Sam Cross is a Senior Recruiter with Unity Technologies - the world's leading platform for developing interactive real-time 3d content. Previously, she worked at Ubisoft, Drake International, Guru Studio and Rockstar Games - her passion for video games has evolved into a career within the industry that has included everything from UI/UX testing to recruiting.
As someone diagnosed with ADHD in high school, Sam didn't realise how her condition affected her until 2020 when it started affecting her work in the absence of daily workplace routines.
In this episode of StartWell's Gathering podcast you'll hear Sam's thoughts about how leaders need to encourage participatory culture in their organisations to avoid pitfalls of isolation and burnout that are more likely affects of a physically distributed 'remote' workforce.
Spend time with this conversation - here's the full transcript
Remote work, leadership, and mental health
Sam Cross 0:02
So I've ADHD and I knew that since I was in high school, but I didn't realize until the pandemic how much that was actually affecting my my work because it was at the office with everybody else, pretending like everybody else. Were supposed to just come in and be like, Hey, how are you? Fine. And then, uh, suddenly being at home was like, What do I go do problems, I didn't realize we're sort of masked by going to the office. And it's like, I've never even like, paid attention to that. Because at the office, I didn't have to see it. If you have a limited ability to be able to solve problems, or even see someone's trying to solve those problems, that's gonna lead you to burn out, there's got to be better education on it. And I think getting honest about it, because it is difficult to be honest about it's one of those things where you don't want to raise the red flag and then put the spotlight on yourself. But at the same time, it's so rampant that I feel like we just need to understand it better for leadership to like, how do you help people, when you're struggling, the more leaders themselves care about learning and kind of share what they're learning? I think that's probably the best way to do it.
Qasim Virjee 1:16
Sam, thanks for joining me.
Sam Cross 1:18
Thanks for having me.
Qasim Virjee 1:20
It's a pleasure to have you here in the studio at start. Well, likewise, and I'm really, really excited to talk about a bunch of stuff that we already started talking about before we pressed record. A bunch of stuff is a good summary, a bunch of stuff, a bunch of stuff. We were talking about leadership. We were talking a little bit about this, like remote work distributed team culture question. So
Sam Cross 1:42
and I think the unmasking that's sort of collectively happened ces 2020. I think that would be a good probably, bucket to start digging into. Okay, let's go there a good way to Yeah, to summarize it. Well, okay. So, as I'm a recruiter, yeah, as you know, but that's not how I identify, like, I'm a human who that happens to be my deal at the moment. But that's not really how I sort of see myself. What I mean is, I feel like when people find out that I'm a recruiter, they'll ask me questions that aren't necessarily my primary concern, like about the about the market, and about like, very kind of business oriented questions, but I'm interested more in the people side. So what I've observed since 2020, that's kind of, like fascinated me since then, was the fact that as soon as we moved home, it's like, We all lost that ability to compartmentalize.
Work-life balance and its challenges in a post-pandemic world
Qasim Virjee 2:36
So in terms of work life balance, yeah, yes, like problems
Sam Cross 2:40
that people were ignoring, for, sometimes decades. Now, they're in the same space with those problems. So if that's like, spousal issues, like trouble with the organizing the home, like all kinds of stuff, that maybe you know, they've never looked at, or suddenly front and center. So suddenly, like, the landscape of my work changed a lot, because, you know, recruiting by nature, you're you're working with so many different types of people, you're hiring managers, and directors and candidates, and, but none of those people often were kind of like prepared to suddenly be at home sitting with themselves. And there was this shift, almost right away where I noticed, you know, when I was in meeting with a hiring manager, we're not just talking about, like, candidates anymore. It's like, you know, my kids in the background, or there's this, like, it's just so much, it was so much harder for them to kind of hide what was going on. And so I started learning more about people. And it was kind of like, we don't know how to do this. Like, we don't know how to beat people at work. We know how to be people who work, right. But that's totally different than like, bringing your whole self. And then that started down this whole path, which I'm sure we'll, we'll start to kind of, like unravel in this conversation. Like that was foundation before I was like, wow, this is all new to us, and we're flailing. But we're not telling anybody that we're flailing. I think now we're getting to that point. But I think it's also taken a long time for people to kind of be okay admitting that they're struggling. Well,
Qasim Virjee 4:12
because isn't that the case that like, corporate culture, no matter what your corporation is, as long as you're more than Well, it's not even about headcount, from what I've seen, but there's this assumption in corporate reality in North America, especially here in Canada, that work and life are balanced. Between nine to five. There's this kind of like you live your life when you can live your life, but you're not living your life when you're at work. Yeah. So I think there's one you know, the dissipate the context of the of the pre pandemic work kind of scenario that maybe you're alluding to, is that, I think when people were hanging out in the office, you know, they had their office self and their office identity, which is a little messed up, you know, because we we hope to be ourselves. That's the ultimate goal in life. Right? So just be at peace with yourself. Yeah. And then exist happily in the world and have nothing trouble you. So, I think yeah, to be at home. I think also Yeah, there were a lot of frustrations that people didn't necessarily know how to channel or voice to do with having us a kind of a lack of connection, sense of opportunity, you know, ability to even trust and I think I know, that sounds a little weird, but maybe even trust their employment.
Work-life balance and employee expectations during the pandemic
Sam Cross 5:34
I don't think that sounds weird at all. Okay, yeah, I think that, that makes a lot of sense where I think we didn't have space, I feel like before 2020, and what by we, I mean, like the kind of tech collective, I guess, of like corporate, you know, tech, there was no space to even kind of consider that, like, how much safety sort of factors into your, like, your ability to do your job, or into to function as a human right. So for myself, like I saw, I have ADHD, and I knew that since I was in high school, but I didn't realize until the pandemic how much that was actually affecting my, my work to
Qasim Virjee 6:13
be that's interesting. So for quite a number of years, you didn't expect it to be a hindrance to how you could focus. Yeah, when you needed to. Yeah,
Sam Cross 6:22
because it was at the office with everybody else, pretending like everybody else. And it's, it really did feel that way, where it's sort of like, okay, I'm, you know, playing my work role. And but I didn't have the space to sort of look at my life as a whole. And then, uh, suddenly being at home, when that context changed, where it's like, I don't have my routine of like, hamster wheel of like, being at my desk. And my, it's like, I was like, What do I like, what do I do, like, my days completely changed. And it's like, problems, I didn't realize, were sort of masked by going to the office, I'm like, I don't know how to manage my whole life as one thing. Like, I've got, you know, things that were, I'm now sitting in a home, that actually don't really know how to manage because they don't have routines for it. And it's like, I've never even like, paid attention to that. Because at the office, I didn't have to see it. What's
Qasim Virjee 7:17
an example of a routine that you didn't manage? Like, okay,
Sam Cross 7:21
so I have a tendency to fall when I fall off, I fall off hard, because so if, you know,
Qasim Virjee 7:27
is it like lose focus? Like,
Sam Cross 7:30
it's, you know, there's a misconception with ADHD, that it's the inability to focus, it's more like, it's difficult to manage multiple things at once, it's difficult to focus on things that aren't engaging at once. Okay, so for me that it's, you know, it's different for everybody for how it manifests for me is like, it's hard to be giving a lot of my energy to work at the same time as home management at the same time as hobbies at same time as socializing. And prior to the pandemic, I would just say yes to things. So I'd, you know, go out and see people and kind of, not clean up for a little bit. And just but he didn't have to see it, because it wasn't there. And then all of a sudden, it was like, all of the busyness stopped. I was like, wait a minute, what, something feels better about this. And then it was looking at, you know, how I had never looked consciously balanced my life before. And I don't think I'm alone in that, where it's like, you know, I realized even, you know, having this conversation, like, isn't comfortable. But I'm like, I think that this is like the way forward. Like, I think we need to be more transparent and say, you know, it's been a struggle.
Qasim Virjee 8:38
And that comfort might, you know, might come with dialog, right with come with, like being able to socialize our personas and socialize who we are within jobs outside of jobs. And also, there's something interesting here, I think, which has to do with the choice that employees make to join companies. You know, funnily enough in so far in this series in the gathering podcast series, we haven't really talked about the idea, especially with talent management, talent, talent, attraction, people, HR people, recruiters, that, yes, okay. So it's great a company wants to employ you, right? But then also, the contract is a two way street. Like you want to join this team, you have your own expectations, assumptions about how working with that company will be feel, benefit you in various ways. And for the better part of it, whether it means as in the new reality, people stay for a year, or they build a career with that company, and they're there for longer the commitment to spend the time and to want to contribute and to get, you know, positive vibes back. Yeah, feel like they're able to contribute and all that. You know, that that's an interesting thing. It's normally considered like, Okay, I got a job Um, thanks. for the job, everything relies on if I give my destiny to the company
Sam Cross 10:04
tell that you should be lucky just to have that
Qasim Virjee 10:07
as opposed, as opposed to think of it as a partnership.
Sam Cross 10:10
Yes, yeah. Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 10:12
And so that's kind of interesting, because I feel there might be subconscious bias that people have where, which they carried from this context into the pandemic, and a little bit of feeling let down by the isolation as well. Because it was difficult. I know, in 2020, for a lot of people to, you know, employees, and, you know, no matter what their job role was, that we've talked to, to socialize, their, whatever they were going through, apart from everybody, even though everybody was seeing them on their couch in their living room. Yeah, all the time.
Sam Cross 10:50
Right. And not doing well sometimes. And it's like, what do we do with that? We've never, we've never encountered that before. It's like, we're supposed to just come in and be like, Hey, how are you? Fine. And
Qasim Virjee 11:00
how was your weekend?
Sam Cross 11:03
Yeah, it's like that wrote, and all of a sudden, it's like, our scripts are gone. And they think, like, that's kind of part of the unmasking. But for leadership to like, it was a big, I think, you know, how do you? How do you help people when you're struggling? And I think that's been a big thing that I've noticed, too, for people teams where, you know, it, there's just been burnout has been so rampant. And when it's ignored, it's like, it's not going away. It's like, it's kind of endemic. And it's like, you know, if we don't know how to deal with that, but don't admit that we don't know how to deal with it. We're just kind of exacerbating the problem, like, so I've seen, you know, I've worked with a lot of people like through the since 2020. That it's in the thing is like, I don't know, if I noticed burnout before. I don't know if it's new, and it's just worse, or I just wasn't aware of what it looked like. But for sure, since 2020, I've worked with countless people that are just, it's it's an it's an apathy, it's like a, you just you just see screen worrying, because you've been under so much stress that you haven't dealt with that. It's like, you no longer want to work with people. And you no longer want to talk to anybody. And so it's kind of like, Oh, look at this person. They're they don't care about their work. They're disengaged. And it's like,
Burnout in the workplace and its impact on employees
Qasim Virjee 12:24
it's not their lack of interest in the company's interests and lack of alignment. It's yeah, they're under stress, and they don't know how to manage it. Exactly. It's an interesting thing, because like, how does a company take on? I guess, this is a question for you. What have you discovered if anything, that lie in the abilities of an organization to be more proactive, if possible, or otherwise be more just cognizant of the possibility of this, this kind of burnout and being able to mitigate it? Because it's a mixture now of so many factors that cause and contribute this burnout? It's the lifestyle factor, but being impeded, perhaps by responsibilities of workplace thrust into the home? Yeah, yeah. If it's remote work burnout. So I think there is a responsibility for organizations there to kind of keep an eye on things, and then, you know, what's within their template to be able to manage this? Do you think?
Sam Cross 13:26
That's a really good question? I think like, that's something that I, I think a lot about and have sort of more, I would say, more follow up questions than definitive answers for but like, one of the things I think, what not to do, is I think if burnouts handled as a performance issue, then we're missing a huge part of it. Yeah. Because that's, it's going to compound it. Like it's it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what burnout actually is, which is, often I think there's been a misconception with that to where it's like, overwork leads to burnout, which it does, but that's I think this is a different type where it's like, it generally kind of shows up post pandemic is like, seeing issues that you don't see resolution for. And it doesn't even mean the issues have to be like, and they could be systemic, they could be whatever, like we're, especially with with very process oriented kind of jobs. It's like if you're, if you have a limited ability to be able to solve problems, or even see someone's trying to solve those problems, that's going to lead to you to burnout rates, right. And it's because it's an exhaustion, and it's like, if we're putting people on performance plans are looking at that as like, not caring about the business and this and that, if we handle it from a business perspective, we're losing. And I feel like especially when, you know, we talk a lot about recruiting, you know, diverse people, and that already, I feel like if you're, you know, part of a diverse population that could be, you know, gay or neurodivergent or like racialized anything. That's, you know, not necessarily like the majority that well, you know, Then you're coming at a higher risk of burnout. But I've never heard anybody talk about that. So it's sort of like we're attracting without, what do we do to support burnout? Like,
Qasim Virjee 15:11
so I think there's two issues there. There's this, like, diversity hire question, whether it's like a corporate social responsibility mandate, you know, under the rug, like, right, cover up, you know, or, like, hopefully, it's
Sam Cross 15:25
coupled with caring. But yeah, yeah, exactly.
Qasim Virjee 15:29
But I think, you know, that's, that's one issue. That's maybe how it kind of evolves or is manifest. But I feel like there's this underlying thing that we keep talking about with guests on the series, which is culture. And the question of how companies celebrate, well first design, or otherwise see in their people, a culture emerge, emerge, and then celebrate it to the point of being able to uphold it and nourish it. And if diversity is one of their cultural values, diversity needs to be seen as something ubiquitous, and then they have the ability, an organization should have the ability to kind of, you know, welcome and celebrate all people.
Burnout risk assessment and internal mobility in the workplace
Sam Cross 16:10
That's it, it's and it's doing that makes it supports everybody. Yeah, that's the thing. So it's like, okay, if there's a higher burnout risk, and you know, if you're a member of a diverse population, it's like that. Those are the only people who burn out like everybody burns out, but it's like, if we're thinking about it in that context, then it just makes sense. Because I don't know, I feel like, you know, is there a way we could identify people, for example, for burnout risk as they're joining? And could we, that's an interesting one tools to write because it happens a lot, especially with the great resignation, where so many people were switching, you know, in the last two years, it's like, this creates a weird culture where there's not a lot of people with a ton of experience in their roles of the company. So it's
Qasim Virjee 16:55
like new hires have replaced people that may have had longer standing tenures. We talked with someone recently about this this question, I think it was Reza from wave, financial company. But we were talking about this idea of knowledge basing, you know, for for a company. So, absolutely. This is big question like a lot of companies even today, they haven't learned necessarily through the churn that they've witnessed in the last couple of years. But as you lose, people, you're losing knowledge. And like, one side of that is you want to own and, and database, your knowledge. But the other thing is that training people for a job doesn't necessarily mean handing them handbook. Yeah. So there's this question, and it's an open ended question. I don't know. It's a question you raise it, like, how do we kind of assess burnout? Pre hire. But then there's a weird day. You don't want to bias your hiring decision by say, oh, Jim's burnt out. Sorry, Jim. Totally. Unless you can help Jim. Right. That sucks. You don't want to wreck? Exactly. Yeah, you don't want to look for it, unless it's something within your abilities to help solve. Yeah,
Sam Cross 18:12
I think it comes down to education too, because it's sort of, you know, if I've, I've heard advice before, like, given and just, okay, report it to your manager, and you're kind of like, but my manager is more burned out than I am. And possibly doesn't know it. So it's kind of like, there's gotta be like a top, there's gotta be just better education on it. And I think getting honest about it, because it is difficult to be honest about, it's one of those things where, you know, you don't want to get, you don't want to raise the red flag and then put the sort of like, you know, the spotlight on yourself. But at the same time, it's so rampant that I feel like we just need to understand it better, so that we can actually deal with because it's like, what if, okay, what if there weren't a performance plan, but like a support plan? Where it's like, okay, you know, we're going to do check ins we're going to, because there's a lot of I feel like a lot of companies have external resources, where it's sort of like, okay, here's, like, the employee assistance programs where you can talk to a counselor, which is great. Yeah, but it's kinda like, if you're already burned out, it's difficult to then add another thing to manage and to like practically do where it's kind of like, couldn't we set up the space to build that into our, into onboarding or whatever. So it's not necessarily assessing people for burnout before they joined, but like, immediately post hire,
Qasim Virjee 19:31
what do you think about how companies can assess the fit of their employees with their roles and their expectations? In figuring this burnout thing?
Sam Cross 19:44
Like if the workday like if there's maybe a mismatch between what they're doing and what they would maybe prefer to do kind of interval type? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think it's that's a tough one because it's case by case but I I think like the better, the better opportunity there is for internal mobility. Yeah, that can definitely help where that's a tough one too, though, because, you know, sometimes people are coming out of a role. I've had this experience. So in one of my first, like one of my formative, like work experiences in the games industry, I was in like a user research context. And I was, I was on a very small team. My kind of counterpart was very analytical, and I was doing more of the social side. So basically, we needed like a, we needed to grow a database of people who could test games. And I took that the social side of that, and he was working on the analyst, part of that. And we were doing great, like we were, we were excelling in our roles. But our manager, bless him, we're, I'm still friends with them. So this is fine, at the time, wanted us to build the opposite skill sets. Oh, so he was great. But you know, you are, you're gonna bump up your social skills, you're gonna bump up your analyst skills, and so I don't
Qasim Virjee 21:01
have that side of my brain.
Sam Cross 21:04
So I left to recruit. And it was only later because they were buddies that he said, You know, I, I, I understand now, how that wasn't, but it was, it was like my, my ability to move internally felt like it was, you know, being judged on my inability to perform this job that I didn't actually want. And so it's kind of I think that if we're, if we're coming at this from a more open minded, like, again, holistic, like human centric, because a lot of I think internal mobility programs are like, built on the, on the premise that if you're excelling in your current role, you'll excel in whatever role, so if
Qasim Virjee 21:42
it's bonuses, you know, yeah, it's like, what
Sam Cross 21:45
if the role is not a fit? And that's my
Qasim Virjee 21:47
mood where I told you to? Here's your treat. Yeah.
Sam Cross 21:51
But like, what if it isn't a match? I liked that you brought that up? Because that's a I think that's a Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 21:57
I mean, when I what I hoped for, we see it in startups, where there's a lot of burnout early on, because technology companies, technology startups, because the functional expectations of each additional, you know, human resource, each person that joins a team are so gargantuan, depending on you know, let's call it fundraise cycles, and so on. If you're perhaps more bootstrapped, or whatever, you know, maybe anyway, I'm generalizing. So I might as well generalize, I'm not gonna backtrack it. But people get stressed out quick, because they have to perform, and they're doing new things every day. So performing at New is its own skill set, it's very difficult in the ways of entrepreneurial ism are a kind of assumed upon, you know, early employees in a lot of startups, where they might not have bought into that they might not have thought that this company is a startup versus something more established. And, and I'll be responsible for things that are not within my wheelhouse. You know, we see that a lot because of this. And a lot of early tech company churn. Irrespective of generational background, you know, how old people are. It's something that's always been there in tech, especially tech startups, this idea that like, yeah, that it becomes difficult to contribute full on 100% every day. And then not, and when you see yourself being applicable, for certain skills are certain things that you can contribute to the team, having those validated against the people around you, because the expectations of you fitting that role? Because you're representing five people that should be hired, but haven't been, are that much higher. So it's like, oh, okay, cool. You want to do that stuff? Do it outside of, you know, do another weekend? Yeah, they'll be a project. I was like, No, man, he did do it too much. Yeah. So I think there's that kind of context as well, in smaller firms and early stage firms.
Startup challenges and gaming background
Sam Cross 24:06
I think, especially when there's that pressure to perform, right, because it's like, when you're working on a product or service or whatever, that you're trying to prove its value. It's like that, you know, you've got that sort of, like, you know, pressure to look like you're maybe I'm spitballing by the way, I've never started a startup, but I feel like there would be pressure to sort of, you know, prove the worth of, you know, the viability of it. So, there's a dissonance because you don't want to necessarily make if you're stressed or
Qasim Virjee 24:37
no, and it's true. And look, that's a startup thing. There's there's a lot of pitfalls of kind of startups in tech startups, and a lot of them on funding track, do fall into this, you're right to spit ball in that direction, because what happens is, and I was just talking to a financier yesterday about this, but it's interesting that for a lot of early stage companies that raise capital, that becomes almost like the number one goal for the founding team
Sam Cross 25:01
is raising the capital keep raising, keep raising keepers.
Qasim Virjee 25:04
And that I mean, that's almost a full time job. So they're typically those funders that are preoccupied with fund raises, and who are not taking a bootstrapper strapped approach or not thinking about business fundamentals from day one, revenue relationships with customers, they're nothing about relationships in general. And normally, they don't put people in place to replace themselves right in the beginning, for supporting, you know, the teams as leaders. So there's always kind of a corrosive culture emerging in a lot of early stage tech until they get the validation of a certain, you know, client win or funding round. And then they can bump up their stuff count. And then who's orchestrating all of this, there's always problems. But so okay, it's me anxiety. My background is tech. And you know, it's, it's been good and bad to see all this stuff. But your background seems to be gaming. Tell me about that. Like, how did how did gaming and video games come into your life? Where did that start? You
Video game development and Montreal's tech industry
Sam Cross 26:06
know, it's funny, like, I, well, they came into my life early. I love video games. So like, from a consumer standpoint, forever. And it's funny because I started my career as a teacher. And my plan, like, I always had two things in my head, like either teacher or some type of communications within business. So I started as a teacher, and the thing I care about though is is humans and helping them realize potential. What I was doing was teaching them core French. So not there's like a dissonance there was like, not exactly realize
Qasim Virjee 26:37
the future lies. Honestly,
Sam Cross 26:42
I'm not gonna go for it. The I had students asked me like, madame, you know, why are we using French? Like, I'm not going to use this. And I was kind of like, honestly true, like, knowing you probably won't. And it just spiraled. And I was kind of like, what am I doing? I want to help them learn how to like live. But so Ty would talk to them on a more personal level a lot. And like, I loved the kids that I taught just, there's so much about the educational system that just doesn't like resonate with me. Sure. And, yeah, but so we would end up talking about games a lot. And it was kind of like, you know, what, why don't I? Why don't I follow that? So I went to communications and then and then worked at Ubisoft first, which I loved like was Montreal, no, in Toronto. Okay. Yeah. When back when it was like, Now, I want to say that almost like 1000 people, it was like, 200 When I joined anything like that. So it was a nice size. If you could know everybody, and really, like get to know, you know, everyone.
Qasim Virjee 27:45
So this is when paint paints a picture of the years, like when Oh, this is
Sam Cross 27:49
in 2013. Okay, yeah. 2013? Because
Qasim Virjee 27:53
I remember, wow, has it been a decade before that? Because Ubisoft have been around. They've been around since the 90s. Right? I think so. But like super micro team. And then, as far as I remember, because I don't remember in Montreal, we didn't really think we're when I lived in the Plateau around, right. Of course. Yeah. 98 to 2003. You know, lived played, worked, loved and lost in the Plateau. Yeah, we didn't really think of my land much, you know, which was that the the north north Salah role, we didn't think of that so much. Because it was kind of a dead wasteland. At the time. There weren't many places to go.
Sam Cross 28:31
We started out where Ubisoft Montreal and yeah, okay. I don't know if they're still
Qasim Virjee 28:35
up there. But like, there's this, I just remember that there was one company up there that everyone kind of knew. And it was this video game company and and then they develop redeveloped their campus. And in the process, I think that was the major real estate development in that area was built out. And I think that might have been when I came back to Montreal, like 2004, or five or something, they built out a big, beautiful, like exposed brick kind of campus. And it was it was interesting, because it was kind of like this. In the area, it was almost like a very distinct, iconic moment for the evolution of the economy in the region, because it was like a rebirth. You know, this is a working class kind of neighborhood for generations now, maybe since the 1800s, early 1800s, late 1700s. And it's being rebirth with video games and a legacy, you know, and at the time, Montreal was really cool. There was so much tech happening in Montreal at the time, like it's funny to say now with the failure of like FTX and all the Bitcoin stuff going on, but like or blockchain stuff, and as all the same, whatever other crypto stuff, but like the gates and scarcity. There was a crypto company, not currency, but cryptographers that were kind of working on all these like, data security issues. That that they're open up in Montreal around the time area. So lots going on in Montreal all the time. But I digress because that was before your time at Ubisoft.
Sam Cross 30:08
And I'm laughing because it just sounds so futuristic like everything you just said.
Qasim Virjee 30:12
All those words right? 2022 And like, what are we doing? Yeah,
Early internet use and video games
Sam Cross 30:16
crazy. This is a future. Yes, I'm but I just feel like I feel like on balance. The internet has been an incredible thing on balance. 100%
Qasim Virjee 30:26
Yes. Okay, good. All right. I love the internet. Yeah, I love the internet dearly. I was one of the first, you know, kind of internet pioneers in East Africa when I was a teenager. So I used to teach actual love for the internet. Oh, absolutely. Like I was a young teenager teaching people what the internet was. I wrote my computing, like thesis for my GCSE is my British system, grade 10. And that was exactly the title of the thesis, the Internet, what it is and how it will transform humanity. And that was, you know, and at the time, I think I was 14. Was that right? That's awesome. Yeah, it was around the time and I had to like, logged on twice. And then very quickly after I wrote that, because I'd studied the internet in Computer Shopper magazines, way gars. And then I. And then I got online, and I helped all the early burgeoning ISPs in Kenya. Get customers I was out there with a bag of modems as a teenager after school, like teaching people how to connect to the internet and how to use IRC and FTP and the web and why it's not the only thing and then it became the only thing. And then how old you are 14 1415 Yeah,
Sam Cross 31:43
that's awesome. That's
Qasim Virjee 31:43
when I started. Yeah,
Sam Cross 31:44
man. I think like, I'm trying to think of what year I put a magazine in the VCR to see if it would play on the TV. It wasn't 14 it wasn't 14. It was before that. My point is that's that's like a long
Qasim Virjee 31:55
time ago for degeus. Yeah, it's like child prodigy level. Yeah. I don't know. I mean, like, I feel like back then people were geeks. The geeks I knew were like, really into computers like being into computers back then. And maybe this will bring us back to video games or video game culture a little bit too. Oh, yeah. Sorry.
Sam Cross 32:12
I totally dropped Oh, well, what I Yeah, didn't sell it. Well, I got
Qasim Virjee 32:17
in a bit. But the like back then. I mean, you, you you, the computers were the new thing for us kids, like you can always aspire to all these great things of cars and houses or whatever, seemed cool. This was a time when there was a show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with a guy named Robin Leach. And he would, you know, once a week show us the lives of these Malibu millionaires. And we think wow, but that wasn't within our reach. What was within our reach was knowledge. And so the all the smart kids in school were really into computers. And it wasn't like, for me, it led these in Kenya. It wasn't something that was at odds with jocks, there was no like, you know, Jock versus nerd, or, but, but computers also were very special to us. And this is where I know you'd be soft from was they were very special to us. Because they enabled us to think learn, eventually then communicate with the internet with other people through the internet. And create I
Sam Cross 33:15
was I was gonna say create. I'm so happy that yeah, like the web pages, everything building computer. Sorry, go ahead. You before
Qasim Virjee 33:24
that, like, I am still amazed at age 42 in 2002, To print a page that was on my screen and take that information with me in my hand wherever I want and show it to people. I'm still amazed by that. People take it for granted. People don't even have printers. They're like, why do I need a printer?
Sam Cross 33:43
Oh, funny. You have a I have a printer and I still feel pretty good about it. Honestly, honestly. Yeah. My sister in law was just telling me about how she because they got a my my wife's family got a computer pretty early. So very nice for them. And I had to wait a while but that's okay. That's okay. Yeah. And she would bring in printed pictures. And her teacher would react to some kind of like, wizard Yeah, how
Qasim Virjee 34:07
did you make? Wow, I, before the internet, we had a fax machine. And we used to communicate with our cousins back in Canada by sending them funny faxes that we would design by printing things and like kind of make Yeah, making like collage. Exactly. That's exactly what it looked like. And then the internet just changed everything. But yeah, somewhere in the mix there. One of the games that I discovered when we got our first Color Computer. It was a I believe it was a 486 SX made by Commodore which is weird because it was a PC. But it was a game designed by Ubisoft and it was this like sci fi thing with like aliens that looked like slugs and it was a 2d. Not quite shoot 'em up. I don't even know what it was. No, I can't it's it's definitely one of the early games. I wish I would love to know. But so video gaming for me was actually the first console I ever had in a way was a computer right? And then it was like to actually, I begged my dad for for Sega Game Gear. When the when that came out, and the Game Gear, what did he Oh yeah, he bought it from me. And he was he was awesome, but he totally bought it. And I went up my cousin who had you know, his Gameboy. I was like, I got color. Sonic so fast, so awesome. And then I plugged it in when we moved to Kenya, and I didn't realize the difference between 110 and 220 or 240 volts, and it fried the whole Game Gear. No, but I revived it somehow, I got it fixed. And then I traded it with someone for a Super Nintendo. And then that was the first like, real real multiplayer console that I had. Yeah. And really exciting one, and then I stuck with that I actually never got anything after a Super Nintendo. But
Video games, careers, and authenticity
Sam Cross 36:04
in some ways you didn't have to. I mean, you know, it's great. The thing is, though, like those games were so punishing. And like now, so I play this, like on the switch. There's like the, they have the library of like, Super Nintendo games, but you can rewind now. What? You can rewind,
Qasim Virjee 36:21
you can redo your move. If you die. Yeah, you just rewind it. Oh, no. Yeah, that shouldn't happen. I mean, I like it. Yeah, I could see like my daughter. It's like, when we watch something on Netflix is she's going back and back and back to the same point. And I'm like, Do you know how that used to kill our VHS tapes? And like, be careful. We couldn't do that back then. It's pretty cool. I mean, yeah, it's pretty cool. But it is. Okay, so wait, let's take you back to your career. Oh, yes. Right, Ubisoft. And then, and how long were you there for? Ah,
Sam Cross 36:56
it feels like a long time, because it was such a formative like time in my career. But I think it was like a year and a half, maybe two years. Felt like a long time. But it was honestly, like, I loved it. And I still have friendships to this day from. From that time, it was a beautiful time. But then in I've done a bunch of things like hopping around because basically like, the way that because I've performed different roles. So like sometimes recruiting production have done the different functions like usually within games, because I'm interested in what, you know, what happens kind of behind the scenes. So it's given me a good, like perspective on how games are made, which is like crazy. And you know, sometimes scary. Because there's just, it's, there's so many, there's so much that goes into it. And there are so many people that have just this like, level of of understanding of something extremely niche, and then they all come together to make something it's wild times. But doing everything I've done has given me that you know, a good perspective on it. But it's I basically just evaluate my next move on where I see a need. So it's kind of like what what problems can I solve and like, what, what skills can I gain doing that? So it's kind of, so I've been kind of all over the place. Yeah, I spent the longest at Rockstar before coming to Unity. But what's Rockstar
Qasim Virjee 38:21
known for? Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto, right? Yeah,
Sam Cross 38:25
I was there when we were shipping Red Dead. Two. I don't. Honestly, you stopped work for Nintendo.
Qasim Virjee 38:30
i Yeah, I haven't learned this stuff. I'm afraid of this stuff. I'm afraid of modern video games, because they will eat my life. Like it's all I would want it. That's
Sam Cross 38:38
fair. I could I could see that. Like, yeah, no, it's it. Yeah, it requires them. I love games. But it's there's definitely like things that I'll stay away from for that reason. But yeah, like I just in everything. I feel like this. In a lot of ways. I feel like the connectivity of the Internet has also enabled this like de masking where, you know, on LinkedIn, for example, like you see, there's so much more authentic authenticity that happens there than just couple of years. Yeah, then just like plugging, you know what I mean? Like the performativity? The
Qasim Virjee 39:14
Yeah, like, I think the narrative changed in the last year. And there were two things like so the interface changed on the web of LinkedIn when Facebook changes interface in 2020. I don't know if you noticed that. But like Facebook updated, they dropped a lot of customers at the time, or let's say the user experience was less sticky. And then would the old kind of river of news format that LinkedIn adopted from Facebook, and then their experiments now in a video, a native video support and all that stuff, native media handling in different formats. Suddenly, with everyone at home, looking for a replacement social network. I found LinkedIn kind of blew up in a way. interaction was way up on LinkedIn. There was no trends because like everyone has a weird schedule. Now, but yeah, people want to post representing their company, but not to represent their company, which, yeah. And what do you think? Is it an opportunity for companies to embrace?
Work-life balance, digital dexterity, and organizational leadership
Sam Cross 40:10
I think, I think it should be like, I think it's, I think we're remiss if we don't, because I think this is partially, it's, it's like a force shift from the pandemic, again, like just being forced to acknowledge that we're whole people, but I think part of it's generational, where, you know, again, that whole I, the dual, the, the kind of contract with a company where, you know, you're, you're agreeing to a partnership, really, and I think that, you know, all of this kind of generational warfare of, of, you know, Gen Z's and millennials whenever being lazy, and it's, it's just it, to me shows the misunderstanding of the fact that so if you've, okay, for example, sorry, I'm all over the place, but let me go. So if you've got a leader, that had to kind of bootstrap their way, or like, schmooze their way up to the top, and like really kind of grind for promotions, and all that kind of stuff. And then you're seeing this generation come in, that has expectations of being able to be their whole self at work, and have, you know, psychological safety and things that you were never kind of you didn't have space for when that didn't exist, I can see how there would be a divide there where it's kind of like, it's not that you want to block them from doing those things is that you don't even understand what they're asking for. And I feel like it's it's the same with fruit like with neuro divergence, the way that we, you know, the way we understand, like autism and like ADHD, so for example, like, as a kid, I was never identified as ADHD being a girl, there's way less, it was way less identified, because it was that idea of like the hyperactive, boy disrupting class, that's who got that label. So for me, I didn't even connect the dots until high school because I didn't even self suspect. But I feel like this generation is so much more, there's so much more research that's come out, there's so much more. I feel like the human experience is like a swimming pool size. And then what we knew in the 90s, let's say it was like a shot glass. And then now maybe we're up to like a, like a tea cup, right? Or like, do you notice? And it seems like not a lot. But that's life changing. Like that's a life changing difference, if you know something about yourself now that you didn't, and I feel like an entire entire generations are coming up, like with this knowledge just embedded. So it's like, What do you mean, you don't understand what to do with about burnout. And these things, I feel like these are things that will, if we make the right moves come to the forefront. And I think it'll happen partially naturally, just as, you know, younger generations move up.
Qasim Virjee 42:51
What do you think, yeah, and take leadership positions. And
Sam Cross 42:53
Workplace learning culture and peer-to-peer sharing
Qasim Virjee 42:56
What do you think about the dichotomy if it exists between corporate interfacing in pop culture and mass dialog, versus the new window that everyone has, especially if they're young, and hyper connected to the world? Like, the way I've been thinking about it is this going back to the beginning of the conversation, where we were talking about kind of work life balance, and employee relaxed realities, if you're in your 20s, and you're an employee, you know, first, second third job, whatever it is, because they happen quick. But let's say that your time online is spent on, you know, maybe five or 10 times or 20 times as many sources of information, whether they're valid or not, it doesn't matter. But people are jumping in and out of content, and swimming far and wide and content as well in the sense of topics that, you know, may not be easily accessible to other people, because the algorithm did didn't even feed that topic to them and stuff like that. So the kind of like, let's call it digital dexterity, of sourcing information, and also consuming right, and also consuming information, because now as algorithms feed people content, and it's less search base. And the search is even driven by a profile, rather than, you know, just looking at the index. I feel like leaders within organizations and organizations as a whole often cases find themselves at odds with that contextual relevance, so dialogue becomes even more important between co workers of all different hierarchical kind of stature. Yeah, to get on the same page about who you are in order to understand how you do what you do. Leave aside measuring your perform limits are figuring out what your internal mobility is. Yeah. That's a difficult thing, because I think organizations almost need to almost sponsor it seems like, like I guess where I'm going with this is thinking of an organization, as an educator, this came up recently in a discussion I had, where, you know, we were talking, I forget who it was was talking about. If you're in your 20s, you've come out of university, you're a fresh mind, still, you're young, you're less, hopefully less biases than someone in their 50s. And you're also very energetic about your approach to learning. So you want to learn in the company becomes the continuity of the university campus for you. I know Google, maybe this is where this came from. Google was having a lot of problems early on with this, where the Googleplex was like a campus. And people were smoking weed and riding skateboards, and it was like, Yeah, I got a job at Google, it was like, and that's, you know, became started NYSED in like, Silicon Valley, the show and stuff like that. But they, they kind of like evolved a little bit more corporate culture and controls and like, don't do illegal shit on campus. That's baseline, right? Yeah, exactly. That's kind of it. And then a whole bunch of people were like, you know, on the on the roof all day long, just smoking weed and barbecuing and not doing any work. No, but But it's interesting, because as people come from a university context, or otherwise, from companies, even startups, like if a startup is your first job, and then you go corporate, and you're expecting this, you know, give me a lot of information, I want to deal with this, and I'll figure it out, I'll help you. And you're like, you know, leadership or management is kind of like, well, you're not in this department. You're not in this team. You're not on my payroll, you know, I don't know who's measuring your performance, but I don't want to be shanked by like helping someone from a different department or whatever it is in a corporate reality. So I think that can be problematic. But the question for me lies in your perception of how companies can encourage education as part of, you know, what they offer their employees? ongoing education? Yeah,
Sam Cross 47:13
that's a good, that's a good? That's a good question. I think like, for, for what I've seen, anyway, like, we have a in my current company like this is, I was at Rockstar two, we have a lot of access to tools for for self directed learning. So there's that I think, it's tough, because I think learners will learn. That's the thing, like I, I see this with candidates too, it's like a whole range of, of, you know, where sometimes people get sort of stuck in whatever environment they're exposed to. So if they're, you know, whatever they're doing their current role, it's like, if they don't necessarily try new things, because they're, they're sort of waiting to be kind of handed opportunities. And then there's people that are just so proactive with, like, staying up on new technologies. And, and I feel like, I feel like, it's, it's tough, because they think the more leaders themselves care about learning, and kind of share what they're learning, I think that's probably the best way to do it. Because again, like, I think people will find a way to do it, again, with all the tools that exist, you know, with, like, Udemy and Coursera. And like, there's a ton of information on the internet, but it's like, the impetus to use it. And I think if, if I know, for me, I'm really inspired by a lot of the leaders that I see, like posting on LinkedIn, that are, you know, talking about topics that I hadn't considered even for myself, right, like neurodiversity, and, you know, ways to sort of Yeah, I think that's, it's,
Qasim Virjee 48:45
is this also something that you've seen in, in either your previous work or the company that you're at now, unity, this idea of kind of a town hall, you know, where there's time and space set aside for peer to peer learning, not in the sense of like paired programming, but in the sense of like, what are you into and what are you so excited about that whole show and tell thing you know, you got to school? You're a kid, and you got to like Monday morning you're like, oh my gosh, oh my god, this happened this happened. I want to tell everybody about it. And it's not like we went to the farmers market with my dad on Saturday. It's so whatever it is, you're jazzed about and you're into and you want to learn more about you know,
Spotify Wrapped and music preferences
Sam Cross 49:29
you I was just thinking about that in the context of Spotify wrapped. I was like oh interest are showing tell right now.
Qasim Virjee 49:36
Yeah, I don't get that. I don't get why everyone's so excited about Spotify rap. Do you know why? Maybe why I really enjoy
Sam Cross 49:41
it. Why don't we Why
Qasim Virjee 49:45
don't we why? There's a few reasons. One of them is mine doesn't have much to say. I'm left out. No. You know what? We sure that's true. It's true.
Sam Cross 49:57
Is it just like white noise all the time? Listen, do you use Spotify, I rarely
Qasim Virjee 50:01
do. So there's not enough data for it to feed, to be honest. But I feel like it's i It's a larger gripe I have with Spotify is that I love Spotify, but I hate Spotify. I like the flexibility of it from a user standpoint, like it's really easy to use, and it works with all my devices, and I can share my plan and all that great stuff. And there's an ever increasing wealth of content on it. But it's, I really don't like it as a replacement for my catalog. Why is still stuck in the whole iTunes debate? Man, like, I have a hard drive. Oh, God, I have a hard drive on my tunes, you know, and most of those tunes are not most of the half of them, half of them at best are on Spotify.
Sam Cross 50:45
Right? Okay, that makes sense, right?
Qasim Virjee 50:48
But the whole idea of like, you know, your music on demand, wherever you are, if you're not connected to the internet, at your fingertips, is just so tantalizing to me, also, look, I'm a DJ, right. I mean, so that's part of it is I like the idea of like, being able to remix my own stuff with my own tools. Oh, okay. Yeah, I don't mean just performing. But I mean, the idea of like making a playlist, having your content available to sending someone a file, like, like, hey, check out this tune. And I don't mean send them a link that they then have to log into a proprietary program for sign up for an account for to play. And in the process, that the artists that you've just shared the music of doesn't get any money anyway.
Sam Cross 51:32
See, to me, like the whole management of that system, like, I love Spotify, for like, the same reason, opposite perspective, I like not having to manage it anymore. That was like, I didn't I didn't enjoy that part. You know, there's just so just different perspectives exists. Yeah, that's totally like the, why wrapped appeals to me so much, it's the same as any, like typisch. I just like seeing glimpses into people's, like, there's, you can tell so much about somebody by basically listened to, but also like games that they play, what they and I just find it so interesting to get those little glimpses. And I think,
Leadership, communication, and virtual events
Qasim Virjee 52:08
is that part of your hiring process to like, do you do look for, you know, that kind of larger profile of the candidates?
Sam Cross 52:16
I do? I think it's, you know, I think it's interesting, it's, I think there's a huge piece missing, if you're not kind of addressing who somebody is, and like, digging into that when you're talking to them, because it would also be so boring for me just personally, where it's like, you know, I want to, I think we should care about, like, people as whole people. And I do, but again, that's why I think it's quite case by case, right? It's like, if you have, you know, a company where, whether or not it's coming from top down, but people are making that effort and like kind of, you know, caring about where people are coming from, then it's a better landscape. I see it a lot with peers to where it's like, and that's why I think it's partially partially generational. But, you know, I think that that, yeah, with the learning piece, just I think being a leader that, that, that continuously learns. And that's a big piece, actually, I think that breaks that mold of like, having to position yourself as an expert, because it's like, there's trust is such an important component of leadership. That's, I think, still not quite understood across the board. And a lot of that is just that transparency of like, not pretending you know, everything. And, you know, it's one thing to say, like, well, I don't know everything, but that's still aligned. It's like, you're still doing the script with like, the manager you can trust as opposed to, you know, oh, I learned this thing I learned, you know, and actually talking about what you're learning and digging into it.
Qasim Virjee 53:43
Yeah, it's really interesting, right. Like, someone asked me about this the other day, they were like, how do you stay engaged as a podcast? Interviewer, you know, and for me, I'm like, I don't really question. Oh, thank you. Well, let's, let's see if there's an answer. Yeah, I'd like to. The answer for me is that it's about presence of mind, you know, and inquisitive nature, which you hope for from leaders in all organizations regardless. So it goes back to your point of this, like every learner, it's so nourishing, to have conversations with people that are outside of my everyday experience. Gotcha. My everyday experience is very diverse, because we have like 500 people here that I don't know every day at start well. So in a sense, the business is a honeypot, for me to meet people, and have great dialogue, you know, but I could see and this is something we do help commercial clients with is produced podcasts. And a lot of that is coaching leaders to be able to shed the pretense to be able to open up on camera on the mic, and just have dialogue that's not about this hour in my calendar has to provide this function It's about kind of ticking pause. And and one of the new things that we're going to be doing through next year is actually meeting or facilitating a lot of these leaders using podcasting to uncover stories from within their organizations. So it's like, that's really cool. Yeah. And whether it's internal or publicly available, the idea of just, you know, having that show until be one on one that also breaks a hierarchy. I love that kind of cool, right? Yeah,
Sam Cross 55:25
that's really cool. That's really cool. We had a fireside chat the other day internal. It was, yeah, it was like a panel of like, of, like, female leaders, like very high up in it. But it was a really, like, informally lead, like, it was great. And it was kind of like, Let's do like that. Let's do that. Because I think, you know, there's a way to do that. Where, I mean, there's an element of people still masking when they're doing it. I think it takes practice, right. And it's like,
Qasim Virjee 55:55
what was that? purely online? Yeah, like, You
Sam Cross 55:58
mean, like, was there an in person component? I mean, yeah, it was pure. It was completely virtual? Because I
Qasim Virjee 56:03
find that when there is, and this is also why we have our studio around the corner on Niagra. When there's different Yeah, yeah. When it's a hybrid event, and you've got even if it's 20 people in the audience, and they're your peers. Yeah, there's that human element that you drop your guard and just have a conversation a little bit more. But again, it depends on the moderator. And when you're moderating on a people in boxes on the screen, it'd be tough. Because there's no crosstalk also, most of the stuff, but talking on top of each other can actually help flow. Yeah,
Sam Cross 56:32
that's, that's a huge struggle with with, you know, like virtual communication I find because you start talking and it it, you know, you cut someone off, but it's such an unnatural, like, you're Okay, your turn. Sorry,
Qasim Virjee 56:46
sorry. Oh, wait, are you? Yeah, yeah.
Sam Cross 56:51
And for the most part I love, I feel like, you know, I've loved virtual at the same time, because again, like, people drop that pretense more easily when they're in their own space, and they're comfortable. So they're not in the office, they're in a again, there's something you noticed almost right away, where it's, it's like, oh, this is a different conversation. And you can see their backgrounds and you can see, like, things, it's like reminders that were people,
Qasim Virjee 57:16
which is kind of like part of this meta, the meta take home for us is looking like the office wasn't working in terms of cubicle culture. The office needs to be more like a home. And when people use it, it's not just a home, it's an exceptional home for experiences that are shared base. Yeah,
Sam Cross 57:35
like a base, like a base meeting place. I heard someone describe a community center, like the Luddites good, that's great, like pleased to build connection. Right. But that that's where that's its function. I think intentionality is just intentionality is like such a, that's super integral to like, everything we've talked about, like to just building trust with teams to learning to it's intentionality. It's like deciding to do that thing. You know, and that thing sometimes is just taking off the mask, like making a space for people to be themselves. But I think that has to be led by example. Right? Right. So it's like, oh, it's like, the early days of like, remember, you know, Bell, let's talk. Yeah. Where I feel like the early days were I don't
The benefits of in-person team meetings
Qasim Virjee 58:18
know what that is. I just know the billboards existed. Yeah, like an advertising campaign. They donate
Sam Cross 58:23
money when you call and text that day, to mental health organizations.
Qasim Virjee 58:29
So that one day out of 365 days a year? Yeah. I mean, it's a start, like 3% of their revenue.
Sam Cross 58:37
You will, let's not examine it from Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 58:40
break down the business too far down. Like
Sam Cross 58:43
the point being that I feel like when that started happening, yeah, I noticed on social media, a lot of people saying, you know, if you're struggling, like, you can reach out to me, you can reach out to me, and I was like, that's, but that's not talking. That's like an invitation for listening, which is good, but it's sort of like, if you know, somebody's going to relate already to an experience, because they sort of disclosed their own and said, like, you know, had experience with anxiety. I'm struggling with this. And if we can do that in real time, in a more comfortable way. Leaders immediately are more accessible because they're not you don't seen them as we see with their eyes.
Qasim Virjee 59:17
Yeah. Yeah, it's kind of like this. Like, again, it goes back to assumption. There's a lot of assumption around power politic. That kind of is supported by everyone hiding behind screens. This is good stuff to which is like people are in their own comfortable space. But then there's that like second guessing because communications not synchronous. And so we see that synchronicity kind of like changing when people come here to start well, and they're doing a team meeting. They might not have some some teams that meet here have never met before in person, right? Because they're like new hires. That some of them do know each other and they're coming back and they really love just, it's something that's natural. People come together and especially in a new context being here. For some returning teams that something they look forward to once a month or once a week, so it's like a safe place for them to kind of like, just be. Yeah, and the guard drops, the guard drops. Sometimes it takes an hour or two hours, but you see it dropping after the first few last couple jokes. Everyone's feeling relaxed. And it's a beautiful thing to witness. It's awesome. It's pretty cool. And I think it's a way of the future really
Remote work and office culture at Unity
Sam Cross 1:00:22
cool. I do too. I do too. Because it's like, you do need that, again, intentional space to connect. But it's not it's without that force. Sort of, it's really the best of both worlds, I think, in you know, especially in Tech where, you know, there's a lot of, it creates spaces for people who work best, more often isolated, like, if you're a developer, like can you don't focus, yeah, head down. And, but you've also get that, you know, interaction piece, because you can't replace you can't fully replace that technology. It's like, you know, unless your team is super dispersed, but I feel like a lot of companies aren't doing good jobs of, of making, enabling people to be mobile enough to meet like, even if they're flying out. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 1:01:13
totally. We're definitely seeing like, there was there was a good adoption of this as the new wave working this year in Toronto, and especially with our customers, of course, and it looks like next year is going to be the actual awakening post pandemic, hopefully, you know, come spring, I'm expecting a lot more of that want to like gather and to learn from each other and to, you know, spend that time socializing. And companies are warming which is heartening, especially our customers, they're warming to the idea that socialization or socializing amongst their teams, is not at odds with the bottom line. You know, that's been conventional culture, right is like, yeah, manager comes by the kitchen, like, look at at his watch. Okay, guys, coffee times over problem
Sam Cross 1:01:58
with the office. It's like, okay, this is your space to connect and solve problems and like, be dynamic. And but yeah, like intentionality trust, too, right? It comes down to trust also where it's like, okay, maybe we've hired people for a reason. You don't have to monitor hold their tie. Right, right. Right. There's a yeah, there's, I think there's the the sort of, like, rub that, at least I'm noticing is like, as we go into 2023, it's like, there's a lot that still, there's a lot of old thinking that we still need to get rid of. It's like, it's because they think for a long time, it was the the idea that Okay, going back to the office, and it's like, nobody's under that pretense anymore. But it's like, Okay, what does the new office look like? And it looks like this, right? Like, it looks. It's dynamic and flexible, but that involves a level of trust. Right. And now, it's time. So
Qasim Virjee 1:02:52
does unity have a defined office?
Sam Cross 1:02:55
Unity has offices all over the place? Yeah. So the Toronto ones under construction, and but when is it a lot of them are established? This summer? Okay. But yeah, like a lot of them are or have been, you know, there for quite some time. They're cool spaces. I've never been to one. Okay, which is like, it's it's so weird that that's like, yeah, that's a thing. But yeah, there's, it just depends, because it's a big company, there's a lot of there's been a lot of discussion about, you know, what to do, really, and how to handle. So it's it's majority of teams, like how they do encourage, you know, teams to get together. But again, like the frequency depends on on what the the function is. It's
Qasim Virjee 1:03:42
very difficult problem to tackle, especially with the large employees, like how many do you know how many unity folks are in Toronto?
Sam Cross 1:03:49
I actually don't, I think it's, it's like between one and 200. It's not more than 200. I don't think it's less than 100. Because
Qasim Virjee 1:03:56
one of our larger clients, Shopify, has been going through this right, we were we were kind of helping them out with this and last couple of years, especially the last year, like 2001 2002 Oh, sorry, what am I saying? 2122. Oh,
Sam Cross 1:04:10
okay, that's fine. Numbers don't register super well with me. So I heard the one Yeah, cool.
Qasim Virjee 1:04:14
Yeah, exactly. That makes sense. I still write 9099 in my book every day, you know. But like the, what we what we saw with him is that, like they have whatever how many 1000s of people all over the place. And when they went full remote, you know, the kind of cobbled together a rulebook almost for how teams can self organize to find space, and then how they facilitate their meetings to try and get some sort of like functional output, but also to go and do fun stuff and make sure there was enough budget for it. And that's been like a kind of a very, you know, experimental process in the last year, year and a half and it's kind of getting more from what I understand is getting a little bit more refined next year, but it's been a big undertaking for them. To like, just culturally aligned with, you know, everything from procurement, to booking billing, to then auditing, you know, the success post meeting, if they haven't do that, to then pre planning the next set of interactions with people. It requires a whole new business unit, you know, they built it out to just be an internal team. Yeah, but internal team supporting what is it? 40,000 Global stuff or something? It's
Sam Cross 1:05:25
crazy. Yeah. Yeah. That is quite an undertaking. It's like, yeah, there's a lot of like, decisions to be made there. And I, but I think like, again, it's one of those things where there's an opportunity to better understand humans in general, because there's, I've heard a lot of cases for, you know, basically, like, supporting the choice. Like, I think it does come down to, you know, teams and people making decisions about the way that they work. Because they know, there's, there's definitely like for, but again, like neurodivergent, for example, like for people on the spectrum who have like sensory sensitivities, it's like the office can be a real detriment. And then they're spending extra energy, you know, it affects their work affects their life. And it's like, you know, the ability to kind of select where you put your energy and but then there's people who were, you know, really need that human attraction who haven't had it, and it's kind of like, how do we balance but I think, I think that being open about the fact that you know, we're we're all houseplants that require certain conditions, but we're no to same house plants. It's like a metaphor me more light and heat, right, and figuring out what that looks like. I think there is a way that we can do that. But it's yeah, it's, it gets complex when you're making business decisions. But I think when you're on teams, it's it's a little bit. It's more simple, but it requires intentionality. Right? So, like, still complex, but easier, because, you know, if you're encouraging people to kind of advocate for themselves and decide sort of what they need and try things if you're willing to do that, then I think we have a really amazing opportunity to like to get have better soil, exactly.
Qasim Virjee 1:07:09
These plants. Yeah. Or build the Terranea. You know, I build. Build the terrarium for your own ecosystem. Yeah, it is all encompassing. Just kind of move over. Well, Sam was a pleasure chatting today. Thanks, honestly, it was such a pleasure. I think we covered a lot of interesting topics. And, and I'm looking forward to having you back maybe for the conference in April. Thanks. That'd be great.
Sam Cross 1:07:35
Yeah, thank you for thanks for the invitation. It's a pleasure talking to you. It was great talking to you too. Thanks so much.