Building a Beautiful Company: Culture
So let's go to another story bill witherspoon was sixty six years old and decided that it was time for him to start his fourth company had just sold his third company was extremely extremely successful but he said, you know it's my fourth time around you don't need the money necessarily to do this I want to start what I'm going to call a beautiful corporation which to him he confided was something he thought was an oxymoron on dh so he said that we're going I have this idea for this incredible product but what I'm going to do is build the entire business around a culture that I believe in around a culture of being a totally beautiful company a totally different company and that that's going to be the driving force for why people come to work here for why our customers buy I don't care if we ever get a single customer if they don't believe in our way of doing business are why and the way that we treat people the way that we treat customers then we don't really wanna have them you know a...
s part of our community first I have to tell you what they do it is so cool so this is the first floor of a ten story building so you might be asking yourself how did you get the to get the skylights in the first floor a ten story building they build digital video skylights on dh installations I mean they don't have to be a skylight there could be a window but the idea is this this this is video and so these clouds these puffy little clouds kind of oftown by maybe a bird will come through every now and then so they just really life like bringing outdoors into really almost any space so I just I love to show that picture because it's really the coolest I think product goings called the sky factory by the way, you should go just look at their side for all the incredible things that they have done there, you know, I said he didn't care if they made any money, but of course you know, they are now like rocking and rolling, right? I mean, hundreds of millions of dollars of installations around the world because this is such a cool product, but what I really want to focus on is their culture and because this is the driving force of their marketing and you don't hear enough people talking about this and quite frankly, a lot of times when people have the conversation about culture, you know they're thinking google has a culture right? Google has, you know, cafeterias and they have bean bag chairs and have bikes and they have espresso machines and that's culture on dh what I'm going to suggest is every single one of you every single solo preneurs, every single business, small business that has five or ten employees has a culture. You know, the only question is whether or not it's intentional, because in a lot, for a small business for a very small business for a solo from entrepreneur, in many cases who you are being, you know, is your culture. Certainly, once you start hiring people, the values and the beliefs and the stories that you tell toa lead people is your culture. So the sky factory number one transparency, every single person in the organization, knows everything about the financial state of the company at all times. How much money's in the bank, how much profits made on a job, how much something costs. His overriding goal was to create a culture of owners. And if you think about it, hopefully, if they're paying attention, the owner knows pretty much all the books, right? So how can you, how can you expect people to act and think like owners, unless they have that information in which to make decisions like that? And what they found is that it immediately met, gets people. Now he also pays. They pay a bonus structure, you know, based on profit and things, but he gets people buy them, knowing that, hey, if you know, rather than me saying, I need this new piece of equipment so I can do my job it's like, hey, could I maybe fix this piece of equipment? Could I maybe find a part on craigslist, you know, to fix this thing, so that so that, you know, it's not I mean, not entitled to this new piece of equipment, because, hey, I make more money, you know, if I can make this work, or if I could figure out a new innovation that will actually allow us to ship faster or the chip cheaper our products and services. So number one is transparency, number two is autonomy, and this is my favorite thing that they do. There are no there's, no hierarchy in their business. Now, you know, he is the ceo, and they have functional teams, of course, because they have certain jobs that need to be done, but everybody inside of a functional team rotates through, is the leader of that team. So the person sitting next to you, you know, in ninety days, is probably going to be your boss for about ninety days, and then in ninety days, you're probably going to be their boss. So, you know, again, you might think that chaos, what creation's, an incredible environment of teamwork, because that idea that if you know somebody is going to be your leader you know, maybe you're goingto actually be a better team player if you know you think about how many times people in leadership roles just get entrenched in their ideas and their way of thinking and this is how we do it here while all of a sudden they're running new people through and creating innovations like crazy because the new you know, new leadership takes over and say you know what? Here's an idea that I've been studying that I read about lesson implement this so an incredible sense of ownership again because everybody is essentially a leader in the organization, nobody is really subordinate at some point and then the last one and this is the one that really blows people away they don't make a major decision at the time I talked to build they had about fifty employees they've significantly increased that since then, but at the time they didn't make a significant decision in the business unless everyone every single person voted yet by a new building get a new piece of equipment, hire a new employee every single person has to vote yes now if you vote no, you better be prepared to explain why and they had actually a situation where they were going to buy a new building on dh or no they were they were going to finance their existing building on day actually had employees I would still really like the numbers of this and then employees went out found them a much better piece of property that they decided to buy and now they have built an entire factory you know, on this new piece of property and it's because they they instead of saying here's what we're going to do they basically crowd source, you know, from their employees what is the best idea? And if you could come up with a better idea, not always it welcome will take action on it so again, I imagine the chaos that could ensue if you know somebody just didn't want to agree with any ideas but also because everybody has all the numbers has all the information you're going to be, you know, a boss that person's going to be a boss, you know, at some point everybody acts like an owner and everybody is paid like an owner because they have that information again some of that may not apply to your existing situation, but what I think absolutely does apply is that he went into this before he hired employee number one and said here our beliefs here is what you know, anybody who joins us as a employee or as a customer here is you here's what they're gonna have to buy into here is not not the rules so much is as you know, here the values that we hold and we chairs and that we you know we won't pass go you know, if somebody wants us to break those values so in terms of creating your own culture, which is a significant part of your marketing, you know are their values and beliefs I shared I shared that first one with you about how I made a commitment that you will never again you know, work with a client that I don't respect and we actually live that by putting rules not necessary rules processes in place, you know, to really make sure that we are educating and we're teaching we're bringing people along, we're setting the right expectations and we're actually I don't want to say that we're we're testing out customers, but we actually have processes in place so that we can say we can actually measure is this a really good fit for both of us? Because I think that's where people really get into the most trouble is when they take that customer it's not really a good fit, right? Anybody I know a lot of you are just getting started, but anybody taken that customer that like ten minutes in he thought red flags everywhere red flags everywhere, right andi I think that a lot of that has to do with us actually not understanding our own set of values and holding firmed our own values and beliefs and culture of what we want our business to be one of the things that I'm going to ask you all in this because it's very difficult to build momentum and marketing and sales systems unless you kind of have an idea of where you're trying to go right? So if you're thinking well, I just want to get another customer next week and that's sort of the end of your thinking you know, we're gonna have to take those blinders often say what's the picture of your business in three years in five years, okay? If you have even if it's a really sketchy, grainy foggy picture if you have that picture, what do you have to do today? So this idea of of of spending time thinking about an analyzing you know what the culture of your business needs to be in order to use that as a marketing tool or to inform maybe the products you make the campaigns that that you do the messages you know what you're going to have to do now so I'm going to call on you I'm going to sit again and do the call on you guys to say have you given any consideration too? You know what what's your sort of golden rules are you know what? What line won't you cross you know what? What do you want if you were if I were in a potential employees sitting in front of you what would you tell me? What story would you tell me about your business that would make me want to join assuming I agreed with those beliefs and those values that would make me want to jump up and say I finally found the place where I can be may and I'm gonna call in this lovely volunteer back here have you given that any thought? I'm so are you talking about from a ce faras like with the customers the process is with a customer you know, it starts internally so it will ultimately as I said, you know, I'll go back to me you know, I said we're not going to work with people we don't respect that's kind of like one of our golden beliefs and rules and so we then have to create processes and and messages that that really, you know, our allow us to live that right and everybody coming onboard who works with customers or who is going to sell for us has to understand that is one of our golden rule. So so let's start with let me try let me try to make it simple or because if you haven't given this stuff thought this is this is this is like lock yourself in a cabin in the woods for a weekend kind of stuff it's not like, okay, you're on the spot, you know border your beliefs, but I think we do have to actually start going there so and you, khun everybody can also say I pass too okay, if you really just feel like you're not, you're not there yet in answering the question, but let's, try it this way if I were coming to you, as in him potential employees, do you have any employees currently? Okay, so I'm your first hire, okay? And I'm really demanding and I want a lot of money okay to be paid now, so if are coming you, what would you tell me about your company, or about about where you're going or about what your beliefs are in terms of how people should be treated? Or you know what this beautiful corporation of yours is going to look like? What would you tell? What are some of the things they would say here is what we believe, okay, so the first thing would be is that we believe in having fun, and so that would mean not just external things, but internal meaning, bringing the enthusiasm and the passion to whatever it is you do. So I can say, whether you're whether it's like the coaching programs or masterminds or retreats or whatever we're doing with the customers weed infused in through the abdomen to our work, um, the second is would be living free so the concept of flexibility and freedom and doing things on your own terms, whatever you're doing, um, and then my third one would be yeah, but those are the two that I would say just those two. So if I'm now if I'm a potential employing again, that's what you have really thought about that? Because you weren't thinking about hiring, but how do you take that fun and living free and turn that into a marketing message? I mean, do you communicate that story? Can you tell me a time about when you were like, over the top and throughout, like, all reason and had fun instead? I mean, can you, you know, as a marketing message, can you can you bottle some of that up so that I can it can become my story? Does that make sense? Yeah, okay, so I had graduated from university and I was struggling with figuring out. Okay, well, what am I going to do? I'm graduating and a lot of college grads can't find jobs, and so I graduated with the polish side degree, wanting to go to law school, so I got my lsat books and was studying and I was really just doing it because these external factors were like pushing me down there, and I was just kind of blindly just like trotting, and so I was spending the summer spending for the elsa, and I just thought, okay, this is not for me, and I just was like, I'm just going to spend these next couple of months having fun trying to figure out what lights me up where what am I supposed to be doing? How do I want to give back so that's just one instance for me of why I value fun and living free and doing your own thing, and try to figure out what how you can make money on your own and live the sort of lifestyle that you want to that's my example, and so that I'm guessing then could become a big part of your message out there, too, or you can live like this too, right? I mean, is that so you see how understanding your own values your own stories? We're going to talk more about this idea of stories because that's some of the richest content that you could never you know, all this marketing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, is pales in comparison to your own stories and your customer stories and the things that, you know you're those stories that you're you're able to tell I'm sure people come to you looking for like ideas to rip off you know how to do a proposal right on dh so so we have to sew sew you ground everything you do in some of these beliefs and values and you know, there are many you've probably gone into companies they have mission statements and they have this long list of, you know, our ten commandments on dh you know, there's a lot of that that khun just be sort of wasted time, you know, air it's like, oh, these are things that sound good, you know that this should be our mission but but what I'm really suggesting is that you start there, you know, with with your market anybody else want to share values and I think you were you kind of had your hand halfway up let's have yeah, yeah you're right so one of the ones fun is definitely good, but uh as ah wedding deejay I've been doing this nineteen years and I've seen a lot of crazy brides and crazy groom's, actually. And so one of the things that I internally said was I don't want to work with bridezillas underwater with groups of theirs there's tv shows about it it's okay um so one of the things that I've actually translated that too a marketing aspect is on the back of my business card it actually says fun couples with style and then underneath it in princes says only and so I only want to work with people that are there to have fun and ah fun wedding translates all of their guests and the only way you really get there is before you even set foot in the door you and a couple you're working with have to be on the same page they have to be, you know, having a good time and so I just start with the fun from the beginning I tried to make the planning fund I try to make everything else fun and it just it seems to have worked in the last couple of years since I really started to bring that into my company and so I love that that it's on your business card too, because obviously that's not you know everybody thinks they're fun, right? Nobody nobody realizes they are being not fun probably for the most part but I like it because it is a bit of a qualifier and you know for you to say on ly you know and I mean it really kind of starts setting the tone for this fun and you know, the thing about that of course is you have to then also be you know, you have to be willing to say we're not a good fit right, and that's, the part that gets hard about that, you know, but you've probably found there's not I mean that that person that doesn't want to pay your full fee on does not fun is going to be the most challenging customer you've ever dealt with, right? What I've actually found is don't tell him what I've actually found is I'm afraid that a few people are going to hear this, okay, just so you know, it's not designed the ones that are willing to spend a little more for that experience, they're actually easier to work with. Absolutely I had people pay two or three times my work is done going reworkings of learn here because that is absolutely the message of this entire program is that the way you charge a premium is to work with the right customers on that, you know, that's a lot of what we're building up to so awesome do we want to throw it out to the internet? Has anybody come back with, uh, some things you want to share? Their yeah, we heard from really chris in the chat room, and they say, I would say probably the core values that I came up with for myself, I would want them to apply to my employees, and they are ingenuity, cleverness, creativity, equality and growth and so I would challenge real chris then to say no what are you doing to build stories around that what are you doing to communicate not enough plaque on the wall you know, maybe that's a start you know but but the rial where it really with rubber hits the road you know, I think it's more cheesy metaphor but you know is that that how you build that into what you communicate to the market how you actually build process is how you actually build products and services around that how you let people be innovative I mean there's there's you know this is the beginning and you have to capture it and it has to be real just like real chris but but you can't but then you have to turn it into something that is living and breathing and growing with you and that's that sometimes the hard part you know because but but if you don't start with okay fun I mean what it becomes is a filter which is what's really cool I think it actually helps you make decisions because you know now you could go back and say, well, what a fun company do this is this how fun company would collect the bills you know is this how a fun company would plan? You know, this event on dso having three for no more than five of those kind of this is what we believe it becomes this really awesome filter that will serve you quite well that's why you can't get him wrong and I don't mean that to pressure you, but I mean that's why they can't be made up that can't be oh, this sounds good, you know, because you've gotta live it to make it really alright. So another story this one is in such a long story, but, um any any gtv people hell throw that I'm sure there are getting things done written by david allen incredible, you know, productivity time management system that's now used by millions and millions of people on dh one of the reasons I really talk about this is because the next element you have to come up with is what is your methodology? You know, what is your unique, innovative way that you're going to solve people's challenges on problems in a way that that really provides a whole new context? It's certainly differentiates you from the other people that are out there saying the same old stuff, but it also helps you create this point of view or this language that you have to be willing to stick to you for years and years to come potentially now I interviewed david, I have a podcast that I've done almost every week since two thousand five and david was on my show and he said, you know what was really funny about this and I think it's true of so many great innovations is that he said you know, I didn't really do this to solve anybody's problems I did it to solve mine my frustration on dh in fact you know so many people started telling him hey, can I use this where you turn this into a product? Will you turn this into a service and then from there you know he wrote a book and then from there all these people started creating all this software and all these products and services around his system and he will tell you that today you know he still writes his system his notes on a little note pad using a pen even though all this other technology has been created but what he did provided for people was a narrative a way for them to tell a story about how they're getting results and he gave them a language for those gt dear's out there you know, there I go on I speaking conferences and you could see him in the audience and they get all jittery you know, they start like high fiving each other about forty three folders and you know all the language that he's actually built around that and so if you want to build marketing and sales momentum, you have to think in terms of adopting a very clear different point of view and methodology and language and that your real job is to build a community first instead of sell a product or service now ultimately we want to sell a product or service but we sell our product or service when we can create and gather community that believes in the same things that we believe in that air attracted to our story on dh that we can then give context or this language that they can actually share and so the you know that you've got this down when your customers actually start talking to each other using your terminology using your processes using your point of view and in some cases it's just a matter of of quantifying it and documenting it and giving it a name you know here's our one two three easy you know get married process her proposal process the wedding party is not easy um the proposal part could be right so and I'll give you I'll give you really example from from my business too sometimes this point is a little confusing to people but when I actually so if I had my own marketing business for over twenty five years and when I started I know I made every mistake that I'm telling you guys not to make I charged out there and just started doing work for people it didn't matter if they're big if they're small they said they'd pay me within ninety days you know take the work but I pretty quickly found that I really like working with small businesses there's something really think both parts gratifying and terrifying about working with that person who's actually going to write the check right and give it to you? I another story, I'll tell you another story about my existence that kind of like I said, you know, this is who I'm going this is what I meant to work with is I was doing some work for a large telecommunications company, I won't there's no need to name them there in kansas city with the very large sprint nextel, and they did a really small projects, like twelve hundred dollars, you know, something that I said I can't remember what the work was about ninety days later, I got a check for one hundred twenty five thousand dollars in bubble, you know, sense and, you know, if there's one more zero, you know, maybe I would have maybe I would've had to think hard about what you know immediately called him up said, you know, there's been a mistake here, you know what I do? And, you know, they send me to finance who makes me fill out three forms in order, so to send that thing back, you know, and I'm like, are you kidding me, you know, you know, first off how can one hundred twenty five thousand dollars escape you know from a business without somebody knowing about it but but but then teo be so crass is teo to say, well, you have you have wronged us, you know, somehow and so that was really the moment I said, you know, I'm working with small business but you know, as a marketing consultant and not having figured out this idea of a system it was kind of frustrating because as you guys know, you have some of the same deeds and challenges as you know we're really large organizations but not always the same budgets and our attention spans o r time on dso ice I set out to solve my own frustration and I believe that some of the greatest innovations in the world you come from that sort of mindset you know? What problem do I have that I could solve that the world actually might value? So the frustration that I was trying to solve was was finding a way to work with small businesses that I could make a living doing it? And so I created this system I called duct tape marketing and started going into businesses and saying here's what I'm going to do here's what you're gonna do you no hear the results we hope we can get and by the way here's what it costs and again as I said that was really my attempt to to do something I could replicate, I could document maybe I could do efficiently enough that I could I could do it profitably, and what I pretty quickly discovered was that I was addressing probably the greatest frustration with most small businesses howto by marketing services is actually very difficult. Maybe you guys have experienced this right? You're buying it from a graphic designer, you know, pr person, you're reading blog's, you know, to get your expertise, maybe it's the person working at the print shop counter, I mean that's kind of how you're getting your marketing because there aren't a lot of of ad agencies or marketing agencies that really even value working with solo printers are small businesses. And so this systematic approach, this methodology, this point of view about marketing as a system allowed me to build a community of people I'm going to suggest some of you are here, some of you are out there because you've read my books or my blog's in my newsletter and things that I've put out for years, and I have people now that we're going to talk about some of the concepts and khun certainly share some of these, you know, I have people now that talk about the marketing hourglass and strategy before tactics and my definition of marketing, so I've given really small business in a way and again there's lots of work to do still, but I've given small businesses in a way a common language and way to think about marketing the business and and whatever scale that you want to take your business you know that could be a really powerful a way for you to view marketing and building you're so have you created a methodology? Have you created a point of view about yoga and about exercise that really you khun bring two your customers even if even if it's something that you have to um you know now name and quantify and document and well, I come from a background of doing partner gymnastics on top of moving horses so it's a very sort of sounds like an incredible business, but you'd have to sell bait to something like so there's a lot of teamwork involved in a sport like that. So I enjoyed bringing a teamwork aspect to my t rex classes I'm figuring out how to do that with yoga classes a cz well, but I really enjoyed bringing a super practical aspect of whatever sport that it is that you play or whatever it is that you're trying to get better at in your ear your fitness schools to the classes that I work out so well do crow pose with your feet in the trx straps you know or we'll get in tree pose and you'll play catch with a medicine ball so that sounds dangerous nobody's last well so my point though is as I listen to you talk about this you have a point of view about how some of this stuff should be done and it's not everybody's point of view is no right and so that I think is you're brilliant opportunity to actually package that toe too you know because a lot of times when people come to you when you say yoga like I know what yoga's right whatever their impression is of it you know they've gained it from somewhere on dh so you're not doing yoga you know or you're not doing trx because again they may have read a book about trx and know what that is right so you're bringing a hold I believe at least justin listening to you you're you're using these tools to bring a whole new point of view about exercise and about preparation and about what it takes to meet your goals and I think that's the part that you have to make your own that you have to come up with your system your product your service that and you know one of the ways you could do this still is it sounds give them names right I mean to say this is r x y z you know process or whatever that you know that nobody else has ever dreamed of doing so that to me is is is the point of making again sometimes again we're talking about marketing and sales right? But if we don't have the actual what are we marketing? What are we selling then you're then you're basically falling you're going to fall into the commodity been with everybody else who at least says they're a deejay or says they do yoga right or says that they are photographer what we could open up a can of worms with that one can we with the commodity been right and so even you know I'm an address the photographers but but certainly photographers I mean now have a huge challenge right? Anybody with you say three thousand bucks now it's like eight hundred dollars you can have it semiprofessional gear right and call themselves a photographer same is true with with the deejay equipment I mean that's you can you know the programs and stuff you can buy online that used to cost thousands of dollars. So how do you create that you're magic your methodology your point of view and then make that the essence of everything that you do in terms of message in terms of marketing in terms of communication and selling so is everybody from the internet world that uh has chimed in on that idea? Well, we did have a question come up about trying to convey your story and your message that you have a very unique business and trying to get that out to your customer this comes from a playground, and they say that the stories to tell are so rich in long how do you take these stories of your unique business and convey it concisely so people will be interested in it? We're going to talk about that whole idea of content pretty pretty deeply. So do teo coming up, so don't go anywhere, but I mean, the biggest thing is is you start having versions of those you have to start telling them, right? There are instances where the big long story is what you need to tell. I mean, the one of things I'm going to suggest in this program is that you need to be getting on a stage like this are up front of the podium, you need to have those stories ready to tell, but there also are many versions of those stories that you can tell answer when somebody says, what do you do for a living, right? We're going to talk about that, you know, you that statement that could be really powerful, and it can be it won't be an entire story, but it could be a big part of how you actually get somebody interested in wanting to hear your story.