Daniel Chait's Interview on the Unsexy Startup Podcast

Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait was recently featured on The Unsexy Startup, a podcast devoted to highlighting what it truly takes to build a company. Sumay Too, host and founder, created the podcast as a platform for entrepreneurs to learn from and share stories about overcoming the unsexy obstacles of startup growth. Below, you’ll find a recap of Daniel’s interview and a link to the full version.

To kickoff the conversation, Daniel discusses his start in engineering and how it led him to start a software consulting business. He led hiring for the business and describes the role as “having to out-recruit Wall Street for Wall Street talent.”

He says, “Getting unbelievable talent became the most strategic part of my business. I never saw recruiting as an administrative function. From this experience, I learned what it takes to win at hiring and how it can be a competitive weapon.”

Building tools that enable every company to make hiring their competitive advantage ultimately sparked the idea for Greenhouse, which is now used by tens of thousands of users. “As I was walking back to my seat on a plane, I saw someone using Greenhouse,” he recalls. “They are 30,000 feet in the air and choosing to use our product. When someone derives value out of an idea you conjured up from thin air...it’s magic.”

The heart of the interview focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in Daniel’s career and its significance at Greenhouse. One of the moments that helped Daniel develop this trait was in the summer of 2016, when incidents of horrifying shootings and violent protests occurred across the country. “We started feeling this in the office,” he remembers. “At Greenhouse, we talk about bringing your whole self to work. But the terrifying events happening outside of work weren’t a part of workplace conversation.”

Daniel took a step back and reflected on his role as a leader. “It was hard for me to understand the perspective and experience of my employees. As a 44-year-old white guy, I couldn’t get in front of the company, address what was going on in the world, and expect it to resonate.”

As a CEO and executive, your job is often to direct people and provide answers. Turns out, this was the last thing Greenhouse employees needed from Daniel. “I sat down with a few employees and asked them, ‘What can I be doing to make you feel more included as a minority, woman, or young person?’”

Their answers led Daniel and the leadership team at Greenhouse to create “Consciousness and Conversations,” a space and forum for employees throughout the organization to break into small groups and talk about what’s on their mind. Anything goes—whether it’s the news, their fears, or their beliefs. Consciousness and Conversations enables individuals to empathize with each other as human beings, not just coworkers.

Daniel admits, “Imagining myself writing a manifesto or making a speech was a self-centered way of approaching the issue. What people wanted was to engage with each other. I’m grateful my team showed me this.”

In the tech space, this type of empathy and emotional intelligence hasn’t always been a top priority or widely discussed. After all, tech has been historically focused on…tech. But according to Daniel, this is a historical mistake that only scratches the surface. He points out that something as seemingly cold as software development is, in fact, a social exercise that requires teamwork, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Daniel argues that tech companies without these values will find it difficult to be successful.

“Business values are just people values. Today, people want to do business with companies whose values they relate to and admire.”

The Unsexy Startup’s mission is to instill a sense of resilience and grit in listeners. Based on Daniel’s interview, they can add emotional intelligence to this list, too. Check out the full interview here.

English Taylor

English Taylor is a San Francisco-based writer and editor. Her favorite part of working with Greenhouse is getting to connect with employees and customers. English has experience working as a copywriter and content strategist at startups, advertising agencies, and media companies. Want to talk Greenhouse or grammar (ideally both at the same time)? Connect with English on LinkedIn

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