568: It’s the Narrative that Matters | Lanny Baker, CFO, Eventbrite

Listen to the Episode Below (00:49:41)

When it comes to time management, finance leaders tell us that it’s often easier for them to manage time offsite than inside the traditional office environment, where calendar appointments and consecutive meetings can swallow up entire days.

Still, few CFOs have shared with us as novel a time management solution as that of CFO Lanny Baker.

“I have always parked in the farthest parking space that I can find in the lot,” explains Baker, whose comment leads us to picture an executive emerging from a sea of minivans and sport coupes.

Says Baker: “I’ve done this as like a time set aside for me, as I walk into the building, to think about the people that I’m going to interact with, and as I walk out of the building, to take stock of every interaction that I’ve had with people throughout the day.”

However, Baker’s comments expose something bigger than a time management best practice, additionally highlighting a favorite theme of his involving finance and personal interactions and communications.

As Baker sees it, finance professionals are at risk of spending too much time with the numbers and not enough time with the narrative or not enough time spreading the narrative. Here’s where personal interactions and relationships are critical to an executive’s development into a leader. “It’s not about the numbers,” says Baker, whose parking lot ritual is not without risks. “I always tell my team, ‘Be careful—I will have meetings with you in my head, and I may have said things to you in my head that I may later think we’ve talked about, but no, you weren’t there.’” –Jack Sweeney

Subscribe to CFO Thought Leader

Apple | Google | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeart | 

Guest: Lanny Baker

Company: Eventbrite

Connect: www.eventbrite.com

Headquarters: San Francisco

CFOTL: What are your priotities as a CFO over the next 12 months?

Baker: Here at Eventbrite, my priorities are to bring focus and simplicity. We just went through our planning experience for 2020. We started with 12 different strategic initiatives, and I’m happy to say that eight of them wound up on the cutting room floor. We’ve got four that everybody is really focused on. These four initiatives had 20 subprojects, and these, too, have been dialed down to four. We’re just bringing focus and clarity and simplicity.

I teased the team in our flash report. On the 57th page, we put a little note which said that the first person to read the page and call Lanny Baker would get dinner at the restaurant of their choice. That was three months ago, and the phone still hasn’t rung. This was just my way of showing the team that some of the complicated reporting that we were doing just wasn’t making a difference. Nobody’s looking at it, and that’s why I’m trying to bring some simplicity and focus.

All of this is in support of allowing the company to drive long-term growth. One of our priorities on the finance team is helping the company to accelerate growth, make the right decisions, pick the right priorities, make the right investments, track these, manage these, and get the payoff, which will be acceleration and sustainable long-term growth for the company.

The other thing that I’m trying to do at this particular organization is to always put creators first. As we’re developing metrics, as we’re developing our financial measures, as we’re thinking about our messaging to employees, to customers, to shareholders, and even to the board of directors, we want to make sure that everybody sees that this is a company with creators first. The metrics that we talk about start with creators, and that’s helping us to focus. And this focus, I think, helps us to drive growth.