Thoughts on Culture by the Team at See.Spark.Go.

#PLYWORD BLOG: CULTURE
BY: Monique Jacques & Brittany Thoms, See.Spark.Go

A company culture reflects the passions, challenges, hopes and history of its collective team and mission. At See.Spark.Go, we work diligently to create a culture of high fives, fun, genuine care and say-it-with-me, “hard work!”

We believe that doing work that matters is a product of a culture where both results and relationships win. Without both, you’re either boring or just plain friends. So, while day in and day out we’re professional storytellers, thought-leader champions, vision constructors, platform builders and microphone stands, rallying digital audiences and methodically and creatively engaging raving fans, we’re doing it with the music on, the laughter flowing and our heels kicked up (or off!) every now and then!

As Plywood always says, “It’s hard work changing the world.”

So, how do you cultivate a healthy culture in a work environment or even just your personal community?

It all starts with attitude. Can do. Believe it. Achieve it. Find joy and passion in it. Attitude.

Leaders do not simply train team members in how to accomplish tasks, they also show them how to communicate, problem solve and resolve conflict in a professional, caring way.

Ask yourself—do I show my team that I believe in them? That I believe in the projects we are doing together? Do I put myself first? Or focus on equipping others? Do I challenge others to be better versions of themselves? Or do I hinder them?

When people feel known and empowered, celebrated and cheered on, they confidently take risks and work with tenacity. Feeling isolated, unheard or unequipped makes everyday challenges much larger, and we all would retreat in that environment. People over tasks, and healthy culture will follow. Tasks, too.

So, have fun, be honest, invite others in, enjoy the process and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

-Your friends at See.Spark.Go are here to help.

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10 Points on Culture by Billy Boughey, Elevate Live Events

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Culture is the most important metric in business. At Elevate, we view our hiring process, business strategies, and scope of work through the lens of our company culture. We intentionally design a team and environment that go hand in hand with our company vision. People should know our core values by looking at our team and how we interact with one another and our clients.
 
Positive organizational culture takes effort to create and maintain. Our core values are: Relationships, Remark-ability, Enthusiasm, Initiative, and Bravery. We greet delivery drivers by name, celebrate guests, and even break into dance parties when appropriate. Also, we foster growth by participating in team-wide book discussions, attending relevant conferences, and diving into leadership opportunities. 

Culture doesn’t happen by chance. It’s intentionally created and designed. 

Quick Culture Points:
1) Think for your team (Schedule, team building & growth opportunities) 
2) Put time aside weekly to encourage your team with your words.
3) Challenge team members one-on-one who have an issue with someone else on your staff. Don’t let lower emotional maturity seep into your culture. 
4) Be real, share your struggles and don’t shy away from honest conversations.
5) Assume the best in people.
6) Prioritize fun. 
7) Celebrate things that matter to others and not only what matters to your business model.
8) Speak life into people.
9) Your “NOs” are more important than your “YESs”
10) Always welcome ideas from your team. This fosters creativity and leads to momentum and buy-in. 

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On Culture by Bryan Miles, BELAY

A lot of people confuse culture with a company’s external characteristics — a ping-pong table in the breakroom, flip-flops and longboards cruising the hallways. And while these things might be expressive of an organization’s culture, they aren’t culture in and of themselves.

To me, culture is the force which rallies ordinary people around a shared and extraordinary goal. A cohesive culture can bring people together regardless of age, background, or beliefs, to accomplish something much greater than themselves. It is the framework which unifies and guides the actions of a group.

Which might sound pretty rosy and romantic, but in practice, culture is tricky.

At BELAY, we have a very strict “no gossip” policy. And by strict, I mean no exceptions, no excuses. That policy is a central tenant of our culture, and for culture to actually carry weight, it has to be consistent. And because of that, we’ve actually had to let otherwise fantastic people go for breaking that policy just once.

It’s not about being authoritarian or vindictive. It’s about understanding that culture defines everything we do, and it is only in sharing in that culture that we can truly reach our goals.

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is thinking that they’re somehow exempt from that sharing. A leader that doesn’t “walk the walk”, so to speak, is the easiest and most effective way to undermine a culture.

As a leader, you can’t ask people to do things that you wouldn’t do yourself. If you are unwilling to abide by and uphold the culture you promote, then you can’t expect anyone else to. That includes big stuff like following the employee code of conduct, and the little things like demonstrating gratitude and being patient. As a leader, you can’t just speak culture into existence. You have to will it into being, every single day, through action.

In the case of our no-gossip policy, that kind of intentionality can be challenging. But there’s another side to that coin.

We recently hired a woman who had been looking for work for a long time. One night, she was lying in bed with her husband and browsing through job listings on her tablet. When she came upon BELAY’s website, she turned to her husband and said, “I’m done looking for work.”

He was a little confused at first, but she explained that she’d found the place where she wanted to work, and nothing else would do. Nine months later, she joined BELAY.

Her story is pretty exceptional, but it illustrates one of the main reasons why culture matters — not many places have it. By establishing a consistent, meaningful culture, BELAY attracts the kind of passionate employees that most organizations can only dream of. And once they’re here, they stay.

This year, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked BELAY number one among all small companies for top company culture. My mom told me I should never gloat, but that ranking is something I’m incredibly proud of. To me, it’s worth far more than bombshell quarterly earnings or major contract acquisitions. It shows that the people we work with, and the people we serve, find meaning in what we do that goes beyond our earnings.

It’s also a testament to the fact that culture isn’t bound by geography. As a 100% remote organization, BELAY has had to invest extra effort into establishing and cultivating our culture. But with the power of modern technology — and a little bit of creativity — we’ve been able to overcome the challenges.

In addition to our bi-annual summits, we also enjoy the occasional “virtual happy hour”, and always prioritize video calls over voice. Most importantly, though, we remain clear and intentional about our culture, and trust one another to uphold it.

I’m confident that, as long as we continue to prioritize culture, the rest will come naturally.

Dignity by Tiffany Trivett

Tiffany Trivet

Dignity: the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.
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I finished “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, a seriously remarkable book, in just two hours. The best words for it are: Drinkable and Clarifying. Drinkable because it is eloquently written. Clarifying because it shifts paradigms into sharper view.
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In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the French editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, suffered a massive stroke which left him permanently paralyzed, except for the ability to blink his left eye — which is how he wrote his memoir. By blinking letters to a woman who transcribed them, he describes his experience as a fully-conscious paraplegic. He laments over his inability to communicate, observes how people stare as though he isn’t even there, and fumes over what it’s like to have a fly land on your nose and be unable to twitch it away. He shares, simply, what it is like to be fully awake inside of a body that is mostly dead.
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Last night, a friend told this story: “I was visiting an assisted living home for my mother, and spotted a woman across the room in a wheelchair. I thought nothing of it; an old, sick woman. Later, I heard the staff talking about her. ‘She’s a riot! Last year for Halloween, she wheeled herself out with a white trash-bag over her head. Said she was dressed up as a condom!’ The staff roared with laughter. I was beside myself! Never had I imagined the woman in the wheelchair was so spirited, so full of humor. So alive.”
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It made me consider my own judgements. An obese woman enters a restaurant. A man wearing a turban waits in the airport. A woman has her PhD but doesn’t speak English, moves to the United States. A paraplegic blinks his eye, imprisoned in his own body.
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I challenge myself to expand my mind: to pause snap-judgements and include everyone in my “fully human” mental category. I ask myself honestly: Where do I cast judgement? How can I do better?
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I want to look at everyone with wonder. I want to treat them as they are — worthy of honor and respect. I want to acknowledge them as complex beings with stories as intricate and nuanced as my own. 

- Tiffany Trivett, Managing Editor at If I Made

Dignity: Inherent and Immeasurable Worth

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During this political and cultural climate of “us vs them” and walls and borders, matched with a social media climate ill-absorbed in “selfie” status, I think what we need is a bit of dignity shared with humanity to stand up to the negative forces that tell us to judge others and place varied value on an individual. There is never, ever a reason a person does not have dignity: inherent and immeasurable worth. Every single life is sacred. YOUR life is sacred. YOU are sacred.

Dignity shows us it should be our love for people that dictates how we interact with others, not our belief in people. And that changes everything. Dignity creates space for each of us to love one another better and it bites back at the critics who challenge hope and peace and equity. There is always dignity to be recognized and shared, even in the darkest of hours. We can always speak dignity into someone. We can always show dignity to others. Always.

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Dignity plays out in the work of See Beautiful through the guiding premise that everyone has great worth and that means we all have something incredibly valuable to give to each other. We work to inspire children and adults to honor that value in themselves, that beauty; to see it in others, and to create more beautiful in the world. When our identity is challenged, or judged by another, we feel excluded and lose a sense of independence, community and a belief in a life filled with hope and possibility. Sadly, identity is challenged too often and we see children and adults questioning their dignity all too often. We work to combat this through education and strategic giving. Whether we’re in classrooms working with children or seeking non-profits who we can support, we want people to know See Beautiful is a place where they are seen and loved and we work to increase that feeling and understanding – especially with people whose dignity has been challenged.

Next time you’re too hard on yourself, or even cast a judgement on another, let dignity lead instead. This inherent part of each of us is also a common thread of human nature that transcends differences and reveals a shared identity that’s quite beautiful. The glue that binds all of our relationships, from intimate to casual, is the mutual understanding of the desire to be seen, heard, loved and treated with equity. The world is an uncertain place, but dignity paves the way for us to create so much beautiful every single day.

-Lydia Mays, Founder of See Beautiful