As part of our learning and development program, we launched Flipp Talks in 2020. This is our very own version of TED Talks, where we invite guests (internal and external) to teach our Flippers a new skill. For our latest Flipp Talks, we were thrilled to welcome Bradford Shellhammer, a leading product visionary, serial entrepreneur, and currently eBay’s GM of NYC and VP of Buyer Experience, to the Flipp Talks stage to talk about authenticity and unconventional leadership.
If you don’t already know the name, Bradford has been recognized as the “King of Quirk” by Forbes Magazine and one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business.” Before joining eBay, Bradford served as the Chief Design Officer at Backcountry.com and founded various companies including: Fab.com, Bezar and Queerty.
We learned so much from Bradford and wanted to share our 8 favorite takeaways and how they align so closely with Flipp’s cultural values and principles.
1. Be unabashedly yourself
What was Bradford’s biggest risk he’s taken in his career? Being unabashedly himself. Bradford realized from an early age, after almost losing his best friend to a tragic accident, that life is short. It is through that experience that pushed Bradford to live life to the fullest and continuously devour all the beautiful things this world has to offer. Bradford attributes a big part of his success to always being himself and bringing his casual, quirky nature into any room he steps foot in. Even if that means calling attention to his new neck tattoo during a board meeting.
“You are always going to get the same Bradford. The Bradford my mother gets, unfiltered, is the same one the CEO of our company gets.” – Bradford Shellhammer
Flipp’s Focus: Thinking big and taking risks to drive towards the best outcome in all situations fits right in with our cultural principle of “raising the bar”.
2. Welcome & celebrate diversity within teams
With diversity top of mind, Bradford and his eBay team refer to themselves as the “Land of Misfit Toys,” they’re a group of people who he says didn’t quite fit in with corporate America.The commonality of differences between them has created a space of inclusion. It’s always okay to express their “weirdness” and show up as their authentic selves. For Bradford, diversity within teams is table stakes. At eBay, he describes himself as an atypical leader, or using Bradfords words a “non technical, covered in tattoos, and outrageously gay” leader. Bradford knows his leadership and authentic self can be polarizing while both attracting and pushing away certain people. Bradford believes that diversity will come naturally within any team as soon as people start opening up about their differences and become more accepting of what each person brings to the table.
Flipp’s Focus: Flippers value humility. Being open to your strengths and weaknesses, asking for and giving support to others, and accepting everyone’s individuality is extremely important at Flipp. We have a standardized recruitment process that challenges biases and have incorporated unconscious bias training into our leadership training program.
3. Be empathetic & listen more
When asked about the most valuable piece of advice Bradford has received, it was to “listen more.” When he learned to listen more and forced himself to stop talking in certain situations, specifically in 1:1’s, he realized something very important…when you stop talking, especially when there’s a power dynamic, the other person will be forced to speak up, and most people will. This skill requires empathy, the ability to create a safe space, and to lead by example by letting your own vulnerability shine through. Leaders need to lead by example and provide the space to let those human moments come out with their team members as well.
“I often tell my team how I am feeling. There are times where I too have felt like I wasn’t being heard or being respected…these feelings are normal.” – Bradford Shellhammer
Flipp’s Focus: Flipp believes that Highly Intelligent people add value both intellectually and emotionally through empathy and compassion for others. Emotional Intelligence is at the core of who we are.
4. Couple your personal & professional passions
For Bradford, the key to avoiding burnout is coupling your personal and professional passions so that work never really feels like work. Bradford made a decision early in his career to do a reboot/reset so he could focus on work he cares about. It is also crucial for him to work for a company whose values are aligned with his own. His advice to people who are unhappy with their current situation: take the steps to make a change, whether that be going back to school, seeking out additional training, or talking with a confidant. You are the driver of your path.
“Caring about more than your paycheck…that has been the biggest unlock in my professional career.” – Bradford Shellhammer
Flipp’s Focus: At Flipp, we are big on continuous growth and maintaining a growth mindset. The focus on self-improvement and lifelong learning highlights our team principle of “raising the bar.”
5. Utilize the 80/20 rule with your teams
As a seasoned people leader, one rule Bradford always keeps top of mind is the 80/20 feedback rule – provide your team members with 80% praise and 20% constructive feedback. It’s easy to get stuck in the cycle of only providing constructive feedback but providing more praise, more often, will empower your team to thrive in their role and positively impact the organization.
Flipp’s Focus: At Flipp, we dedicate a lot of our energy and focus to “helping each other be great” and “working hard, and celebrating harder.” Our culture ensures all teammates share and receive honest feedback with the intent of growing each other, and we have fun while doing it!
6. Know when to step away to let creativity or motivation incubate
As a highly creative person, an innovator and a visionary, Bradford’s advice for re-sparking your creativity and motivation when you’re feeling stuck or uninspired is to learn when to step away.
“Sometimes it is just not the time to do something. You have to bake in time to step away and come back, step away and come back.” – Bradford Shellhammer
He recommends giving things time to incubate if you feel stuck, sometimes you even have to walk away for days at a time. It’s all part of the process.
Flipp’s Focus: Flippers “act with an entrepreneurial spirit.” Our team members operate with a relentless drive to achieve objectives, no matter the obstacles or barriers. We also offer a flexible vacation policy to encourage high performers to take time to recharge.
7. Find what comes naturally to you & amplify it
Bradford built his personal brand “The King of Quirk” and reputation in the industry by always tapping into the muscle he was born with – the ability to express himself creatively. He often exercises this muscle through writing and blogging. His advice to the rest of us for building a personal brand? Find something about you, something consistent, that has been a part of who you are since childhood, and AMPLIFY IT.
“Find something that will get people to take notice of you, that you would want to be known for, and then take the time to craft that skill.” – Bradford Shellhammer
Flipp’s Focus: This point ties back to our cultural value of humility. Having that self-awareness to know what your strengths are and to hone in on those strengths.
8. Find your support group
Last but not least, we wanted to know how Bradford can show up every day with such confidence. His answer was both simple and heartwarming: friendship.
Something that has always helped him is having a support group and safe space, big or small, that he can go to for advice and brainstorming. Find a support group that will have your back and make sure you have their back, too.
Flipp’s Focus: This point ties perfectly into many aspects of our culture at Flipp, but the one that really stands out here is “having each other’s back.” Creating those high trust environments between team members to drive high performance and support one another.
From the entire Flipp team, we want to send a huge thank you to Bradford Shellhammer for sharing his inspiring personal and professional journey with us. Also, for letting us share it with you! To connect with the King of Quirk himself, you can find him on LinkedIn.
For more sneak peeks into life at Flipp check out the Inside Flipp section of the Flipp Tipps blog, our culture playbook , or visit our corporate site for more information about our team and what we do at Flipp!