The Legal Department

Governance And Executive Comp Under The Golden Arches: Why Relationships Matter In The Legal Department With Chris Weber Of McDonald’s

The Legal Department | Chris Weber | Executive Comp

On this episode of The Legal Department, Chris Weber, Managing General Counsel of the iconic McDonald’s corporation underscores again why building strong relationships is crucial to success in-house. Whether he is navigating tough governance issues, working with board members, or advising on executive comp under the Golden Arches, Chris shows why fostering a state of trust at your company is an essential skill. For professional development and team building, he also recommends reflecting “in the moment” on what worked and where there are opportunities for improvement.

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Governance And Executive Comp Under The Golden Arches: Why Relationships Matter In The Legal Department With Chris Weber Of McDonald’s

This is Chris Weber. I’m Managing Counsel Corporate, Securities, and Governance from McDonald’s Corporation. A fun fact about me is I spend most of my time chasing around my two little kids. Enjoy that.

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On the show, we have a longtime friend of mine who I have reconnected with, Chris Weber. Chris is Managing Counsel Corporate, Securities, and Governance at McDonald’s Corporation. He’s in Chicago and I’m in my home in Santa Barbara.

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Chris, how are you?

Happy New Year.

Happy New Year. I feel like maybe I’m an evangelist for LinkedIn, but we reconnected after a really long time after you made a LinkedIn post about spending twenty years in-house at McDonald’s. We had lost touch after law school. I was surprised and excited to reconnect with somebody who has also spent a long time in-house. How did that come about for you? I remember you started at a law firm in St. Louis.

I did. Maybe the traditional path of the big firm, I did that for a few years and enjoyed the experiences. It may be more of my team sports background, but I realized I wanted to be on one team and not be the helper for a lot of different players. I wanted to dive into the issues and get to sit side by side with the business as opposed to being an advisor. After a few years, I realized that that was the direction I wanted to go. I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity here over many years ago and have stuck with it. That initial thinking has held true, so I’ve been pleased with the choice.

Joining McDonald’s

You did join one of the largest global companies. All of us have grown up with McDonald’s in our lives. When I was telling my kids that I was talking with someone from McDonald’s, their first question was, “Does he get free hamburgers?”

That’s the most common question. It’s, “Do you get free food? Do you get a discount? How does that work?” I was like, “We get no discount, no free food. We’re supporting the business.” That is, by far, the most common question people ask. That and when Shamrock Shake is coming back.

That’s a good one. I was at a very large institution also, one that people have a lot of affiliation and affinity for. McDonald’s is an iconic part of American culture. How do you feel about being part of that legacy?

Both exciting and proud. From the inside, it’s been interesting to see all the things and the tremendous scope of influence that McDonald’s has through a number of different avenues. You pointed out a lot of more customer-centric ones. I think about marketing and other things that we are involved in. As you look at the broad scale of the business from the employment opportunities and the philanthropic work, that’s mainly through charity, but do a lot of things outside of that that touch a lot of people. That’s been wonderful.

It’s also been interesting. As you pointed out, a lot of people have feelings about us. They’re not all positive. I’ve had a lot of people question, “How do you work for a company that sells that type of food? Does that bother you?” Those are interesting conversations too because I have a different perspective. I’ve seen the inside, so I am trying to explain some of that and some things that may not be as front and center.

I’ve really enjoyed it. It has made my work, in what some people might view as a dry area of public disclosure, much different because what we do, a lot of people are interested in, for better or worse, whether that be the regulators, which is the public, because of the gold arches and the symbol that they represent. It’s been exciting, but it adds a different level of engagement on some of the public side.

Key Responsibilities

It’s almost like people feel like they have ownership in the company as well. We point out the golden arches. We all know what that is. You’re driving across the country and that’s a beacon in almost a lot of places. To segue into what you do, you described it as a dry area. I think of not necessarily the securities part of it, but the governance part of it is the architecture for the company. Maybe you can give us a little bit of background on your key responsibilities and what you do.

I’ve been practicing there for twenty years, so I’m a little bit tongue-in-cheek about it. My team and I are responsible for public disclosure for McDonald’s. There is a lot of overlap between that and the governance that you bring up. Our general counsels are for the secretary, but our team is the one that supports her, the board, and all the board’s committees and all the governance aspects of it. We have responsibility for exec comp, ERISA, and supporting our treasury function, which has a lot of overlap with our public disclosures because we’re active in the capital markets. We also have responsibility for supporting our global subsidiary network.

On the governance side, how many committees? How big is the board? What are you juggling there?

The board has five standing committees. We’ve had a few movements. I’d have to go count, but we’re thirteen. We’ve been at our cap at fifteen for a little while. We usually are in the 12 or 13-person range. We have the standard required committees. We also have a public policy committee that touches on a lot of more public-facing issues that we deal with given the nature of our business.

Corporate Governance

The board stuff for me has been a long journey. I cut my teeth on a 57-member board of trustees. That was wild. Our board’s much more manageable. We went to law school together. I didn’t really notice we had a whole lot of education on corporate governance, how to deal with boards, and how to interact with board members, corporate secretaries, and all that. Maybe talk a little bit about how you develop those skills.

It’s trial by fire, to be honest. I agree. We weren’t really taught those skills. It varies. Your experience with that board, I’m sure, is different from mine. Mine’s changed with different chairs. Chairs run their committees in unique manners. My takeaway would be understanding what the chair wants. Develop the relationship with the chair and things will flow from that because they’re going to have their own perspectives on how they want it to run. They’re going to drive it for better or worse, so it isn’t really a choice. It’s fitting in and making sure that you’re working well with that.

The Legal Department | Chris Weber | Executive Comp
Executive Comp: Chairs run committees in a unique manner. You must understand their perspectives and what they want to develop in order to maintain a good relationship with them.

Overall, it’s communication and understanding the role that they play for your business, giving them what they need, realizing that they’re not in the weeds day-to-day like we are, and making sure that that lens is prominent as you’re putting together materials. We’ve gotten that feedback of, “That’s great but we’re not as close to it as you. Can you take a step back and walk us down the path a little bit?” Especially in technical areas, I deal personally more with the comp committee. A lot of the areas we deal with are very technical. They’re not high-level business decisions but some technical plan operation issues and things like that. It’s making sure that you walk them down the path and take them through the whole iteration as opposed to giving them the answer.

That’s a really interesting area that I struggle with. I don’t know if you have sat on boards yourself, but as the advisor to the board, you want to make sure you’re telling them everything. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where there’s a gotcha that they didn’t know about. At the same time, in a very technical space, which healthcare and what you do is as well, you cannot pummel them with all of the technical jargon and the acronyms. I would love any feedback you have on how you have been able to streamline. I support our audit chair so we do pre-meetings with our audit chair. She’s a lawyer, so she’s on it, but there’s still that tension between what’s the right amount? It’s the Goldilocks, like what’s right.

That’s the holy grail, so to speak, of finding that balance. It varies a little bit by committee chair and by committee of what you’re dealing with. What we found is we do the same. We do pre-meet with the chairs to make sure that they’re aware of it and comfortable. In one sense, it’s a trial run because that’s a little bit more of an informal discussion. If there are questions and other things, it’s an easy takeaway of, “These are the things that we need to address and the materials.” We send the materials to them in advance so they have the opportunity to review them like we do for the board. It’s a little bit of a trial run there.

Board Packets

Let me ask real quick about board packets. I don’t have public disclosures, but we do our tax returns and our financial statements. You post all that. That’s 200 pages per, and then you have the slides and the background memos. Do you have any secret sauce over there under the golden arches for the right size of board packet?

We generally go with less is more, but trying to find that balance of what it is. It is more of how you sequence it. We do a lot of reports. Put the things that have to be discussed upfront or the things that decisions can be made upfront and then reference a report that’s in the back that they can read but that doesn’t try to disrupt the flow.

When handling a lot of reports, the most important things and decisions must be made upfront. Click To Tweet

To your point, some of these packets can be hundreds of pages. We try not to have that, but we certainly do sometimes. It’s trying to put the dense technical stuff more. We use a report, whether it’s that, or you think of it as a footnote. It’s something that doesn’t disrupt their flow of reading if they’re trying to get through, “Here’s how it’s going to flow,” so we don’t talk about that technical detail as much in the meeting. That’s been our experience. 

We use reference sections or appendices and stuff. It’s hit and miss. I’ve, in my prior life, had situations where board members were surprised even though you have the archive of the meeting and what was presented. It’s the holy grail of the right way to do it.

We do the 10K and other things. We do a lot of shading for sections that are important. The document is a document, but things that we want to call out, whether it’s gray shading. Bright highlights might be a little different. We’ll shade things that have changed. That’s how we look at a lot of things. We’re like, “From A to B, what did they see last time? What are they used to seeing? What changed?

That’s a good idea.

We call those out. We’ll use some sort of shading or other things from the beginning to the end or some sort of progression to show them the key differences or things like that. That hopefully is an easier takeaway from them that they might remember seeing where we are.

Executive Comp

Those public filings are pretty dense as well and all the meat in the footnotes. Let’s talk about executive comp. I know it’s very regulated, but it also is something that’s very personal. People care a lot about it. Back to McDonald’s as this icon of America, people feel like they have ownership in it. The comp being very public, you said this is a sleepy technical area, but it’s pretty juicy from my standpoint.

Executive comp in the last couple of years has gotten much more front and center. People have put a lot more emphasis on it for better or worse. It’s certainly interesting. To your point, it’s different because we have to look at it as complying with our requirements and our rules, but the executives who are impacted look at it very personally. They’re like, “This is me. This is my family. This is my livelihood.”

When people fall into this realm of executives that are going to have disclosures, we sit down with them and tell them they’re in the big boy room or the adult room. It’s not always well-received. They’re happy to be where they are professionally, but at the same time, this is not the prize they were looking for necessarily. We explain, “Here’s how this is going to work. Here’s what’s changed from your current situation.” We try to be upfront with them and very proactive, making sure there isn’t something that’s going out about them that they haven’t had the chance to see their way in on.

Let’s start with some high-level technical parts. I’ve worked in the nonprofit space since I left the law firm. The IRS requires that you report the five highest-paid key employees and officers and if there’s any board comp, which is very rare. Depending on the organization, they define key employees very differently. I’m at an organization where we are over-inclusive, so you end up touching a lot of people. For your company and maybe from the governance standpoint, how many officers or executives need to be reported?

Luckily, we’re in a smaller space. It’s only the executive population. You have little control over who you define as an executive. Some companies take a different approach. We have, generally, depending on who’s in what role, between 10 and 13 people who are considered executives. They’re in the realm of potential disclosure.

The primary exec comp disclosure in the proxy statement. Luckily, that is more defined. It’s anyone who has served as COO or CFO, whether that’s the three highest paid. There are some technical requirements that might have more people than that, but you’ll never get more than any barring something very strange. That’s the group that is the heavy disclosure. You’re outlining every aspect of their comp and line-iteming that. It’s front and center in the proxy statement. It’s fairly well-read. That’s the page people turn to.

It’s the juicy part, the same as the tax return. That’s pretty much all they care about. How often are those disclosures made?

The proxy statement is annual. If we want to get very technical, there are some 10K requirements which is a triggering event for a disclosure in certain cases. If you’re bringing on a CEO or having an offboarding situation, those might trigger disclosures on 10K. That group I mentioned of executives also has Section 16 filing, which is any transaction in company stock. It could pick up sales or purchases of company stock, but it also picks up certain elements of the comp in terms of stock awards that they receive or stock vestings that they have. It shows up in a number of different ways. They’ll get notice and you might get an immediate question about them, especially if it’s a really big number, but they’re much less prominent than the proxy.

Proxy is what you’re working for towards the whole year, right?

Yeah.

You said your team is really proactive. Maybe you could talk about what that looks like. For folks who have been there for a while, do they get it? Is it more with the newer folks or people who’ve gotten promotions that they’re going through this? They’re bearing it all for the first time.

We have a number of executives who are not named. You tell them that they might be and they’re going to have these other Section 16 disclosures and things and they go about their business. They usually don’t pay as much attention. Unless it’s the general counsel who generally is fairly familiar with the rules anyway, the other officers are often surprised.

It depends on where they’re coming from. If they’re promoted into this role, they’re almost always surprised because they’ve grown up here and they’ve had this, and then all of a sudden, everyone’s going to know all this information about them. There’s a lot of education around that. Usually, a lot of questions of, “Why is this this way? Why do we have to talk about this?”

It’s interesting to different people. The finance people are usually a little bit more tuned into the weed. Some of the business people, in my experience, haven’t been as concerned or into the details. To your point, it’s personal. It’s very person-specific. I’ve dealt with a lot of different executives in these roles. Some of them ask 100 questions out there and say, “Thanks for letting me know,” and you don’t hear from them again. 

The Legal Department | Chris Weber | Executive Comp
Executive Comp: Financial people are usually a little bit more tuned into the details, much less than some business people.

Stock And Trading Transactions

I want to talk a little bit about that. I know that when there are transactions involving stock, trying the mechanisms to monitor insider trading and all that, I would bet that that generates a lot of sensitive conversations for you. Folks, I’m sure, want to be able to liquidate their stock if they need to buy a house, send their kids to college, or whatever their plans are. Their personal financial decisions then affect what happens to them at work and in public. 

Those have created a number of interesting conversations over the years. People are going about their lives and they feel like, “This is getting in the way,” which I don’t blame them. A lot of that comes down to trying to build relationships with them early and explaining, “This is the universe we’re working in.” That doesn’t always work. They still sometimes get mad.

I’ve had different situations. All those people, and this is pretty common in public companies, have to pre-clear their transactions. Over the years, we’ve had different processes. Sometimes, the CEO has to be involved. Sometimes, they’re busy and they don’t respond right away and someone wants to trade. I’m the one in between an executive who wants trade and a CEO who’s not responding.

You’re trying to explain why it’s not happening.

I’m like, “You’re going to get in touch with them better than I am. I promise.” Those have been interesting. On the technical side, you do have situations where it might be more of a gray area where they should comfortably trade with insider trading restrictions and information that’s out there. We’re not a big acquisition company so we don’t have as many of those as a lot of my peers deal with, to be honest, because of the nature of our business. I had a number of those over the years that they’re asking me questions. They may know something I don’t know. I may know something they don’t know. You’re trying to navigate around that without sharing information that you don’t really need or want to share, but at the same time, protecting them. 

I want to talk about that too. Maybe they don’t see you this way in the moment when they’ve got something that they want to do in their personal space, but you’re trying to keep people out of jail, right?

Correct. That’s what it is. To your point, when they want to buy the house, that doesn’t even go over as well. You’re trying to get across, “We’re trying to be safe here and put you in the best position.” Usually, you get to the right place. I know we’ve talked about this offline. It does go to the relationships you have with them. Hopefully, they trust that you’re looking out for their best interest and putting their interest first here and not trying to be a stickler or something.

Dealing With Shareholders And HR

It’s tough. Back on the comp process generally, being a public company but also being a part of our American fabric, there are a lot of stakeholders, I bet, that you have in mind when you’re advising on exec comp matters. I know several years ago, Congress passed the Say on Pay law. I was surprised that that needed to be a law, but very interesting. You got your shareholders with a direct veto. How does that factor into your decision-making?

A say on pay is a huge influence or the backdrop of a lot of the decisions that the comp committee makes as they think about this. It’s interesting. It’s an advisory vote. In year one, it doesn’t have any true ramifications, but there’s a stigma out there and a stigma for board members on the personal side.

It’s such a nice soundbite. That’s what I think it is. It’s something that the media can grab on.

To your point of stakeholders, this all ties together probably a little more so because of the public nature of our business. In fairness, our executives, by all normal standards, make a lot of money. That resonates with people. Your shareholders, because of pay, are influenced by proxy advisory firms that have a fairly significant impact on voting decisions by shareholders for our proxy statement and results.

Stakeholders tie everything together in a company. They resonate more with the people than the executives. Click To Tweet

You also have the public perception or public dynamic out there that can influence your business, especially in a consumer base company like ours because all this gets out there. The media will pick up on our proxy statement and other things. The stakeholders are wide-ranging. The more technical ones are shareholders because of their say on pay, but also the general public and how that’s portrayed in the media. 

Legal’s not out there leading the media statement, the shareholder relations, and all that. Who’s on the team, and how are you working with them?

We certainly don’t draft the statements, but we are involved. That’s one of the things I’ll say to advise, at least on our side. I’m like, “Bring in the media people early. Let them know what we’re doing. Have them have the opportunity to help craft the story.” Usually, we’re stress-testing it to make sure what they’re crafting is fully correct and accurate. We partner closely with them. It’s very closely working with HR. Finance is involved because of the expenses and the disclosure associated, whether they’re building some of the models. It’s HR building it, and then the messaging comes with us, investor relations, and media and comms in terms of what it is. 

I, fortunately, or unfortunately, spent a lot of time with PR, media, and crisis comms folks. What’s been your experience working with that team? In my experience, they always either want to say more than I want to say or they want to say it in a shinier way with a lot of adjectives. I’m trying to be more in the facts approach. 

It’s a similar experience, I’ve learned a lot from them though in terms of how they look at messaging. That has been a positive influence for me in terms of, one, learning how to communicate with them to get the right message across so that it doesn’t come across as this shiny object. Also, it is engaging with them to understand what they think is going to be of interest.

The Legal Department | Chris Weber | Executive Comp
Executive Comp: Learn how to effectively communicate with the HR department to get the right message across and avoid chasing the next shiny object.

There are things that I’ll tell them. I’m like, “They’re going to be very nervous about this.” They’re like, “No one’s going to pick up on that. It’s the opposite. I was like, “This is nothing.” They’re like, “This is spun the wrong way. It could get a lot of press.” We’ll then start having conversations around, “Can we say this? Is this correct?” They want to do the right thing too. They’re trying to protect the brand, but the heart of it wants to do the right thing also. They’re happy to engage with that in terms of, “How can we say this? Is this fully correct?” I do agree that if left to their own devices, they use a lot more shiny words than I would use.

Discrepancy In Pay

A big challenge is that the executives at one of the largest public companies make a lot of money. I read that the workforce is about 200,000. Most of those, I would imagine, are low or minimum-wage workers. How do you make those two things come together? 

It’s a difficult one. That’s what you mentioned on pay. The pay ratio is meant to get at this, to be honest. It hasn’t really turned into as big of an issue. The vast majority of our workforce is the crew that are working in our restaurants. We have a couple thousand corporate employees. It’s drawing the distinction of those are different jobs and those are different roles. We look at it differently.

We’ve had a lot of success with this by having opportunities for them to continue to advance their career. A lot of the crew come into management and leadership roles in the field and in ops. We tell that story. The executives have a set of peer executives that they’re benchmarked against. That’s how we look at paying them.

Handling Tough Conversations

It’s the same in healthcare, honestly. A hospital has a little bit more different scrutiny because of the significant government spending on healthcare services. We get a lot of pressure around that. Back on talking about some of those sensitive conversations you have with folks about their comp and even dealing with your comms team, the relationship development and management in an in-house role is something that covers the waterfront of folks in our roles.

I wonder if you could share some of your experiences or what you have done to help build those relationships. Somebody’s calling you. Maybe they’re a brand-new executive and you’re about to put all their private business out on the proxy statement. How are you building those relationships around tough topics?

It’s a little twofold. The ones with the executive, which is where you started, I’ll start there but I’ll try to digress a little bit. On those, it’s explaining, “Here are the rules. We’re here to help make this easy for you. You’re subject to these. Don’t kill the messenger. Those are the rules. We can’t change them, but we’re here to minimize them. We’re here to help. We’re here to make sure that you have the information you need and that this goes as smoothly as possible.” Spinning it to the positive gives you an opportunity to have a real personal relationship with a lot of the executives for the business that you may not work with day-to-day on their substantive work.

You go deep. You’re going deep when you’re talking about somebody’s paycheck, for sure.

It’s nice in that way because sometimes, you’ll deal with them on the other stuff. It gives you a different opportunity to have that core relationship with them. It’s trying to foster the state of trust that we’re looking out for you. We’re not doing anything we don’t have to. We’re going to comply, but we’re going to do it in a way that makes it easiest for you and, hopefully, less intrusive. They get it. Some of them dive more into the technicalities than others, to be honest.

They’re like, “Do we really have to put this on there?”

We certainly had that in the proxy. They’re like, “Can we say this a different way?” Especially if people are on assignment or have certain benefits that help their families, some people are very sensitive to that, which I get. We’ve had some of those conversations around, “How can we manage this?” It’s more of being upfront with, “We’re going to do what we have to do. We’re not putting this out here because we like it. We’re here to help.” They appreciate that because this isn’t something that, for the most part, they want to spend time or energy on. If you show you’re spending time and energy for them, you can grace yourself to them on that front.

It’s that customer service. You’re bringing the golden arches customer service there to those relationships. I 

Some of these, especially with the comp side, get more personal even not for the executives but as you’re building programs that affect the whole company. That’s a lot of what we do. We work with the HR team to build global bonus programs or other programs that we’re a part of. Sometimes, they’re going to want to do something on this front or others that is not going to be permitted. It’s having that history with them and understanding what they’re trying to accomplish and why. It is so that when you do say, “No, but,” they realize you tried to exhaust the other options and you’re not telling them something that you want to tell them because it’s inconvenient.

Only say no to your executives when you have exhausted all options. Do not simply tell them that their idea is inconvenient. Click To Tweet

We probably run into that more often. The business might want to do something that is legally challenging. If you’re there advising on the fringes, back to our law firm versus in-house discussion, that’s a tougher conversation. They may not believe you or they’re going to press. If you’re there in the trenches with them, help them build and design things, and look around corners to spot the issues on the front end, you build that trust bank up a little bit when you do have to give the less favorable advice.

You alluded to that as well. You cannot be the department of no. You’re not going to be at McDonald’s for twenty years if it’s the no-team. You said sixteen people on your team. 

The team overall is thirteen. They certainly don’t all report to me. It varies over time as we have different positions and have had to restructure the team.

Training Future Business Partners

You lead folks. That’s always a challenge for me, especially when you onboard new lawyers who don’t have in-house experience. I feel like they’re almost paranoid. You don’t get straight questions down the middle. You get a lot of curveballs. You need to be able to adjust and sit there. I always tell people I sit there with a straight face and listen to what they’re asking, and then close the door and put my head in my hands. How have you worked to train folks to be more business partners?

A lot of questions and a lot of listening, to your point, with a straight face. I encourage questions to get to the heart of what they’re trying to get at. Especially if you hear something on the front end that you think is going to be a problem, understand what their overall objective is. Certainly, sometimes, the overall objective is not going to fly. I found more often that the case is the overall objective will be fine. They may be on a slightly different path that needs to get there.

Engaging with them and showing that you’re there to be their partner to get the result they want. That’s why I try to ask questions. I try to encourage the team to ask questions to really understand ultimate outcome desires. People are like, “How can we get to that?” Go to the basic level of personal development with them. You’re not trying to answer their questions as their lawyer. You’re trying to be a partner in the room with them to get them to their outcome. You’re fostering that environment that you’re there on the good times and the bad and you’re working with them to build something, not giving legal answers. 

The Legal Department | Chris Weber | Executive Comp
Executive Comp: The basic level of person development is not trying to answer their questions, but trying to be their partner who helps them achieve their desired outcome.

Biggest Takeaways

You’re being part of the team, not a stop along the way. We have a lot of parallels in our careers, starting at the same place, moving to a new city, and going in-house. Being at iconic companies, there are good times and bad times. I know around the same time in 2018, 2019 was a really tough time for me and I know you as well dealing with some #MeToo-type crises. That’s not uncommon for folks in our roles around that time period. It was, for me, one of the most challenging of my career and of my life. I really learned so much about how to be a better lawyer and how to be a different type of lawyer. I’m wondering. If you reflect on your own experience, did you have any big takeaways from that time? 

I don’t know if there’s one big takeaway. I would echo the fact that it was a very challenging time. I certainly learned a lot about it. It gave me a broader perspective on how to look at situations because I looked at a lot of things in reverse. As you reflect back on a lot of things, it gives that opportunity. The takeaway would be to stay grounded and this too shall pass.

Focus day by day because it can get overwhelming, at least in certain situations. It’s not just this type of crisis or anything else, but that holds through a lot of things. As you’re advising the business closely, you’re stuck in there. To your point, some of those times, you want to go put the head in the hands. You’re like, “I can’t say no. This is not off to a great start. How do we get to this resolution?” That’s how I looked at it in the past, but it gave me an opportunity to be reflective.

My takeaway is to be more reflective more often. That helps in a lot of ways, but that was one that I learned of, “The more ready downloads or debriefs after you do something, it takes a lot of time.” It’s an area I still fall short on sometimes, but it’s something I’ve focused on trying to do more of at the moment in real-time. I’m like, “How’d this go? Where are the opportunities? Is there anything there that they are pleased with or disappointed with that I can learn from or that I can improve next time and do a little self-reflection or do it with the team also in the bigger projects?”

I had another guest who talked about doing really intentional after-actions with her team. They do some role-playing. I thought it was smart. I don’t know about you. I feel like my head is on a swivel and I’m running all the time. That’s good advice to reflect more in the moment and try to always be getting better. For me, during that time, one of the things I learned, and I spent about a year afterward, was trying to be a better listener. For a long time, in my in-house role, I approached it as if I had the answers. Guess what? I don’t always have the right answer, certainly. I’ve learned to be a better listener and a better partner to folks both at home and at work.

It sounds like a positive result though from a tough time.

Chris’ Pump-Up Song

I try very hard to find the silver linings. You do learn the most through the hardest times. We’re getting to the end of our time here. I want to ask you a fun question. I close all the episodes in the same way. I always tell people I’ve used music to get through hard times. During 2018, I listened to Jay-Z’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder every morning on my way to work. I don’t know if you have a pump-up song that you lean on.

I use music differently in terms of the different moods or the different music. If it was going to be a pump-up song, I would probably go with something like Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone, but that’s necessarily for a work thing. For a lot more of the work things, I try to get a little bit more mellow and listen to country music or something to relax. I have different types of music for different moods. 

I’m a huge country music fan. Fun fact, Kenny Loggins lives in Santa Barbara. It was really great to reconnect with you after all these years and hear about your work. We have a lot of parallels both in our careers and also in how we approach the in-house role. Thank you for being in the legal department. 

Thanks. I really appreciated reconnecting and the opportunity to be on here with you. It’s been fun.

Have a great day.

You too.

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