Events

Tech Leader Chats: How to cultivate self-belief in the face of challenges with Denali Lumma

5 min read

This year’s market contraction has only added to the ongoing challenges that leaders face – how to give tough feedback, how to keep teams motivated while working remotely, how to give upward feedback, and more.

By nature of the role, leadership can sometimes leave leaders without anywhere to turn for positive reinforcement. This can be felt particularly keenly in the face of challenges, such as market contraction or turbulence at organization level. How can one lead authentically in the face of uncertainty? How can a leader fight self-criticism and improve how they feel about themselves, in order to effectively guide their organization?

On this topic, we heard from Denali Lumma (Founder at Doubling, previously VP Engineering at Chekr, Project Ronin & an Engineering Manager at Box, Uber, Salesforce, and Okta). Denali has worked with, advised, and supported leaders of companies from startup to scaleup as they navigate challenges. She spoke to how leaders can manage self-criticism, and how to create positive change in terms of how the leader feels about themselves, so that they can contribute to positive changes in the organization.

About Denali

Denali Lumma is a technology executive with over 20 years experience in startup to public offering, small, midsize and global companies supporting teams responsible for customer-facing product development for B2C, B2B, healthcare and life sciences, and infrastructure teams responsible for technical platforms, security, privacy, compliance, corporate IT, quality, reliability, and availability. She has helped to build multiple unicorns as an engineering leader at companies like Okta, Salesforce, Uber, and more.

Denali serves on the board for Savage Jazz Dance Company, distinguished by its disciplined dancers and instructors, and its dedication to the exploration of jazz music’s range of expression. She is an investor in Steezy, making dance the next big global sport. Denali is Founder and CEO at Doubling, offering technical advisory services to portfolio companies at Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, and other venture capital groups. Denali lives in Los Gatos, California with her husband and two children.

How to cultivate self-belief in the face of challenges

See below for:

  • Key takeaways from Denali's talk
  • The recording and slides from Denali's talk
  • Resources noted in the talk
  • A transcript of the discussion

Key takeaways

Recording and slides

You can view the slides from Denali's talk here - and see below for the full recording

Resources

Transcript

[00:00:00] Lauren Peate: Welcome. So I'm Lauren. This is, I think, our fifth tech leader chat. Our bigger goal with this community is to create a space for engineering and product leaders to learn and grow together in a community of people that cares about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

[00:00:13] Lauren Peate: And so some of our topics directly cover that, but it's always just in the background. You'll all know that you had to answer a few questions before you joined the community too, just because we, want to make sure we were bringing together an intentional group of people that know how important it is to build a really equitable and inclusive tech ecosystem and tech products.

[00:00:34] Lauren Peate: So that's the bigger purpose of the group and the plan for the day. So I started to mention this. We will hear from Denali. Very excited to hear that you'll have some time for q. As Denali is chatting, feel free to add your questions in the chat and then Jenny will be keeping an eye out for those and we'll batch those at the end and share those back.

[00:00:54] Lauren Peate: And then at the end we'll turn off the recording and go into those breakout room discussions. And so that's quick high level. And so with that I'm gonna. Wrap up my part cause I know we're all here to hear from Denali. And I will say we were particularly excited about this topic cause we know, I was gonna say it's a tough period now with the market contraction, but to be honest, it's been a tough several years between the pandemic and now the market contraction.

[00:01:16] Lauren Peate: And so of course, leading through challenges brings its own set of trying to figure out how can we be authentic? What does it look like when maybe we have our own feelings about everything that's going on and our own self-doubt. And we couldn't think of someone more qualified to speak on this topic than Denali.

[00:01:34] Lauren Peate: I met Denali through a mutual friend and had been so lucky to get to have some chats with her around how to build high performing teams but to do it in a way that's really caring and really centers people. And she'll speak more to her background in a second, but she's really seen it all. And and one of the things I'm, most of my around Denali is she brings such deep expertise and competence in her craft, in her field.

[00:01:55] Lauren Peate: But managed to weave that in with that deep care and concern for people and how they're doing too. So with that, I'm gonna stop talking and hand it over to you. We're really excited to hear from you, Denali.

[00:02:06] Denali Lumma: All right. Thank you so much, Lauren. Those were super kind words. I appreciate it. Super excited to be here.

[00:02:13] Denali Lumma: So I'm gonna go ahead and start and actually share my screen. So let me know if this is working for you. Can you all see the presentation? That's great. Awesome. That's good. Okay. Really happy to be here. As Lauren mentioned we've had some discussions and. Kind of opportunities to start collaborating and partnering.

[00:02:35] Denali Lumma: And I really I think that what multitudes is doing is absolutely critical. I am very much of a data oriented person. I like to use data. I work with data. And I know that is very powerful and effective. And I also know that there's another side or another part of sort of the equation of really Working effectively in software development with teams, and that is like the people side of it, hiring, retention, engagement, team dynamics, communication, clarity.

[00:03:06] Denali Lumma: And so I'm really excited to see what Multitudes is doing to try and bring all of that together along with efficient flow. Of sort the software development life cycle. So great to be here. I also think it's funny because I've given a lot of talks over the years of, on different topics, technology topics, people topics and by far, the presentations that I've given that have gotten the most traction.

[00:03:30] Denali Lumma: And the most interests and follow up have always been on these sort of like people oriented things. So there was a talk I gave related to imposter syndrome that was really well received. And even now to this day, people contact me like, oh, I'm, your presentation was so meaningful and I'd love, that sort of thing.

[00:03:46] Denali Lumma: I'm really excited to be here and honored to be with you all and joining and meeting this community. and I hope that you know that the things that I can share are useful to you and meaningful to you. All right I will just do a quick intro and then we'll dive in. I have been working in technology for almost 25 years, which is insane how fast the time flies.

[00:04:10] Denali Lumma: I have recently founded a company called Doubling. We do different types of thing. We do. Advisory fractional and interim CTO support. We also have some open source runbooks that we're publishing and we're also actually building a fund. So there is a lot of stuff going on right now, which is really exciting.

[00:04:28] Denali Lumma: I've worked in different spaces, consumer enterprise, life sciences, as well as healthcare. So some of the companies I've worked at over the years, walmart.com, Netflix, 23andme, Okta. Salesforce, Uber, and then most recently checker and over the past. About three years. I've had some just amazing opportunities to start investing and advising with startups.

[00:04:56] Denali Lumma: And so I've really enjoyed that, that type of work, and that's why I've shifted to doing that as my primary area of focus, working with company with investors like Y Combinator, Andrew Horowitz, and other groups and portfolio companies through them.

[00:05:12] Denali Lumma: All right. If we get down to the meat of the topic, the heart of the topic I think it's fair to say, and I think, Lauren alluded to this, that the past few years have had some unexpected twists and turns for many people, including myself. But that's actually been true.

[00:05:29] Denali Lumma: Probably my whole career. So there have been, experiences that I've had throughout my journey where I've had very high highs, very low lows. I think though the past probably few years, this type of thing has been magnified and amplified even more than before. And I actually remember the day.

[00:05:48] Denali Lumma: If you all can go back and remember, it was March 20th, 2020. It was actually the day before my birthday, March 21st. And that was a pivotal day for me and the beginning of, I think this new segment of time that we now find ourselves in where, this idea of coronavirus.

[00:06:07] Denali Lumma: Became mainstream and became a topic that was suddenly broadcasted across all the news media and the social networks and, pretty much everyone learned about it simultaneously. And I had been aware of something going on as early as January and following that in my random places that I like to read on, the internet.

[00:06:27] Denali Lumma: Hoping that it would. Culminate into, such a dramatic outcome. And unfortunately it did. And knowledge of coronavirus became mainstream and there was of panic and essentially markets went into free fall. And that was the beginning of, I think this era.

[00:06:48] Denali Lumma: So over the course of my career, but again, in particular over the past couple of years, I've started to really invest in learning about and thinking about the fundamental principles that I can use and I can deploy. To essentially become invincible. That is my goal. I want to get to a place where I can continue to be successful, where I can continue to thrive, where I can continue to be authentic and live my life.

[00:07:16] Denali Lumma: And. Engage in my work, regardless of what's going on externally with other things out in the world, with other people, with other events. And so I'm really excited to share these principles with all of you and how I've developed them, how I apply them, and get your feedback and discuss with you all if you think these are useful or if you have other approaches that have worked.

[00:07:40] Denali Lumma: So the first principle for me that was really fundamentally transformative as I was trying to face these dynamic challenges that were emerging in my experience has to do with ownership and essentially taking responsibility and. For me as a younger person just getting started working in industry, there were definitely times where things would happen that were unexpected that I, I didn't like, and I had this perspective of essentially blaming things like, oh, it was, this external thing, like that person or that event, or, something kind of outside of myself.

[00:08:17] Denali Lumma: And what I started to learn and started to realize was, This perspective really didn't support me. I felt powerless. I felt almost like at the whim of, of the world, and it didn't really yield the returns that I was actually looking for. And so over time I started to develop a new perspective that I felt a lot more connected to, which was a sense of ownership where I basically decided that I was going to take responsibility for whatever situation I was in.

[00:08:50] Denali Lumma: Whatever was unfolding before me. And with this approach, I felt a lot more powerful and a lot more empowered, and I made this shift in my mind where I basically decided, I was going to believe that, whether it was intentional, whether it was unintentional, whether it was conscious, whether it was subconscious, that there was always some aspect of responsibility that I had for the situations that I found myself in.

[00:09:19] Denali Lumma: And with this perspective and this belief system, I also felt that I could move forward feeling empowered, feeling, knowing that, because I was. Accountable that I also had the power to change my situation and to do something different or better. So it really helped me a lot. And the outcome here for me as well was this, like this key insight around autonomy and freedom and understanding that if I took responsibility for my experience that and didn't hold others accountable, other people or other situations that I would have a lot more freedom.

[00:09:59] Denali Lumma: And also the corollary that, for other folks that I wasn't responsible for their experience either. That I'm my own person, that I'm free to direct my life as I see fit in the highest good for what's most aligned for my own unique and individual perspective. So understanding that we're all unique, we're all individuals, and what is most important and valuable for, for one of us, it may or may not be the same for the other.

[00:10:26] Denali Lumma: So that was a very a positive kind of realization that I had as well. All right, so taking that first principle of essentially ownership, accountability, feeling empowered feeling like I could direct my own experience. Then moving into the second principle around momentum was a big big shift for me in the positive.

[00:10:46] Denali Lumma: And this has been talked about a lot historically. There are references to, quotes, famous quotes by Winston Churchill, I think more recently, Ram Manuel and many other sort of, historically relevant leaders. But it's really true that. It's helpful to understand if you can remain neutral and try not to react or overreact that whenever there's a real crisis or a real catastrophe, there's also tremendous amount of opportunity.

[00:11:16] Denali Lumma: And if you can harness the power that's fundamentally present in that type of event, you can actually there's some incredible outcomes that can be achieved. Just accepting the fact that there's momentum, that has materialized, that there's this potential energy that has moved and the situation is building and building and getting more and more Sort of having the, having the wherewithal to understand that with creativity, with flexibility, there are actually different paths.

[00:11:44] Denali Lumma: There are many different paths where this growing potential energy can be redirected from the current situation. That might at first glance, appear to be a situation of weakness to actually transform into a step function of much more powerful position. I did this a lot in my career, intuitively, and actually this type of thing is something that really took me very far and I think a lot.

[00:12:11] Denali Lumma: People, leaders in different fields, politics, certainly, academia, science, et cetera. If you look, if you, once you notice this pattern, you'll start to see it in many places. You never wanna waste a good catastrophe, and there's always generally a way to turn things to your advantage.

[00:12:27] Denali Lumma: With all of that momentum presenting itself to you. So now rather than doing this intuitively, my goal now is always to try and very consciously redirect momentum and really try to get from, anything that I experience that at first seems like defeat, trying to move it into a major win.

[00:12:47] Denali Lumma: And being grateful when that happens. So understanding that I'm in my comfort zone and I'll continue to do things as I've done them before and this event, even if at first it seems really negative is actually helping me, it's actually a gift in a way or a benefit because it's pushing me outside of my comfort zone where I'm going to have to Attempt something that I wouldn't have attempted before and maybe it doesn't work and that's okay, but if it does work, that's actually the motivation that has helped me to try and make that kind of step function forward.

[00:13:21] Denali Lumma: Okay. We've talked about sort of accountability, ownership, feeling empowered. We've talked about greeting crisis and catastrophe. As a gift actually, and understanding that there's tremendous opportunity in situations that appear to be very dramatic, taking that momentum and redirecting it.

[00:13:39] Denali Lumma: The third principle for me that's been really helpful navigating the past three years is this concept of relationship to self. So I think you. I've come in my life to accept that as hard as I try, I can't control the world. I can't control other people. People will do things, events will happen.

[00:13:59] Denali Lumma: It's chaotic and there's really nothing that I can do about it. The sun, the way the sun, moves the earth. The rotation of the planets. I can't control this among many other things. It's not my job. And accepting that's just the nature of our experience here in the universe.

[00:14:17] Denali Lumma: And and leave it at that. But I also know that there is one thing that I absolutely can control that I have complete autonomy over that no one can actually control for me. And that is the relationship that I have with myself. I control my own thoughts, I control my own emotions, and I can choose what to think.

[00:14:38] Denali Lumma: I can choose the thoughts that will help me to feel the way that I want to feel. I can choose to be a friend to myself. I can choose to be an enemy to myself. I can choose all of these things. And I think the reason why this is important is for me, in my experience, I've definitely had this experience and I think others have too, where.

[00:15:00] Denali Lumma: Initially, if you're going through life and you're very focused on these particular milestones or these particular achievements that you can have this experience of being very outcomes focused, where externally, it seems like you've achieved a lot and that's great, but internally you're never really satisfied for.

[00:15:22] Denali Lumma: And it's like this, you know what I would say the metaphor is you're in the ocean and you're swimming and it's storming and there's waves and it's really hard and you managed to get to the island and some people didn't. Right? But you did. And you're on the island and you're resting.

[00:15:38] Denali Lumma: You have some Spit and maybe for a brief moment or a brief time, you feel satisfied or you feel safe, and then you get back into the ocean and you do it again. And this time the storm is bigger and stronger and harder and you make it to this, the next island and you have a brief moment of rest or kind of satisfaction and you can imagine doing that over and over again.

[00:16:05] Denali Lumma: and each time it gets harder , and that's one path. But I think there's another path which I've been really intentionally trying to develop, which is this idea of centering around rather than the outcome, like still having outcome, still having goals, still having milestones that you've set and defined perfect.

[00:16:26] Denali Lumma: But instead of having the outcome be what you're shooting for as a primary focus, actually moving the focus back to. Really just your own satisfaction, and not just at certain times during the year, like once a quarter, but really on your own satisfaction every single day in every single moment as much as possible.

[00:16:45] Denali Lumma: And cultivating that focus on the relationship that you have with yourself. And for me, I know that there's there's a lot. People who sometimes struggle with the relationship with self, and there are these different ways that manifests in terms of like addiction with alcohol or drugs or other things.

[00:17:04] Denali Lumma: And I think for me, I've in some ways found a way of. Disassociating myself from myself with work. So I tend to have this challenge where I tend to work a lot, I do a lot of work, and on the surface it looks so, it looks good, but actually it's a mechanism for escaping or for disassociating or numbing, that feeling of really authentic feeling.

[00:17:29] Denali Lumma: And so a lot of what I've had to do over the past couple years is actually. Really focus on doing less and feeling more . That's been the therapeutic thing for me and really trying to orient myself less around the objective, less around the outcome, still having those, but if it happens, great.

[00:17:47] Denali Lumma: If it doesn't happen, also great. Because my primary objective now has shifted to really just being satisfied. I want to. A compassionate, loving relationship with myself. And that's really my fundamental work. And if I can do that, I can actually help more people more significantly and more deeply. And my own success in life will be much greater.

[00:18:08] Denali Lumma: I think about okay, what does that actually mean in terms of How to move forward practically? What I what I mean when I say that is I try to define my target feelings. So I'm thinking about how do I want to feel every day, and I think if you ask yourself some sort of straightforward questions this can become very clear.

[00:18:24] Denali Lumma: Do you want to feel, or do I want to feel distracted, or do I wanna feel present? Do I want to feel anxious or do I wanna feel confident? Do I want to feel lacking or do I want to feel unconditionally loved? And as you go through this, it becomes very obvious.

[00:18:40] Denali Lumma: I think pretty much everyone knows how they wanna feel and what that looks like. So I ground myself in, okay, these are the types of things that I wanna feel. This is the type of relationship I wanna have with myself. And then I take that and I move into what are the supporting thoughts that can help me with.

[00:18:56] Denali Lumma: And so these are, fairly well understood, fair, fairly well published, but essentially trying to, always identify and focus on the things that are going well. So that was a big shift for me. Like of course you have your week, you have your weekly plan of everything that you wanna accomplish, and, a lot of things that you set out to do are actually going really well.

[00:19:14] Denali Lumma: You're succeeding, you know they're happening. And then there are some things that didn't quite work out as you planned. But there's a way in which it's easy to just focus on the things that aren't working. And in fact, you wanna really turn that around and really just emphasize, writing out all the things to celebrate that happened that day, that week that are going well, that you're happy about, has been very effective for me.

[00:19:37] Denali Lumma: Another thing that I do is I try to find justification supporting my thesis, which is that, that everything is gonna work out in the highest good. And this sort of gets to maybe more of a spiritual perspective of, essentially the, a belief in a beneficial, force in the universe, which May, may be thought of in different ways by different people, but essentially finding things where I can say, oh, there's evidence, there's more evidence that, everything is gonna be fine and that I'm taken care of and that I'm safe and that, things will work out.

[00:20:09] Denali Lumma: Maybe not exactly as planned, ultimately in the way that I want. And so there's a lot of work that I've done in that. And so just to recap, so these three principles for me have been extremely helpful in navigating the past three years and my career in general. Taking ownership, you.

[00:20:28] Denali Lumma: Leveraging momentum that exists in situations that at first appear to be quite negative, and then cultivating my relationship to myself. And I found when I have been able to do this and practice this, I've come to a place of what I consider to be invincibility, where I really feel like the sky is the limit.

[00:20:47] Denali Lumma: I'm thriving in dynamic times and nothing can really stop me. So I just wanna say thank you again for your time. It's been a real pleasure presenting this to you, and I'm really looking forward to talking more. Amazing. 

[00:21:03] Lauren Peate: Thank you. You'll you probably haven't seen the chat, but there's all sorts of just thank yous or this resonates or is just talking about this thing.

[00:21:10] Lauren Peate: The slide is me. So yeah, let's go ahead. We'll, we've got some time for questions, so I'll kick it off and then if you have questions that have come up for you, feel free to stick him in the chat. And Jenny we'll, we'll pull those together as well. So there's a great question. I'm gonna weave together a couple around how during a catastrophe, really loving the reframe of, let's go from it being like utter defeat to resounding triumph.

[00:21:32] Lauren Peate: And at the same time, during a catastrophe, we might just feel so overwhelmed or so impacted by what's going on, that it's hard to find the capacity or energy to do that reframe. . And so a question around how do you stay motivated yourself? Have you ever felt that way and how do you find that motivation then to do that reframe?

[00:21:54] Denali Lumma: Absolutely. And I think it's so interesting because, I think that what we're seeing in the world right now is that there's a lot changing. There's a big shift in terms of people and how they're thinking and feeling, and the zeitgeist, essentially in you. In this current day and age where people are saying, I am going to have to really fundamentally rethink, how I engage with work and what I want to do.

[00:22:20] Denali Lumma: Do I wanna work full-time? Do I wanna work as a consultant? Do I wanna do freelancing? Do I wanna actually not do this work at all and go do some completely other field? That is happening for a lot of folks and I think that's the natural consequence of exactly what you're saying, where it's we've had this, we've had this really impactful experience, and it's hard to know sometimes, like, how do I respond?

[00:22:46] Denali Lumma: And sometimes actually the best thing is just taking time and stepping back and digesting, and processing. And certainly I did that. I've done that before where it's I need, I need four weeks, six weeks, I need, a weekend or some period of time where I don't know what the answer is.

[00:23:02] Denali Lumma: I can't respond yet cause I'm not, I'm not in that positive, grounded space. And I think that's actually happening a lot for a lot of people which is totally understandable and natural, I think when you're in a leadership position. It can be tough or even if you're, actively working in a team as an ic and there's these expectations that, you continue and that you continue to engage.

[00:23:23] Denali Lumma: And there are different like Kind of ways of thinking about that and how to deal with that. But I don't know if that's an answer or not, but those are just my initial thoughts, . 

[00:23:31] Lauren Peate: Yeah, no, that's great. And I might just do one follow up on that one too, just not to put you on the spot, but if you have an example you could share of a time where you went through, and I know there's been a few times over the last, for years that have certainly brought up challenges and maybe just an example of a time.

[00:23:47] Lauren Peate: It started with that feeling of defeat or overwhelm or this is too much. And then what was your process like for doing that reframe and, what was the triumph that you were able to reframe it into? 

[00:23:57] Denali Lumma: Yeah. Oh man, it's happened so many times. It's really crazy. But I guess I could start with Maybe I'll start with my very first, like career experience here, and then I'll give a couple more examples.

[00:24:09] Denali Lumma: But when I was in high school in the late nineties, I taught myself how to write html and I happened to land a job doing that at a startup. And I really enjoyed it. It was great. It was great work. It was great team. And when I graduated from high school, I decided that I wasn't going to go to college.

[00:24:28] Denali Lumma: And instead I was just gonna keep working. And I had been learning how to program in Java on the job, and it was very exciting, but it was like this. This challenging situation because my parents were just absolutely mortified. It's you're not going to college, you're just throwing, you're throwing your life away.

[00:24:44] Denali Lumma: And I was like too bad. I'm just gonna, I'm just doing it because I just think that's the right thing to do. And so it was, it created a lot of tension with my family and ultimately ended up being, of course, the right thing to do because it was, very, we were actually acquired by Walmart.

[00:24:57] Denali Lumma: It became walmart.com and it was this very successful. Thing where I was there for many years. But that was maybe one ex, one of the first examples where it was like, I'm just gonna do this thing. I don't have anyone's approval really , in fact, I have strong disapproval. And it ended up being extremely positive for me, where I had that working history that could, I could then launch my career off of that in a much more meaningful way.

[00:25:21] Denali Lumma: Versus if I'd gone to college, during that time and accrued debt. I think there was another good example of this where I was working at Salesforce actually. We had done a lot of really great work. We'd been, at the time I was working with several infrastructure teams, so we were managing millions of windows and Linux VMs and we'd actually built out a dynamic OSX cloud with hash corp tools for like massive build and test for mobile.

[00:25:49] Denali Lumma: And it was a really exciting and great kind of Great work that we were doing, but we had in particular a project that was fairly high, that was fairly high visibility that didn't go well. It was basically like, a short timeline, high visibility and what we delivered wasn't really what, what was wanted.

[00:26:08] Denali Lumma: It was considered to be a disappointment. So that was I would say like a challenge, professional challenge, which actually caused me to decide to leave Salesforce and start my own company for which I got funding for. So I managed to actually close funding the first round. And then at the last minute, Uber convinced me to join them instead, which I did to work in security.

[00:26:30] Denali Lumma: But that was an example of that. Basically taking there were a couple weeks there at Salesforce where I was like, oh, this is not good. This professionally is a crisis in terms of this project was seen as essentially like a failure. But in that process, I was able to take a step back and say okay, what is it that I really want, and take myself seriously.

[00:26:51] Denali Lumma: And then invest, take that momentum and use it to redirect and invest in what is it that I actually really want? And let me go for that because I have nothing to lose. In a way, you you get to this place where it removes when there's a serious problem, it can remove a lot of the superficial constraints that actually don't matter.

[00:27:11] Denali Lumma: That where then you can move forward in a much more authentic. In a much more powerful way. So that's another example. But this has happened to me many times. . Totally fair. 

[00:27:24] Denali Lumma: Those were great. Thank you. I'll pass it to Jenny to weave in some of the questions in the chat and from the audience.

[00:27:30] Jenny Sahng: Yeah. I'll call on a question that Eric sent in earlier in advance. And yeah, when times are tough and like leaders are in the thick of it all, how do you motivate your team, especially, it's great to be able to have control over your own feelings and thoughts, but then how do you influence others to also go through challenging times?

[00:27:48] Jenny Sahng: But yeah, as you've mentioned, you don't have control over how they respond to situations and things, but you're a team lead, so yeah.

[00:27:56] Denali Lumma: I think it's a great question. I think, the honest answer is sometimes you can help, sometimes you can't. But I do strongly believe that if you try to help people when you yourself are coming from a place of, like non stability, it's it's not, it's very kind of ineffectual, right?

[00:28:16] Denali Lumma: If you can ground yourself in. Feeling that level of like positivity of confidence, of kind of optimism and hope first, and then try and help people. That's where I think it doesn't necessarily work all the time, but the chance of it working is a lot higher and it's a lot more effective.

[00:28:35] Denali Lumma: I really do think that people are pretty, they're intelligent and intuitive and they will pick up on. The authentic, where you are authentically much more than what you say to them or what you do. And that's why I think, for companies like, it's so important because, the company is really In many ways, like a magnification of the leader and the leader's authentic, true values.

[00:29:03] Denali Lumma: So it's if you wanna understand like what's the culture at Uber, for example, in that case it's if you wanna understand that you should really try to understand like what is the value system of the ceo. When I worked there, it was Travis Lennik, right? And it's not what he says.

[00:29:18] Denali Lumma: It's actually what he does. And especially not just what he does, but what he does. When there is a stressful situation or when things don't go as planned or when there is a crisis or catastrophe, and that is what defines a culture at a company. And so I think as a leader, being mindful that it's really, I think Maya Angelo said when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

[00:29:43] Denali Lumma: It's like when you're working with a team, with your leader as a leader it's how you behave when things don't go. That's the culture that you're setting and that's the team dynamic that you're building. One thing that I've learned that has been really helpful is don't react.

[00:30:02] Denali Lumma: Don't be like problem, immediate reaction. Because oftentimes my reaction is not the kind of culture that I want to build. So taking time to, to process, to consider I think can be really helpful. But I think that's my philosophy on. Wow, thank you. Yeah, that's really deep tough stuff, but but yeah, clearly as deep as that is like the depth of the change that needs to happen.

[00:30:26] Jenny Sahng: Yeah, and I'll just combine two questions I've had into sort of one, cause they're related. Especially in terms of controlling thoughts especially when you're having a very difficult situation like a manager situation or a people. Situation. Yeah. How do you practically speaking control those negative thoughts yourself out? And are there any particular skills or practices or books that you, that has worked for you? 

[00:30:48] Denali Lumma: Yeah and I realized I didn't include a ton of detail there thank you for asking a question. I think, I've read a ton of books and I study lots of different things related to. People and he, mental and emotional health and team dynamics.

[00:31:01] Denali Lumma: I think that definitely I'd recommend like meditation of some kind or another I think is really helpful. So if if you haven't tried that, give that a try. I think it can be a very effective way to just like reset, reboot, and get more grounded. There is a lot of things.

[00:31:18] Denali Lumma: Written that are resonate for me personally, there's Eckhart Toley, the Power of Now which was really life changing for me. Essentially this concept of trying to really stay connected to the present time and not get too distracted by plans for the future, rehashing what's already happened.

[00:31:35] Denali Lumma: But I think, what I would say is like ultimately the key probably for each person is gonna be different, right? Each person is unique. And I think if you have, as you're guiding light, like I said, this idea that, you spend the most time with yourself, you're the one with your own thoughts, talking in your own mind.

[00:31:55] Denali Lumma: Listening to that voice and deciding is that voice helping me or not helping me? Supporting me, or not supporting me? And, how can I. How can I approach that conversation that's always going on in a way to, to really be authentic and really be aligned with my true values and what I really care about.

[00:32:14] Denali Lumma: And I think that's part of what's happened over the past few years that I'm actually excited about is that people are, as painful as these things have been and as traumatic as and experiences we've had. I think that people really are re responding to that by thinking like, who am I really?

[00:32:33] Denali Lumma: What do I really want? I've been told this and that and I should do that, and this is important to that person. And, but actually what do I want, what do I care about? What's meaningful for me. So I think having that candid and honest conversation with yourself is something that a lot of people are starting to do that I'm really happy about.

[00:32:52] Denali Lumma: And I think moving from there. In the direction that you want to go, you'll be successful however you choose to do that. Whether it's like with meditation or, spiritual teachings or, more traditional religion or other techniques. Reframing, positive, like finding positive aspects.

[00:33:09] Denali Lumma: All of this stuff can work and it just depends on how you wanna go about it. But being authentic and developing that for. 

[00:33:19] Lauren Peate: Love that. I'll, we'll wrap it here cause we're gonna shift to the small groups next. But yeah, just a couple things on that. One other thing I will share is I know Denali's doing consulting work with teams and leaders and that's another resource.

[00:33:32] Lauren Peate: To, to learn more about this and, you've, I think we've all gotten a really good sense of your approach to today, Denali. And then I also just wanna do huge plus one to the power of now with Eckhart to, and it, at the time, I actually wasn't a meditator yet when I read it, but reading the book really felt like an active meditation and yeah, changed the course of my own life too.

[00:33:52] Lauren Peate: So yeah huge, thank you. Honestly, so many nods, so much that I know really resonated. I saw it coming through in the chat. So what we're gonna do is wrap up this portion in a second. We'll turn off the recording, thanks to all of you who've joined for this part. And then we'll shift into the small groups to discuss it further.

[00:34:07] Lauren Peate: And this is the part where if there's personal things, stuff that's going on in your own life that you wanna dive deeper into with some peers this is the chance to do it. Just in closing, a couple quick things. Yeah, Denali, I forgot to mention, thank you for kinda hinting at multitudes of what we do.

[00:34:21] Lauren Peate: So just briefly there, we do engineering effectiveness metrics, but minus the creepiness. So our focus is on how we can help teams deliver well without burning people out. And then you might have seen in the chat some people referencing our community. So we do have a Slack group. We'll share more information about that in the follow up messages and emails.

[00:34:40] Lauren Peate: Oh, actually, thank you Jenny. Jenny's gonna share it in the chat right now, so if you're interested in that and you wanna continue some of the conversations there, I know Dean, you had some other thoughts on some things we really welcome that and we'll share any of we'll share a blog post and some takeaways and also the resources from this talk today in that community as well.

[00:34:57] Lauren Peate: So with that, we'll go ahead and turn off the record.

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Brooke Mills
Brooke Mills
Business Operations
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