“Super” Human Resources: How to Build a Company Culture that Performs. 10 Tips


You are a people manager.  You guide the strategy of your company (or department) and you realize how important culture is to taking your company to the next level.  So how do you take a deliberate approach to creating and cultivating your company culture? You take charge of it like a Captain of course.  Below I’ll share some insight I learned from when I used to lead organizational development & employee engagement initiatives in a previous life.

First, there are two key elements to building a great company culture. The first is creating an engaging environment where your employees want to come to work everyday. The second is creating the conditions where your employees are challenged, accountable, and have all the tools at their disposal to communicate and collaborate with each other.

1) Vision, Mission, & Values

As a leader, you must recognize that it all starts here.  This isn’t just the written text you see at the water cooler or on the front page of your company’s intranet site.  This is the stated direction that your company has set and represents the DNA of your company.  Own it.  It is your job to ensure these are words you embody everyday so your team will start to do the same.

2) Environment

Take a deliberate approach to designing the work environment your workforce is immersed in.  For example, if you want to create a culture of openness, then have people work in open spaces together. Central areas like work cafes or lounge areas where people can meet out in the open is also key.

3) Language & Stories

“We become what we talk about” so stories, slogans, and mantras are crucial, but as a leader you have to believe what you talk about.  If there is an example of an employee exhibiting the behavior of a core company value, it is your job to polarize the story so other people have a reference point.  The stories told in and outside your company not only support your culture, but they become the voice of your organizational culture.

4) Discipline

A key characteristic of driving any company culture is discipline. Without it, organizational habits desired by your company will never crystallize.  This comes from recruiting great talent with the right values, but also reinforcing discipline as a habit by being a performance driven culture.

5) Image

Does your company have a professional image it needs to maintain? Or is an important value of your company something like “fun” where it is important for everyone to portray a more relaxed look and feel? Which ever it is, it is important to have guidelines that are reinforced through your company’s communication channels.  This comes to dress code, the colors used on the walls, templates, etc.  Hold everyone accountable to standards defined by company management and make sure your team has a vested interest in image since it’s a large part of the message.

6) Open Finances

Alignment to the company strategy is the number one aspect of work that engages all us is our emotional connection with the company.  It is best to tell this strategy story in terms of numbers.  We need to feel that what we do everyday has some sort of effect on the company’s success.  Providing your employees messaging about where the company is going in the marketplace and how they are doing financially, has twice the effect over compensation as an employee engagement factor.  I know this because I proved it out statically in a global company with well over 10,000 employees.  Don’t be afraid to go deep in this area too.  Communicate productivity and waste goals to reinforce elements of the financials that may bear strategic or short-term opportunity.

7) Handle Ideas with White Gloves

One of the worst feelings someone can feel is that no one is listening to them or values their ideas.  The ideas in your employees heads are extremely valuable and if the correct ones are implemented and nurtured, it can have a transformational affect on your company.  As a leader, meet with your team frequently and talk about their ideas.  Listen, take notes, and implement what makes sense, or tell someone where their idea is at in the queue & encourage them that it is a great idea (if it is!). Most problems in the company, especially at the tactical level will be identified from your employees.  They are your central nervous system.  Since they will be the ones implementing them, better sure to have them suggest, analyze, and execute solutions on their own.  Give them autonomy.  They know what’s best from being closest to the problems.

8) Feedback, Feedback, Feedback…

This one reinforces point eight even more.  Ensure you have mechanisms in place for cultivating feedback from your employees.  These can be email boxes or suggestion forums on your company intranet. Fostering a culture of feedback not only will help get oxygen to areas of your organization that have been neglected, but it will engage and delight your employees.

9) It’s about Careers, not jobs

Just as strategy alignment is a more engaging factor than compensation, so is career development.  We all need to get the sense that we are going somewhere, moving forward, and growing.  It’s in our DNA to behave this way.  Ensure you organization has career development plans for every position in your company and review those paths against your company strategy at least twice a year.  This review process should be in sync with your performance management process since they go hand in hand.  Involve your teams in coming up with these plans.  The outcomes will be better if you do.

10) Reward & Recognition

Once you know what behaviors your company desires from each position in the company, ensure the right mechanics are there to support them.  This can be rewards, recognition, promotions, and bonuses. Recognition is by far more critical than the reward itself.  Most of us won’t ask for recognition, which makes it a hard personal need to fulfill.  Just remember that recognition must immediately follow the positive action, it must be public, and  most importantly, it must be sincere.


All in all, it is your job as a leader to be cognizant about the way the culture should be, taking a read on the current climate & behaviors of the organization, and closing gaps between the two that may exist.  Employees will watch what you do and not what you say.  So be deliberate about the organization habits that you want to see manifested and over time you will find your company take on the culture it set out to be.

How to Lead Like a Samurai: Leadership 101

Samurais are ideal leaders.  Their virtues for commitment, personal responsibility, contribution, focus, honesty, and honor make them ideal examples.  Samurai is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. As de facto aristocrats for centuries, samurai developed their own cultures that influenced Japanese culture as a whole.

For the Samurai, in some ways his decisions on how to succeed were relatively simple. He essentially had to harmonize a constituency of two – his Lord, and his “Bushido” code or value system. Obey both, or die. In fact, one could argue that the Samurai only had one master, his value system, as loyalty to the Lord was an intrinsic part of the code. Another constant of Samurai life was continual training for excellence. Harmonizing these things is a good lesson for today’s leader.

Below I will summarize 7 key points on how to lead like one of these noble leaders of excellence:

1) Pass the Leadership Test

Samurai followers have a bias for action, follow direction, and don’t care who gets the credit.  Most importantly, they know the value of sacrifice.

2) Avoid temptations

Samurai have such a self discipline.  They choose results over status and popularity.  They also choose certainty over clarity and harmony over productive conflict.

3) Samurai avoid the “Enemies of Growth”

By focusing on expectation, knowledge, certainty, teamwork, and action, Samurai always get the job done and lead their team to victory in battle.

4) Focus on Greatness

Discipline is key to greatness and greatness comes from the DNA and values of an organization.  True leaders (Samurai) can get people to do things even when they don’t have the power to MAKE them do it.  Great leaders view themselves within a constellation of colleagues rather than atop a hierarchy.   Great leaders (Samurai) are rigorous, not ruthless.

5) Sustainability

Tomorrow’s organization will become what today’s leaders (Samurai) are now.  Leaders need to operate in a healthy and sustainable way.  Leaders are more vulnerable.  Learn to spot your fatigue. Get rest, training (exercise), and good nutrition way before you need it.

6) The Currency of a Samurai

A position of leadership is a form of currency.  Great ideas are similar to great melodies.  You know a good one when you hear it.  Know where to spend your time and how to spread your good ideas.

7) These Things a Leader (Samurai) Must Do

Clearly define the objective(s), strategies, and plans (cast a vision).  Get people engaged (communicate and inspire).  Make the experience meaningful and memorable (make it personally relevant).  Run the race in such a way so as to be able to finish (operate in a sustainable manner)

Resilience in Entrepreneurship

Hey guys here in San Francisco and wanted to do a little entry for the day and one thing I want to talk about is basically resilience in entrepreneurship and being resilient as a founder. One thing that I heard a couple of years back and I think I was reading this from my Y Combinator/Paul Graham post, who was a founder and entrepreneur, essentially having extreme resilience every single day by not letting the feelings or perception of euphoria or terror get a hold of you. That means if good happens to the business, if something potentially not so desirable happens to the business your emotions don’t go with it, you’re staying even keel, so you’re not going through highs and ups and lows, and that’s the best way and that’s probably the most fatiguing element to an entrepreneur and founder that can happen. So, no matter what happens always stay focused and in the middle. Almost like a super soldier, almost, like a soldier mentality; probably the best one that’s out there. Anyway, I wanted to share that. The theme of resilience. Thank you.

The 4:30am Club

Hey guys, so what I wanted to talk a little bit about is the 4:30 a.m. club. Basically, the concept of waking up really super early is something you can train for. First of all you have to really determine, if you have a valid reason to wake up at 4:30 in the morning? I would say for most portion of my life, I think between high school and college, I did not feel like I really had a good reason unless it was like studying for an exam and there were days that I would go to bed at midnight and wake up at 3:30 thinking I was going to learn about four chapters worth of information in a short period of time.

I will share with you some thoughts, at a separate blog post, on how to consume lots of information in a very short period amount of time when you are constrained, whether it’s a textbook, whether it’s a chapter, whether it’s even just a one pager and how to memorize things in speed. But, the long story short waking up at 4:30 in the morning once you have your Y, which is a separate blog post that I did recently, it’s important to know what are some steps that you can take to wake up at 4:30 in the morning. First rule is, you’ve got to get to bed early. Some people struggle with getting to bed early. I always try and stay away from carbs and sugar close to bedtime. Eat your dinner kind of usually between six and seven. 

Don’t eat after seven. Start to have a bedtime ritual where you actually have comfortable clothes and your room is super cool. You can use the chili pad which is like this $600 device you can put on one side of the bed. It’s like water mat that cools it, does not wet it or anything like that, but cools the mattress down. Make sure there’s no lights in the room. Stop checking e-mail after a certain point I think this was just something I struggled with a little bit so after 7:45pm I stopped checking emails. Really find out what type of fiction or reading material you love. I love comic books and fiction always puts me to sleep. You can also just read as well. I love listening things and somehow when I start to listen to like comic books or stories about comics I start to doze off a little bit after like eight minutes. 

4:30am Club

Once I found out that it works, no matter how geeky that sounds, you go with it. Couple of other things, set your alarm for 4:30 and make sure you don’t hit snooze more than once or set it for like four twenty five and then it’s a short little snooze and you’re waking up at 4:30. Make sure that the night before everything is set up. I make sure I drink my shake and that it’s full of anti-oxidants nutrients. Put it in the fridge and if you have a Keurig or a coffee maker, reset up everything. I’ll share some of the supplements that I eat, like B-12 for example, put all of that in a little pill container. Put that by your shake and put that by your coffee. Once you are away. You probably want to start working right away. I have a stand up desk. I always just check all my stuff in the morning. Before I really check everything, I try and get my one or two tasks out of the way.

If you have workers or employees that have already started working in their time zone you need to be checking in with them first thing in the morning. I think it is really key. But, these are some tips to how to get up at 4:30 in the morning and how to make it a no brainer. You probably also want to lay your clothes out the night before. Every little thing, even maybe setting up the toothpaste and deodorant you’re going to use.

Once you’re up, you have a whole day ahead of you to plan your day. There is so much time there that you can use to plan your day, communicate with team members, get your meetings out of the way, so you can spend the rest of your day, which is kind of like what I’m doing right now, either having one on ones with clients, one on ones with team members, one on ones with partners, and just walking and talking and getting out in the sun and just building relationships which is really what your day should be about. If you’ve gotten to the point if your business where you have other people saying if you have other people supporting a client or other people building the products, as a CEO, that’s your one responsibility.

Anyway, once you find your rhythm, waking up at 4:30 in morning is a lot easier. All right. Thanks so much guys.

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen explains how AI will change the world

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen explains how AI will change the world

From AI, a Flipboard magazine by Tom Higley

Recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning are enabling computers to understand the world and respond…

Read it on Flipboard

Read it on vox.com