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Culture is defined as a set of characteristics, behavior, and knowledge of a particular group of people. Different cultures have different languages, histories, social structures, protocols, habits, and everything in between that make up that culture.

This definition of culture can easily scale down into micro groups of people, in this case companies.

The collective personality of the people who make up a company is one of the defining ways a brand is created. A brand is shaped by the people within it, and the culture of that group of people will further define how that brand is shaped.

Whether you’re on your own, in a twelve-person company, or leading 300 employees, a healthy company culture is vital to the success of your vision.

On today’s episode we’ll talk about why a healthy company culture is important and how to shape it into something that others will want to be part of.

Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins
  • Culture happens whether you want it to or not.
  • Maintain your brand’s culture or it will be created without your input.
  • A brand is shaped by the people inside of it.
  • Know what you want your company culture to be.
  • Hire people that fit the culture you want instead of trying to change somebody who doesn’t fit.
  • When you create a great company culture, your customers create a culture of their own.
  • Constantly keep your singular vision at the forefront of your team members’ minds.
  • Show care and empathy from the top down, because people are more important than production.
  • Make sure everyone on your team feels like they’re important, like they’re contributing toward the vision.
  • Shared experience is important because it creates specific bonds and memories between the people who had that experience together.
  • Work overtime to develop the kind of culture that you want for a remote team.
Show Notes
  • 04:11 Cory: Kyle, culture is one of my favorite things to talk about. I’m an American, Californian, and I live in Dublin, Ireland. I interact with people from varying cultures all the time. My wife and I are here with an organization. We do member care for missionaries and their teens, so we’re constantly traveling or interacting with people from different cultures or in different cultures. We’re going to different countries, meeting these kids where they’re at.
  • 04:46 The idea of culture is absolutely fascinating to me. You have this tiny little world that we live on, a tiny number of people—7.5 billion isn’t that many—and yet, culture is so interesting. You can go to the other side of your city, state, or country, and have something completely different. You might have some similarities here and there. We joke about that with the United States. It’s so big! You go to the north of California and the culture is very different from Southern California.
  • 05:25 That’s very different from Texan culture, and even in Texas, you’ve got all these micro-cultures. I love the idea of culture, thinking about it, learning about it, and studying it. I think it’s important, not even just for brands and companies, but in life. Having the perspective that people have different backgrounds, cultures, understandings, values, and beliefs helps us find commonality.
  • 06:02 If we’re only going forward saying, “This is the right way to do this. This is the only way, and everyone else who does it differently is the worst,” that won’t get you far in life. Your opinion isn’t the only opinion and your way isn’t the only way. I find it so fascinating to talk about, especially as we go forward in this show about company culture.
  • 06:29 Kyle: We talked about this a lot in the pre-show, and it was great. I do want to include this one thing. I really believe open conversations are important—being able to talk about your culture or someone else’s culture in an open way, where you can start to understand each other. In the pre-show, we talked about connection points a lot. It’s the common thing you share with someone else, where you can say, “I had that experience, too,” or, “I know about that brand as well.”
  • We have tight or loose similar experiences in life to the people around us, and once we find those things, we can create commonality with someone of a different culture.

  • 07:24 You can even start to bring together a culture within your brand. Be open to conversations and have open conversations about culture.
  • 07:36 Cory: Yes. That’s a great point. Be open minded as well. You can have a conversation, but if you go into the conversation with a closed mind, that’s not going to be super helpful. One of my favorite memories of this last year was going to seanwes conference. You could walk in the room, and you instantly knew that these were your people. It was a smallish group of about 115 people and I knew I could walk up to any of them and have a conversation, have a laugh, or make a joke.
  • 08:26 The way this conference was created and the kind of people it attracted created a micro-scale culture. That was amazing. It was one of my favorite experiences. As a reminder, before May 25th, you can save $500 on registration for seanwes conference 2017, and that’s going to be at the end of September in Austin, Texas. If you’re not registered, definitely register before the 25th of May, before the price goes up.

What Is Culture?

  • 09:01 Cory: That’s what we want to talk about. What is culture? Why is a healthy culture in your company important? We’ll talk about some tips for promoting a healthy culture. I also want to talk a little bit about digital culture. More and more companies are moving to this digital model, because the internet is creating a realm where companies are spread out all over the world. I want to talk about that as well.
  • Culture happens whether you want it to or not.

  • 09:39 When you bring people together toward a singular purpose, bonds form, language evolves, and culture comes forth. This could be at macro-scale, at a national level, or a geographical level, but also on a micro-scale, with companies, organizations, families, neighborhoods, or cities. You can bring it all the way down to look at things like families. My family culture is a little bit different from your family culture. We have our own set of values. We have our own set of knowledge.
  • 10:25 We have our own set of experiences, social structures, protocols, habits, and everything in between. We have our own language. How many people in a family have their own way of talking to each other? I call my wife K. I call my daughter Melody “Ducky.” I call Rylynn “Nugget.” There are these micro-languages that evolve there. Culture happens whether you want it to or not, as a company, a brand, or an institution of any kind. This can be true for even one person.
  • 11:06 If you have your own thing, you still have a culture within your company, within whatever you’re doing. It’s always going to be there. I wanted to bring that in. What is culture at a macro scale, micro scale, or whatever? Kyle, can you say that? Kyle wrote something in the chat.
  • 11:29 Kyle: Sometimes, when my wife and I are joking around or in a good mood, we’ll call each other “Bro.” Don’t ask me why. It’s weird, but it’s us.
  • 11:44 Cory: It’s not weird to me, because I call all of the women in my family “Bro.” My wife, my girls. All the time.
  • 11:53 Kyle: I’m glad I’m not alone in this.

You Can Shape Your Brand’s Culture

  • 12:01 Cory: Culture is going to happen whether you want it to or not, because it’s just the natural outpouring of people getting together. As you move forward, know that as a result of people uniting for a singular purpose, something is going to happen. You can move that in certain directions and craft that into a particular culture as you scale.
  • 12:27 Kyle: Honestly, I think a lot of brands and companies don’t want to face this. The people who work for you, and we haven’t mentioned this, but also the culture of the people who purchase from you, will be controlled by how you present things. I hate to say that you completely control it, because there isn’t 100% control over that.
  • You either maintain your brand’s culture or it’s created without your input, like employees bonding over how they don’t like the way you’re doing things.

  • 13:08 As terrible as that is, I’ve seen companies like that. The commonality seems to be that everyone dislikes their job. It’s not like, “We feel good here.” It’s important to have those activities you do, as cheesy and silly as a lot of them are. When you’re at a corporate job, there are random events all the time that are meant to foster a certain culture within the company. Maybe it’s a picnic where you go as a family and you hang out, and there’s some random sack race or something weird.
  • 13:51 They’re trying to foster that culture. By doing that, they’re creating a stronger bond within the company for those who are dedicated to it. They have this sense of belonging and connection. They’re generating the shared experiences that I mentioned at the beginning of this. They’re bringing everyone together outside of work to do things and experience things together, and that a common bond. At seanwes, where Cory and I both work, we were all part of the Community before we became employees.
  • 14:29 We all got to know each other before that, so it feels more like a family. I feel less like I’m in a company and more like I’m with friends and family. I’m in this group that’s trying to work on something together, and that’s important.

Culture & Vision

  • 14:51 Cory: I love that word that you used, Kyle—belonging. That’s one of the reasons why healthy culture is so important. I saw this interesting illustration the other day. It wasn’t even a relevant article, but it got me thinking, because you and I were talking about the featured image for this particular episode. It was this illustration of an atom. At the middle, you have the nucleus. That’s at the center. Then you have all these protons and electrons flying around it. You have this thing at the middle, and then you have everything else that surrounds it. All of that makes up the atom.
  • At the heart of your brand is your vision.

    Your vision is how you want the world to be as a result of your work.

  • 16:15 That is at the core. That’s at the middle of everything you do, everything you’re about. Everything else rotates around it—the people, your values, the things you will and won’t do, your mission, and the output. Culture is what holds all of that together. It’s the gravity that keeps everything locked in. Culture is the glue that holds all of those parts together. If you want to see your vision come true, you need people on board with your vision. You need team members, employees, partners, whatever.
  • 17:22 Everyone needs to be on board with the vision. When you have people coming forth in a singular purpose and you create an environment where they have belonging, that fosters loyalty. That is where healthy culture starts. You have people who are on board with the vision who feel belonging, who feel like they’re part of something bigger. This makes them want to come to work. Dare I say it, they’re excited to come to work.
  • 18:01 These are people who want to help the company be the best it can be. Those are the people you want to be part of this culture. All of that makes up the floaty bits of this entity that is your company. It’s all held together by culture.

Culture Unites Towards a Common Goal

  • 18:24 Kyle: I have to be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but I think of a group of people climbing a mountain. Imagine you get five people together and you say, “We’re going to climb this mountain. We need a team, because a single person can’t get there by themselves.” You assemble this team, and you’re like, “We’re going to summit the mountain. We’re going to get all the way to the top.” There’s a vision, a goal, and a commonality.
  • 18:56 Everyone has come together because they believe in that common goal of getting to the top. Once you’re there with them, you meet everyone, and you start talking with them, you start to feel like you can do this, that you have a strong team. Once you start climbing that mountain, there are going to be rough times. Someone is going to slip at some point. Someone is going to stub their toe or be too tired to keep going, so everyone has to wait for a little bit.
  • 19:33 Maybe someone runs out of water, so someone has to share water with them. Whatever it is, something is going to happen along the way. If you have a tight culture there, they know the vision. They know they want to get to the top, and there’s this sense of, “We’re all in this together. We have to do this together. We can’t do this by ourselves. If we don’t stick with this team, nobody is going to make it.” That’s a survival situation, but it’s the same with a culture where they understand the vision.
  • 20:04 I know that tomorrow, for example, if I call Sean McCabe, our boss, and say, “I’m out. See you later,” and I drop off the team, there’s something missing now. The whole team would have to put out fires and try to figure things out. It would be a struggle. Likely, you could keep going, but there would be something missing, and that extra person to help pull the rope is gone. When you lose that, it’s a challenge.
  • When you have a tight culture, you don’t want to leave without warning.

  • 20:44 I don’t want to make you, Cory Miller, have to work more, because I’m not keeping up with the team or things aren’t happening. Our team culture at seanwes is very much like that. We all try to go beyond what we’re doing and help other people with what they’re working on, so we can get to the goals we’re looking at. That’s a really strong company culture.
  • 21:11 Cory: That’s super important. All of that toward the betterment of the company and the brand. How a brand comes together and how people see it is shaped by the people inside of it. The culture of that group of people will further define how that brand is shaped. When you have a handful of people—one person, two people, twelve, 400, 8,000—all on board with a singular vision and they’re all working toward that, the more you scale, the harder that becomes. If that is your goal and the kind of culture that you want, that will lead toward the achievement of the goals that you’ve set.

Promote a Healthy Culture

  • 22:03 Cory: That’s a good segue into some tips for promoting a healthy culture. Know what you want your culture to be. If you’re the leader of a team, a company, or whatever, you have the ability to shape that culture, as long as you know what you want that to be. It can be things like transparency, trustworthiness, flexibility, quality. If you want there to be openness, if you want it to be fun, if you want people to be excited about coming back to work, if you want to be lenient—knowing what you want your culture to be at your company is a great place to start.
  • Hire people that fit the culture you want instead of trying to change somebody who doesn’t fit.

  • 22:58 In fact, we just released a new workshop called Hiring Bootcamp. It’s a three part workshop on building a team. It’s really fantastic. If you’re a Community member, a seanwes member, you get access to that for free. It’s in the Vault. HiringBootcamp.com. It’s fantastic. Sean talks about hiring the right people, when to hire, getting your money right, and things like that.
  • 23:27 It’s really good. Ashley asked earlier, “What can you do when you have a ‘bad egg’ on the team, or someone becomes one? How can that be fixed?” The harsh truth is that if you bring on someone that’s perfect for the job on paper but is completely opposite when it comes to the kind of environment you want to create, that’s not a good strategy. I’m a firm believer in second and sometimes third chances. I want to believe the best in people.
  • If you give someone a chance to change and adapt to your company culture and they don’t, you might need to fire that person.

  • 24:15 That’s a harsh way of saying that. I wish there was a better way of saying that, letting that person go—because you want to accomplish the vision. It depends on the person’s heart. Do they want to be part of this vision? Do they want to be part of what you’re about and what you’re doing, or are they just looking for a paycheck? Nicholas says, “Help them transition away from your company, like United.” We’ll “re-accomodate” you.

Company Culture & Customer Culture

  • 24:47 Kyle: It gets harder at scale. Once you’re big, it gets harder. It’s not impossible. We’re talking about culture here, so that’s where I’m going to go. I know that there are differences in not only the sizes of these brands I’m about to mention, but also, potentially, their goals. I talk about Local Coffee here in town all the time. I love them. If you’re ever in San Antonio, go to Local Coffee. It’s a fantastic place.
  • 25:20 There’s Local Coffee, and then there’s Starbucks. They’re different companies, but the culture when it comes to employees, the reflection of those brands, is much different in my mind and in the minds of many other people I know. You go to Local Coffee, and the employees feel like friends, even from the second time you go in there, and sometimes even the first time you go in there. They are friends themselves.
  • 25:57 Many times, I’ll see a couple of them that I follow on Instagram hanging out with all of the employees. They’re friends. They’re friends outside of work, they care about each other, and they appreciate the goals of the company they work for. They appreciate making good coffee. They want to take care of people. They’ll remember your name. They remember almost every customer’s name, they say hi, and it’s not just like you’re a customer. You’re a friend.
  • 26:28 That’s on the part of the owners of Local Coffee. They’ve done a fantastic job hiring the right people that mesh together, communicate well, and all of those things. As far as how this reflects on you as a brand outside of your company culture, it’s those kinds of things. You go to Starbucks, and sometimes you get a really friendly person who’s nice, but they probably won’t remember you the next time you come in. They have a lot of traffic. Things happen. Or, they’re just there to get a paycheck.
  • 27:03 Sometimes, you go in, and there’s a different vibe. There’s someone who doesn’t really care to be there. “Hey. What can I get you?” They’re ready to take your order and get on with it. Understanding where that’s at with your brand is so important. In volume of sales, I’m sure Starbucks far surpasses Local Coffee, even within the city I’m in. That culture is going to take them far. You feel like you can go there, hang out, and talk to people, and you’re not inconveniencing anyone.
  • 27:48 They know you. It’s a familiar place. They’ve somehow managed to do that at every location they’ve made. This isn’t a one location coffee shop. I think they’re up to five locations now, and at every single one, you feel the same. I wanted to highlight that. We’ve talked a lot about building that inside of your company.
  • When you create a great company culture, your customers create a culture of their own as well.

  • 28:26 Look how dedicated people are to Apple, Google, or whatever. They’re ridiculously dedicated to these brands, because they’ve got a sense of that culture. There is a culture brewing within all of the customers, who aren’t even participating in building the company.
  • 28:48 Cory: You talk about food or coffee, and like we talked about earlier, culture happens whether you want it to or not. When you bring people together towards a singular purpose, that singular purpose might be having and enjoying coffee, a great burger, or a kale spinach wrap that non-meat eaters eat. All of that stuff just happens. Depending on how you act, what your vision is, what your values are, and how you promote that within your company, will outpour into a customer culture, an audience culture.
  • You have a hand in shaping your audience’s culture, but it’s also a natural outpouring of your brand’s culture.

  • 29:49 Nicholas says, “We always over-complicate our visions. It’s great to look at a simple vision, like, ‘Enjoy coffee,’ and accept that it’s enough.” I think that’s true. You can have really big visions like, “I want to change the industry for the better, and everyone will know my name for the next 4,000 years,” but there are some who are like, “We want to provide a place with a great atmosphere, where people can enjoy great coffee, and they don’t have to compromise on that.” That’s a great vision. That’s totally fine.

Promote Healthy Company Culture

  • 30:21 Cory: Eugene asked, “How do you foster the singular vision?” We’ve talked about the nucleus of the vision, and that comes from having the vision front and center as much as possible. That’s in the interview, if you do an interview. That’s at team meetings. That’s on posters on the wall, if you have a physical location. That’s continuously referring back to it.
  • Constantly keep your singular vision at the forefront of your team members’ minds.

  • 30:59 That acts as a litmus test. You’re like, “This person is doing this thing that’s not really building a culture that’s going to amplify and complete the vision.” That goes back to having people on your team who fit the culture and can help shape the culture toward the vision, rather than someone who’s like, “They’re a really good developer, even though they’re the worst person and everyone hates them, but they write good code.”
  • 31:24 That’s not going to hep promote good, healthy company culture. Another thing that’s really important for promoting a healthy culture is empathy and care from the top down. If there’s anything I can say that matters the most when it comes to the idea of company culture, it’s this:
  • People are more important than production.

  • 31:51 The people who are on your team, in your company, the people you’re reaching, that you want to help, that’s more important than the things. The various industrial revolutions over the last few centuries have turned a lot of cultures into ones that prize production above all else. Cool stuff doesn’t keep people excited about working. You can have a Foosball table and a vending machine that’s totally free, perks, and so on, but that doesn’t get people excited about working.
  • 32:29 They might think, “I have benefits and stuff. Cool. I’ll stay,” but it doesn’t get them excited about the vision. An environment that encourages people to become their best gets people excited about the vision. That gets them excited about working. That gets them excited about the vision. That gets everyone on board, and it builds toward accomplishing something that’s greater than themselves.
  • 32:53 Kyle: You’re going to get a better result from people who are interested in your brand anyway. People who are passionate about what they’re doing and feel like they’re part of something will give you a higher output with less people. At a company I worked at before, that was one of the things that, as employees, we got frustrated with. It seemed like they would hire just to get more bodies in the seats, to get more people in there. Throw more people at it, and that will solve the problem!
  • 33:32 That’s not really the case. We had this small team of people that I worked with on a project—three or four of us—and we did this huge project that took another team doing a similar thing with 20 people. We did this huge project and we got it done really fast. Everyone was like, “You did this super fast and super well! We want to look at your methods and how you went through this and how you got production done.” We were like, “We mesh well.”
  • 34:04 “We work well together. We wanted to get this done.” You can’t come up with a recipe for that. It’s about us connecting and being a united front to get toward this goal we wanted to get to. You can’t just produce that out of nowhere. You have to hire to create a culture in either the department or the entire company that you’re trying to work on something for. Otherwise, they’re not a team. They’re just like, “You want me to write some Javascript? Okay. I’ll go do that real fast.”
  • 34:38 They write it. Then they’re like, “Oh yeah. We forgot this function.” It’s like a robot. “Oh, okay. I’ll add that, I guess.” It’s not intentional. They’re not in it to create something. That’s fine. Not everybody fits into a culture. Someone isn’t necessarily a bad egg because they don’t fit in a certain culture—they may fit really well in a different one.
  • 35:06 Cory: That’s a great way to look at it.
  • 35:10 Kyle: It’s so important to have that. So many companies overlook that. They’re like, “More people equals more production,” and really, that’s not always the case.

Company Culture for Extroverts & Introverts

  • 35:24 Cory: Cecile asked a question earlier about, “How do you maintain a culture when a lot of companies are for extroverts?” It’s like, “Alright guys, we’re going to do this really fun activity! Everyone, put down your work. We’re going to go do an activity.” There are a lot of people who are thinking, “I don’t want to do an activity. Don’t make me do activities. I don’t want to do the gunnysack races. I don’t want to do an apple bob. I’m in the middle of writing code.”
  • It’s so important to have empathy and care from the top down.

  • 36:09 The most important thing is that you help your people, your team, feel like they’re contributing well and like they’re part of something bigger, like what they do matters, that they matter. That’s how you do that. It’s not about the things. Shared experience and interaction are really important. I really believe in that, but there isn’t a prescription. It could just be, “Hey, let’s get together and have a conversation. Let’s go out for coffee.”
  • 36:42 It doesn’t have to be these team-building activities. Not everyone wants to do team-building activities. It does matter that people feel like they’re contributing well. It matters that they feel heard. It matters that they feel important. That can be really hard, especially if you’re at a higher level, whether you’re a CEO, a manager, or a PM. That does take time, energy, and effort.
  • As a leader in your brand, it’s worth it to make sure that everyone who’s on your team feels like they’re important, like they’re contributing toward the vision.

  • 37:29 That’s really important. We can talk about shared experiences, and we’ll talk about that next. Jordan in the chat said, “Surprise! Instead of the down time on the schedule during this work trip, we’re all going to go mini golfing. Yay team building!” She said, “I really had this happen. I wanted to die.” You have to leave room for people who don’t want to do that.
  • 37:53 Kyle: The best thing I’ve seen is companies who are like, “We’re going to do this thing. If you want to participate, come along. If you want to be an onlooker, that’s fine. We’re going to be in the same room, but you don’t have to be a participant.” I think that’s really helpful for introverts. I’m speaking for myself here, being a little bit more to the wall, I like that. If Cory and I were at a team building event, and you wanted to go dance on the table like a chicken, because that’s part of the team building exercises, I would enjoy the comedy of that.
  • 38:41 I would sit there and enjoy that and feel like I’m part of the team, even though I wasn’t participating in that. The key is to understand that not participating doesn’t always mean not caring. My wife is a teacher, and sometimes there are kids that don’t want to participate in some kind of group activity. Every time that happens, I ask her, “Did they say, ‘I don’t care about this,’ or did they just want to watch?” She says, “They just want to watch.”
  • 39:14 I’m like, “They’re probably an introvert, and they want to experience things vicariously through someone who’s more outward in their expression. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to be a part of it.”
  • Let introverts sit on the sidelines and experience activities through someone else—that can bring them into a group activity.

  • 39:41 Cory: That’s why I love the phrase “shared experience.” That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll go out and sing karaoke and dance like chickens. That’s not necessarily what it means. I’m immediately thinking about working with teenagers, because I’ve been doing that for so long. In working with teens, it’s so hard to produce environments where shared experiences can be enjoyed and engaged in with a large variety of people.
  • 40:14 You have a lot of people with different backgrounds. You can say, “Alright, we’re going to do this really fun game with pool noodles,” and you have people on the outside who are like, “I don’t want to play with pool noodles.” You’re like, “Hey, let’s go on a hike,” and you have some other people who are like, “I don’t want to go on a hike. I want to play with pool noodles.” The other people are like, “I’ll go on a hike. Sounds fun.” Then you have other people who are like, “Let’s just sit together and be in this room together. Let’s make this fire and sit in silence.”
  • Shared experience is important because it creates specific bonds and memories between the people who had that experience together.

  • 40:51 That’s why conferences are so important. That’s why, in companies, if you’re a small enough company where you can have a retreat, that’s really important, especially in the digital company culture where there are people all over the place. Having a retreat, something where everyone gets together in the same space, is really important. It’s not even just important because it’s better for your team and your vision, it’s important for people.

People Need People

  • 41:19 Cory: People are not meant to live in isolation. I know the introverts might react to this, but we have to deal with other people. That’s the way humanity is. Go read a science book. There aren’t these cookie-cutter ways. You have to know your team. Be empathetic. Care about your team. Have meetings that don’t suck. In fact, I think there’s a book with that name. Make sure they’re not the worst. Have meetings where you’re talking with people, and it’s not just, “Alright everybody. Let’s talk about page four, volume six, of the new company handbook.”
  • We’re all people, so get on calls, sit in a room together, and get a cup of coffee.

  • 42:08 This is why a lot of brick and mortar places have a hang out place, a commons area, where you get your nasty ham sandwich you made three days before. It has mold on it, but you don’t care. You’re hanging out with Jerry, and he’s like, “Hey, how’s your moldy ham sandwich?” You’re like, “How is your dad? I remember you telling me that he was in the hospital.” “Oh, he’s doing great.” This is how bonds form, how relationships form.
  • 42:42 That’s why it’s so difficult to develop relationships in this current state of the world, where everyone’s on their phones. If you’re on your phone, you can’t develop relationships as well as you can with other people. I want to hang out with Jerry. Jerry sounds cool. But if Jerry is on his phone not talking with me, that’s not cool. We’re not going to build a relationship. If we don’t have a relationship, we aren’t going to work well together.
  • 43:05 Shared experience is really important. Interaction is really important. If you just got some guy on the other side of the world spitting code back at you or delivering work, great, you have some work, but that won’t promote good, healthy company culture. Shared experiences give you things to talk about.

Doing Meetings Well

  • 44:16 Kyle: Do you know who does a really good job of meetings? Did you ever work retail anywhere?
  • 44:28 Cory: I worked at a cell phone store, so I guess it was retail, but it was a small room.
  • 44:32 Kyle: I worked at Best Buy. We would have these morning warm up meetings. I don’t know if it was because everyone was standing and it was at the front of the store, but it was kind of like a pep rally, like, “Get ready for the day!” That actually was a beneficial meeting. Sometimes, we were like, “Ugh, we’re going to the meeting where we stand at the front,” but it was helpful. It was an engaging meeting. It wasn’t just, “Alright, we’re going to run through some numbers real fast.”
  • 45:07 It was like, “Let’s get ready for the day.” They did talk about numbers, but they were getting you ready to interact with other people. That’s something key to remember when you have meetings, when you’re trying to get your culture across. Some meetings will be boring, let’s be honest. They happen.
  • At meetings where you’re trying to get people more engaged with your brand or more invested in working for you, inject fun into it and prep them to work with other people.

  • 45:49 Cory: Jonathan mentioned in the Community, “Being polite and respectful and communicating is so important.” That’s why it has to come from the top down. You have to know your people. You have to talk with them and communicate with them. You have to know, “I know Kevin is an introvert over there. I know Cynthia is an extrovert. There are different ways that they’re going to connect, that I’m going to connect with them.”
  • 46:21 Team building is another huge conversation we don’t have time for, but know and communicate with your people, and remember that they’re people. It’s not just, “There’s my employee,” but they’re a team member. We’re part of a singular vision. We’re part of something bigger.
  • Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something bigger.

  • 46:44 We want to feel like what we do matters. That’s really important.

Digital Culture

  • 46:53 Cory: This is a whole other conversation that would take a long time, but it’s really important. It’s certainly something that is really relevant and on my heart. For digital companies, culture is hard. If all or most of the team members of your company are online, you have to be way more intentional with developing the kind of culture that you want. If Kyle and I are working together and I have the moldy sandwich, all of a sudden, there’s a moment and a bond that’s formed from that moment.
  • 47:32 Whereas, if I’m logging into the team room and saying, “Okay Kyle, I gave you the summary you’re going to need for the featured image,” and you’re like, “Thank you. We’ll have that done by the end of the day,” what is that doing? That’s not building relationship. Kyle and I have done this sometimes where we’ll open up Skype on another monitor in a corner and we’ll just work, but we’ll be with each other.
  • 48:00 I’ll do something, I’ll laugh about it, and Kyle will say, “What are you laughing about?” I’m like, “Someone sent me a text that was just an emoji of a chicken nugget.” You’re like, “Chicken nugget? There isn’t even an emoji for that.” I’m like, “I know, that’s so dumb. How did they get a chicken nugget emoji? That’s ridiculous.” Suddenly, there’s this culture that we’re able to participate in.
  • 48:20 There’s this relationship we’re about to build. For a digital, remote company, it’s really hard. I’ll say this for myself. Of the team, my wife and I are the furthest away from everyone else that’s on the seanwes team. seanwes is based mostly in Texas. There are three people, Sean, Cory, and Laci, who work in the same place. Kyle, you live in the same city, but you’re still in your home. Then there’s Aaron. He lives up near Dallas, near Fort Worth.
  • 48:58 He’s got his own place. Then you’ve got Justin, who’s in Arizona. Then you have me and Kristiana, way over here in Ireland. As we move forward, we’re going to be hiring more people in Texas, Europe, Asia, Canada, and anywhere. Now, not only are you bringing together different people, but you’re bringing together different cultures as well. You have this automatic, significant divide that you have to overcome, which is the digital world.
  • Video calls are good for reducing the digital divide, but they’re not enough.

  • 49:47 You can talk about, “Someday we’ll all have VR headsets, and we’ll all work in the same room.” That’s not going to be enough. People need people. We need other people. If you have a digital company where people are spread out and remote, you need to work overtime to help your team feel like they’re part of something bigger, like what they’re doing matters. Make sure that they feel cared for. Make sure that they feel like they’re part of a team, like they’re not just a cog in some machine.
  • 50:16 If your people feel like cogs in a machine, there’s something broken in your company culture, and you need to fix it. Those are my thoughts on digital culture. It’s something that weighs heavily on me, being so far away from you guys. It weighs heavy on me as well, because I know the feeling of being separate from the people that I know, like my family and my friends. The separation is the obvious thing.
  • 50:43 We have to work overtime to make sure we’re building the kind of connection that helps us all work toward the vision. That’s the truth when you have a remote company or remote employees.
  • 50:58 Kyle: I feel the need to be the voice for introverts here. There are probably plenty of people who are more introverted. Realistically, I imagine that a lof of the people listening right now don’t necessarily work remote. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but I imagine that a lot of people don’t. I know this feeling, being on the other side. It’s like, “If I worked remote, it would be great. I don’t have to always interact with the team. I can be by myself.”
  • 51:36 It sounds good for someone who’s more to themselves, but in reality, you start really craving that. I have that issue quite often. Fortunately, I have a monthly meeting with a friend here in town. I’m also starting to do monthly meetings with Cory McCabe, who’s also on the seanwes team. We meet up in person and have those conversations. Even with Skype calls, at least take it to that depth.
  • If you’re working remotely as an introvert, you may not realize what you’re missing in human interactions.

  • 52:17 Sarah in the Community, she and I have talked for years online. We met at the seanwes conference, and I don’t feel like we got to sit down and talk like I wanted. I had some health issues during the conference last year, so I wasn’t in with the crowd as much as I wanted to be. There were a lot of people I wanted to meet and talk to. She and I were on a call the other day, and we got completely side tracked on the meeting and talked for two hours about something completely unrelated to our meeting.
  • 52:58 It was great. There was more of a connection there. Even though we’ve talked to each other for two or three years online, that two hours of talking almost in person, on Skype, was much different. There was more of a connection there, because things just come up. You’re not worried about, “I’m typing this. Does this sound weird? Is this not contextual?” You’re just talking and having conversations. It’s really important to do that.
  • 53:32 Cory: Seeing people’s faces is so important. We’ve talked about the importance of video and all of that. When Kyle and I are talking on a call, we don’t usually put the video on Skype. We’re obviously in different places. Such different conversations happen when we have video on and we’re looking at each other. We aren’t just disembodied voices. I’m like, “Oh, there’s Kyle. We’re talking. We’re having a conversation. I can see the nuance in your face as you say words.”
  • 54:07 This is how relationships form. There is a lot to be said for that. You have to be intentional. If you’re not the owner of the company or the manager of a brand, if you’re a team member, you can help build into this as well. If you know the vision and you have an idea of what everyone wants that brand to be, everyone builds into that.

Connect With Your Audience

  • 54:49 Kyle: This relates to culture in a different way, the culture you have with the people in your audience. Bridge that gap and get them excited about the culture you have, even if it’s slightly different internally. I’m guilty of not doing this as much as I should. The times I’ve done it, I’ve been really glad that I did. If you’re building an audience-driven business, and you have an audience member that’s replying to you, that likes a lot of your stuff or shares a lot of your stuff, reach out to that person.
  • 55:30 Get on a Skype call. As weird and intimidating as that might seem, it’s so different. You see someone in front of you. You get to talk to them. It’s different than trying to have some kind of interaction, even through private messages online. It’s a different experience, and it’s so beneficial, because you get to get a sense for the people who enjoy what you’re doing. Not only that, if they’re following you and really enjoying what you’re doing, you also deepen that relationship. Who in the world reaches out to you that you follow and says, “I want to have a call. Let’s talk about stuff.” That doesn’t happen that often.