The end of 2015 is rapidly approaching, and that means it's time to set our sights on the things we want to accomplish in the New Year. There is a sense of hope and optimism in the air. A new calendar year is a chance wipe the slate clean, start fresh, and begin anew. All the old habits you swore you'd break, now's your chance to actually break them. It's time to finally lose the weight, become more productive, get that promotion. But as most of us are familiar, all our good intentions often fall by the wayside as soon we hit the first stumbling block or feel the first tugs of resistance. It's usually not because we don't want to improve. It's because we didn't approach our goal setting the right way. But it doesn't have to be this way.
If you were to look at Richard Sheridan’s business card, you might be surprised by his official title: “Chief Storyteller, Tour Guide and CEO.” As we learn in the second part of our epic interview with the Joy Inc. author, storytelling is an essential part of his role at software developer Menlo Innovations - so much so that the company’s founder and chief executive leads daily tours and considers telling the Menlo story to be one of his most important roles. The act of storytelling, Richard explains, helps hold himself and his team accountable, and reinforces the cultural values at the core of Menlo’s culture.
From kid programmer in 1971 to Forbes cover story in 2003, Joy, Inc. author and Menlo Innovations CEO Richard Sheridan has never shied from challenges, opportunities, nor the limelight. His focus has always been around technology, but his passion is actually process, teamwork and organizational design, with one overarching goal: unlock the business value of Joy. Strangely enough, it all began in 1967, when a ten year old Richard Sheridan decided to surprise his parents by building a piece of furniture while they were away for the evening. In today’s Awesome Office interview, Richard tells us how this experience - and the joy he felt after delivering a wow moment to his parents - was the inspiration for his mission to change the way we work by bringing joy back to the workplace.
“You can’t be good at any job if you’re only doing it for a paycheck.” That’s the mantra that has served Joe Lozowski throughout his career, and what ultimately inspired him to leave a lucrative career and start all over in the furniture business. In part one of his Awesome Office interview, we learned why the CEO and President of Tangram Interiors feels it’s so important for young people to bet on themselves, and why he views his company as a “platform for success.” In part two, Joe dives deeper, and shares why, in this world of longer hours, work life integration, and increased expectations on all sides, you have to love what you do in order to be successful.
We like to say that one necessary part of an Awesome Office is a “space that wows,” and there are few people more qualified to speak to this than Joe Lozowski. That's because Joe is the majority owner, President and CEO of Tangram Interiors, the largest contract furniture distributor in the Western United States. With offices and showrooms in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the San Fernando Valley and the Inland Empire, Tangram has emerged as a model dealership in North America, employing 275 people. With all this success, you might be surprised to learn that Joe's foray into the furniture industry involved leaving a lucrative career in a different industry - and taking a 100% pay cut in the process.
In part two of our in-depth conversation with Jason Weiss, the former GM and current advisor of mobile gaming hit-maker Scopely talks about a subject that many leaders and companies shy away from: failure. At Scopely, failure isn’t a dirty word. In fact, the company recognizes the “Fail of the Week,” during which a member of each team describes a major mistake he or she has made in the past seven days. The point is neither to punish nor celebrate failure, but to acknowledge it and share the lessons learned.
Many companies use perks like free onsite food, massages, and elaborate off-sites to attract and retain game-changing talent. If you’re Scopely, you take a different tack. Namely? Bricks of cash. Wrapped in bacon. Scopely is the LA-based mobile gaming studio that has produced six #1 games in a row, including The Walking Dead Road to Survival, Yahtzee with Friends, and Disco Bees. According to today’s Awesome Office guest Jason Weiss, that success started with creating a culture that could attract and retain the top talent. And he should know: as the company’s SVP of talent for more than four years, he was a main driver behind the company’s vibrant and playful ethos.
The speed at which people grow a business is proportional to the time invested in creating trust. In the second part of our interview with 15five's David Hassell, we learned that this notion - that trust is fundamental to growth - is more than just a mere axiom to the engagement software chief. Far from it - it's a strategy that applies to all areas of business. Need proof? The notion is embedded in the company's core values, and is a tenet of their internal culture. David takes us deeper into the culture question in our conversation, and tells us why it's so gratifying to create an environment where trust is granted at the outset, and to watch as this inspires employees to perform beyond their own perceived capabilities. Additionally, he shares his strategies for finding those employees who'll be willing and able to experience personal breakthroughs.
Believe it or not, employee happiness should never be your goal. Not according to today’s Awesome Office guest, David Hassell, a serial entrepreneur and “the most connected man you don’t know in Silicon Valley,” according to Forbes magazine. His current venture is 15five, a technology solution that helps improve transparency and communication between managers and employees, and provide critical insights for your company. As you’ll hear, 15five was inspired by ESPRIT founder Doug Tompkins, who realized that if he asked all of his employees to spend 15 minutes writing a report that took their manager no more than 5 minutes to read, he’d have a more engaged company.
Believe it or not, The Honest Company's Christopher Gavigan doesn’t run a CPG company. That’s because the energetic co-founder and chief product officer considers Honest - the makers of beautifully designed, environmentally friendly, and unquestionably safe household products for parents and kids - to be a “portfolio of trust” rather than a typical consumer goods label. Nomenclature aside, there's no denying that the company has experienced an astounding trajectory.
With its reputation for long hours, high stress, and a results-first mindset, Wall Street isn’t necessarily thought of as a hotbed of cultural innovation. But today's guest would beg to differ. On this episode of the Awesome Office Show we talk to Courtney Reum, an innovative entrepreneur, angel investor, and leader with a background in building consumer products brands. Courtney is best known as the CEO of VEEV Spirits, an all natural premium spirit brand that he co-founded with his brother Carter. What started as a two-man team selling VEEV out of the trunks of their cars, has turned into one of the best-selling independent liquor brands in the U.S. As VEEV's chief executive, Courtney is responsible for directing the culture of the wildly successful brand. And while it hasn't always been easy, VEEV the company is known for its spirit of disruption and creative innovation. But what we found most interesting was how it was Courtney and Carter's stint at Goldman Sachs that actually had the biggest influence on the culture and esprit de corps at VEEV.
If you had to choose one example of a truly awesome office, Clif Bar and Co.’s state-of-the art, 115,000-square-foot headquarters in Emeryville, CA might very well be it. Made from wood reclaimed from local barns and railway ties, and featuring a gym and rock climbing wall, the space mirrors the company’s commitment to health, wellness, and sustainability. At the center of it all is today’s guest, Jen Freitas, the company’s Director of Learning and Engagement. Guided by the company’s “Five Aspirations,” she helped launch Clif Bar’s Sustainability Benefits Program, an initiative that helped the company earn numerous workplace awards, including ‘best place to work’ nods by Fortune and Outside magazines.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone more qualified to talk about real-time marketing and communication than our next guest, Mr. David Meerman Scott. David is a renowned speaker and author, and has published ten books on marketing, PR, and sales in the networked age. In fact his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR is considered a must-read for modern PR and marketing pros, and is used as a text in hundreds of universities and business schools worldwide. Additionally, He’s spoken in more than 40 countries and on all seven continents, and is the marketer in residence at Hubspot, where he helped the company grow to more than 11,000 customers in 70 countries.
In the first part of our interview, we found out that author, television host, and Trendera CEO Jane Buckingham is an expert on the art of the interview. In the second installation, we went a bit more in depth, as Jane shared the three biggest mistakes that companies make - and that you should avoid - when interviewing potential new hires. As a trend and generational expert, Jane also described the pressure she feels when being interviewed, and the responsibility she feels to accurately depict the generations about which she provides insight.
Hiring and retention is top of mind for so many business leaders today - and rightfully so. But one of the most important steps in the process is often an afterthought: interviewing. As an entrepreneur, career expert, and television personality, this week’s guest Jane Buckingham is no stranger to the art of the interview. In fact, as the host of ABC Family’s Job or No Job, Jane advises young candidates on how to get their dream job. Each week she helps a recent college grad try and land a job in highly competitive fields like fashion, journalism, and tech. She knows a thing or two about the process, and was gracious enough to let us visit her in the Beverly Hills offices of Trendera, the consumer insights firm she founded to help brands create strategy and action around cultural shifts, to share her best interview tips with The Awesome Office audience.
In Episode 7 we continue our conversation with speaker, communication expert, and World Adoption Day founder Hank Fortener. For part two, Hank gives us a deep dive on what makes a great communicator - and some of his ideas will definitely surprise you. For starters, Hank tells us why preparation and empathy are the keys to great communication, why storytelling is at the heart of great leaders and great companies, as well the biggest mistake leaders make when communicating to their employees.
Our guest in Episode 6 of the Awesome Office Show is non other than Hank Fortener, an adoption expert, pastor, speaker, and sought-after authority on culture and leadership. As the founder of AdoptTogether.org and World Adoption Day, Hank has dedicated much of his life to helping young people who are (in his words) “without a tribe” feel a sense of family and belonging. Through his organizations, Hank has helped more than 1,400 families raise 6 million dollars towards adoption expenses to help bring their children home. He is also a pastor at Mosaic, a vibrant church led by Erwin McManus in the heart of Hollywood, where he delivers thoughtful and impassioned sermons to massive audiences.
Today our guest is Nanxi Liu, an entrepreneur, innovator, and frankly, one of the most accomplished people under thirty we’ve ever come across. Nanxi is the co-founder and CEO of Enplug, a company that builds the leading software for displays in stores, hotels, sports arenas, restaurants, and offices. Since their founding in 2012, the company has grown from 5 co-founders to a team of more than 50 people in North America, Africa, and Europe. Every day, millions of people use Enplug's technology in dozens of countries around the world.
n part one of our conversation, DocStoc co-founder and former CEO Jason Nazar told us the three hiring practices that helped support the company’s massive growth. In part two, we dive even further. In Episode 4, Jason talks about why he encourages his employees to act as though they are the CEO. On the flip side, he reveals why he thinks of himself as a D1 college coach, and why he tells his employees that their goal should be to “go pro.”
Our featured interview for Episode 3 is none other than Jason Nazar, the co-founder and former CEO of Docstoc, and the creator and host of Startups Uncensored, the longest running and most widely attended technology gathering in southern California As an active tech entrepreneur, investor, writer, and speaker, Jason knows a thing or two about creating strong teams, inspiring cultures, and work environments in which individuals can become their ideal selves.