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What makes company culture

What Makes Company Culture? // eps 44 #InTheLab

This week on #InTheLab I get to talk to Kirstin from Wiegers Financial & Benefits. I’ve talked about them lots over the past year. They do things differently, they aren’t afraid to zag in a market of a lot of zigging going on. They do things like “Wiegers Care For Kids” which this past year raised $225,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. They have a very dedicated staff, they seem like a high level sports team. They just click.

I asked Kirstin about culture in the video above and what it’s like working at Wiegers in beautiful Saskatoon.

It’s a “Work hard, play hard” mentality around the Wiegers office

“It’s really hard here some days”, Kirstin says, “it’s a demanding job and you work a lot some days but that’s what makes the fun days so worth it.” They’re a very busy financial and benefits firm that has been doing business in Saskatchewan for over 20 years. Started by Cliff and Deb Wiegers, they’ve built the company from the ground up. It’s truly a Saskatchewan entrepreneurial story.

Start a social committee

Scavenger hunts, dress-up days, office valentines, potlucks, and BBQs just to name a few. The Social Committee collects a fee from every employee (approximately $24 per year) and with it they plan themed days that get the team outside the office and outside their comfort zones!

Unapologetically have fun at work

I thought for sure they would have some pushback from employees who may not think a scavenger hunt is a “professional thing to do” for a business like Wiegers. But Kirstin said everyone loves to be a part of a “fun” office. It allows people to get along outside of the workplace walls, where you can really get to know someone.

we all need balance in life

We all need balance in life

If you expect unbelievable results from your employees you better be able to provide unbelievable culture. All these little “perks” add up to create a career  It’s a lot easier to try and over-deliver at work for a company that cares about you and is willing to   The heavy workloads are followed up with lots of training opportunities and of course all the different team building days they host.

 

The best employers understand what their team values

I think all organizations can learn something from Wiegers. They aren’t the “norm”, they are anything but boring, they care about company culture. If you expect people to perform at a high level day in, day out, you better be prepared to treat them at a high level.

The best employers know what their people value in life

TL:DR

For the cost of $24 per year, the staff pay into a fund that creates the coolest team building experiences possible.

***Side note about teams. I can relate. Every year a Volleyball team of mine doesn’t do so well, it 9/10 is because they didn’t get along good enough. A team that doesn’t get along off the court will never get along on the court. I discovered it the hard way. Don’t make my mistake, make sure your team gets along before playoffs start!

Capital C the Movie

The Sharing Economy: The Biggest Change Since The Industrial Revolution

Presented Nov 24th at the Regina Realtors Association Business builder day. Here are some of the videos we had a look at.
From the documentary on Netflix, Capital C comes the story of “Freaker USA”. One of the coolest Kickstarter success stories.

Freaker Kickstarter from freakerusa on Vimeo.

Next to put into perspective what goes on in a given year of search on Google.


Finally when you get depressed about when someone says something bad to you online watch this:

Country Music artists read out angry tweets written about them.

I don’t think you can find a better song about the new online world. And Alanis Morissette just had a way speaking to my soul. Hope you enjoy!

 

Want to see a brand new website the @Stratlab team just launched? Welcome to Normanview Dental

At Normanview Dental we want to see you smile-dentists regina

Why having ADHD is like having a superpower

Why Having ADHD Is Like Having a Superpower

If the movie Man of Steel taught us anything it’s Superheros have a lot going on in their heads.

 

Think about it. People (it’s not just kids for your big fat information) who have a lot going on in their heads have a hard time paying attention to things that don’t interest them. There is far too many things to think about and do than to be wasting time on boring things.

 

I don’t like when I hear a parent say, my son or daughter has ADHD and it’s affected them in school. I’m pretty sure in highschool I could never sit still, I talked way too much and occasionally was sent to other classrooms to fetch the “long stand”. My grades were always OK, just above average so there was never a need to go get “tested”.

 

As I progressed in my schooling my grades declined.  University is a lot more strict on classes and you couldn’t just “get by”, well I guess you could, I mean, I did but you’ll end up on academic probation.

 

What kids with ADHD don’t understand (and few people admit it) is that really ADHD is a Superpower. You can think incredibly fast, creative games are easy, coming up with new ideas is what you do. Well, I should say, what some do, others I’m sure are different. Our brain is working overtime, well not to a brain with ADHD, thinking overtime is what it does. And the best part? Once you find something you like and you’ll be glued to it for hours.

 

It’s this extreme focus that gives someone with ADHD a Superpower. They can concentrate longer, think longer and work long at the task they set out to do. But you have to give us a choice, no one likes doing what they’re told all the time, myself included. In a classroom, at work, in the gym, remember you don’t have all the best ideas, let the other person (or people) come up with the next task, job, or drill. You’ll be surprised how people react when you trust them to

Can I give you some feedback?

The Phrase You Hate To Hear But Have to Say Yes To

Can I give you some feedback?

If you’re like me this is one of the worst phrases to hear in the English language. What they’re actually saying is “would you like me to tell you how I actually feel about you? And oh yeah, if it was good we would have already told you so it’s almost guaranteed to be negative.”

Without feedback we never learn, we never get better, and we never progress.

The extent of your management career will largely be based on the amount of feedback you’re willing to take.
I’ve said to Brandon many times that we will get as far as the feedback we’re willing to take.

I still love the Tim Sanders analogy of “how” to process feedback. He says it’s like eating an almond. Not all of the feedback is valuable, find the nut at the middle (the learning moment) and discard everything else. Rarely do we receive 100% true feedback.

Three reasons why you need to get feedback from your team:

 

1. If you currently think “my team loves me though, I don’t need their feedback to know that”. You need to ask for feedback soon, you’re worse off than you think. It’s always those managers who “think” their staff can give honest feedback but don’t. Instead there ends up being a revolving door for staff, lots of turnover and no long term employees.

 

2. It underhandedly shows your team that you care, that you aren’t a know-it-all, and that you’re not too egotistical to change. You don’t have to listen to everything you hear but you do have to make yourself available to hear people when they want to give some feedback. Listen to people shows you care, even if you know you aren’t getting the best feedback, listen, don’t talk, don’t interrupt, just listen. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

 

3. The teams that communicate up the hierarchy just as efficiently as down the hierarchy will be the most sought after and in turn the most effective.
If your team doesn’t have a feedback strategy soon, your competitors will. They’ll be able to turn on a dime, adjusting to feedback they’re receiving. Today it is relatively simple to setup a feedback strategy, 10 years ago a lot more difficult. 5 years from now it will be baked into the strategy of the high performing teams, and I’m sure it’ll get easier and easier to track, manage and act upon the information acquired.

comfort zone and where the magic happens

I Was Completely Terrified Yesterday

I had to lead three consecutive sessions of Volleyball for 8-14 year olds. I have never done this before. I’ve coached for six years now, have only coached boys and the youngest I’ve ever coached was 15 years old.

So I’m completely out of my comfort zone…

 

I get to the gym my hearts racing because I have to register every athlete in the next 20 minutes (you guessed it, never done that before either!) and then my nightmare happens. We were at the wrong gym. And not just me. I had over 70 Volleyball players and their parents coming to the wrong gym on the opposite side of town. Two cars were sitting in the wrong parking lot waiting for me to open the wrong doors to the wrong school. I completely messed up. I had one very important job to do, to confirm the gym, and I confirmed the wrong gym**.

 

The two coaches who were helping me, Reed and Michael quickly got to the other school and started practice with the kids, without myself, the practice plans or the balls. These guys saved my life!! Reed and Michael, you da MVP!

 

After the worst possible thing that ever could happened(or so I thought) we only had a couple kids quit because of location, but we now have a better gym and I learned how to run three different sessions for 8-14 year olds.

 

Lesson learned, when times get tough, when you’re at your max stress level, you’re usually not as bad off as you think. Take a deep breath and realize it’s when we’re at our worst, people judge us the most, and that’s when we earn their trust. So smile and don’t be afraid to laugh at your own mistakes. We’re all human.

 

**In my defence I did check back in my e-mails, I had wanted to book the Laval highschool but instead the email said elementary school. We’d booked the highschool. One of the first lessons you learn from Mr. Dale Carnegie is never ever tell someone they’re wrong. That is NOT a good way to build rapore.  The highschool was a better gym with a better spectator area so it actually turned out better for everyone.

90-percent-of-the-data-in-the-world-today-has-been-created-in-the-last-two-years

9 Lessons Learned Volunteering on Not-For-Profit Boards

1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

-IBM

On a single day on the Internet there are:

  • Over 2 million Google search queries

  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos

  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook

  • More than 100,000 tweets

  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce

  • Source: Webopedia

If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.

2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?

There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.

3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.

Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.

Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.

4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.

“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!

Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.

5. Face the brutal facts. 

Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.

Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.

What if we don't change at all and something magical just happens?

6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).

I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.

The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.

If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.

7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.

People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.

Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.

8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.

Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.

-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras

Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old. 

Examples:

Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball

University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride 

Regina Police Service: Public Servie First

Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching

9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.

In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.

Fun can be a competitive advantage

Fun can be a competitive advantage.

Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.

If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.

You must have a clear vision

3 Things Great Leaders Always Do

Why is it so rare that employees look up to their boss? Why is it that most senior leadership are referred as more of the senior part and not so much the latter? How come more people don’t look up to the leader of the organization? Why is it so rare to find a visionary, humble, head of an organization?

In the future we’ll look up to leaders who understand and act upon these 3 must do’s.

1. You must have a clear vision.

If your staff don’t know where you’re going it’s going to be very difficult to follow you. If your vision isn’t simple most people won’t get it. If your purpose can’t be summed up in a short phrase, you probably haven’t drilled deep enough. If everyone on the board is comfortable with the simple vision, it’s not provocative enough. If you let a committee come up your purpose it isn’t going to get far. If you think the executive suite are the only ones who can come up with your purpose, you’re wrong. Purpose should be shared just as much with the top row and the front line employees. More often than not front line employees have a better grasp on what the company “actually” does than the executive row.

Business strategy that’s written by mbas is business strategy for mbas. Real people want simplicity, they want to know you care and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

2. Actually care about people.

Don’t just say you care about people, that’s cliche and every company says they care about their people, very few actually show it.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.

You show people you care with your actions and how you spend your time and your money. Every company says they care about their people but how many create a bottom up feedback system? How many leaders actually have an open door policy? How many leaders would actually encourage employees to speak up when they disagree with a decision?

You show employees or members that you care when you listen to them, when you actively seek their feedback, when you truly want them to be a part of the decision making. If you truly do care about the people you work with, you’ll try to help them. When employees feel their voice will be heard and that they can make a difference, it’s like they’re working with a super power.

Anything becomes possible when the people we look up to empower us to achieve more than we are capable of.

3. Be the hardest working person in the organization.

Be the hardest working person in the organization

Leadership is service. Leaders work harder than everyone else, they rarely take credit and they put more fires out than anyone else. Leadership isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work.

Having people look up to you, rely on you, being a part of your team, is a small reward. The larger reward in this situation is watching the people under grow into a better leader, manager, and team player than you ever could be. Leadership is the humble act of always putting others first. When you find you’ve groomed a candidate that people look up to, are inspired by and that works harder than you do, you know you’ve done your job.

The goal of leadership is not to be indispensable, it’s quite the opposite. The goal of leadership is the day you don’t show up, everyone knows exactly what to do and the sustaining work to keep the organization is done.

Leadership is the highest form of service. Never forget that.

Leaders wanted.

Leaders wanted

bridesmaids-the-movie

“I’m Life Annie And I’m Going to Bite You In The Ass” Life Lesson’s From Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids - Megan and Annie

“I’m life Annie and I’m going to bite you in the ass!”

The brilliant and timely advice from Annie’s friend Megan. If you haven’t watched Bridesmaids it’s a must. I was skeptical when I found out about it too but it’s a hilarious movie.

At one point when Annie’s at her worst Megan comes in to give her some advice. It’s one of the best parts of the movie.

Read more

Al-Derges-and-Ray

Al D’s Four Keys To Life

Al-Derges-Quotes-the-four-keys-to-life

On June 26, 2013 we lost one of the good ones. One of the influencers. One of the thought leaders. He may not have been published in the Harvard Business Review regularly but he influenced the people around him and the students he taught in a way that changed their lives forever. Much, much, more of an accomplishment in my opinion. Read more

17 Lessons (Quotes) on Strategy, Leadership, and Advertising

These quotes were found in eight different, wonderful books.

Books-on-Strategy,-leadership-and-advertising

Killing Giants is a fascinating read especially if you like business strategy. I made more highlights in Killing Giants than any other book on my Kindle thus far.

The Big Leap is about taking on the habits of successful people and not self-destructing when finally achieving success. This book isn’t for everyone but a short read nonetheless.

Winning is a ridiculously smart book, Jack Welch is one badass CEO. You’ll get a lot out of this book, I use quotes from Winning in presentations all the time.

The Ad Contrarian is a breath of fresh air in our social media crazed world. Bob Hoffman is on a Podcast I listen regularly, he’s knows his %&$#. I like his point of view because you don’t always agree with it, but he makes you think about marketing in a different way. Read his stuff, he’ll make you smarter.

101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising is similar to the Ad Contrarian in writing style and that’s about it. You’ll learn even more in this book. Bob is one of the influential voices on marketing of our present time.

The Impact Equation is by two of the smartest minds on online marketing and personal development. They give you a new formula to look at your social media strategy. I got a lot out of this book but I’d read Julien and Brogan’s first book Trust Agents first though.

Confession of a Madman is a hilarious journey through the life of George Parker, one of our fore fathers of advertising. He’s also on the Beancast (podcast) and swears his face off. He’s one of the ol’ boys. He doesn’t care about what anyone else says so you know he’s always being genuine. His book is entertaining with stories about his experience in the industry. Not a real heavy academic theory read at all.

A Whole New Mind by Dan Pink is a book you should read. It’s about how society is getting smarter and a different type of brain is helping us in the future. Full of stories and real life lessons you can apply. I highly recommend this book.

On Strategy…

1. It doesn’t matter how nice the packaging is if the product sucks.

 

Quotes-Killing-Giants-if-dogs-don't-like-your-dog-food Read more