Welcome to our latest chat with the folks behind the scenes that help make the magic happen here at Loot Crate!
Here at Loot Crate, we have a lot of folks that are responsible for taking care of Looters all over the world – and they do a pretty dang good job if I do say so myself. But it’s important that we have awesome folks here that can take care of the employees, too! And one such individual is none other than Mitch Rily, Loot Crate’s Director of People Operations! He’s a tremendous HR professional, and he does a phenomenal job taking care of each and every employee here at LC. I’m a big fan of him, and was happy to get to sit down and chat about his experiences here at Loot Crate:
Thanks for taking time to chat with me, Mitch! Before we get started, why don’t you tell us who you are and what you do here at Loot Crate?
Hey, Josh. Happy to talk, it’s one of the things I do best. I am the Director of People Operations here at Loot Crate, which is a fancy way of saying I’m the head of Human Resources. I like to see myself as “The Dad” of the company, the guy people go to when they have a problem who can listen to their concerns, help them find the answers, and when necessary give them a hug or a high-five that helps get them back on track. I also process the company’s payroll, which means I make sure everyone gets their allowance every two weeks.
How long have you been “The Dad,” err, I mean, how long have you been with us here at Loot Crate, and what were you doing before you joined the company?
I started with the company just over three years ago, employee #30, and at that time I was the entirety of the human resources team. Since then I’ve helped build up a team of other managers, recruiters, administrators, culture representatives, and facilities team members that keep things running behind-the-scenes so that the company can concentrate on providing the best possible experience to all of our looters. To everyone else, their customers are our subscribers; to me, my customers are all of our fantastic employees.
I’ve been in Human Resources for over a decade now, and have worked as a recruiter, a benefits administrator, and an HR generalist for a few different companies before finding my home here at LC.
You and I have talked before about your history as a performer and an entertainer, which I can absolutely relate to as an actor myself – how do you think that’s helped you with your career in HR?
I got pulled into studying theater in college and have been lucky enough to have been part of a few productions recently because I am not shy about who I am, I’m comfortable standing up in front of a crowd (even if it is to make a fool of myself for someone else’s amusement), and I love making people smile. Those theatrical parts have helped a lot in HR as well. I spend a lot of time listening in my job, understanding a situation and coming up with an honest response. I can’t be part of the decisions that affect other people’s lives and then hide in the corner and hope they don’t see me, I need to be visible for them to know that they can ask me questions, I need to be able to talk with every person individually or all of them at the same time, and I want to be able to get them the answers they need. If I’m going to make a difference, as an actor or as an HR professional, I need to know the role I’m supposed to play, and they play it to the hilt.
What are your favorite parts of being involved with Human Resources at a company like Loot Crate?
I’ve always wanted to be the part of HR that people want to come talk to, not just the “principal’s office / you’re in trouble” portion that so many people think of when they talk about HR. Being here, I not only get to solve problems every day, but I’m surrounded by people who share similar passions, who have my quirky sense of humor, and who make every day a new adventure.
When I got my first office here, they asked me what I wanted it to look like. I jokingly told them I’d like it to say “HR” on the carpet. I left for a meeting, and when I came back, they were laying our carpet pieces of two different colors with my department’s initials proudly emblazoned for everyone to see (and walk all over). That is something I will never find at another HR job. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I’m the dad that gets to come home with some of the coolest stuff for my kids. My kids love coming to visit me at work, especially when my daughter is selling Girl Scout cookies.
So you’ve been with us for quite a while, and have had some pretty cool experiences – but what has been the most rewarding part of working at Loot Crate?
When I go home each day, I always like to talk with my family about what made them happy that day. Almost every day, when it comes around to me, what made me happy is that I got to help solve someone’s problem to make their life a little easier. Whether it’s just being a shoulder to cry on during a bad day, to make sure someone’s voice is being heard, or to get someone an emergency doctor’s appointment when they can’t find their insurance information, helping others gives me a sense of purpose, it’s what I truly love to do.
When working at a company like Loot Crate, it’s not unusual for the employees to be fans just as much as our Looters are – so what kinds of things do you geek out on the most?
I consider myself a geek with a broad but shallow knowledge base. I know enough about a lot of topics to be part of all types of conversations, but I may not have the depth of knowledge that a super-fan might have (and when I don’t, I’m comfortable nodding my head and faking my way through). I do love movies and TV shows of the past decades that have brought comic book characters to life: Marvel, DC, and beyond. Even though I was never a big reader of comics as a kid, I watch the movies with my kids fairly regularly, and I keep up with nearly every superhero TV that’s out these days. I’m still a big kid at heart, so great entertainment that I can share with my kids will always make my heart swell. I love seeing (and singing in) musicals, and so my kids get tickets to shows as gifts each year. We have a room in our house that has a wall dedicated to Harry Potter paraphernalia (Potter-phernalia?), we have a life-sized TARDIS that I built for my wife in our bedroom, and I had a portrait painted of my family as if we were Muppets. My geekdom is fairly apparent when you walk into my house or my office.
I’ve seen the collection of awesomeness that you have in your office, which is impressive to say the least (and includes a life-size Ronald McDonald statue!) – so what made you want to start creating such a cool collection?
When I started with Loot Crate, no one at the office was actively saving and displaying all of the crates that we were sending out each month. Everyone had their own collections, but no one had “the definitive collection”, so I decided to start The Wall Of Loot. It’s a 5’x5′ cubbyhole bookcase where I wanted to display all of the contents of each month’s crate in its own space. At first, I had to fill in the wall with my own fun items (of which I had plenty from home to bring in), but after three years, The Wall Of Loot is now a double-sided display of the best of what Loot Crate has to offer, and a stop on the tour for new employees and visitors alike. I’m seven cubbies away from filling both sides, and when that happens, to paraphrase Chief Brody, we’re gonna need a bigger bookcase.
With me being a new parent, I am inspired by awesome dads and how they are with their kiddos, and you’re one of the best I’ve seen – what’s your favorite part of being a geek dad?
I love being part of my kids’ lives. When my son wanted to retheme his bedroom around superheroes, I designed and painted him a mural for him to wake up each morning. When my daughter wanted to sell 2,000 boxes of cookies, I was there next to her going door to door every weekend. Being a geek means being passionate about and dedicated to something. I a geek for my kids. Fortunately, they are becoming proud geeks in their own right.
A few years ago, my daughter had to do a biography for school on someone who changed the course of history. She chose Stan Lee, not only for the impact that he has had on comic books and entertainment over the past century but because she knew she could work on the project with me. I seriously teared up when she told me that, and I could not have been more proud. She did a lot of research, wrote a great essay on the life and times of the father of Marvel Comics, and then she and I took it to the next level: we turned her entire essay into a comic book, filled with pictures from Stan’s life and his creations, and printed up copies for every kid in her class.
Last year, we had a chance to meet Stan Lee in person, and we bought two copies of her comic book with us, one for her to get signed, and one for her to give Stan. My daughter was over the moon, Stan spent 5 minutes just talking with her, looking through her book, and treating us like old friends. Many kids say at some point that their dad is ” the best dad ever”: that was one of those moments that my kid said it to me, and I truly believed it.
And now for my go-to final question for each of my Behind the Crate interviews: If you could create your very own Loot Crate, what would it be?
I have loved all the great creations of Jim Henson and friends since I first started watching The Muppet Show as a kid with my family. I have Muppet dolls in my office, I attended the one and only MuppetFest, I have seen them take over the Hollywood Bowl, and I have no doubt that there are thousands of Muppet fans all over the world who would love to get a little bit of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, and the whole gang showing up at their doorstep month after month. I’ve been able to show pride in my house colors when our Wizarding World crate was being developed, I have a closet filled with Loot Wear t-shirts and socks, but I’d give it all away if I got the chance to work on a Muppet Labs crate.
Thank you so much, Mitch! Always a joy talking to you – and I’ve known you for over three years, and even I learned some new things about you today!
It’s been a pleasure, Josh. Glad I could be part of this fun snippet of Behind the Crate. It’s great to share my joy with all of the Loot Crate and Looter family.