January 07, 2022
When you think of company culture, do you think of a fully stocked kitchen and a foosball table? Unfortunately, we’ve been fed an inaccurate idea of what it means to elevate your company, confusing culture with perks. So then, what does it look like to create a world-class company culture, and how do we implement it? In part two of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition, we are continuing our conversation with business coach and author, Cameron Herold and discussing the elements that will shape a company culture and attract great talent.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:06] This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less game changing insights from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:24] Welcome back to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with the CEO Whisperer and Business Growth Guru Cameron Herold. In part one we talked about the power in creating a Vivid Vision instead of a Mission statement or a Vision Statement and in today’s episode we’re discussing how to make your work culture the best it can be. Spoiler alert – as a COO, there’s always something else you can do to elevate your company. Here’s some tips on where to begin.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:55] So let’s switch over to creating a world class culture. You’ve done a lot of work around that, so tell me about culture and how it can inspire internal teams, potential customers and current customers. What’s the role of culture in an organization?
Cameron Herold: [00:01:09] So first off, I think we’ve really been done a bit of a disservice by the mass media on what company culture is, what the mass media talked about were perks. You know, they talked about the foosball table and the free lunches and the the massage therapists coming in to do massages. That’s not culture. Those are perks that you’re giving your employees. Culture starts. If I think about like a jigsaw puzzle, the corners, the four corners of the jigsaw puzzle are the culture. The first one is your Vivid Vision. So it’s that alignment that everyone can see what the CEO can see. If everyone can see the same vision, if everyone is on the same page. If you get rid of all the people that don’t like what they see and you keep attracting more people that do like what they see. That’s the first corner of the jigsaw puzzle. The second corner of the jigsaw puzzle. Are your company’s core values. You have to hire based on the core values. You have to fire people based on the core values. You have to obsess about living the core values on a daily basis. You have to celebrate the core values. You’ve got to thank people for emulating and living the core values, and you have to reinforce them on a daily basis. Most companies get their core values wrong because they either have single words as a core value, which end up being confusing. So core values should be short phrases such as deliver what you promise, respect the individual, pride in all you do right? Very easy to understand. Core values should be limited to four or five core values, not seven or ten. If you have so many core values, you can’t live them. So if you have four or five, then you’re probably willing to fire people who break them. And then the core values have to be something that you’re going to recruit on. So that’s one area that that companies need to really focus on. As the second corner, right, are the core values and the culture emerges from those. The second or the third corner of the jigsaw puzzle is your BHAG, your big, hairy, audacious goal. And that’s a Jim Collins term from Good to Great. A lot of companies do it wrong where they say their BHAG (bee-hag) is a billion, whatever or a million some things. By definition, a BHAG is not measurable. It’s an aligning force inside of the organization that from the outside feels impossible and from the inside feels plausible. So great examples of BHAGs Boeing in the fifties said their BHAGs was to democratize air travel to make air travel accessible for everyone. Google’s BHAG was to organize the world’s information. Nike’s BHAG in the early seventies was to crush Adidas. Microsoft’s BHAG was to put a computer on every desktop and then later they abridge that to and in every household. So none of those are measurable. None of those were a billion units. And from the outside, when any of those companies said it, it seemed crazy. You know, Microsoft is an example doesn’t make and never has made computers, but their BHAG was to put a computer on every desk. So they wanted to create insanely great tools and products because their operating system, DOS and then their office suite later were on all of these computers. So they wanted to make that use, right? So and in the early seventies, if you were Nike and you said to crush Adidas, people would have thought you were crazy because Adidas owned the sporting world back in the seventies. That’s the third corner of your jigsaw puzzle. My BHAG is to replace vision statements with Vivid Visions worldwide. I can see that being possible, but people from the outside might think I’m nuts. But watch what starts to happen over the years is more and more people know more and more people share it right. The fourth corner of your jigsaw puzzle is your core purpose, and it’s really understanding your core purpose so that employees understand why we say yes to certain projects. Why we’re driving towards certain initiatives. Why we say no to certain things. So my core purpose is to help entrepreneurs make their dreams happen. It’s why I said yes to being on your podcast. It’s why I said no the other day to a speaking event that was for government. I don’t work with government. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re going to pay me, it’s not going to land the same way that it worked with a group of entrepreneurs. My Second In Command podcast, my books, my COO Alliance, my invest in your leaders course are all driving towards my core purpose of helping entrepreneurs make their dreams happen. So culture is being aligned with those four corners of the jigsaw puzzle. And then the first side of your jigsaw puzzle for culture are all of the people systems, and it’s the interviewing, recruiting, hiring, training and leadership development of people. That’s what culture is and where it comes from.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:05:42] Wow. When you explain it like that, it’s really deep. It’s like culture is everything.
Cameron Herold: [00:05:46] Yeah, yeah. And and again, I’ve always believed that to build an amazing company, it has to be a little more than a business, a little bit less than a religion. It has to be in that zone of a cult and the cult, the culture right. The culture emerges from vision, core values, core purpose and these BHAGs. Culture is not about a massage and free lunches.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:06:09] So how’s that maintained over time?
Cameron Herold: [00:06:12] It’s reinforced, you recruit based on it, you only hire people that are excited about it, you fire people who break them. Enron had core values, but they didn’t live them. It has to be an obsession. It has to be really one of the core, core, core areas that the CEO focuses on. The CEO’s job is to be the chief energizing officer to stir that Kool-Aid. So the CEO needs to always be talking Vivid Vision, core values, BHAG, core purpose, obsessing about those things and making sure the leadership team is figuring out how to make them come true. When you obsess about that and it becomes kind of omnipresent, it’s hard to not kind of become part of the fabric of the company.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:06:55] What organizations have you seen do well at inspiring and having an amazing culture?
Cameron Herold: [00:07:00] I’ll give you a really interesting one that every listener knows today, and it’s only a twenty year old company is Lululemon. Probably twenty five years old now because I have one of their very first shirts from nineteen ninety eight. So Lululemon is a company out of Vancouver, Canada. Chip Wilson, who I’m friends with was the founder, was definitely a cult kind of leader, right? He was obsessed about building great clothing. He built a snowboarding brand called West Beach. He really focused on growing his people. He got all of his core employees to be a part of a leadership program called Landmark. You know, to even work at Lululemon back in the nineties and early two thousand period. Had you not gone through the three day Landmark, you were never allowed to be hired at Lululemon. So he was stirring that Kool-Aid, right? They made all of their events hard to get into. They actually ran yoga sessions at their stores and pushed clothing out of the way that they brought their people in. It was a cult, and they were happy to pay a premium product for it. We all paid premium for all the Lulus. I’m wearing two items of Lululemon as I’m sitting here right now. I’ve got two Lululemon T-shirt on the Lululemon shorts.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:08:01] And it crosses generations for sure. I was there this weekend getting my daughter shorts.
Cameron Herold: [00:08:05] Right? So, so that culture. Now, if you remember the red bags that Lululemon came out with back in the 2000s. That the red bags with all the white sayings everywhere. Most people never sat down and read all of the sayings, but the sayings were their core values. They were internal mantras and statements. They were passionate pleas for the organization. There was the company’s BHAG. It was all of these aligning statements that were again, very cultish, right? Without crossing into the negative aspects of a cult.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:08:33] Wow. What marketing or communication tools, I know you mentioned the bags. But what other tools have you seen people bring their culture to life in?
Cameron Herold: [00:08:43] Your office walls. Your office walls have to have that cultural kind of feedback in behind you. I’m now seeing people do things like zoom backgrounds, so all of our COO Alliance members have a custom Zoom background. I even have one that I could throw up right now just for what we’re talking right now, right? So corporate clothing, your company website, right? Every outward facing and inward facing part of your company has to stir that Kool-Aid. So your company website has to feel like your brand. If your leadership team photos have people wearing a suit and tie, you’re pushing people away. You’re not pulling them towards you. Your leadership team bios should read more like a Tinder profile than a government document, right? Because you want to attract people to you, not push them away. Nobody, I don’t care where you went to university, you don’t care where I went to university. I want to know your hobbies and your passions and what you’re excited about. That’s what your leadership team bio should start with. So I think we need to think about and look for organizations that do a good job with that. A great example of culture, frankly, is Google versus Microsoft, right? If you ask people what was a great company to work for? Everyone says Google. Both companies Google and Microsoft are on the left coast of the U.S., both are in the tech space, both have billions of dollars in cash, both higher computer engineering. But Google decided that culture was critical. Microsoft focused on building great code. So what emerged out of Google was the, they call it, the Cult of Google or the Cult of Apple, because they decided that culture was critical. Apple is another great example that we will pay a premium product for every Apple thing that we buy. We know that we can get better with Samsung or something else, and yet we will continually keep buying Apple because we’re so obsessed with the brand, so we’ll pay a premium. That’s where culture, I think has such a huge premium or could have a better premium inside of organizations.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:10:36] If I was an entrepreneur and realized my culture sucked, what would you say to me?
Cameron Herold: [00:10:40] First, you got to fix it more than ever. I was speaking with a COO this morning at breakfast who’s a member of our COO Alliance, and I said, if you’re an average company, that means 50 percent of all the companies in your city or state or province are worse than you. But it also means that fifty percent are better. So you can’t hire great people if you’re average. You need to be in the top ten, fifteen percent of the hundred percent of companies to attract good people. So your culture needs to be fantastic for you to even have a shot at hiring a players. Secondly, the landscape now is you’re now competing with companies all over the world that are willing to hire people in Ohio or Michigan or Minnesota. I just had a client in Ohio the other day lost one of his employees to a company based in Luxembourg. Most people don’t even know where Luxembourg is, but if you’re going to lose a tech employee to somebody in Luxembourg, it means that company was paying more, had better core values and a better culture. So you need to raise that bar in a big, big way.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:11:44] Awesome. Cameron, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing about Vivid Vision. First off and then building a world class culture, I really appreciate it. You’ve given me a ton of ideas and I’m excited to implement some of them here internally and also share with our clients.
Cameron Herold: [00:11:58] Of course. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:12:06] Thank you for listening to Part Two of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Cameron Herold.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:12:10] To learn more about Cameron’s coaching services, visit his website at CameronHerold.com. If you have additional thoughts on this topic, send us an email. You can send questions, comments and more to email@example.com.
Rochelle Reiter: [00:12:35] A special thank you goes out to our contributors, Senior Studio Manager Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, and Ashley Ruiz, Senior Content Writer. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. And if you like what you heard today, leave us a review!