Courtney Seiter is a writer, editor and inclusivity catalyst at Buffer, focusing on the intersection of workplace culture and inclusivity. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Fast Company, Lifehacker, Inc. and more. On the side, she’s the co-founder of Girls to the Moon, a company that produces events designed to build confidence in girls age 9-14.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
I think the world might need an overall listening, inclusion, and empathy revolution, probably even going beyond the work sphere. I get excited when I see people and workplaces who are thinking deeply about workplace culture and collaboration. Right now, the segment of folks who get to think on this and work this way is incredibly small. And yet everyone who works or thinks about work, is a participant in making culture. The language and images in a blog post, the questions you ask in a job interview, on either side of the table, they all create culture. So we’re all making culture, but who gets to tell the stories of culture? Not everyone gets an equal voice in these conversations. I’d love to see that change, and for the kinds of companies that are creating new kinds of deliberate culture to be more accessible to all.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
We try to think about work culture a lot at Buffer, and one of my favorite evolutions during my time here has been an added focus on “bringing your whole self” to work. It can be scary and vulnerable to show up with all the elements of who you are – your quirks and feelings, side projects and hobbies, triumphs and anxieties. But being brave enough to put more of yourself out there leads to extraordinary relationships and trust. It’s really special and feels quite revolutionary to me.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
The technique we use at Buffer that has most affected me is our value of “default to transparency.” Through this value, we’re able to communicate openly and honestly with one another and be so much more aware of the full context around anything we’re working on. I think it also shows a huge amount of respect to your team when you’re willing to share both the good and the bad with them, and this atmosphere builds an incredible amount of trust. Organizations don’t have to move all the way to “radical transparency” to give this a try; you can implement it in smaller ways (for example, sharing more internally) before taking a broader view.
Provide a quote (either yours or someone else’s) that you live by and/or that represents why you do what you do. Also tell us: why did you choose it?
“Just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” – Toni Morrison
This quote always reminds me of the incredible privilege I’ve experienced in my life, and that it’s not enough to simply be aware of it and grateful for it. I have to turn it into action, for those who haven’t had the same opportunities that I have.
What is a digital hack you use for unplugging from your laptop/smartphone/tablet?
I will often go to a coffee shop with a laptop and no power cord, forcing myself to pack as much productivity into my time as possible before my laptop dies. 🙂 I turn off the vast majority of notifications on my phone. (I also lose it a lot, which is not really a hack but does demonstrate the kind of relationship I’d like to have to it.)
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick personally/professionally/creatively?
- Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams (book)
- Google’s unconscious bias training (video)
- Buffer CultureLab, which I host and produce (podcast)
What does your preferred work environment look like?
Tidy desk, warm climate, pamplemousse La Croix in hand, Soulection soundtrack. Maybe a garden to tend and a dog to pet when I get writer’s block. 🙂
Where in the world are you?
How can people connect with you?
@courtneyseiter on Twitter and Instagram, courtneyseit on Snapchat