“You can teach people skills, but it’s hard to teach them
beliefs that match a particular culture.”

– Steve Napolitan

Today, I want to talk about how to have a winning culturein your business. One that your clients love, your staff love, and YOU love 😊

Having spoken internationally on the speaker circuit, I have actually heard other speakers and other people saying, “Don’t worry about your vision, mission, and values. It’s overrated now. Just start telling a story and go!”

I entirely disagree.Culture is important. Why?

Let me illustrate with a story. If you haven’t already read the book by Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness, then you simply must read it. Tony is the founder of Zappos. Prior to that, he owned a technology company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He sold it for like $300 million, split amongst him and his key partners.

Tony given 4 or 5 million dollars to stay on for two years to help facilitate the transition to the new ownership. And he couldn’t do it. He QUIT and gave them back the money and moved on.

Why? He HATED that company. Which is crazy. But because he didn’t love it, the millions of dollars he was offered was not enough incentive for him to stay on for two years!

That’s why culture is important. Because it’s NOT just about the money. Instead, it is much more about the culture. If you build the right culture, people are more willing to stay for less pay. Not that you won’t pay them well or above market rate.

But the point is—human beings are looking for a positive experience. And money is just one small partof the picture.

Back to the story. What had happened with that company of Tony’s, is whenever they needed a programmer, or they needed this position filled, they hired the best personfor that position based on their SKILL and EXPERIENCE. Even if they didn’t believe in the culture.

In the end, they ended up with people with lots of talent, but no emotional investment in the well being of their colleagues and the company itself.

Tony didn’t want to go into work there anymore. Because the whole experience was not fun!

Think about it. If the founder of the company isn’t even having fun at the company anymore…

… What do you think the rest of the staff is doing?

… What do you think your clients are feeling?

It affects everything.

But Tony learned from that experience. I had the opportunity to meet him at an event. He was launching Zappos and I remember some people at that event, after having some cocktails, were saying things like, “I can’t believe it, this guy’s an idiot. What woman is going to buy shoes online?”

Well, obviously Tony Hsieh proved them wrong and he built over a billion-dollar online shoe business. Here’s what he changed …

When he started building Zappos, if he needed a programmer, even if their programming skills were a bit off target, he employed the people that had more of the culture alignment.

You can teach people skills, but it’s hard to teach them beliefs that match a particular culture. It’s much more work to change someone’s beliefs or identity. It’s a lot easier to teach them skills.

Tony was willing to hire people that didn’t have all the skills that he necessarily wanted because he knew he could teach them that.

The NUMBER ONE thing he looked for somebody that connected with the vision, was all about the mission, and had the values that the company had.

Now, a lot of people get confused with VISION, MISSION, and VALUES. There are a lot of different definitions out there. I’ll help clarify:

  • Vision. Your vision is where you’re going to go.
  • Mission. Your mission is how you are going to get there.
  • Values. Your values are what you’re going to live by on the journey.

Just as an example, let’s say we’re going to take a trip to New York and I’m over here in California. I’m like, “We’re going to go to New York.” That’s the vision.

How are we going to get there? We’re going to do a road trip and it’s going to be epic. That’s our mission.

The third step is the values. That is, who do we let in the car? Who’s allowed in the car? That’s what your values are. You must define who’s allowed in your company, who are you going to work with, and you need to abide by it.

So, when you’re sitting in front of a client, does that client have the values you have? If they don’t, it’s probably not going to be a fun experience and you shouldn’t work with them.

When you’re hiring someone, do they believe in the vision, are they all about the mission, and do they carry the values?

Because if someone is deciding to get in the car and they’re going to ride with you, and they have stinky feet, and they refuse to wear shoes, then it’s a problem, right? Or if that person decides I’m not going to take a shower on the whole road trip. That might be outside of your values.

So, your homework is to define your vision, mission, and values. Get them crystal clear. That’s the FIRST step to creating a winning culture.

If you have questions or need help, feel free to comment on this post. I read every comment and I WILL respond! 😊

And remember …

Choose Gratitude Create Freedom

Steve Napolitan


(P.S. Tony Hsieh has made a merger or sold the company to Amazon, but he still works with Zappos because he loves the company now.)

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