Q&A with Julia Hartz, CEO and Co-Founder, Eventbrite

Let’s just say it: Julia Hartz amazes us. She’s an entrepreneur, investor, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, the event platform that powers more than three million events around the world annually. She’s built a reputation for being a rock star leader and a relentless advocate for women in tech, which is why we’re proud to name her Girls in Tech’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Julia will be honored at our annual fundraising gala on November 17 in San Francisco.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you as you’ve dug into the role of CEO?

Having to shift my focus from 100% on our people to building and flexing my operations muscle. What’s helped is that there has been an intention since day one that it’s as important to us that we build profits as much as we build a wonderful culture and a lasting legacy of a great company. We’ve created this inclusive environment that’s very thoughtful in terms of how we can create allyship, how we create mentorship and what kind of voices are heard.

How do you manage your productivity day to day (or week to week)? Any secret sauce productivity hacks?

I honestly live and die by my shared Google calendar and Asana. Also, my morning routine is a critical part of my pre-game prep. I spend about 30 minutes alone, getting centered for the day ahead.

What did you want to be ‘when you grew up?’

I never aspired to be an entrepreneur. I was not the kid with the lemonade stand. I grew up as a dutiful ballerina and while I “fell backwards” into entrepreneurialism, ballet taught me many things that have proved useful on this journey: self-awareness, attention to detail, flexibility (literally and figuratively), how to make adjustments, etc. I ultimately chose this path because I thrive on velocity.

What’s your no. 1 pet peeve?

Being told something “can’t” be done. I refuse to accept that at face value. There is always a solution and to me, grit and determination are both invaluable traits.

What can schools and universities do (or, even parents) to help create the next generation of entrepreneurs?

Intentional role modeling has the ability to shape the next generation. You can’t be it, if you can’t see it. I truly believe that being an entrepreneur can be learned. You don’t have to be born with it or have had the “lemonade stand” early childhood career.  You do need to have the passion, devotion, conviction and sheer will to make it happen and you absolutely need someone you trust to help inspire and guide you.

What’s the top soft skill that you feel more women should learn and apply in the workplace?

Empathy. While traditionally viewed as a feminine trait—a weakness, even—empathy has now emerged as a critical business strength, and a requirement to succeed as a great leader. Sure, there are some really great minds out there, great thinkers who are renowned for what they do, but without empathy, they’re not great leaders. Great leaders know when to lean someone into their strengths, and when to help alleviate or manage their challenges. And that requires an understanding of where that person is coming from. That requires empathy. I call empathy my superpower, and I say that with sincerity and pride. But it was only after learning to apply discipline to my empathy that it became a strength.

Who inspires you and why?

My mother has been a consistent source of inspiration for me and there are two pieces of wisdom from her that I carry with me daily. The first advice she gave me was to learn how to ask for help. It’s easy to think that you need to be “Superwoman” and that you’re expected to try and juggle everything on your own. Some people even think it’s brave to do that! My mom always instilled in me that it was braver to ask for help when you need it. That has absolutely stuck with me over the years, but became even more important in practice once I became a mother. The second was to always make sure to surround yourself with people who make you stronger and better. It may sound trite, but the concept of “it takes a village” really could not be more true. I’ve made a conscious effort to build a tribe of teammates, trusted advisors, friends, and others who inspire me, push me and support me daily and it has made a world of difference.

What makes Eventbrite such a great place to work?

The more than 700 global “Britelings” that show up everyday to rally around our purpose of bringing the world together through live experiences. We’ve built a really diverse team that makes the impossible happen on a regular basis and I’m incredibly proud of that; but if I were to pick out a few things that all great Britelings have in common, it’s grit, curiosity, and what we call the “make-it-happen spirit.” The latter has become an unofficial company-wide motto and describes those who go that extra mile to solve a challenge or help out other teammates.

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