Build New Ways to Work: Work-Life Warriors

By Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens.

Julia Hartz was on the brink of new motherhood when she and her husband, Kevin, opened Eventbrite, the largest online ticketing company in the world. It was 2006, and the company operated out of an old shared ware house in San Francisco’s Portrero Hill; the place was furnished with odd used pieces, including a red velvet chair shaped like a high heel that was so dirty Julia refused to sit on it. The couple had not yet turned thirty, lived on ramen, and worked non- stop. And they had a baby before they hired their first employees. Julia told us that going through the crazy transition to parenthood while starting Eventbrite influenced a lot of their decisions about the company’s culture.

“We had a perspective of, ‘Hey, if I were coming to a company and I was going through what we just went through, how would I want to feel? How would I want to be supported?’ ” she said.

From the weekly “Hearts to Hartz” open dialogues, which encourage “Britelings” (as Eventbrite refers to its six hundred employees) to ask any question they might have of Julia and Kevin, to the company’s “Take the Time You Need” policy, which offers employees unlimited vacation time and a work-from- home option whenever needed, the couple’s goal from the outset has been to create an environment in which people come first. They also provide an impressive “wellness hallway” with fully equipped nursing rooms that can be converted for massage, acupuncture, and nutrition sessions.

“At Eventbrite we care about the whole you, not just the employee you,” she explained over lunch at Cavalier, a British brasserie two blocks from her office. Cavalier, run by restauranteur Anna Weinberg, whom Julia calls “a fierce female founder,” looks like a scene from a Ralph Lauren ad, with its deep red walls adorned with horse prints and a hunting scene mural.

Image courtesy of Jopwell

Julia, dressed in a crisp white shirt and classic black slacks, fit right in. The server greeted her like an old friend and brought over a complimentary appetizer.

We had met her only once before, but this thirty- seven- year-old mother of two has a way of making you feel like a friend. The woman named one of Fortune’s “most powerful women entrepreneurs” dished on the ultimate hack for child care (her mother, who lives close by), how she’s experimenting with a meditation app to get more centered, and that even though she races home by six for dinner, she’s rarely on e- mail after nine at night because she’s just exhausted by that point. She acknowledged feeling guilty and anxious — and often embarrassed — about the amount of time she spends traveling for work, recently to Nashville, where the company was opening a new customer service center. To add to the guilt, her older daughter was becoming more vocal about her mother’s frequent absences.

“I combat that by being truthful with her that I get sad every time I have to leave, and that actually seems to help ease her sadness,” Julia said. “I know my daughter was dealt a very, very good birth card, but sometimes I feel like I want to honor the fact that she also drew a lottery that she didn’t get to choose, which is that there is this thing called Eventbrite in our lives and it sometimes takes precedence.”

While she conceded that being open about her own challenges in managing her personal life and work might strike some people as soft, she said that same openness is at the core of Eventbrite’s success and its impressive record for hiring and retaining women.

From GEEK GIRL RISING by Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens. Copyright © 2017 by the authors and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.