Finding Your Company Culture
When I packed up my car to move from Cincinnati to Denver, I never imagined I would be sitting where I am three years later. I was recruited by a Fortune 50 company to join their inside sales team. I have two things to thank them for: 1) directing my path towards Colorado, and 2) helping me realize what I wanted in my company culture.
In my first year, the job mentality was to suffer through 40 hours, then enjoy the remaining time in your life. This really bothered me — think about how much time you spend at work: 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, 45 years. Why would you want to SUFFER through roughly 86,000 hours of your life?
So I googled Best Places To Work in Denver, and applied to every position I was qualified for among those companies. After landing my first startup job, I was hooked! Everyone had fire and passion, AND there was a ping pong table! Hell yeah.
Not just a Go-Getter, but a Go-Giver
It wasn’t until I read The Go-Giver by Bob Burg that I started to dig deeper into what I really wanted out of my company, the culture, and my career. If you’ve never read this short but powerful book, I would recommend taking a few hours to do so. It explains how to attain stratospheric success with 5 simple laws. It summed up all of my scatterbrained beliefs about adding value, putting other people first, and the fact that authenticity wins every time.
- The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you GIVE in value than you TAKE in payment.
- The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
- The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
- The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself (my personal favorite).
- The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
After reading this book, these laws became my unofficial checklist during my interview process, which I’ve unofficially coined my “Culture Checklist”. I wanted to work for a company that held values in alignment to the Go-Giver; a company with leadership who could coach me to the next level (while being myself), and who sought to create extraordinary value for their customers.
Then the universe - in the form of a recruiter - came calling about Ambassador, where they live and breath OUTCARE:
- Own it. Feel ownership, have accountability, seek responsibility, make an impact, run through walls.
- Understand Why. Find purpose, dig deeper, internally & externally, be prepared, communicate clearly.
- Think Long Term. Invest in relationships, customers, push yourself, have integrity, use judgement, be honest.
- Choose Comradery. Build trust, embrace togetherness, share goals & experiences, create community, give benefit of the doubt.
- Always Customer-Obsessed. Anticipate customer needs, solve for customers, over-deliver, make customers our Ambassadors, add value.
- Raise The Bar. Pursue excellence, embrace self-improvement, always keep learning, expect more, attention to detail, be coachable.
- Execute with Urgency. Get shit done, be resourceful, do more with less, over-deliver, add value.
When I first saw OUTCARE typed out I almost spit my coffee out. I immediately knew all of the boxes on my Culture Checklist were marked. During my first couple of interviews I could hear the passion, the work ethic, and customer obsession in each person I spoke with. Then, during my sales challenge, I got my first coaching session.
The Law of Receptivity
My challenge was to pitch Ambassador to our VP of Sales, Zach Taylor. Yes, the man who sells Ambassador and trains our sales consultants. Intimidating, right? Following my pitch, he asked me if he could provide feedback, to which I obviously said yes. It ended up being the most honest and radically candid feedback I had received in over a year. Although I essentially bombed my Sales Challenge, I finally had actionable feedback on how to improve my selling.
I thought back to the Go-Giver and the Law of Receptivity. You can’t say you want to learn and grow while not be willing to receive and apply the coaching that will get you there. I walked away from that challenge with my ego bruised, yet with 100% confidence that Ambassador needed to be the next stop on my career path. If Ambassador was willing to give me the opportunity to grow, I was going to be there to receive it.
The Law of Compensation
I feed off of others’ energy and attitudes for my own motivation, so I wanted to be surrounded by those who are wicked smart, passionate, and determined to be successful in their career. I’ve never seen a team of people work harder or faster for the customer than the employees of Ambassador. We call it being Customer Obsessed. During my interviews, I saw that they actually cared about providing value to their customers more than making a quick buck.
So I checked off the Law of Compensation: your income (revenue) is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. I chose to be a Diplomat because we live by the latter half of that law, constantly asking “how well are we serving our clients”? With startups, it’s easy to let your growth get away from you — saying yes to poor client use cases to hit sales goals, or hiring a less than perfect candidate for the sake of scaling. But at Ambassador, we view our clients’ success or failure as our own.
The Law of Influence & Value
If we don’t see a right to win, we’ll turn down their business and sometimes even make a recommendation for a competitor who could better serve them. In the Go-Giver this exact situation is used to present the Law of Influence. During my experience in sales, I’ve seen unethical and downright sketchy behavior to reach a quota, which is never a successful strategy. When it’s time to make a referral or when needs change, people will remember the company that took the time to understand their needs, even to the extent of referring another vendor. This shows Ambassador once again demonstrating that TRUE VALUE is determined by how much more you give than you take in payment (Law of Value). We think long-term and invest in people who are programmed to go the extra mile for the client. Who strive to understand why, executing with urgency to provide the best service and expertise to scale our clients’ success.
Internally, we build each other up, celebrate one another’s successes, and band together to offer help when a teammate needs it. We give each other the benefit of the doubt, but trust each person is working to get the company to the next level.
The Law of Authenticity
As I said earlier, I’m hooked on the start-up life, and it’s due to the comradery that surrounds a small but passionate and talented group of people. It’s also the only work environment I’ve found that allows me to live by the Law of Authenticity: the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. I’ve had a couple of managers who tried to take away the most deadly weapon in my arsenal (me!), by suffocating my differentiators with A-Z sales strategy. I believe my authenticity won my spot on the Ambassador team. I felt a mutual level of appreciation for my authenticity and their OUTCARE. I remember during my final team interview feeling valued just for being myself and seeing a home where I could grow my career.
But, hey, startup life and OUTCARE isn’t for everyone. That’s fine. The Go-Giver helped me define my ideal company culture, but your inspiration could be from a number of other sources — go find it! But if you’re like me three years ago, sitting at your desk wanting more from your 86,000+ hours in the workforce, then create a Culture Checklist and OWN IT! Find your dream job, dream company, and dream culture!
P.S: Are you thinking “Dang, Ambassador sounds like the bee’s knees! I want to work with hardworking and fun people!”? Good news: Ambassador is hiring! Check out our open positions here!
Burg, Bob., and John David Mann. The Go-giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea. Portfolio, 2007.