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People Behind the Product: Meredith Arthur, Chief of Staff, TwoTwenty and Pinside Out Lead

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 Meredith Arthur, Pinterest Chief of Staff, TwoTwenty, joined us for a new edition of our People Behind the Product series. May is Mental Health (Awareness) Month, and who better to share more about prioritizing your mental health than our Pinside Out Pinspiration Group Lead? 

Hi Meredith! Thank you for joining us. Let’s start with an intro!

Hi everyone! I arrived at Pinterest at the end of 2019, which meant I was in the office with everyone for three months before the world shut down. I was hired by Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp to work on prototypes in the emotional wellbeing space, since my technology background was in content and product work. He heard about my passion for mental health, and knew I had a book coming out, so he thought I might be a fit for the work at Pinterest. I am so grateful to him for taking a gamble on me.

In my first year at Pinterest, I was incredibly lucky to get to work with a fledgling new team called “Emerging Products.” This team’s work was in the innovation space, leveraging new technologies to connect with and inspire Pinners. We renamed the team “TwoTwenty” after Pinterest’s first office address, and I took the role of Chief of Staff. I love my job and the stellar team I get to work with. 

You’ve been at Pinterest for almost four years, can you share a moment that stands out to you when you think about your time here? 

There have been so many. I remember the first time the TwoTwenty team got together for an offsite in California. Finally getting to see people I had loved working with, in person, was so powerful! I knew the team was good, but I was blown away by the quality of the technology talks and the passions shared. Of course, launching Shuffles and seeing it become a viral hit was fun. And I can’t help but mention How We Feel winning the App of the Year Award from Apple for Cultural Impact! Too many moments to choose from.

What is Pinside Out? What are some examples of how you bring mental health support into our company and culture? 

I founded the first-ever mental health employee resource group at the last company I worked for. When I arrived at Pinterest, I knew I wanted to do the same here. It started small – just a few of us sharing stories on Slack. Over time, it grew and grew. The community itself named it “Pinside Out.” We’re now an official Pinspiration Group of over 350 people. Pinspiration Groups are employee interest groups that provide space for discussion, advocacy and programming centered around a common cause to make the world a safer, more inclusive place. We bring in speakers, share resources and host monthly Healthy Hour chats to support our employees. 

This month is important to “Pinside Out.” Did you know that May used to be called “Mental Health Awareness Month” but it is evolving to “Mental Health Month”? It’s a sign that we are all moving beyond awareness and into integration, and I’m here for it. 

Meredith, we love that you champion and advocate for mental health inside and outside of work. What’s a piece (or a few pieces of advice) that you have for individuals facing burnout? 

Well, first of all, I love the definition of burnout given by this Harvard Business Review article: “There are three core attributes of burnout: First, we feel exhausted. Second, we feel cynical and have a sense of disassociation from our projects and the people around us. Third, we feel ineffective, as though we’re accomplishing significantly less than usual and are unproductive.” 

Each of those core attributes require their own special tactics, and as usual, it will take experimentation to figure out what works for you. When it comes to exhaustion, I often tell people to get in touch with their energy balance. Just like you can’t spend endless money without going into debt, you can’t spend endless energy day after day without going into energy debt. And just like with money, the solution starts with creating a budget and tracking your spending. 

Cynicism and disassociation comes from the belief that no one will understand you and nothing will change. It’s hard to fight that feeling, but you can start by trying to think of one person who inspires you. Got it? Now try telling that person what you’re experiencing. The act of articulating it – especially to someone you believe in or admire – is the first step out of the cynicism swamp.

Finally, when you feel unproductive, you may be overthinking what productivity looks like. Start small. Productivity can look like making your bed in the morning before work, organizing your desk and having a clear space or creating an outline for a talk you want to give. Break down bigger tasks into smaller parts. The advice isn’t new, but it is true.

That’s great advice, Meredith! We have to ask, what are you currently Pinning? 

Love this question. I’m in the middle of evolving my shoe style–no more heels–and I’m using Pinterest to help me understand how to be both dressed up while ridding my closet of those torturous high heeled shoes.

Thanks for joining us today! We’re so lucky to have you on our team.

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