up for yourself, but rather everyone’s busy. Let them know what’s going on.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Yeah.

Snehi Bhatt: So that thing, I think I’ve focused really heavily on that, that aspect. Yeah. And as I grow, I’m, I’m bringing people along. Yeah. I’m, I’m thinking about, Hey, how can I make this situation and this person better? I believe in you. How can I help you? I’m gonna take five minutes out of my day. Are you doing okay? Just remember the little things that you don’t think that matter and really start applying them. And that’s how I think about it, giving myself space, thinking about the people around me, thinking about the situation now that you can definitely stretch yourself a little too thin, but you have to learn how to balance it.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah. Yeah. Um, I like that you said that you practice on your husband, because I definitely practice on mine as well, and he definitely will listen to this and I’m sure have something to say. But, um, one, one thing that I struggle with is, is ruinous empathy. So I, I often feel, I feel for the situation that somebody else might be in. And sometimes that can stand in the way of me being direct in my communication, in my needs and my feedback. Um, and with my husband, arguably the person who I care most about on this planet, um, I, it’s especially easy to think about his needs or anything he’s struggling with before, directly communicating when something he’s doing isn’t working me or I need him to do more to contribute or whatever. Um, but in, in the same way, he’s a good practice subject as a result. So know that you’re not alone in practicing on your partner.

Snehi Bhatt: There’s this saying, right? And I have way too many doctor family and friends, but surgeons don’t operate on their own. Right? So it’s kind of hard to remove yourself from the situation. It’s hard for the opposite party to take that advice without all this history and emotion tied to it. So, um, grain of salt.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yeah.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Yes. We have great husbands. Um, awesome. Okay. Well, we have come to our final question, um, which is the question that we always ask at the end of these episodes, which is our CI to Eye moment. So if you could broadcast one message to executive directors, leadership teams, staff, and boards of thousands of arts organizations, what would that one message be?

Snehi Bhatt: Well, first of all, you know, I wanna stay true to the theme and say, you know, behave it until you become it. And then also there is this incredible video I would love for everyone to check out around an idea we call fanness. Um, it all comes back to being a fan. What does being a great fan mean? That you’re not only a fan when things are good, but rather you’re a fan when things are absolutely terrible. And you can see the power of how that fan can impact someone and, and motivate and inspire them. So be a fan of your child. Be a fan of your colleague. Be a fan of your leader even. Cause everyone needs to feel special every single day. And I’m gonna give a quick example, which I think is, is pretty profound, um, is that, uh, Phil Jackson, if you know the coach of the Chicago Bulls, would do quirky little things, write little notes, and, and he would have sometimes some cheesy, you know, pick me up and put it on a post-it note and put it on the lockers or in the locker rooms and things like that. And there’s an interview and I don’t know quite when that happened, but Michael Jordan said, “You know, Phil, is always writing these tidbits, but guess what? Every time he did it made me feel special.” Michael Jordan needed to feel special at the height of his career. He was undoubtedly one of the best players, taking the Chicago Bulls to the championships. And if Michael Jordan needs to feel special, I promise you, there’s someone in your life that needs to feel special too.

Priya Iyer Doshi: Beautifully said. I love that. Thank you so much, Snehi, for being here, for sharing your wisdom and your perspective. It’s so wild to be sitting across from you, as we’ve said many times. But I’m so happy and, um, congratulations again on your second. And thank you so much for being here.

Snehi Bhatt: Thank you. Very honored, Priya. Thank you.

Dan Titmuss: Thanks for listening to CI to Eye. This episode was edited and produced by Karen McConarty and co-written by Karen McConarty and Krisi Packer. Stephanie Medina and Jess Berube are CI to Eye’s designers and video editors, and all four work together to create CI’s digital content. Our music is by whoisuzo. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please take a moment to rate us or leave a review. A nice comment goes a long way in helping other people discover CI to Eye and hear from experts in the arts and beyond. If you didn’t enjoy today’s episode, pass it on to all of your enemies. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube for regular content to help you market smarter. You can also sign up for our newsletter at capacity interactive dot com so you never miss an update. And if you haven’t already, please click the subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time, stay nerdy.

About Our Guests
Ali Blount
Ali Blount
Senior Consultant, Capacity Interactive

Ali Blount is a Senior Consultant of Digital Marketing at Capacity Interactive. She joined the CI team after working in marketing and management at Roundabout Theatre Company and the Huntington Theatre Company. She received a bachelor’s degree with honors in English from Harvard University, and then earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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Molly Shoemaker
Molly Shoemaker
CI Director of People Operations

Molly Shoemaker is Capacity Interactive’s Director of People Operations and Recruiting. She joined the Capacity Interactive team after six years of work in the Artistic and Development departments at Signature Theatre.

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Snehi Bhatt
Snehi Bhatt
Leadership Development Executive, Admired Leadership

Snehi Bhatt advises seasoned and emerging leaders on diverse topics, including leadership effectiveness, executive presence, and relationship management. Cognizant of the unique challenges in today’s business environment, she promotes authenticity, innovation, and agility in individual and team development. Snehi brings over 15 years of experience from both Fortune 500 organizations and startups alike, most notably MetLife and Betterment. She has helped transition several platforms from launch into B2B revenue generation, and brings particular expertise in scaling platforms and building product-market fit. Snehi’s background in finance and technology has given her valuable insight into the essential skills for effectively managing teams and navigating organizational dynamics. Snehi is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and based in New York City. She is passionate about behavioral leadership and empathy in action. Everyone can be a leader, it is a choice and not a position; and every leader can choose to become better.

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