Eddy’s Leader Lounge With Elisa Garn, HR Evangelist

Elisa Garn sat down with our CEO to talk about favorite books, gratitude, employee qualities, startup priorities, and HR strategy.
Elisa Garn Interview
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We had the opportunity to have Elisa Garn over at Eddy for an interview with our CEO, Travis Hansen. Here’s our brief synopsis of their interview, but keep scrolling for the full transcript.

First, Elisa told us a bit about herself, what brought her to Utah, (and kept her in Utah) and what she’s up to now. After that, they dove into some questions.

  1. What’s your favorite book?
  2. What are you grateful for?
  3. What makes a great employee?
  4. You’re building a company, what are the first three things you focus on?
  5. What can you do to get HR right, straight from the beginning?

Q1: What's your favorite book?

Elisa’s first choice was “the one that changed [her] life,” How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. 

This book explains that people want to feel valued, and you can build a good relationship that everyone benefits from by helping people feel valued. That idea resonated with Elisa and became a big influence in her life and career.

Quiet, by Susan Cain, was also an influential book in helping her understand those without her personality as a “wild extrovert.”

Q2: What are you grateful for?

Elisa expressed her deep gratitude for her family and her son in particular. 

Elisa is also very grateful for the opportunities she has in her career. Elisa didn’t go to college, but because of the belief of a mentor, she was able to become who she is today. She shows that gratitude by taking opportunities to give back and be a mentor to others.

"Elisa didn’t go to college, but because of the belief of a mentor, she was able to become who she is today."

Q3: What makes a great employee?

It’s a hard question, but Elisa loves working with critical thinkers who don’t need all of the information to make good decisions. Empathy and the ability to stand in other people’s shoes are also very important. The inability to do so is the root of most conflict.

She also mentions humility, integrity, a growth mindset, and service-orientation as top qualities of those she looks to hire.

Q4: You're building a company. What are the first three things you focus on?

She first emphasized the importance of having the right people who do more than fit the culture but also add to it. It’s important to find someone that can “yin to your yang” and see things from a perspective you don’t have.

She followed this by emphasizing the importance of having a solid product and understanding all of the relationships that exist in a business setting.

"It’s important to find someone that can “yin to your yang” and see things from a perspective you don’t have."

Q5: What can you do to get HR right, straight from the beginning?

Elisa mentioned that having the right tools and technology that can scale with your business is huge. Every time you have to hire a new person or adopt new technology, your workflow has to adjust, and that can be costly. It’s better to find a technology that solves your problems now and the ones you’ll meet down the road. 

"It’s better to find a technology that solves your problems now and the ones you’ll meet down the road."

“Eddy does a great job of this where you can scale very easily with your client… And I’m not even being paid to say that!”

She also suggested that startups could hire an HR person from a company they admire to consult. They may not need full-time HR attention but would benefit from some strategic HR advice.


Elisa and Travis go into much greater detail about all of these topics, and their insights are powerful, so hit that “See more” button for lessons and insights that only the famous Elisa Garn can teach!

Travis: We had the famous the one and only Elisa Garn in today to visit us here at Eddy. I had the opportunity to interview her we talked about people processes and HR and all the different things to startup or small business can do to do it the right way and to do it from the beginning keep watching. Listen and learn. 

What a great day here at Eddy. We get the opportunity to meet with the famous, the one and only, Elisa Garn. Thanks for coming in.

Elisa: Of course

Travis: Got a couple questions for you ready? 

Yeah. I’m ready. Shoot, 

Travis: Okay. Number one question. Tell us a little about yourself. 

It’s tough questions by born raised life. Yeah. I’m from the Rocky Mountains. So equal amounts of time and Idaho, Wyoming. I’ve been in Utah all my adult life. So this is home. Originally came here following a boy, you know, that old story. Stayed here for a different boy and then ended up with a different boy. Kids. So I’ve got five different step kids all over the country. I’ve got one little guy at home with me, seven. And now just basically evangelize HR. That’s what I get paid to do.

Travis: That’s awesome. That’s a great story. My dad always said if you’re from Idaho or know anybody from Idaho, hire ‘em! They know how to work. What’s your favorite book? 

Elisa: Oh man, that’s a really hard one. So the one that changed my life is really cliche and cheesy, but it’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I read it when I was 19 and I was a wild Introvert and had just the hardest time engaging with people or even doing something like this was impossible. I just couldn’t. I would flush red and be super embarrassed. 

And I read that book as a work project. So our team was reading it, and it was so easy to apply. Just instantly it made sense to me that people want to feel valued. So if you value other people, in turn, they’re going to value you and it just creates a really good cycle of relationships.

So that was the first one and then three years ago. I read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. My husband is an introvert and I am a wild extrovert, and reading that book gave me a new perspective on how to value people that aren’t like me. So I really really enjoyed that, and it was a big eye-opener for me and one that I promote openly to others. 

Travis: That’s awesome! We love to read here. 

Elisa: Oh good! So try both of those!

Travis: Fellow reader. Fantastic, next question. What are you grateful for?

Elisa: Oh my gosh, I’d like to say, “Everything,” but I’m probably not really grateful for everything. The ones that I pay attention to, my son actually, so he was a twin. My husband and I went through in-vitro and his twin passed away at birth pretty unexpectedly. So dealing with the loss and trauma of losing a child at the same time becoming a new mom and having a son for the first time, it definitely amplified my gratitude, you know for having him.

And also just outside of that, the rest of my kids and family members in general. So, family is definitely an area that I’m grateful for, but also very I feel very fortunate and blessed in my career as well. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t take a traditional route. I kind of fell into this profession because I had the belief of a really great mentor. But sometimes I wake up just thinking like, how am I, little old Elisa from Idaho, having all of these opportunities. And I see other people like I don’t feel like I’m any more special than them, and it’s a really cool chance to be able to, like when you recognize it go in with purpose and be able to fulfill that on a daily basis. 

Travis: That’s cool. Yeah, I think all of us have someone that helped us out earlier life or many many many people. So it’s awesome that you acknowledge that someone did. Mentor, help you. 

Elisa: Yeah, and hopefully give it back, right? like you got that advantage now go do it for someone else 

Travis: Absolutely. Gratitude is a core value here at Eddy. And so we try to remember all the things we’re grateful for. It makes us happier when we do that, Isn’t that weird how it works like that? 

Elisa: No, I love that!

Travis: What makes a great employee? 

Elisa: Well…

Travis: That’s such an easy question!

Elisa: I mean gosh, there’s like a laundry list, right? 

Travis: It’s like, what makes a great husband? What makes a great wife? Uh…

Elisa: Yeah, I mean they have to meet certain criteria right? Like they have to be okay dressing up for Halloween for sure. When I hire somebody there’s certain things that I look for. One of them, the highest on my list, usually, is critical thinking skills. I love to work with people that don’t need all the information to move forward to make good decisions. 

I like to create more leaders, and critical thinking skills I think is one of those that you have to have in order to grow into leadership. You can’t constantly be relying on everybody else to feed you the information or feel like you have all of the information before you can make a decision. So that’s something that I personally look for. I don’t know if that’s necessarily what makes a great employee all around, but I do like to work with those people a lot more 

Travis: Problem solvers. Okay, anything else?

Elisa: Well, you know you have like the gimmes right? You want somebody that’s humble, you want somebody that has integrity, and honest. You want somebody that has more of a growth mindset. 

I’m a big believer in sales through service. So people that believe in giving back in order to get. All of those things I think make great humans — let alone great employees —  but everybody’s really unique and brings their own iceberg of reality to work every day.

Empathy, I think is a very clichéd term but underutilized talent that HR and in any company should be investing in helping other people understand how to build empathy. Because not being able to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and see the world and reality through their lens, in my opinion, is where most conflict comes from. 

Travis: That’s awesome. Absolutely. 

Elisa: That was like seven things!

Travis: it was great. It was really good. You know, we try to hire PLUs — people like us — it’s really really hard to describe. You did a great job.

Elisa: Feel free to use any of that on your website by the way. 

Travis: You’re building a company. First three things a company should focus on?

Elisa: Tactical or like this is just my company, This is what I’m going to do?

Travis: You’re a startup, the first three things you think you should focus on.

Elisa: People. I mean you have to have the right people that believe in what you’re trying to build and hopefully the solution that it creates. I like how you put it as far as you know “hire people like us,” but I also think especially in HR the culture fit has become a little bit of a swear word. we don’t say that anymore because it alienates other groups of people typically subconsciously, but I am a big believer in culture add. 

So as an example, I started a small little side hustle business with somebody who I think yins to my yang, because what that person adds to my business is something that I have blind spots in. I don’t see that, it’s not something I just readily recognized. And so the value of contribution of focusing on the right person and not just hiring somebody like me, but that somebody that can share the vision that brings a different set of attributes is very very powerful. 

I think product is probably a secondary one. Like you have to have something that people give a crap about. Like what problem does it solve?

And then I don’t know I maybe it’s a little bit of a cliche answer, but I think relationships. It ties into people too, but I think if you’re starting a business, you need to understand how all of the dynamics of the relationships of the people that you hire the product and services that you’re offering and your audience that you’re trying to resonate with. What do those relationships look like, and how can you use that to maximize your growth plan? 

Of course, that’s coming from an HR lens. Right? Like you ask that of a CPA or a CFO you’re going to get different answers from all of them. But I do think that HR is very very often undervalued and very reactive in the process of growth instead of a very intentional upfront strategic and intentional investment at the forefront of growing a business. 

Travis: That’s awesome. Yup, people and product.

Elisa: People and product. 

Travis: Okay, last question. What are some things that small businesses can do to get HR right from the very beginning? Most, a lot of small businesses, not most, don’t touch HR until later on in business. I think that’s something that needs to change 

Partially investing in the right tools and technology. I actually think Eddy does a great job of this where you can scale very easily with your client. So 

Travis: Yes, we do! 

Elisa: And I’m not even being paid to say that!

Travis: Yes, we do. 😉

Elisa: So I think that is a really valuable thing though because if you have the right technologies in place that can scale with your business as you grow, it creates much less disruption when you’re ready to scale. Like, you know, you go from a two-person team to at ten-person to a twenty-five to fifty to a hundred. Every time that you have to change a process or inject a new technology or hire a new person that’s going to potentially change the strategy or culture, it has the opportunity to disrupt and possibly even destroy what you’ve worked so hard to create. 

So I think being very aware and intentional the beginning of what problems do I want to solve today, and what’s the capability of the problems this can solve for the future. So part of that, you know, this example is technology, but I’m a big believer you don’t have to hire a dedicated function within your business to get the value of having a strategic initiative of that from the beginning. 

So talk to people that are willing to Moonlight, you know. Like, reach out to existing HR strategic HR professionals that work for companies that you admire that you’re trying to mirror or aspire to be and see if they’d be willing to spend five to ten hours a month consulting and just getting some of that philosophy and understanding of what do I need to know to get me to that 50 mark or that 100 mark or that 500 mark. And then also being able to talk very specifically to exit strategy confidentially. As soon as you bring an HR person inside, you limit your ability to have those conversations because you have to protect part of the business from somebody that potentially, you know, hopefully, you trust them, but it’s still a layer of exposure and risk that some companies I think maybe that’s why HR doesn’t get involved in those bigger picture discussions. 

Travis: That’s awesome. We love Elisa.

Elisa: Thank you!

Travis: We think you’re awesome. We’ve been friends for a couple years now. 

Elisa: It seems like forever. 

Travis: What?

Elisa: But in the best of ways!

Travis: But we agree we think when you start a business out, gotta hire the right people, which Eddy happens to help you do which is weird. We think technology is really important because it helps you be more productive. Small, medium businesses have inefficiencies.

They have to de-risk certain things. The longer you’re in business you should be de-risking it for investors. So Eddy tackles all those things.

Elisa: Time is money 

Travis: Time is money. Thank you, Elisa. Thanks for coming in. 

Elisa: Thanks so much. 

Travis: Thanks for watching the video! Elisa is awesome. And as she mentioned, HR Tech is so important when you’re starting a small business or startup or medium-sized business and she spoke about how to do it the right way. To learn more visit Eddyhr.com.

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