BY BETSY MIKEL
Throughout her career, Yardley Pohl, ’07, has solved tough problems with technology. She’s done it for Apple, Trulia, eBay, Yahoo, and Dun & Bradstreet: “I love to see how I can use tech to disrupt an industry or disprove the hypothesis that tech can’t help.”
As chief product officer in the San Francisco office of New York–based Thrive Global, she’s tackling one of her most ambitious projects yet: leveraging technology to help people unplug. Thrive Global, founded by Arianna Huffington in 2016, is a behavior change company helping individuals, companies, and communities improve their well-being and performance through technology, media, and corporate services. Pohl’s team builds tech products that nudge people to make small, science-backed changes daily. Pohl uses many of these “Thrive Microsteps” herself, enabling her to stay productive all day long.
6 AM I’m up early with our kids, Mason and Tyler. They’re one and four. We hang out in our pj’s for about 30 minutes. Instead of going straight to my phone, I like to start my day with these casual, carefree moments. It helps me practice gratitude and set my intention for the day.
8 AM My husband, Jason, drops me off at work. Getting in early gives me quiet time to plan for the day ahead. I set a mantra as I review my calendar and upcoming meetings. As a leader of the company, it’s important for me to be positive and resilient—no matter the situation—so that I can lead my team by example.
9:30 AM My first meeting is with the product and design team to review user experience flows for our new app. Thrive meetings are super efficient. (It helps that they are device free so that people can be fully present.) The materials and agenda were sent yesterday, so everyone has a chance to review and is prepared. We can immediately start making decisions or debate. After we wrap up, I head to my next meeting, interviewing a promising product manager.
NOON Time for a quick break for lunch. There’s a food truck right around the corner from the office that sells delicious açai bowls. I respond to emails while I’m waiting in line.
1 PM The entire San Francisco office gathers for Thrivey Thursday. We participate in a group activity that embodies our culture. It’s so valuable to spend time together that’s not focused on work. It helps the team bond and build trust. Today, I lead a session on gratitude.
Employees incorporate Thrive's small, actionable "Microsteps" into their workdays.
1:30 PM The executive team meets to discuss a jam-packed agenda. We align on company strategy and cover a lot of ground.
2:45 PM I take my next meeting outside—while walking. This is one of the Thrive Microsteps, which are small, actionable steps you can take to improve your well-being. An afternoon walk really does energize me. This weekly meeting is a one-on-one with one of my direct reports. It’s crucial that I support my employees and their professional development. With transparent and regular communication, nothing should be a surprise come annual review time.
3:30 PM Next is a video conference to demo our product with a potential customer. I enjoy these customer-facing meetings because I can get succinct, concrete feedback based on their own company culture and focused on their employee well-being.
4:30 PM I close out the day catching up on emails. Because I don’t have email notifications on my phone, I’ve hardly looked at my inbox all day. This allows me to have deeper, more focused conversations with people.
5:15 PM I leave to pick up my kids and meet Jason at school, and we commute home as a family. Work-life integration is a core part of Thrive’s culture. Everyone respects that I leave at this time to spend quality time with my family.
6:30 PM Dinner is already on the table when we get home. My mom lives with us part time, and she’s prepared shrimp stir-fry with a healthy serving of veggies.
8:30 PM After putting the boys to bed, I hop back online to tend to anything lingering. I “timebox” this to 30 minutes. Otherwise, I’d be behind the computer all night. At Thrive, we encourage people to set an end to their work day!
9 PM Jason and I watch something funny on Netflix and just relax. After running around all day, I cherish this downtime. Recharging and unwinding will help me stay on my game tomorrow.