Life Reimagined Insights with People, Talent, and Culture Consultant Eryn Peters
Meet Eryn Peters, one of the top 50 women leaders in SaaS and an overall phenomenal human being. I reported directly to Eryn in my first team lead role, and not only did she show me that it’s possible to have a supportive manager in the workplace, but she also helped me grow in profound ways as a young leader.
Eryn has always impressed me with her empathetic, strategic, and decisive leadership, a dynamite style that leads to the best outcomes for individual team members and the company.
Outside of her professional prowess, Eryn leads a cool and adventurous life. Hailing from small town Canada, Eryn realized that the “traditional path” didn’t work for her. So she sold everything she owned and began traveling the world to design a life that aligns with her values.
Today, I’m excited to share an interview with Eryn in which she discusses her life philosophy, beliefs, favorite books, and most important life lessons.
Who Is Eryn Peters?
Eryn Peters is a People, Culture, and Talent Consultant that helps hypergrowth companies to recruit, retain, and engage top talent. Eryn previously worked at Toptal, Sony, and Mercedes-Benz.
Having been a “digital nomad” living in 35+ countries and a previous Remote Year alumni, Eryn has decided to call London home. In her spare time, she’s a remote work evangelist and can often be found visiting tech communities and meetups around the world. Eryn is a regular speaker at conferences and often volunteers her time for a variety of causes surrounding the refugee crisis, animal welfare, education, and mentorship.
What Did You Learn Growing Up That Still Sticks With You Today?
I was lucky to be raised by a mother who had five brothers. Anything they could do she could do (often better!). She encouraged my sister and me to be incredibly independent and learn how to do a number of things where many others may have traditionally relied on other people.
The lesson was that by developing capabilities, options and opportunities are created. Options to choose who you’d like to partner with, and opportunities to learn from and help others.
This lesson has inspired me in my career to help others learn new skills, accomplish more, and develop abilities that they may have otherwise ignored. It’s a great feeling to see someone flourish doing things they may have never thought to take the time to learn.
Given The Choice Of Anyone In The World, Whom Would You Want As A Dinner Guest?
I’d most like to have dinner with José Mujica, the former president of Uruguay.
He was part of the guerilla group Tupamaros and imprisoned in his early life prior to becoming president. During his term, he famously declined living in the presidential palace with its staff. Instead, he opted for his rural farm with his wife and 3-legged dog Manuela. He consistently grew the country’s GDP while making significant social progress by legalizing same-sex marriage, abortions, and the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana to weaken drug cartels.
I can only imagine the stories he has to tell.
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
I think it was more of a leap of faith than a direct investment, but it was leaving everything behind to become a digital nomad.
I was sitting in my car one morning in Winnipeg, Manitoba, procrastinating going into the job that I hated and saw a meme that said “The early bird gets to cry in the parking lot for an extra ten minutes.” It was incredibly meta and quite sobering. I walked in and looked at the chair in my office and realized that unless I was sitting in that spot, I wasn’t making any money. I thought about what I wanted to do when I was younger – travel, make an impact, help people – and realized I wasn’t living up to the promises I made to myself.
I got home, poured a glass of wine, clicked on a Facebook ad for Remote Year, and applied on a whim. When I was selected out of many applicants to be a part of a beta test at the time, I decided it was a sign. I quite literally quit my job, sold my house, car, furniture, etc. and booked a one-way ticket to Uruguay hoping it was all real.
An incredibly high-risk move resulted in meeting friends that are now family, a career path with far more opportunities than in the town that I was in, and learning an immense amount about empathy and cultures around the world. Best investment, by far.
If You Were To Give Your 18-Year Old Self One Piece Of Advice, What Would It Be?
The same people that will call you crazy for going against the societal grind are the ones that will envy you the most in the end.
I grew up in a small midwestern town where most people my age were going straight to university, getting married, and having kids young. They “grew up” so quickly and were tied down in loans for houses and trucks. It was hard for them to get out of the city and explore the rest of the world.
After I started traveling, it was the early skeptics that later expressed the most desire to have traveled more, taken non-traditional education programs, or explored career paths that were overlooked.
What Habits Have You Developed That Have Improved The Quality Of Your Life?
Every time you think of someone – text or call them. After I began nomading around, it became a lot harder to keep in touch with people. Time zones, schedules, etc. always seemed to get in the way. “Oh I should call ____” “It’s been a while, we should catch up.” But it never actually turned into anything. Now, if I think of someone, I’ll text or call them immediately. It’s helped me stay more connected at a deeper level than reading updates on social media.
Stretching/Yoga. I truly do not enjoy fitness or group classes of any kind, so this was a harder one to get into. Spending time in Vancouver, the birthplace of Lululemon, allowed me to try a number of different practices and find a style that worked for me. Even doing a few poses for a few minutes a day has really helped me to manage both mental and physical stress.
Getting out into nature. I did a modified version of David Suzuki’s One Nature Challenge, and it was awesome. Working remotely in tech has forced me to be in front of screens far more than we were meant to be. I started to suffer from insomnia and headaches more frequently and knew it was related to the amount of screen time that I was getting on a daily basis. Being notoriously bad at meditation (I don’t think it’s possible for my mind to fully quiet), this was a great way to slow down, soak in people/nature, and reset circadian rhythms.
What Are Three Books That Have Greatly Shaped Your Thinking?
Give and Take – From a young age, I’ve believed in karmic good resulting from me being a natural giver. This book was a huge help in learning how to avoid burnout and how to gain energy from giving.
The Culture Map – Having worked with global teams and making friends while traveling the world, this book became a great tool to understand different cultures. Erin Meyer defines 8 scales from communicating to trusting, to leading, and explains how to navigate and interpret different signals from various groups.
5 Love Languages – This book really opened my eyes to understanding how people love and feel love or appreciate and feel appreciated. It’s easy to assume that people like to be treated how you do, but we’re all different and need varying combinations of loving elements to feel valued or cherished. While it’s original purpose was to counsel married couples, it’s helped me in romantic, platonic, and even professional relationships by making me more mindful of the needs of others.
How Do You Decide What Projects, People, Or Experiences To Prioritize In Life?
A big qualm I have these days is the “hustle culture” that has cropped up (see the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk). Busy seems to be the new black. If you don’t have multiple projects, events, trips, jobs, or a double/triple booked calendar then you’re not doing something right.
“Busy” is blasé. People make time for what is important to them. Too busy with work to go to the gym? Or see an old friend? Reprioritize or take note of what you’re really spending your time on.
Life’s too short to let work or projects get in the way of meaningful relationships and experiences. This isn’t to say that people should drop everything, but to give thought to where your days are going. Taking inventory of my schedule and creating a set of values of what I think is most important has made a huge impact on what I prioritize and how I commit my time.
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months (Or In Recent Memory)?
I’m way late to the game but I recently purchased a NextStand laptop stand It retails for less than the Roost, collapses easily, and has saved my neck and shoulders from my horrible habitual slouching.
In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?
I did the best I could for who I was at the time.
I adopted this belief more than five years ago, but it has still resonated with me as time has passed. It’s easy to look back at previous actions or events and think “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” – an endless spiral of living in the past. This simple saying has allowed me to accept the things I cannot change, take lessons to learn to do better in the future, and forgive myself and others.