In The Modern People Leader Podcast, we go behind the scenes with HR executives to hear about their daily routines, what it means to be a Modern People Leader and we will discuss the latest topics in the HR world. Our goal is to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends, and to help spark conversations and change within your organization. You can access our episodes below. Or you can subscribe to The Modern People Leader directly on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

56 – Liz Fosslien on confronting big feelings at work

Liz Fosslien, the co-author of No Hard Feelings and Big Feelings, joined us on The Modern People Leader. We talked about her journey to becoming a best-selling author, the 7 Big Feelings that we’ve all been experiencing the past couple of years, and how we can begin to make peace with our emotions at work.


  • Liz’s journey to becoming a Wall Street Journal best-selling author (4:44),
  • why everyone should be jealous that Liz gets to work at Humu (10:55),
  • why she thinks we’re all so scared of confronting these big feelings at work (14:32),
  • how they identified the 7 Big Feelings (20:00),
  • which of the 7 Big Feelings resonates most with Liz (23:04), emotional granularity (28:20),
  • two tools for making peace with your emotions (30:16),
  • how to avoid negative thought spirals (35:35),
  • the 1 thing Liz wants people to take away from Big Feelings (40:50),
  • and the career advice she’d give to 22-year-old Liz (44:44). 

55 – Jessica Williams on Becoming a Talent Destination

Refine Labs’ Megan Bowen, COO, and Jessica Williams, VP of People, joined us on The Modern People Leader. We talked about Refine Labs’ culture playbook, how they’re leveraging social media to become a talent destination, and why they’re focused on onboarding.


  • why we should be jealous that they get to work at Refine Labs (7:05),
  • how they created their Culture Playbook (11:10),
  • the “oh hell nah list” of behaviors at their company(15:24),
  • the primary driver for going fully distributed (18:40),
  • how they’ve filled 80 roles in two years and how they plan to fill 100 more this year (21:40),
  • the journey for the typical candidate (24:50), the quality of inbound candidates vs. outbound candidates (28:50),
  • how you can leverage social media to become a talent destination (30:10), why they’re focused on onboarding (37:23),
  • where onboarding goes wrong for a lot of companies (43:00),
  • and what advice they would give their younger selves (46:20)

54 – Katie Burke on removing opinions from future of work decisions

Katie Burke, Chief People Officer at HubSpot, joined us on The Modern People Leader. We talked about HubSpot’s award-winning culture, how they conducted 4 panels to make future of work decisions, and how they’re giving employees the ability to automatically opt into the work style that best suits them.


  • why we should be jealous that Katie gets to work at HubSpot (11:05),
  • how HubSpot’s award-winning culture has evolved (14:40),
  • getting business leaders on board with where the future of work actually is (17:50),
  • how they conducted 4 panels to make decisions on the future of work (20:18),
  • the insights that their people analytics team is driving around retention (24:53),
  • personal connection to work as a key driver of retention (26:36),
  • giving employees the choice of how they want to work in an automated way (29:18),
  • tracking NPS, intent to stay, inclusion and belonging, and more (32:40),
  • DIB and the future of work shouldn’t be talked about in isolation (39:04),
  • lessons learned over the years as a leader (40:22),
  • and the advice she’d give to 22-year old Katie (44:40). 

53 – Best of Modern People Leader 2021 – part 2

On this very special best of 2021 mash-up, you’ll get insights from guests throughout our episodes from last year. In Part 2 you’ll hear from the following guests:

  • MPL Group Chat (episode 36) on this being HR’s time to step up and how we’re entering the age of HR (0:37).
  • Steve Cadigan, former CHRO of LinkedIn and author (episode 38), on how workers and companies can see less of the future than ever before, and why the competitive advantage moving forward will be the ability to deal with instability (6:57).
  • Dom Boon, VP of Talent & Organizational Development at Liberty Latin America (episode 43), on how they identified the habits of the top 10% of their managers (16:48).
  • Shelby Wolpa, former VP of People Operations at InVision (episode 45), on lessons learned from scaling the people function at 4 venture-backed companies and the foundational steps for setting yourself up for success in a remote-first environment (22:23).
  • Darren Murph, Head of Remote at Gitlab (episode 49), shares why you need to look at the future of work as an opportunity to build something new – and how you have a permission slip to reinvent how your team looks and works (29:03).

52 – Best of Modern People Leader 2021 – part 1

On this very special best of 2021 mash-up, you’ll get insights from guests throughout the last year. In Part 1 you’ll hear from:

  • Dilshan Rathnayake, Chief People Officer at Securonix (episode 7), on the importance of learning the business that you serve so that you can better serve your people as an HR leader (0:37).
  • Dena Upton, Chief People Officer at Drift (episode 15), breaks down what it means for her company to be going digital-first and why it’s a more equitable model (3:52).
  • Yemi Akisanya, Global Head of DEI at Groupon (episode 31), on why real success with DEI requires a complete culture transformation (9:25).
  • MPL Group Chat (episode 32) on the great resignation and what you can do to keep top talent (15:03).
  • David Hanrahan, CHRO at Eventbrite (episode 33), on why the traditional 9 to 5 is a relic of the past (24:54).

51 – Jill Larsen on the evolution of HR and where it’s going

Jill Larsen, Chief People Officer at PTC, joined us on The Modern People Leader. We talked about how the CHRO role has changed, the evolution of HR, and some of her predictions for the future.


  • the one piece of advice that transformed her career (12:05),
  • the worst advice she’s ever received (15:15),
  • how the CHRO role has changed over the last 15 years and where it’s going from here (19:00),
  • will we see more CHROs promoted to CEOs (23:50),
  • we’re going through an HR evolution (25:34),
  • digital transformation in HR (30:00),
  • what does being data driven in HR look like (32:15),
  • findings from data projects (34:42),
  • gen z and millennial takeover (35:23),
  • is retention still the right gauge for culture (41:50),
  • employees having multiple jobs in the future (46:53),
  • metrics she’s looking at on a weekly basis (51:10),
  • and rhythms the people team has in place (53:10).

50 – The HR Metric to keep an eye on in 2022

At the end of each episode, we ask every guest which 3-4 metrics they’re keeping an eye on. Today, we talked about the biggest themes that we identified and which of these metrics should make it onto your HR scorecard.


  • DEI metrics (3:57),
  • peer recognition metrics (8:30),
  • eNPS or a single engagement metric (14:38),
  • employee engagement metrics (16:40),
  • retention data (22:00),
  • business metrics (23:50),
  • using the wobble scale for 1×1 conversations (24:38),
  • recruiting metrics (27:18),
  • building a scorecard for HR (30:27),
  • moving to a focus on leading indicators versus lagging indicators (31:58),
  • why we started The Modern People Leader (33:54),
  • and how you can help The Modern People Leader (40:09).

49 – Darren Murph on culture being built outside of company walls

Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab, joined us on The Modern People Leader.

We talked about what a Head of Remote does, investing in document infrastructure, building culture outside of company walls, and how to shift from a fear and scarcity mindset to a mindset of opportunity.


  • What a Head of Remote does on a daily basis (6:20),
  • change without story feels like a mandate, change with a purpose feels like vision (9:44),
  • shifting from a fear and scarcity mindset to a mindset of opportunity (12:00),
  • you can learn something from everyone (13:07),
  • the two biggest challenges scaling culture fully remote (16:55), investing in document infrastructure (20:46),
  • COVID has given every leader a permission slip to try new things (30:54),
  • hybrid or shybrid? (32:59),
  • providing examples for building new lifestyles around work (35:26),
  • community impact outings are good alternatives to zoom happy hours (38:37),
  • culture is the barometer for how well values are adhered to and reinforced (42:20),
  • the future of work is going to be asynchronous (45:10),
  • and have you looked at your purpose portfolio lately (51:50).

Here’s a link to GitLab’s handbook:

Informal Communication in an all-remote environment

48 – Barbie Brewer on culture being exposed by the pandemic

Barbie Brewer, former VP of Talent at Netflix and Chief Culture Officer at GitLab, joined us on The Modern People Leader. We talked about the many shades of gray between office-first and remote-first. Then, we chatted about all things culture.


  • The best piece of career advice she has ever received (8:52),
  • the many shades of gray between office-first and remote-first (16:40),
  • the difference between remote-first and remote-friendly (19:05),
  • most companies are trying to make hybrid work (22:11),
  • keys to asynchronous work (24:10),
  • key lessons and takeaways on culture from her time at Netflix (37:30),
  • culture is never done (40:41),
  • good or bad, culture was exposed by the pandemic (42:58),
  • what leaders should do if they feel like the culture is off (45:21),
  • and defining the behaviors underneath your values (48:38).

If you want to learn more about Barbie and the work that she’s doing, visit her website: https://barbiejane.com/contact-us

47 – Gen Zers in the Workforce

By 2025 Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce. So, today we talked about what makes them different from any other generation and what they’re expecting from employers.

46 – Clio Knowles on making employees feel seen

Clio Knowles, Chief People Person at Virgin Hotels, joined us on The Modern People Leader. We talked about technology, how they’re hiring differently, and the importance of making employees feel seen.

Episode Highlights:

  • Launching hotels during COVID (12:00),
  • Why they built a custom communications platform (14:50),
  • Combatting the great resignation in the hospitality industry (16:50),
  • Focusing attention on hiring people from underserved populations (18:40),
  • Seeing employees as human beings (24:20),
  • BAREIT sessions at Virgin Hotels (28:15),
  • They mapped the teammate journey out and created a teammate branding toolkit (30:20),
  • The people that have the answers are the people on the ground doing the work (34:00),
  • and more.

45 – Building a Remote-First Culture

Shelby Wolpa, Founder of Shelby Wolpa Consulting, joined us on The Modern People Leader.

Shelby talked about her experience scaling the people function for 4 separate unicorn+ status companies. Then, we talked about what it takes to build a best-in-class culture in a remote-first environment.

Episode HIghlights:

  • Learnings from scaling the people function for 4 venture-backed companies (9:19),
  • What it was like pioneering a remote-first culture (10:55),
  • Foundational steps for setting yourself up for success in a remote-first environment (14:10),
  • Common pitfalls when going remote-first (20:12),
  • What type of work should happen in the office (24:40),
  • Shelby’s prediction for remote work (25:50),
  • There’s no such thing as hybrid (30:30),
  • The three phases of onboarding (33:45),
  • And what’s keeping people leaders up at night (43:15).

You can find Shelby’s free guide for building a remote-first culture and her other playbooks on her website: https://www.shelbywolpaconsulting.com/