Episode 32

Platforming Different Voices

with Heather Brunner

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In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Heather Brunner, the CEO of WP Engine. Heather talks about the things that have driven her through the ups and downs of a technology career, how she learned to lean into her unique abilities, and tactical ideas that WP Engine uses to practically promote diversity.

Highlights from the conversation:

  • Heather’s background and career journey (8:09)
  • Leadership as action (12:29)
  • Platforming diverse voices (15:47)
  • Learning to lean into what makes you different (21:20)
  • How to encourage diverse conversation (29:08)
  • A shift in the consumer demographic (33:14)

 

Keep up with Heather:

 

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Transcription

Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 0:06
On this episode, we’re joined by Heather Brunner, who is the CEO of WP Engine. Heather has been building internet companies her entire career and came on to share the things that have driven her through the ups and downs of a technology career, namely her why. Heather’s been a force for diversity of all kinds and she shared how she had to evolve from trying to look and sound and act like everyone else to leaning into her unique abilities and inspiring others to do the same. She also gave some tactical ideas that WP Engine uses to promote diversity really practically. A diversity of thought, diversity of people, diversity of background and experience, and how we can all use them as well. Heather was a joy to talk to and I’m so grateful she invested the time to be on our show. Without further ado, let’s get to it with Heather Brunner from WP Engine.

Intro 0:56
Put that content down. Content. The close is over. What’s your name? Content. That’s my name. You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. Content Is for Closers.

Adam Vazquez 1:14
All right, we’re actually recording this time. Took a little bit to get here. Carlton, before we get into yet another awesome episode (and it was an incredible episode with Heather Brunner from WP Engine), I need you to explain the cocktail that you are ingesting at the moment.

Carlton Riffel 1:35
So okay, occasionally, when that 2:30 time period hits where you just are starting to lull a little bit and feel a little tired, I’ll just get some coffee. And occasionally, on the other hand—

Adam Vazquez 1:48
Normal so far, yep.

Carlton Riffel 1:50
Yeah, that’s pretty normal, but we have we get this carmal de Leche ice cream from Aldi and it’s very good. It’s sweet, and vanilla, and carmal-y and you just put a scoop of that in the coffee. It hits the spot.

Adam Vazquez 2:06
So, for context, we’re getting ready, he’s like, “I’ve got my coffee. I’m good to go.” Meanwhile, I’m over here just tired and dragging. And then he said, “Yeah, I use it like a creamer.” And I said, “Whoa, what do you mean? Use what?” He said, “This ice cream that I put in my coffee,” and so now I’m just seething with jealousy, but good for you, Carlton for just having ice cream coffee on a Friday afternoon. That’s a good way to do it.

Carlton Riffel 2:30
It’s Friday, yeah.

Adam Vazquez 2:31
Yeah, that’s the way to do it. So you heard the episode with Heather. Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine. Let me just say, super thankful for her coming on. And every interaction from our first touch to afterward after the recording yesterday. She was just extremely kind and patient and took time to spend with us. So I’m very thankful for that. But what do you think of the interview, Carlton?

Carlton Riffel 2:55
Yeah, it’s awesome. She seemed very kind when one thing that was fascinating listening to the episode is she, she came through the original.com, boom and busts. And I always think it’s fascinating to talk to people, because they’ve really seen the rise and fall of technology and still believed in it. And they’ve been able to have this career path that, to me is just really fascinating, because some of the original things that people discovered, when the internet came around the first time are very true to this day. And one of those things that she was talking about, kind of in the context of diversity was this idea that you don’t have to have a college degree to be super smart or to be curious or to be someone that is hardworking and does a great job. And so it’s I think she said that 30% of their employees don’t have college degrees. Yeah. And I think right now we’re at an age where you can get information, you can get training from so many different places, and even people that start young, and get that experience. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn is actually building and actually doing things. And I know several young people that have used WordPress and WP Engine and products like that, to really kick the tires of technology and have the web early on, before they’re even out of high school. So I’ve got a friend, I was just talking to him a little bit ago. And he’s one of those people that doesn’t have a college degree didn’t go to college because he didn’t need to, he essentially learned some of the basics of PHP. He learned how to develop WordPress themes and started selling his themes and was doing great, while by the time he was in 11th grade. So I think that’s a perfect example of how technology can sometimes bridge that gap. Finding ways to succeed by investing in in education and self-learning without a traditional college degree.

Adam Vazquez 4:56
Yeah, and Heather and the team at WP Engine really bring that to life I one of her quotes that I brought up during the conversation was that Leadership is action and action is unfurled through action. I think she really personifies that. One of the examples is what you gave 30% of the employees are not college graduates. And then we went into several other examples during the conversation. But WP Engine obviously has been a force when it comes to the internet and open internet and we had a lot of conversation around that too. So I think it’s gonna be a great episode and interview.

Before we get to that, I have quite a review to read for you today. This has got to be my favorite review thus far. I’m very thankful for this writer, Miss Desirae Danielle. This is a good one. Kickback. Maybe take a sip of your ice cream coffee and listen to this one. It’s five stars, “The Champagne of Startup Focused Podcasts.” Here we go. “I am a person with a taste for the finer things in life. Gold bars, hour-long bubble baths, martinis on ice (and by ice I mean 5.00ct diamonds), Sunday drives while strapped into a Lamborghinni, and Whole Foods produce. So, trust me, when I say The Startup Show is the Vueve Clicquot of podcasts…” Don’t know what that is. I assume that’s another Aldi ice cream.

Carlton Riffel 6:17
The caramel de Leche of podcasts.

Adam Vazquez 6:21
“…I know what I’m talking about. Adam, the host, not only knows how to ask intelligent questions in an entertaining manner, but also sounds like he would look amazing in a tuxedo.” Thank you. “So far, the guests on the show have varied from musician, to fighter, to designer, and with each interview, I am thoroughly entertained. As far stars, I obviously give this one 5, plus Adam, one, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

Thank you, miss Desirae Danielle, and if that doesn’t prompt you if that doesn’t encourage you to pull out your phone and inspire you to leave a five-star review, I don’t know what will. If you leave it, we will read it. We’re on our way to 100 and I think this episode is gonna bring us a few Carlton because this is one of the best interviews we’ve had yet, in my opinion.

Carlton Riffel 7:04
Awesome. Let’s jump in.

Adam Vazquez 7:17
All right, welcome back into Content Is for Closers. We’ve got Heather Brunner here on the show CEO of WP Engine. Heather, I just want to thank you for joining us.

For anyone who doesn’t know, WP Engine is a huge company providing services to so many different businesses and we are a WP Engine customer.

I saw some things that Heather was writing about and reached out. Wasn’t totally sure I’d hear back and you got back to me very quickly, willing to come on the show, so I just want to thank you for that.

Heather Brunner 7:43
Oh, it’s my pleasure, Adam. Thank you so much for being a longtime customer, again. We’re really proud to have the opportunity to share. I’m proud to share some of our story and our focus as a company and some things that are important to us with you.

Adam Vazquez 7:57
That’s great. So yeah, let’s just start there with your story. We were talking beforehand. You’ve been in the Austin market for a while. How did you come to WP Engine and just give us your career arc?

Heather Brunner 8:08
Yeah, yeah. So first off, I’m really old. So I will give you the whole story. 32 years in the technology industry. And really, I’ve been working with you helping customers all the way back into 1997, 98, 99 timeframe, really the kind of the beginning of the.com, you really era working with companies trying to figure out what was going to be their web strategy, and actually working with teams to help them build your first versions and prototypes of web experiences. So all the way down to fast forward, where we’re powering it WP Engine, over 180,000 customers, 150 countries 1.8 million digital experiences on our platform. It’s been an incredible journey just to kind of tell you like kind of like I’m putting full circle from the beginning of the web to now being part of WP Engine helping to helping businesses get their voice their humanity online. And kind of in between there, I’ve had the opportunity to work with large organizations like Accenture and Oracle, I kind of got my beginnings working with the owning customers and customer relationships and sales relationships. And then from there had the opportunity to work with companies like trilogy, core metrics, really, really was able to help spread my wings as a leader doing owning product engineering, marketing and other functions. And then most recently, prior to WP Engine, I was the CEO of a company called was our voice which is really focused around user-generated content and bringing the voice of customer right into the buying experience into the content discovery experience. So that was an incredible journey from coming in at like 70 employees all the way to taking a poll that was amazing experience and then an investor that when I was at his or her voice as CEO and investor that I had worked with previously the previous company had just made an investment into WP Engine. And they had asked me if I knew or founder Jason When I said I had not never been on, but I heard good things about him. And they said, Would you be willing to talk to him, maybe as an advisor or mentor, and I said, Sure. And I was like, Okay, I’ll do a little bit of research adjacent and kind of saw his background. And then also learned a little bit about WP Engine. And we met for lunch and supposed to be at a one-hour meeting, I called I met him, I was just like, totally captivated by what he had built his background, his passion for the business, the growth of the company was experienced. And this was back in November of 2012. So I mean, this is a considerable amount of time ago. And so you think about then fast forward, WP Engine became my night job, my weekend job, just helping Jason however, I can’t fast forward to I became the first independent board member of the VPN in January 2013. And then from there, fast forward to I got a late-night call from Jason when he was out with one of our investors during South by Southwest in March South by Southwest, and I get this phone call, there’s this music in the background is noisy, backward, like, hey, Heather, I’m out with Kim, who was our investor, and that we have a really great idea. Like, really, what’s that idea? Well, we think you should be CEO of VPN. Have you been drinking? He’s like, Yeah, I’m serious. Like, okay. Well, we wrote We talk in the morning, and we’ll see if you still think that and he, we talked the next day, and talk to my husband about it. And I said, this would be a chance to basically to start a be starting right back in the beginning, again, going and try to grow to help to build a great company at scale. And I decided to go for it. And it’s I’ve now I’m about to have next month, my name my nine-year anniversary of the injured employee, a big part of the team. And it’s been my little of the joy of my life.

Adam Vazquez 11:53
Congratulations. That’s incredible. So it’s such a, it’s such a great tenure. And obviously, you’ve seen a lot during that, during that tenure, even in the last, whatever, 24 months or 36 months. And I heard you on a podcast, I think it was the Webby Award podcast you did an interview with, I heard you reference the idea that leadership is action. And so I was just curious over a tenure like that, that can look like so many different things, but what does that mean to you in the way that you serve WP Engine?

Heather Brunner 12:27
One of the things I think about it, like, I’ve been so fortunate to have so many people believe in me, give me opportunities to step up and to give me that voice or give me that voice or give me that chance, or give me that stretch assignment that helped me too, then can you show what I was capable of, and also for me to build my personal confidence and ability to say yes to more things and more upward opportunities. And so for me at WP Engine, one of the big things that we’ve done is we’ve really leveled the playing field around not having to have a college degree to have a career in technology. So we do not require a degree for any role at any level. And over 30% of our employees, we now are just under 1200 employees globally, do not have a college degree. And so with that, you’re talking to a lot of people who didn’t have somebody give them that chance. So there’s a mindset I want our team members to have, which is that you can. You want to work hard enough, if you have the grit, you have the will to do something, you don’t have a shortage of talent, because talent is universal. It’s just opportunities not. And so come in with that mindset. And that kind of growth, we have one of our core values is built for growth, have that mindset. And basically, the sense around that leadership is not a role. It’s not a title, it’s not a position, it’s action, so everyone can be a leader. So kind of taking that mindset that says, everyone to WP Engine, you are bold leaders, and that and that we lead through how we basically number one, how we live our value. And here we talk a lot about that system is so passionate about the consistency underpinning of what has made WP Engine successful. And a great place to work in and for people to learn has been because how we live our core values, but also a place where young people can participate actively at their team level in our employee resource groups in giving back opportunities before from philanthropy or volunteerism. So just like giving people opportunities to shine, and then you see those people kind of say, Hey, you’re giving me a chance. You’re giving me an opportunity. I can be myself here. And then people just like really thrive and take off. And so I kind of use like I want people to for it to be a leadership incubator, ask our team all the time. How many of you want to be CEOs and hands you the hands go up we’re kind of virtually or in-person. And I’m like, great. So like, make this experience soak everything you can so that when you’re ready in your time, you’re learning from this experience so you can take that into your life. leadership journey, but you can be a leader now.

Adam Vazquez 15:02
Wow, I didn’t know about that. That’s so cool that you, first of all, have that philosophy of meritocracy, and are backing it up with actually 30% of people that you’ve empowered that way. You said that someone saw something in you, and gave you an opportunity to give you a chance. And actually, the thing that drew my attention, and that I first hooked onto you for was you were writing about diversity and inclusion and providing opportunities for diverse voices to be platformed. My first question would be, how did you notice that that was something that you needed to speak into as a leader? And why is that such a passion point for you?

Heather Brunner 15:45
Yeah, well, for us, I would say a couple of different things. It’s like, oh, send me my personal story. And then we’ll talk about kind of like then being representing such a diverse set of employees and realizing that I need to do more, so just work harder and be more of an ally, be more active as a leader around their behalf to drive change. So first of all, my own role. So I’ve been again, I’ve been very fortunate, I kind of started my career in the basically the early 90s and adherium three years later, and in the early 90s, and kind of like that, my first I would say the first decade of my career once I was in a posture where I would do everything I possibly could to not to identify as a woman at work. And that sounds kind of crazy, but just like just didn’t talk about didn’t want to talk about it guys want to be known as like somebody who kicks ass takes names, drop your hard-charging, go and get things done, be the go to person for getting things done. And then kind of and I was successful, I was able to rise very quickly to the VP level you I was able to become a “functional expert,” you use that to rise up, take on more responsibility, do all those things you want to do to the career career career career. And I really realized particularly at my time at Bazaarvoice, right before WP Engine is that I was not acting as an advocate for diversity. Being a woman executive, I was not basically what was I doing to actually show up and say, like, Hey, I have you as a woman, as a mother, this is who I am and what makes me stronger, and allowing other women to do the same versus us kind of hiding, like me hiding my, what’s going on with me in my work life was our right home life from my work life. And what I saw is like that was just like, Nah, I need to do better. And so then that’s gonna work, I’d say I would say first, I realized that as a particularly as a working mom, at a senior level, I needed to be a better advocate for other moms in the workplace. As I came in, in my, in my most of in most of my previous employers, there was not the level of diversity in terms of ethnicity that there should have been coming to WP Engine. I came into a team where we were gonna wait for first joined as CEO, we are about 40 people. And there was already a level of a much stronger ethnic diversity at WP Engine and there was interested in terms of per capita, so to speak, versus at where I was previously. And I think a big part of is because it’s coming WP Engine is born out of open source is born out of WordPress community, which is very rich and very diverse. It’s very open. And because of the just the expansive ecosystem of WordPress, it gives people lots of different inroads to come in and be part of it doesn’t do people who are young people who are all people from all backgrounds, all ethnicities all around the world. And I saw that reflected in WP Engine beginning. And I was like, This is amazing. And a big part of it was there wasn’t a barrier around you had to look like a certain pedigree and profile to “top talent” which is the phrase that a lot of technology companies use which then limits out a lot of people don’t get a token and so so for me coming into the PNG kind of opened my mind because I was part of that rich regime of we’ve only got to hire people from the top 10% that their schools and did it and all that kind of that’s kind of bit the poor. So coming into being like, really opened my eyes like we’re kicking ass this team is doing things people who don’t have the experience are leaning in, and kind of just like, kind of like just gave me a wake-up call. Like that’s all BS. Like, it’s about the talents about the passions about shared values, it’s about shared mission and focus. And then we’re gonna go big things make things up. I had to change first and realize my role, both as a female leader and also my role in terms of representing both an open-source community as well as our team, which is very diverse. And so that has released few minutes I’ve seen people succeed and grow and become the leaders from the company. It’s very rewarding. And I just think that that’s something that I think can be possible should be possible and people should be doing the work to make that possible across your more workplaces. We’re not perfect. We’ve judged ourselves and where we are the D and I maturity matrix. And we’re still we still got a lot of work to do. But I do feel like we’re at least committed to structurally creating a path forward for us to be a leader in DNI at WP Engine.

Adam Vazquez 20:34
Yeah, and it’s a focus of yours that the outcome comes from the action that you take, I have a similar experience as a Latino person, I have for the most part of my career, tried to speak in such a way and tried to act in such a way that that would be minimized, especially in and for a lot of different reasons, most of them fear. And my business partner has pushed me on that, but it’s hard sometimes. For me, it’s hard sometimes for me to think I can either flip a switch or speak into that because I haven’t done that to this point. What were some of the things that you started? Was it just a matter of sharing your story? How did you start leaning into that a little bit more?

Heather Brunner 21:17
I think it’s important for leaders for us a role model vulnerability, and again, like that’s it, like you said, like, early my early days, I was a role modeling vulnerability at all. I wasn’t showing up as who I was. And so one things I always say is like, why aspire for people to walk into our digital doors, or like you’re walking, that you would then be able to, like, feel like the same level of safety that you would and wherever it is that you are, you feel like you’re absolutely your most authentic self, that your home, your parents home, wherever it is, we always say like, you walk in the door, you’re like, I’ve been home and go kick off my shoes, from my feet on the table, grab something out of the beverage, I just feel like I can be myself. And so I would aspire that over time, our employees would feel that St. Louis, like this is their work home that they have that sense of authenticity. So think just that number one, it’s like saying that out loud, and letting people know that it’s okay, we want people to be themselves. And then, of course, then I have to role model that. So I need to make sure that I’m showing up as my authentic self, that I’m being real about the challenges I’m having, I’m being vulnerable about what’s happened to me about what’s my experiences as a woman experience as a mother, as a pair. And so I think just us showing up with that intentionality, and then being authentic and vulnerable, I think sets us a place where people can do the same thing for themselves, they can ask for help, etc. I think the other thing is, we’ve seen through many different arcs, whether it be around hate happening in your towards blacks, towards Asians, towards immigrants, all different kinds of things, it’s opened up places where there’s been real pain in our tea, and people who are really hurting. And so we’ve leaned into that we haven’t been afraid to say, Hey, this is happening. From the CEO into our team, say, we need to have a cup hot conversation and create a safe place for conversations we’ve done, places where people who have listening sessions, we dramatic dramatically increased the number of Employee Resource Groups from we had three focus one focus on women, people of color, LGBTQ communities, and people who identified for those three communities. And then we’ve opened it up to caregivers, you have both parents and people who are caring for others, people who are focused on your disability, environmental type of you focus on kind of public health, climate change, etc, etc. So we’ve by having those places where people can kind of self identify and start to tap into, and they’re run by employees, there’s definitely augmented by our employee by base airport experience teams to help support them, but the conversations the dialogue is happening with employees, and we’re needed, we’ve brought in outside moderators or experts or panels to help augment the conversation. But I think it gives people that place like, Hey, it’s okay, if I have a disability, and I’m struggling with being a caregiver, I can talk to other people who have those same things in a safe place, and it feels like, I’m going to be honored, like what my story is going to be honored. And then it gives people that sense around that support that allows and people to kind of think they kind of get real with each other. So and I think it’s interesting to see how the workplace and particularly kind of accelerated by COVID and accelerated by this new trend that’s never going back around. You have flexibility you have people are, are expecting that their workplace be a place where they can be, they can get help not only around their work but around just their personal lives and the things that they’re how they’re feeling what’s on their mind, as to what’s happening in society.

Adam Vazquez 24:59
Yeah, it sounds like such an incredible context for people to be able to deliver their best performance. Have you been able to see anything, either qualitative or quantitative, that is like, “Oh, wow, we did this,” and so we’re starting to notice this, this trendline in the way that our team responds?

Heather Brunner 25:20
What I would say it’s just in general, what we’ve found is that our performance in terms of we typically, I would say, we try to set realistically aggressive goals. And that overall, as a company during this time, and again, as you can imagine, as a digital business, we’ve had a massive acceleration of demand, and lots of different opportunities to first be launching new products. So we’ve been really bullish and aggressive during this time of change. And we’ve been achieving our goal both top-line goals, our growth, growth goals, our new product goals, it returned customer retention goals, so I feel like kind of that sensor, and people are really in it to win it, people want to know, they feel like they can do it, they’re excited about our mission, they’re excited about that. And they’re excited about the fact that we’re workplace, they can be themselves. So I think it is really connected. And then I would say that what really is important to be as employee engagement and like seeing how people feel like are we listening when we do what’s a pulse surveys around things around you, whether it be about doing better with around virtual helping people with virtual work practices, or whether it be around to Eni, or just overall kind of company alignment. And I think it’s important employees see the fact that we listen, and then we transparently share the results with them, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly, whatever it is. And then we say, based on these things, we’ve identified the top three things or top two things were to do and take action on. And then actually doing it, I think, again, builds trust and builds that sense around, Pete, that people can be open and be free about telling us what’s on their mind whether even if it’s something difficult for us to hear.

Adam Vazquez 26:58
That’s incredible. The transparency note is particularly poignant. We became 100% transparent with our team with revenue and all sorts of things this year. It has been good, but it’s not easy. It causes you to have conversations and those things that maybe aren’t always convenient, but for the long run are definitely beneficial.

Heather Brunner 27:22
Absolutely. It requires context and education. If you want the energy unlock of transparency, and for people to feel that level of ownership, there is a responsibility on setting the context educate, and helping people feel involved in it. They have to go together. It’s a balance, and it can be challenging, but great job. Great kudos to you for investing in, in a more open and transparent organization.

Adam Vazquez 27:50
Yeah, it’s great to have people to follow.

Hey, you heard that five-star review I read at the beginning. That was incredible. Now, your review doesn’t have to be that fancy are well-written. Functionally, five-star reviews just to help us show platforms that our listeners enjoy our show and are finding value in it. But here’s the deal. I see the analytics, I know that some of you are listening week in and week out and haven’t stopped to give us that five-star review yet. I’m talking to you. If that’s you, do me a favor right now, go to your podcast player, leave us a review and I will read it on next week’s pod. That’s right, you can say or advertise whatever you want. And we will read it to this little audience, thank you in advance for helping us out. And I can’t wait to see what you write. Let’s get back to the show.

We don’t have to dwell on this, but I’d be curious as well on your opinions, maybe less so within WP Engine and more so as an industry leader, which you are how do you see the role of platforms or infrastructure and companies like yours when it comes to this idea of platforming different voices? What are some of the things that you think WP Engine or other companies can do in the space itself to encourage that conversation?

Heather Brunner 29:04
First of all, I think there’s a major responsibility that we have as WP Engine to be strong advocates and active leaders on behalf of the open and free and making sure that diverse voices of all kinds are able to you to be heard. That is in itself is very difficult, and there’s definitely some gray area there. We’ve spent a lot of time on thinking about our acceptable use policies and what do we do there and how do we enforce or you think about that so I think that’s something that’s really important. I think for humanity in for open you kind of open society to thrive there has to be places for a diverse opinion. And so I think Rovio first view as role modeling that within ourselves as being a place where that happens, where we’re kind of walking the talk with it are your four walls for Digital for role, so to speak, being a platform that is open to diverse content, voices, etc. And in allowing that to happen, there are so many times where employees will come to us and say, here’s a sign we disagree with it and we say, well, our principles are a free, open web and diverse voices. As long as it’s in alignment with her set acceptable use policy and is not illegal, we’re going to allow that to be there. Again, it’s like that healthy tension. And then I think from another view is, we absolutely encourage our employees in the agencies we work with around really showcasing their humanity in whatever project or creative that they’re working on. And showing for those diverse voices to diverse faces, and making sure that the content is really matching their audience, your audience across for most of our businesses, no matter where what you’re in, in terms of retail entertainment, media, consumer, anything you look at, our audiences are more and more diverse and more and more digital native, and the ability for that people to discover your brand, and they’re gonna go not only discover your brand, what you have to say, but they’re gonna go discover what others have to say about your brand. And so I think that that’s a healthy thing. But again, that it really in means that more all of us, as brands and businesses have to, if we say we’re to do something, we have to do it, to walk the talk. So yeah, I think so. Open and free. Conversation helps. And they create that and then role modeling, diversity in the content and experiences that we create online.

Adam Vazquez 31:42
I really liked that line use principle, not political. I don’t know that I heard it that succinctly before. That’s good. That’s something I’m going to have to steal.

Heather Brunner 31:49
And we’re actually going to be publishing a brochure in the middle of publishing a little bit of a manifesto about that to make our point of view even more clear to our employees, because oftentimes we’re asked to take a stand on something that is, it feels like it’s more political. And we basically saying no, to that, or they’re simply we do take a stand on. And people will say, Well, why make a stand on this versus this like, Well, this one we think is basically on human principle, human rights, versus this is something about somebody’s opinion around red or blue.

Adam Vazquez 32:24
That’s such a great mindset. We have it to the smallest degree in there are shows that we produce that an individual on our team may not agree with every word that a host says, that’s just our tiny little survey, let alone the infrastructure that you all are providing to 1,000s of sites I can’t imagine. But that’s a great conversation to have. Heather, thank you so much for spending this time with us kind of going back to the beginning. You were talking about you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ve seen a bunch of different things over the last few years. And I’ve just be curious, with all of your experience and the things that you’ve experienced in this technology and internet, what are a couple of things that (or one thing) that just have you particularly excited moving forward? What’s kind of something that maybe has piqued your interest that you hadn’t seen before?

Heather Brunner 33:14
What’s piquing my interest right now—and I’m just living in my own home—but was piquing my interest as a business person, as an entrepreneur, as a technology leader is the shift that’s going to happen radically was the shift of our consumers shifting to being Gen Z. The digital natives are rising. The digital natives’ expectations of businesses are rising. Their expectations of society, everything, and they are doers. They’re not afraid of hard work. They are also not afraid to share more about their views, their identity, their opinions with brands and organizations that they trust. And I think it’s going to be a force and it’s also going to, from a technology perspective, it’s going to force us to more rapidly innovate on the tools that we take for granted today, around developing and creating content, are going to become more dynamic, more immersive, more video-based, and need to be able to take your identity and take your voice, your opinion, your identity, and be able to have that be portable across platforms. So I think it’s going to think that this next generation is pushing us as leaders really hard. But I’m really excited about the challenge. And I think it’s gonna make the web even better and more dynamic, more personalized. It’s gonna be a whole other web in 10 years.

Adam Vazquez 34:46
Yeah, it’s gonna be a fun creative challenge for those of us who are working in it. So yeah, exam frontier.

Heather Brunner 34:52
And so my strategy is I’m gonna start hiring a lot of Gen Z-ers into my team and have them reverse mentor us and help bring that fresh energy into our ideation and innovation.

Adam Vazquez 35:04
So smart. So if people want to be one of those Gen Zers that come work with you, or just follow you and all the things that you’re doing, what’s the best place for people to follow along?

Heather Brunner 35:14
Well, definitely, if you’re interested, come check out WPengine.careers in terms of all the places that we’re hiring around the globe, and we’ve definitely opened up to basically a distributed work team. So we now have roles around the world where before we were pre COVID, we’re very kind of Port location-based. So we’re kind of really opened it up. It’s amazing for us. And then for me, personally, @HeatherJBrunner on Twitter. Feel free to follow me there. And then, of course, we’d love to have you follow us at WPengine.com.

Adam Vazquez 35:45
Awesome. We will link all of that below. And again, thank you so much for spending your time with us. Appreciate it, Heather.

Heather Brunner 35:51
Thank you so much, Adam. See you soon.

Carlton Riffel 35:54
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of Content Is for Closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find this show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show and you want to tell us that, then you can head over to contentisforclosers.com where you can send us a message, give us some feedback, ask questions, or find detailed notes for every episode. Until next time, keep creating and keep closing.