Eventbrite founder Julia Hertz has a different way of thinking about company culture

Your ping-pong table was never your company culture. The gossip wasn’t even gossip at happy hour.

“Culture is an expression of the people who are in the company at the time,” said Julia Hertz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, tells Inc. do I know podcast, “It can’t be something that’s stuck in time… it’s constantly evolving. It’s like a living, breathing organism, it’s a bug stuck in amber.”

When he co-founded the online event-ticketing portal in 2006, “workplace culture” was hardly a buzzword, Hertz says. It was considered a “good-to-have”. But she points out that as president of the company before becoming CEO, she dug into the concept, despite knowing very little about human resources. And while the company grew from 30 people to about 1,000, she studied the evolution of the culture.

“I’ve learned over the past decade now that this is something … incredibly powerful,” she says. “And it’s something that grows in strength and compounds, and begins to form self-healing properties and controls itself when done right.”

The workplace culture doesn’t have to be fun or bubbly — or even happy — to be a force for unity and progress, Hartz says. Eventbrite experienced that for the first time in early 2020 as the start of the COVID-19 pandemic slashed the company’s revenue and forced it to lay off nearly half its workforce.

“If a company is going through a really tough time, culture shouldn’t be the antidote to it,” she says. “It can really be the foundation from which you go through tough times and make tough decisions.”

pay attention Hartz. my full interview with–includes how the company recovered from its troubled 2020–but do I know In the player below, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your audio content.