On a recent Wednesday in the Etsy Labs, CEO Chad Dickerson asked media mogul Arianna Huffington about leadership. It wasn’t a private conversation over the phone or behind closed doors, but rather an open, candid chat not unlike a talkshow before an audience of Etsy employees.
The conversation with Arianna, which later morphed into a Q&A, was the first in a new internal series at Etsy called IdeaCraft. The series was created to tackle big ideas, learn from the best, and “bring in provocative and interesting people for freewheeling conversations about things that matter,” as Chad put it. “In the course of my own career, I’ve been lucky to meet and sometimes work with many great leaders. I’ve learned so much from listening to and talking with these leaders, and I want to bring the spirit of those conversations to everyone here at Etsy.”
So what did Arianna, who has written 13 books and co-founded The Huffington Post, have to say about leadership? Essentially, that it’s about taking care of yourself: getting a full night’s rest, eating healthy, and taking time for renewal.
“When people are burnt out, sleep deprived, exhausted, they make bad decisions – they are not connected with their own wisdom. After all, leadership is about judgment. It’s about being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic.”
Arianna discussed the strength that exists in vulnerability, and dove into what it means to be fearless – a topic she has devoted an entire book to exploring.
“I described fearlessness not as the absence of fear but as not letting our fears get in the way of what we want to do,” she explains. “Because fear is a human emotion that we all have, and fearlessness is really a muscle that we cultivate so that when fears come up we don’t have to listen to them; we don’t have to make them the final word.”
And while the energy in the room was buzzing with inspiration from the very beginning (how could it not be when she prefaced the talk by saying, “I love Etsy. The idea of people making things, becoming part of the community online — not just making a living but making a life — all of those things are incredibly important to me.”), the sparks of creativity grew into a full-fledged fire by the end, largely due to her openness. She sprinkled her professional advice with personal anecdotes about her daughters, her writing, and that time she ran for governor of California against The Terminator himself.
Perhaps the most memorable piece of advice, and the one that profoundly applies not just to us Admin, but to the entirety of the Etsy community, was about spreading your message. She says: share your story! Don’t think of your writing like “English lit.” Liberate yourself. Write down your dreams. Start a conversation.
“I feel that the more personal we make our contributions, the more people will want to share them, and the more emotional resonance they will have,” she said. What’s your story?