From her early days at Accenture to her current position at Amazon, Caroline Lee has centered her career around people. In this premiere episode of The Crossroads Series, she sits down with Sophie Hoyt to guide us through her life and imparts lessons we can all learn from. With a background in recruiting, Caroline shares with us the mantra that helped her unlock her own strengths, tells us how to ensure everyone knows about our own “superpowers,” and teaches us about the importance of setting up clear boundaries between professional and personal life. She even takes us through her journey to become *drum roll please* an American Ninja Warrior.
On Recruitment: “When you get the hire in, you’re changing a life. I don’t know if recruiters realize it or not because sometimes, you’re just turning numbers. You’ve got requisitions, and it’s not ever fast enough for the poor hiring manager, but at the end of the day, you’re changing the life of someone. And I think that’s very important and special.”
One of Caroline’s strengths: “I’ve come up with my list of three to four strengths, and one of them is creating order out of chaos. Taking the large complex problems, listening to all those, bringing it in, understanding it, and then breaking it down to what guiding principles are we going to follow. And then breaking it into manageable shades of tasks that just become defined deliverables.”
What’s next for Caroline: “I want to continue to inspire other people to be their best. So, if someone hears my story and says, ‘Hey, that motivated me to work out’, I’m happy. If I inspired someone to switch their jobs and gain confidence to negotiate a salary, I’m happy.”
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
Sophie Hoyt: Hello and welcome to the OneHaas Podcast, The Crossroads Series. Where we discuss the critical moments that shaped the lives and careers of alumni. I’m your host, Sophie Hoyt, and on today’s show, we’re going to be talking to Caroline Lee. She’s currently a Talent Strategist and Principal Program Manager at Amazon. And she spent a good deal of her career focusing on recruiting. So to me, Caroline is like the ultimate people person. And it’s not just because she has an utterly pleasant demeanor. No. She thinks about people all the time. It’s kind of the core tenant of her job. But growing up, she had no idea that she was going to end up in this position.
[00:00:43] When I do these interviews, I like to ask people what they wanted to be when they grew up. I like catching a glimpse into the beginnings, and Caroline’s answer definitely did not disappoint.
[00:00:53] Caroline Lee: Hmm. I, you know, I smart govern by what I didn’t want to be. I knew I didn’t want to be a garbage man. That was just in the back of my mind.
[00:01:04] Sophie Hoyt: And I think that feeling is something that we can all relate to. You know, when the realm of possibility of what to be when you grow up is so vast. Sometimes it’s easier to start with what you know you don’t want to be. And then, of course, in the background, her parents were pushing her to become a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Pretty typical stuff, you know, security.
[00:01:25] But for Caroline, there was one passion that she carried with her, Gymnastics, and it ended up taking her pretty far.
[GYMNASTICS ROUTINE AUDIO]
[00:01:32] Caroline Lee: I had done gymnastics growing up, and so I got an athletic scholarship to UCLA to compete in gymnastics.
[00:01:43] Sophie Hoyt: That’s audio from a clip of Katelyn Ohashi doing a perfect 10 for a routine back in 2019. She’s one of the main reasons that people like me even know about UCLA Gymnastics at all. At the time of this recording, that video has 156 million views on YouTube. We’re talking death, defying, feats of strength and flexibility, plus some killer dance moves. These girls are beasts, and Caroline was one of the women to pave the way for those athletes today.
[00:02:09] Caroline Lee: We were in the top five nationally, but it hadn’t grown to what it is today. We were a good team. No doubt about that. I mean, it was a really good time. I love the discipline. I love gymnastics.
[00:02:23] Sophie Hoyt: But as much as Caroline loved gymnastics, she just knew it wasn’t going to be the end game.
[00:02:28] Caroline Lee: You know, your senior year, like, this is going to be my last meet. This is my last practice. You’re winding down, and you’re thinking about what’s coming next. I had some friends who were encouraging me actually to like go to the career center, and I learned about a company, Anderson Consulting. Today they are Accenture. And I saw that they had really good growth and career path bringing in entry-level people, teaching you kind of the Anderson consulting way. Some people will say they’re making robots, but I was perfectly fine with that. Like I was under the gymnastics discipline, show me how it’s done and bring me up. And I really latched on to that.
[00:03:05] Sophie Hoyt: So, Caroline ended up getting a job at Accenture as a computer programmer and eventually merged into management, but something wasn’t quite right. I assumed fine. And I liked the project management aspects of it, but the technical side, I was not as strong at. And I recognized those because some of the people I hung out with would be like, Oh, PC world magazine, did you see the article and blah, blah, blah, or Unix world had blah, blah, blah.
[00:03:32] And I’d be like, I don’t want to talk about this. And so it was dawning on me that it’s not a passion. I didn’t want to learn more, but what I did enjoy was recruiting. And as I was talking to other managers, there was a role open, and they offered it to me to kind of lateral into it.
[00:03:50] Sophie Hoyt: Wow. That’s quite the transition. And how fortunate to make that realization. So early on in your career to not be slogging away for a decade before [Laughs] realizing that I wanted to make that change. So then what happened when you make that lateral shift, and what do you experience?
[00:04:07] Caroline Lee: Interesting, honestly, like I was more engaged in the conversations. I was learning a lot more, and I was working a lot more with leadership and more confidence to around what I was doing. When the interest is there, and you have the curiosity to learn, not only from the people around you, but people from other locations and other companies and what they’re doing that helps you grow as a person as well.
[00:04:34] Sophie Hoyt: And that transition made a lot of sense to me because being a computer programmer sounds kind of mechanical and rigid like it’s all ones and zeros. But to me, Caroline isn’t. Like I said before, she’s a real people person.
[00:04:52] Caroline Lee: When I come to the people side of things. Everyone is passionate about recruiting, that you need to bring people in to get hired. You need to understand how to interview. You need to understand how the job description works. How do you source and find people? And you also need to understand how to close. How do you get people to want to come to your group?
[00:05:07] Sophie Hoyt: You need to get people. And Caroline just does because, for her, it’s not about filling the job. It’s about finding the person to fill the job.
[00:05:16] Caroline Lee: When you get the hire in, you’re changing a life. So, you know, while people, recruiters, I don’t know if they realize it or not. Cause you’re just turning numbers, and you’ve got requisitions, and it’s not ever fast enough for the poor hiring manager, but at the end of the day, you’re changing the life of someone. And I think that’s very important and special.
[00:05:39] Sophie Hoyt: That’s a really beautiful sentiment. Do you remember a moment when you realized that that was like the essence of what your work was?
[00:05:46] Caroline Lee: Yeah, I do. There was a time. This is many years ago when our volume of hires was going up. We needed strong program managers, and to help supplement this, one of the managers had proposed a program to hire from the military. And so this one’s interesting because the military is very disciplined. And what I started seeing was we really had to pay attention to how you transition people from the military, into the company, and into regular life.
[00:06:19] But, you know, you take a military person who’s used to moving around every six months and traveling, you’re going to put them in place, built your roots. And you’ve got a family to bring along with them that you realize it’s bigger than just here’s a job.
[00:06:33] Sophie Hoyt: And while Caroline was busy changing people’s lives through her work, in her own life, she was making a lot of changes as well. After spending about nine years at Accenture, Caroline decided to walk away from the job. She had always had an interest in the medical field and decided to become an EMT driving ambulances. But in the end, it wasn’t quite what she had imagined.
[00:06:53] Caroline Lee: I didn’t really like it that much. There’s a lot of sitting around time. And, um, [Laughs] after you transport someone, you have to clean the ambulance. So again, I don’t want to be a garbage man. I’m not good at cleaning. This is not something I’m interested in doing.
[00:07:11] Sophie Hoyt: But ask, and sometimes you receive. As Caroline was becoming more and more disillusioned with the EMT work, a former colleague recruited her to join their startup team at Opinions.
[00:07:21] Caroline Lee: It was an up-and-coming internet startup, and they needed someone to run their recruiting department. Which later turned into all of their HR, which like in a typical of a startup, you become kind of the Jack or Jill of all trades. So pretty much anything, if it was not related to the internet site, was mine.
[00:07:40] So, Facilities. Go find another facility. Building Management that became mine. HR, figure out compensation plans and stock options and how that works. Ordering dinner, we had to order dinner out for everyone every night. So that was very eye-opening, very fast pace. A lot of hyped, key people energized and going.
[00:08:04] Sophie Hoyt: And then came to burnout. The startup life proved to be unsustainable, and the moment she decided to walk away, the dot com bubble burst, and suddenly working in recruiting wasn’t the asset it once had been.
[00:08:17] Caroline Lee: Not a lot of companies were hiring during that time. It was very hard to get back onto my feet. And my thought was, you know, I need to get onto the revenue side of the business.
[00:08:27] Like I love recruiting, but I need to be revenue-driven. And so I started thinking like, how do I get there?
[00:08:34] Sophie Hoyt: And just as Caroline gets ready to pivot towards med school, she gets a call.
[00:08:39] Caroline Lee: A friend of mine called me from McKesson, the pharmaceutical company. And she’s like, would you be interested in data entry?
[00:08:44] And I’m like, no. And then she threw out a really high hourly rate, and I’m like, yeah, I could do that three times a week. And I came to realize later the high hourly rate was there because it was HR information. It was relevant to compensation, performance reviews, and stuff like that. She needed someone she could trust to do this. And so I ditched my medical school life because working at McKesson, I was tied to the medical field. And yet, at the same time, there was part of me that wasn’t always happy about it. And then, when Accenture reached back out to me to do recruiting and large recruiting initiatives, I jumped at it.
[00:09:26] Sophie Hoyt: Once back at Accenture, Caroline was tasked with building out their talent acquisition team. Basically, it was her job to make sure that the recruitment systems were prepared to support global expansion. But as Caroline prepared to transition back into recruiting, she remembered the lesson she learned in the dot-bomb recession.
[00:09:43] Caroline Lee: I was exploring MBA programs because I figured the MBA programs are going to help me get out of recruiting and into, I don’t know, product, product management or something like that. But what Accenture offered me was help with tuition as well as the space to go back to school and do the Berkeley MBA program.
[00:10:04] Well, [Laughs] coming out of that MBA program, which was wonderful was 2008, the financial crisis and the role I had at Accenture, it was to bring down our recruiting workforce from 2000 recruiters worldwide to 1000.
[00:10:20] Sophie Hoyt: But I have to ask, I mean, you articulated it already, you know, to continue your work in the recruiting world in 2008, it just seems so antithetical to what it is that you find so powerful about recruitment, which is that you can have an impact on someone’s life. And so then to have to go and essentially do the complete opposite, does that feel like?
[00:10:42] Caroline Lee: [Reacts] Absolutely terrible. Um, you know, at this point, I’m working with the different geographies on how they are reducing. I learned a lot about European law and how protected the employees are. Basically, in some countries, you cannot just fire them.
[00:10:58] You have to give them options and different roles. There’s a works council that you need to work within France and Germany. And then there’s very generous packages for some people. So, I remember in one of the Nordic countries. I remember a line item going; this person will be here until 2011, 2012. So, I’m kind of like since a typo, and they’re like, no, she’s had the timing of her three kids protected her for a while or in the Asian countries, it was a lot faster to be able to move people in and out because of the way the contracts were written. And those discussions were a lot different. It was more about bringing the compassion to the discussion on how did it go in terms of telling people, how are you doing to the recruiting director on managing through the change and providing them with as much direction as possible on when do we see this turning around to be able to hire people back.
[00:11:52] Sophie Hoyt: So clearly, it was a lot of multitasking managing both the work and the workers. And that ability to find balance was a carry-over from her startup days at Opinions. In this role, though, there was an added layer of pressure because Caroline had a remote position, and everything was conducted entirely over the phone.
[00:12:10] Caroline Lee: And so you’d really have to pay attention to what people were saying because it was international and English isn’t everyone’s first language. I really had to pay attention to what they were saying, their tone, the frustration, you know, frustration may be on the topic or finding the words. You learn things too, like Japan. “Yes” meant I heard you. “Yes” does not mean I’m doing that. Uh, so you know, you pick up on these different things. And I think my time at Accenture gave me more of a global feel and gave me more of the confidence to work in, I guess, the ever-changing environment.
[00:12:47] Sophie Hoyt: And throughout all of these changes, Caroline continued to draw on her Haas network for support. I mean, she had picked the program for the people. She told me that during the information session, she found herself focusing more on the questions that the people were asking then on the presentation itself.
[00:13:02] Caroline Lee: And I could hear the questions that were asked that kind of cemented it for me. What I saw was more of a mix of people coming in from different areas of a company – Sales, Product Management, Finance who wanted to go in different directions.
[00:13:20] Sophie Hoyt: And what she saw was the potential for a very powerful community. And she was right; throughout her program and even after graduating, she would continue to rely on her Haas community.
[00:13:31] Caroline Lee: I had a very strong group of friends that I developed from the Haas Columbia Program. And they’re who I lean on for a lot of things. You know, when I think about these programs and again, sitting through class from nine to twelve, one to four, five to eight is long. And you have to prioritize, and you have to figure out what is important to me. What do I need to learn versus what don’t I need to learn? I do recall we had an open book test, but my book was still shrink-wrapped.
[00:14:05] I didn’t have time for that subject. And I knew like its open book, where am I going to find the answers? It’s gotta be in the lecture notes or my notes.
[00:14:12] Sophie Hoyt: Now, we’re not recommending that you don’t do your schoolwork. But Caroline has a point. Prioritization is just one of those things in life that we’ve learned through schooling. And it translated directly to her work at Accenture. It’s a bit tricky, though. You see, while it’s important to prioritize at work, how does that really align with managing the work lives of other people? Like, how can you balance the importance of a person’s output while also accounting for their personhood?
[00:14:39] Caroline Lee: To me, as a people manager, my direct reports are most important. If they don’t have what they need, they’re not empowered. And I haven’t opened it up to them. The rest of their area is not going to thrive, but then there is a site that you’ve got to manage upward. So, when someone of a higher pay grade is pinging me for something, I’ve got to be responding to that as well.
[00:15:02] So when you prioritize on the people, your direct reports, and the people above you, Now you don’t have time to build out your function or time for yourself, which is not good. So, for myself, what I come to is boundaries and understanding that I am accountable and responsible for the decisions I am making. I am in control of what I’m doing.
[00:15:21] Sophie Hoyt: And you have to remember that Caroline is working from home through all of this. Something I’m sure we can all relate to these days. And drawing the line between work and personal time can be difficult.
[00:15:34] Caroline Lee: My second stint with Accenture it even got to the point where my manager [Laughs] was so nice. This one time, we were talking about something. We were scheduling the next call. To be honest, I was the most junior person on the call. Most of the people who were from New York and Europe and they wanted to schedule the call at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. And my boss just said, Hey, if we need Caroline, we need to do the call any time afternoon, I know it’s going to be late in Europe, but we’ve got to be respectful. And I was like, wow, I really appreciated that.
[00:16:05] Sophie Hoyt: But her manager’s ability to be respectful of her time came from a place of clarity that Caroline put out into her workplace. And it’s something that she had to hone over time, eight years to be exact.
[00:16:16] But her time at Accenture got interrupted by what Caroline very graciously calls a little stint with cancer.
[00:16:23] Caroline Lee: They were wonderful to me. They gave me the time off that I needed, and they were following my progression. So, I thought I was going to come back. The best thing I did was called up my boss and said, Hey, I would like another six months off to recover. I’ve had time to get treatment. But I need the time for the body to recover. So, can I have six more months off? And he gave it to me with the understanding that you may not get your same role, but you’ll get one of equal value. You’re willing to take that.
[00:16:55] Sophie Hoyt: But after going back to work, some of those boundaries became difficult to uphold.
[00:17:00] Caroline Lee: I think what I realized was being single in a global world, it’s hard to put yourself first because I’m in a COE, a Center of Excellence. And so, you schedule a call with Europe, and something more important on the ground has come up, they reschedule you. Two weeks later, it’s at 7:00 AM because you’re like, Oh, well, I need to do it, so you say yes.
[00:17:25] And then that same day Asia asked you to do something at like eight or 9:00 PM your time. And you say yes. And, um, I didn’t have parameters in place for me. I usually have sports. Like I’m going to go do this workout. I’m going to play volleyball. I’m going to do a bike ride with friends because I was recovering from [Laughs] cancer. I didn’t have all of these things. So, I was just working, and I thought, I need to get out of this. I think I should go to work. Like I should drive to work. And so, I started interviewing [Laughs], and that’s how I got my role at LinkedIn.
[00:17:58] Sophie Hoyt: So, on paper, Caroline was a Project Manager at LinkedIn, but when she started explaining her projects, it sounded way more complicated than that.
[00:18:05] Caroline Lee: So, Microsoft bought LinkedIn, and then the question was, well, can you figure out how we do recruiting? Because if 5% of our hires are former Microsoft or current Microsoft, is this an internal transfer, or is it something different? And so, I need to understand the vision of the acquisition, work with a lot of HR people because if you transfer someone in, what happens to the shares? You know, do you get a whole new share allocation, or are you leveraging what you currently have? Because now we’re under the same stock. So, there were a lot of things to work out. That project was probably one of my favorites.
[00:18:43] Sophie Hoyt: Then I asked a kind of strange question. Do you like puzzles?
[00:18:47] Caroline Lee: I do. Um, but I’m not good at them. And they frustrate me, you know, like, I’ll try, but they’re hard.
[00:18:56] Sophie Hoyt: But I ask because you seem like a problem solver. Like that it seemed from what I can understand. It seems like that is the distillation of each role that you have articulated to me that it comes down to here’s a problem. How can we solve it?
[00:19:13] Caroline Lee: One of the things I’ve learned over the years is decisions are made about you when you are not in the room. Okay. Hiring decisions, promotions, salary changes, new opportunities. So, what you need to do is help people make the decision about you, and to do that, you have to seed them with what are you good at? What are your strengths? And so, I’ve come up with my list of three to four strengths, and one of them is creating order out of chaos.
[00:19:42] Taking the large complex problems, listening to all those, bringing it in, understanding it, and then breaking it down to what guiding principles are we going to follow. And then breaking it into manageable shades of tasks that just become defined deliverables. I do enjoy doing that aspect.
[00:20:04] Sophie Hoyt: That idea, that decisions get mad about you when you’re not in the room. That comes from Carla Harris. She was a speaker at the 2018 LinkedIn talent connect conference, and she just captivated Caroline.
[00:20:16] Caroline Lee: At some point, you’ve got to turn it around and go, no, this is what I want to be known for. And then you’ve got to sprinkle it in everything you do. You’ve got to put it in your resume, your cover letters. You’ve got to tell it to people in conversation. And you’ve got to put it in your LinkedIn profile. You’ve got to put it everywhere and dummy-proof it for everyone that’s making a decision about you.
[00:20:39] Sophie Hoyt: And that mantra stuck with me too. Maybe it’s not an earth-shattering revelation, but it’s definitely one of those undeniable truths once you’ve heard it. And another one is that life is completely unpredictable, but if you welcome change, sometimes you’ll find yourself in some really unexpected places.
[00:20:57] Caroline Lee: So, what I didn’t bring up. Before I got cancer, outside of my personal life. I had done a TV show called Wipeout. Have you heard of Wipeout?
[00:21:09] Sophie Hoyt: So, confession time, I love Wipeout. It’s a show where people run through an impossible obstacle course and get thrown into the water and use Caroline’s words; the point is to make them look stupid.
[00:21:20] Caroline Lee: I was on that. Um, some friends of mine had submitted an application for me. So, I got on the show, and I won my episode. So that was a lot of fun.
[00:21:32] And then after that, I got introduced to Ninja Warrior, which I thought this is. Like I am in my forties. Who does this stuff? Fast forward, maybe two months or a year later, I was doing an adventure race with a friend of mine, Jill. Jill and I go back to the gymnastic days at UCLA, and we were going to go to do a race with some of my friends.
[00:21:56] And Jill calls me up and says something about Ninja Warrior. I got on the show. It’s in LA. Can we go there after we do our race? And I was like, I am all in, whatever you need.
[00:22:10] Sophie Hoyt: And now I’m sure you’re wondering; how did Jill do?
[00:22:13] Caroline Lee: Jill fell on the first obstacle. And so, Jill is very competitive, and she wasn’t happy about this. So, the next day before we drove home, she said, you’re going to get into the walk online, and let’s see how you do. [Laughs] Okay. And so, I show up in the walk online, the casting people saw me there, um, in a line of again, all 20 something, men, female, come on up, let’s get you in here. Uh, so I got on that year and fell on the second obstacle.
[00:22:45] Sophie Hoyt: The next year, Jill and Caroline filmed an audition tape together.
[00:22:48] Caroline Lee: They called us, and they’re like, well, do you have your own audition tape? And I’m like, no. And they go, well, you’re not supposed to submit with other people. I’m like, that’s fine. I could take it or leave it. And they were like, can you please come?
[00:22:59] So we were on seasons three and four. And again, season four, I fell on the second obstacle, same obstacle even. I had done nothing in between to improve.
[00:23:09] Sophie Hoyt: So that was the start. And in time, Caroline would find herself deep into the world of American Ninja Warrior. But before that could happen in 2018, Caroline endured a second round of cancer.
[00:23:23] Caroline Lee: So, when I was going through my second radiation treatment, I was very disciplined about only going to work and only going to treatments. I wouldn’t do anything. I wouldn’t go out of the house afterward. And on the weekend, I could only do one activity.
[00:23:38] Sophie Hoyt: So, at the end of all of Caroline’s treatment, Jill being the supportive friend that she is, wanted to get together, and just as fate would have it, there was going to be a Ninja competition that Saturday.
[00:23:49] Caroline Lee: And so I called her and said, Hey, this is what I want to do. And she was like, I want to be supportive, but no, I’m not doing this [Laughs]. And she came up with, we’re going to have dinner, and then we’ll go audit. I’ll go with you to audit. But by Friday, as I was thinking more about it, I’ve been sitting around for six weeks from radiation. I know I’m weak, but who cares? I just want to go for it.
[00:24:15] Sophie Hoyt: And so, without telling Jill, Caroline signed them both up and even packed an extra set of workout clothes for Jill.
[00:24:21] Caroline Lee: I wanted to take down the barriers of entry for her. And so, at dinner, I told her, okay, look, we were on a, we gotta hurry through dinner. We don’t need to eat very much. I signed us up, and she was like [Laughs], what, what are you talking about?
[00:24:34] Sophie Hoyt: But it worked. And Jill was a trooper. So, they showed up with like three other women.
[00:24:39] Caroline Lee: And just the way the course was set up, I ended up winning, and it sounded like, you know, this is kind of fun. I want to do more about this.
[00:24:50] Sophie Hoyt: Could you tell me, if you remember, what did it feel like to win that first competition? In that moment?
[00:24:57] Caroline Lee: Oh, it was, it was funny. It was, um. It felt really good. Well, it felt really good, but it’s bittersweet. And I say that because it felt really good because it validated that, Hey, I can do this. If I can do this with no training, I should be able to see what happens when I train a little bit. And so it felt, it felt wonderful to do that.
[00:25:25] Sophie Hoyt: And that’s the moment that it actually started. She made more friends and just kept going, traveling around Northern California, doing every competition she could. And then she even got to meet some of the top Ninjas.
[00:25:38] Caroline Lee: You know, Sean Bryan, David Campbell. Well, David, I had met a long time ago. I got to meet people like Jessie Graff, uh, Barclay Stockett, Meagan Martin, Jimmy Choi.
[00:25:50] Sophie Hoyt: And the list goes on. And while you and I may not know who these people are, you have to trust me when I say they are the big dogs. Some of them even became her mentors.
[00:26:00] Caroline Lee: David Campbell is someone I met early on back when it started. He was one of the first people who created backyard courses. And so Jill had brought me to his backyard course before we went to our race. And I remember going, like, what, what was this? Like, we’re literally in a backyard where he’s like, well, you step here and here and here, but don’t go over there. That’s Poison Oak. He is someone that I’ve developed a friendship with.
[00:26:25] And I think this is like, I’m very grateful for him in his coaching. He’s been around from the beginning. There are two people now who have been on every episode; he’s one of them. The other one is someone named Brian Kretsch. Brian is now giving me private lessons too. Now I bring this up, but David has told me if I’m going to tell people I’m getting trained by the two of them, I need to step it up.
[00:26:52] And I’ve just got to think about how you do it and learn and absorb everything that they’re sharing with me. Because if I tell them, Hey, I’m this old, is your mom, or, you know, I’m older. What do I want them to say to that? Like, what message am I giving them these awesome people who are coaching me. And so, I’ve come back to like, Oh my God, you know, I get their time. Let me make the best of it to learn from them.
[00:27:18] Sophie Hoyt: First off. Let me just say Caroline is by no means old, but I do get what she’s saying. There we’re all guilty of making up excuses for why something is hard even at work. You hear stories all the time about how hard it can be to keep up with the way technology is constantly changing in the workplace. But Caroline and I agree that as long as you’re willing to learn, you have to at least bring yourself to the occasion.
[00:27:42] Caroline Lee: Because telling me about the past as a manager, it’s like, okay, are you with me though on the future? It’s where you need to go with it. And you know, as I’m getting coached by these two awesome people, I, they need to know I’m with them on the future. And you know, when they’re suggesting this, they know me, they don’t want to see me get hurt. So, I’ve got to trust that in them.
[00:28:08] Sophie Hoyt: That trust and training have paid off. Caroline is very close to her nieces and nephews. And when you heard that one of her nieces had a diving competition in West Virginia, she flew out to watch. Well, it turned out that over the same weekend, there was going to be an American Ninja warrior competition in Ohio, just a few hours away.
[00:28:26] Caroline Lee: So, I’m like, I’m going to fly there, do my competition, and then go to see my niece. In this competition, it’s something called head on head. So, you raced against each other. Honestly, going into this, I just went because it was a Ninja competition, and there was an age group for me. But what I later learned after doing this thing is that the top eight people go into a double-elimination bracket head-to-head. And so, I made it in, and I was, I think I was seated third going into this. And I’m like, okay, this is kind of cool.
[00:29:02] Sophie Hoyt: And so, Caroline is in full toward us in the hair mode. She’s the former.
[00:29:06] Caroline Lee: I don’t have hustle, so I’m not down there, you know, in the position, I’m kinda like standing there going, okay, they’re going to go. Beep beep beep. And you go. And so, it doesn’t look like I’m going to win, and I’m always behind. But on my first heat, it’s like, Oh, I caught up, you know, so then you’ve got the crowd behind you. And, um, when I went against the number two person, she was 6’1”. And, um, on the first steps, she got half an obstacle ahead of me, like just from the starting block, but I caught up.
[00:29:40] And so we, during double elimination, when we went at it again, By this time she’s tired. I’m tired. We’ve done like multiple runs all day. It was so close. I beat her by 0.3. Like three-tenths of a second. And I remember like; I’m behind, I need to bust a move. And on my last swing up, I thought I’m not going to swing up. I’m going to just muscle through it. And I think that’s what got me there, but I just, I remember just dropping off that, like into the mat and going, I hope that was good enough. And just hearing the screams from people was fun.
[00:30:18] Sophie Hoyt: Okay. So, for context, three-tenths of a second is literally the blink of an eye. How cool is that? So what’s next for Caroline?
[00:30:30] Caroline Lee: I want to enjoy this life. Work-life harmony balance that I’ve got. Um, when I think of the next year, I want to do good work at work, you know, cause that’s important to me. Um, I want to do good Ninja, you know, you want to do well in the show, and I want to.
[00:30:48] It’s really hard to say, like, I want to continue to inspire other people to be their best. So, if someone hears my story and says, “Hey, that motivated me to work out.” I’m happy. If I inspired someone to switch their jobs and got confident to negotiate a salary. I’m happy. You know, so again, if I impact people on the individual level to inspire them to be their best, that’s what I enjoy doing and hope to do more of.
[00:31:15] Sophie Hoyt: Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the OneHaas Podcast, The Crossroad Series, and a special thanks to Caroline Lee for sharing her story with me.
[00:31:22] If you enjoyed our show today, please remember to subscribe to OneHaas, wherever you get your podcast and rate and review us on iTunes. You can also check out more of our content on our website at Haas dot FM, where you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and check out some more of our other Berkeley Haas podcasts. Until next time, go Bears.