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Today’s Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed episode is a special feature from The Complete Entrepreneur, hosted by Michael Gilmour every Thursday at 5 p. m. Eastern on Clubhouse. This special crossover session brings together the insights and energy of both podcasts, offering a unique perspective on the entrepreneurial journey.

Get ready for an inspiring blend of stories and strategies to enhance your own path to success.

The value of culture, or I like to say scaling your culture. This is a special episode. This is the complete entrepreneur. And we know you’re listening to it in podcast or in replay on, uh, our main program, start, scale, exit, repeat serial entrepreneur secrets revealed. Uh, but what we sometimes do this as we run shows that are often of certain topics.

That we really want to record and syndicate and podcast, and this is one of those shows. What’s interesting, Michael, welcome, Michael’s our host for the Complete Entrepreneur, which takes place every Thursday at 5 o’clock Eastern, on Clubhouse, on Startup Club. Michael, it’s interesting that we’re working on a project at Startup Club, uh, which we have two AI, uh, two individuals who are an AI master’s program.

And they’re, they’ve developed, they’ve taken the book, Start, Scale, Exit, Repeat. And they put that into a database. And you can look at it at StartupClubAI. com And they also are taking all of the short videos that we’ve done around the book. And they’re taking all the podcasts, all the shows that we’ve done, Michael, you and I, and also the ones that we’ve done on On, uh, on serial entrepreneur secrets revealed.

So it’s interesting. So you’ll be able to go to this AI and with this data set, you’ll be able to request, you know, or make, ask a question like, how do I exit my company? And it’s not going to pull from the world of chat GPT. It’s going to pull from the universe of startup club. Which I think is a different type of universe, Michael.

And we have a different culture. What do you think? Yeah, that’s really fascinating. First, let me just say, Colin, it is wonderful to be here once again on the complete entrepreneur and, uh, It’s a show where we discuss like, what does it mean to live the life of an entrepreneur? And we tackle all sorts of different, um, uh, different topics from how you can hire the best dealing with a sinking ship, uh, making hard decisions, all that sort of things, but more from not just the business aspect, but the personal toll that takes on the entrepreneur.

And today, as you just said, Colin, we’re looking at the value of culture, and I think it’s going to be very interesting to see how that AI, um, I don’t like to say experiment, I think that that venture is going to go, because is AI, Colin, is it just about just data, or is culture just about data and things like that, or is it about people?

Like, what is it about? Can we, can we manufacture culture? Yeah, look, it covers everything. I don’t think we can. I think I think the culture comes from the entrepreneur. I believe that the entrepreneur sets that culture, how you figure out your personal values in the culture of your company. This is something that you can actually do.

And we’re going to talk a little bit more about that today. There’s a chapter in our book about it’s called scaling your culture, and it’s actually one of the keys that you can use to scale your business. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that today, but I don’t think AI can help. You know, I mean, I think it’s all about people to people.

I think it’s all about values within an organization. Uh, I don’t think you can go to AI and say, Hey, write my core values of my company. No, it’s about who you are, who you are as an individual and who you want to become and who you want, what, what you’re, what you want your company to become as well. So definitely not an AI thing.

And by the way, if you’re in the audience. And you have a great story about how you shared your culture or how you, uh, how you developed your culture and you made it great. Or maybe the culture wasn’t so good and things didn’t work out either. We’d love to hear from you. Tara, welcome on stage again. Yeah, it’s wonderful to hear from people and, uh, we’ll hear from Tara in a second.

I think the, the, the thing about culture is a couple of questions is to where does it come from? Where does the, the essence of culture come from and how can we, how can we instill a culture, which then creates a, an environment of success for our businesses. And some people say, Oh, it just happens. No, it doesn’t just happen.

You’ve got to really think about it and you’ve got to think about it and you’ve got to plan for it. But I think that the, uh, the interesting thing, Colin, is where does it. Originally come from, where’s originally come from, but I want to come back to that question is after we hear from Tara. Tara, the value of culture, is it really important Tara?

I think it absolutely is. Um, and I also think that it’s something that a lot of folks. don’t understand what culture really entails. And so I’ve heard a lot about shared values. It’s everywhere. Every company is scrambling to put something out there, even when they haven’t really figured it out internally.

And I find that kind of confusing. So as a product discovery consultant, I’ve worked with over a dozen. Startups in the last year, year and a half and. When I was starting out in 2022, it was easier to gauge the culture, because people would only say something about it if they thought it through. Versus now, there’s this pressure to have something to say, but people don’t really understand how to think that through.

And so I was thinking, how much is it even possible for two individuals to have shared values? You know, I have things I disagree with, with my best friend, yet we’re still friends. How do we make that happen? So, I think it’s important to hone in on what’s the minimum. What are the essential things where there needs to be alignment between everyone?

And de scope as much as possible there. And then communicate it really well. Make sure that everyone can understand it well enough to iterate. In their own world words and for the rest of it embrace diversity and that’s tough because the way we learn about culture throughout our lives is just through life experience and we don’t understand what, um, is actually essential versus what’s just one possible presentation or one possible goal.

way to show it or embrace it or like a logo for it, like non startup example. A friend was telling me that he went to a meditation space dressed in, um, a hip hop t shirt and They gave him kind of weird looks and wouldn’t really include him because they perceived people dressing the same way to be more in the in crowd than other people.

But after talking with this friend, I can see that he’s very much into meditation and you know really has internalized that. And so, I think it’s important to think about, um, how we decide who’s like minded. Is it because they’re acting the same way on the surface, or do they really have aligned values?

And that goes for hiring decisions, and also, you know, the way meetings are run. Um, like, if you want a culture where People can be open. Um, that might require something different to include different types of people You can easily say if you have something to say say it Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, Tara. The question I have though is this is that uh, We talk about aligned values and things like that So are we suggesting that we should develop organizations as entrepreneurs which can risk?

Essentially groupthink where we all have the exactly the same aligned values and, um, and well, number one is where do those values come from? Um, and how does that develop into a culture? But is that something we want? Because we then say aligned values, but we want diversity.

Thanks for bringing that up, Michael. So, I think that groupthink happens, um, when people only include or hire people who are similar on a more superficial level. So, grew up in similar areas, went to similar schools. And have the symptoms of that, like, talking in a similar way, in a way where they feel But hang on a second, I, I, I, Tara, I, I go, sorry, I’m ta I’m, I’m pushing you a bit on, on this, but I’m, I’m, uh, I’m, I went to school with my best friend.

He works for me, but he thinks completely differently from me. Awesome. Yeah. So is, so why, why would we say that, uh, people who come to the same area, same sort of schools, uh, you can risk groupthink and all that sort of stuff. When, when I think about even, um, I also have my brother in law who works with me.

He would be in my same sort of cultural circle. Um, but he thinks even further away from me. So what is it about culture? Um, and where does the culture come from? Like what is, what is this stamp on a business which then permeates the organization that creates a culture which can embrace the diversity you’re talking about while at the same time it has a uniformity of approach and things like that.

And I think it’s one of the, the challenges of entrepreneurs is where does it come from? How do we foster the good and how do we go along and dare I say, push out the bad sort of aspects of some culture? I appreciate you bringing all of that up. Yeah, I’m just tackling you here, Tara. And I imagine Colin’s going to jump in in a second too.

Oh, I want to jump in, but I’m holding back. I like when people dissect things like this, because it can sound confusing and counterintuitive. And so, when I was talking about aligning on a small, minimalist amount of things, the kind of things that I was referring to are things that are absolutely essential for the mission and vision of the company.

To work. Um, you know, when you think about like for startup, if you’re doing a Railsware template or a, you know, lean startup canvas, whatever you use, um, those minimal things, and some of them are more important to the culture than others. But, you know, when you’re, when you have the idea to start a company and you’re thinking about what makes it different from the others, why you?

What knowledge do you have? What philosophy do you have? You need to work with people who buy into that. You know, you can’t, um, If you think that AI is gonna solve a problem, um, and then you hire someone who’s just vehemently against AI. That’s not gonna work. Now, maybe they might help you come up with a non AI solution, and you might pivot your startup, but by then you’ve hired a bunch of AI engineers who you now have to let go, which, you can do that, but now, you know, you’ve wasted a lot of time and money to come up with that.

Um, you know, or if you, like the Values that we were talking about last time of, um, treating people right, never, um, like exploiting people, um, you know, actually paying people rather than Dangling the carrot that you’ll keep, you’ll pay them someday after they do one more thing, which I can go on and on about how you can get a lot of things that look like results out of that, but that they won’t be actual results.

It’s just kind of guidelines for how to interact with the user, the product, and each other in a way where knowing that you’ll all think differently. You can still get things done, but beyond that, you know, Tara, is, is that what you’re talking about? Is that treating people with respect and consideration?

So the cultural value is respect and consideration. Out of that, cultural value flows all these different behaviors then, such as making sure you pay people and all that sort of stuff and everything like that. Is, Is that what it is or maybe Colin, I can come back to you. Then I want to jump down to Justin Tower.

We’ll give Justin a shot of this too and Vincent and Jason as well. But Colin, it is, where does that, that essence of culture come from? So you’ve just launched a business and it’s in a great, exciting industry. You’re really can’t wait and everything. And so it’s launched, but where does the culture come from and when does it actually come in?

At what stage in that business or cycle is such that coming? Yeah, I will answer that question. And, uh, but I’m glad you can. I’m thinking about this one. I will answer that question. It’s in the book. Um, so we do, we do address this particular topic, uh, very, very directly. But I do want to challenge you a little bit, Michael, first.

Uh, you were, and I know you do this sometimes to get us. You know, thinking, you know, thought provoking arguments and, you know, and you talked about his diversity sort of in contrast with, um, and maybe you were referring to diversity of, of values, but, um, but you know, I’m talking about diversity of values.

I thought it was ironic that on Colin C. Campbell on startup club. We have one of our values statements is strength through diversity. So we truly believe that everyone in the working in the company should be diverse and that everyone who goes into startup clubs should be, you know, we, we, the diversity is what makes us strong and we try to embrace that diversity.

But I think if you’re referring, and I’ll let you off the hook here, because, but if you’re referring to the values, absolutely, I understand where you’re coming from, when you, you know, the core values in your company, they are the things that, that define your company. So, for instance, if we have people in our company who do not, or in our club, who do not embrace diversity, they’re not working for us.

They’re being fired because that is that is this is how it works that this value statements. There is no, uh, second chances when you cross a value statement or or break a value in a company. There are no warnings. It’s very, very clear in our companies that you cannot cross that line. And if you do, you will be terminated.

I’ve terminated dozens of people in my life who just have not had similar values or didn’t want to Connect with the values that were in the company now directly to your question, Michael around. How do you get these values? And I’ve done a lot of work with this. I did a lot of work with, um, interviewing burn harnish who wrote scaling up in Rockefeller habits.

Uh, and in fact, I, um, talk about Tony Shea. In the book, who he wrote a book, uh, the name I can’t remember right now, but he wrote a book, uh, about Zappos and their 10 culture statements. And there was no company out there in the world that had done a better job and it was based on, uh, burn harnesses work.

And I know that because I visited the offices and I saw the Rockefeller habits on. The CFO’s desk and knew that they were embracing and I, and I saw a lot of similarities to the things that we were doing at our company and what Zappos was doing. So in chapter, uh, sorry, 32 of start, scale, exit, repeat. We talk about, uh, how about these value statements and they first come from your personal values.

This is interesting, and I don’t know if anyone’s done this in the audience here, is actually create personal value statements, and then Once you’ve done that, then think about your company and work with your team to develop the company’s value statements. Because when you develop your value statements, when you identify them yourself, it’s fascinating how they translate.

And I just want to give you an example of that. So my personal values are, first and foremost, is my health. Do it really well or don’t do it at all. And if you read the book, you can understand what we’re talking about there. Live in the future, integrity over money, carpe diem, and make a difference. Thanks.

Now here’s the interesting thing. When our team got together at one of our, our last companies, we’ll use, I have two examples here, but we use, we use club, uh, dot club’s, an alternative, dot org. And we sold that to GoDaddy two years ago. I’ll use that one. So here are the five core value statements.

Only the obsessed change the world sound a lot like Carpe Diem, doesn’t it? Uh, usage is everything. And that was particular to that, uh, that business. Integrity over money. I just repeated it. Recognize greatness. Do crazy things, not stupid things. Uh, so we want to make a difference in the world. And so, you can see how your personal value statements can cross over.

So everybody here in the audience should be thinking about doing an exercise of what their personal value statements are. Now, we’re not going to write a mission statement that’s going to go on the wall, and it’s going to be blah, blah, blah, and no one’s going to remember it. These value statements need to become the, the lexicon in the office.

They need to be the things that everyone talks about. I was so proud, and I didn’t initiate this. I was so proud, Michael, when I saw an employee use one of our value statements at a prior company. When they’re talking to a customer, uh, which was what our customers succeed. We succeed. That was one of our value statements, but you want them to be almost rhythmic, rhythmic.

You don’t want them to be single words. You don’t want them to be long mission statements. Nobody pays attention to those. We want to create a language within the office that supports our core values. And then we want to do that with our own personal lives. And if we can figure out our personal values, Michael, then we can figure out our core values for our company.

And that’s how it begins. Now, one last thing, Michael. It took us six years to develop our core values at Hostopia. It took us, um, probably a year or two at Doc Club. It does take some time. Core values tend to reflect the values of the culture. They’re not something that you just make up. So sometimes the culture has to sort of evolve a little before you can slap those core value or put those core values into place.

Yeah, but Colin, does the core values reflect the culture, or do the core values and the culture reflect the entrepreneur? So think of core values like a bowling alley. And you know when your kids go to the bowling alley and you put the guards up, the guardrails? That’s what you’re doing. Those are the, those are the rules of the game.

Those are the statements that you make that defines that culture. The culture I’m going to put on a push you around a little bit. Now I was pushing car around. I’ll push you as well now, but ultimately though, um, the, the guardrails, as you call them, which is the values, the values of your business come from where.

Do they come from the entrepreneur or do you wait six months and hopefully have like a, a big team meeting? What are our core values and all that sort of stuff? Like where do the core values of the company actually come from? And I think you tapped into something which is quite interesting. Then I want, I really want to get Justin’s input on this.

Uh, the, the, the, the, the. No, you’re not challenging me. You’re, you’re, you’re challenging me. You’re agreeing with me. I told you, I mentioned that, that core values do come from the entrepreneur, from the leaders, but they can sometimes be molded by other leaders in the organization as well. So, so is that a case of seek first to understand thyself before you understand your, your, your business almost?

It’s like understand who you are. What is it that makes you as an entrepreneur? tick on the inside. What do you value more than anything? And you’ll find that that begins to flow out in the organization. It’s almost like osmosis. Is that what you’re suggesting? Yeah, yes, yes. And we actually, I’ve done exercise, I’ve designed exercises.

I’ve worked with, uh, dozens of companies to help individuals. Individual owners and operators come up with their core values. By the way, it doesn’t matter if you own a company or not. You should do this exercise because you want to work for a company that aligns with your personal core values as well.

So that’s, that’s something that we’re going to publish that exercise in one of the workbooks that’s coming out over the next few months. But I just wanted everybody to know that it really is something that you need to sit down and think about and actually put on paper. Because before I had done this, I was just sort of aimlessly going along.

Yeah, they were there. Okay. But now I’ve defined them and I’ve hardened them a little bit. You know, do something really well or don’t do it at all has become a mantra in our office at Startup Club and elsewhere because, you know, often as an entrepreneur, serial entrepreneur, I made the mistake of just freaking like a machine gun, you know, doing way too much and stumbling too many times.

Bye. And it made me realize that I wasn’t following who I am. I am someone who wants to do things really, really well. And again, if you’ve read the book, Start, Scale, Exit, Repeat, you would see that. We went all out when we put that book together. It became a number one bestseller in 14 categories on Amazon.

It’s a fantastic book. It really is. And I’ll leave it at that, Michael. And we’ve got a great, great audience participation today. Yeah. Let’s hear from Justin. Yeah, not a problem. Justin, thank you also to Justin, Vincent and Jason for being so patient right now. It’s like such an incredibly interesting topic, but I want to come down to Justin.

First of all, Justin, love to hear your thoughts on this topic on, uh, about the value of culture over to you, Justin. So first, uh, I want to make sure the wind’s not blowing me out too much from outside. You guys hear me? Okay, we can hear you. Yeah, no problem. So I came in because I’m actually building the first company I’ve built that was built by a team instead of me building it and then bringing on a team.

And so culture is something that I’m going to have to definitely be aware of it and intentional around. And I had no idea to do it until the last, uh, 30 minutes or so of conversation. Now I have some guidelines. So I appreciate that. And I think there, there is a point to the value should not be diverse.

The value should be aligned. Other aspects should be diverse. That would be my, uh, two cents. I’m Justin with the orange beard and that’s my time. Yeah, the values should be diverse. Um, but they should be aligned. Is that what you’re saying there, Justin. Did I get you right? I think the values should be aligned.

I don’t think there should be diversity in values because a diverse value, now there might be prioritization of one value over another that differs, but the actual values themselves should align because diverse values means opposing. Uh, Opposing outcomes because the diversity of a value of inclusion is exclusion.

Yeah, that’s an, that’s an interesting one. Um, yeah, diversity, uh, of values, uh, uh, is that good or bad? Or they should be aligned. So there’s, there’s, I, I find the whole concept of where values come from and where they originally. Originate from, for instance, we look as entrepreneurs. I was suggesting that it flows out of the entrepreneur into the organization, like osmosis.

And there we go. We develop a culture. But the question I’m also asking is where do my values come from? Like, how do I know my values? Are good values for an organization I’m building. How can I question myself and sort of say, are my values good values to flow outwards into, into my business? And what right do I have to go along and stamp them on everyone else and say, these are the values now of the business, and you need to go ahead and abide by these.

Interesting questions because it’s something I must admit. And one of the things I love what Colin said is that, um, as entrepreneurs, we need to understand what our values are, but also where did they come from? Where did they come from? For instance, a classic example would be, uh, when I look at it quite often, it’s your childhood does it to you.

When I look at my childhood, there was various, uh, books that I read. That really impacted me, um, uh, as, as a young man and as I was growing up and everything impacted me because I began to, to explore values. Some of them were like science fiction books. So the book Dune, for instance, and the movies coming out again, the second part, all that sort of stuff, the main character in Dune.

And some of the concepts in that book really impacted me. Is that where my values came from? So Frank Herbert, the author of June had an impact on me and my values. Should I then give Frank Herbert that ability to have that impact on me? Is that a wise decision to make? Interesting questions. Where do I, where do our values come from and how do they overflow into culture?

Let’s just come down to Vincent here, Vincent. It’s great to have you back here on The Complete Entrepreneur. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Over to you, Vincent. Where would you like me to start? Oh, right at the beginning. Value of culture. Well, number one, I think culture is our most valuable commodity, only second to, or second most valuable commodity, only second to time.

And, um, as far as diversification goes, I put down in the chat that I believe that diversification, or opposition rather, breeds innovation, which in startups, innovation is crucial, absolutely crucial. Like, if you, if you’re not innovating, what are you starting up that’s so different than others? What are you founding that you’ve found that’s different than something that’s come before you?

What are you doing differently? Right? If you have everyone who has a groupthink, which I’m not a fan of groupthink in any facet, um, because it doesn’t Hang on, you’ve just said in four sentences a stack of stuff, which, oh my gosh, like, what are you founding? Uh, or what are you finding, um, in your business, which is different, innovative.

So what you’re suggesting is the values, the tension between values then, and the tension that creates a culture of innovation, is that what you’re suggesting? Uh, yes, in part, but also in part, if you’re a founder of a business, you found a means to do business differently, right? You know, like, so if you want to do business differently, just as.

Justin was mentioning he has built this business with others. He hasn’t built it by himself and then hired on others And, uh, I’ve been keeping up with Justin and the progression of his business, which I’m very proud of you, Justin, by the way. Um, and, uh, I’ll get back to you on that message you left me on Instagram.

I just need to go through that video. Um, but it is absolutely, I find it to be, it’s my opinion, imperative that you have, you know, they say opposites attract, right? In relationships and so many things. And, uh, relationships, you can take in many different, like, um, what is the word I’m looking for, uh, Entendres.

You know, you can think of business relationships, you know, uh, relationships as in, you know, partners, both strategic and in, uh, life. And it’s just, uh, I find it to be really,

I think it needs to be at the core of any startup. Uh, you have to. People that will challenge you, just as you’ve been challenging other speakers on this stage.

That’s a couple cents for me. I don’t know if it makes any sense. It may make nonsense. I don’t think it makes no sense. It makes sense to me. Hey, Bez, we’ll get to you, Bez, just in one second, because we do want Jason to go next. Um, we’re trying to do, like, the round robin right now. And I just wanted to say that I think, Vincent, you’re, like, you’re Your wisdom is so, it, there, and the second most important thing Other than time is culture, and I’ve been involved with a number of companies where the culture’s messed up, and it leads to a, a spiraling down.

Absolutely. The companies go under. Toxicity, yes. Oh, it’s the worst. It’s the worst. Or they, or they push out some of the most crucial, uh, part, employees. Of their company, like last year, I had so many of the best developers, like, in some of these, like, uh, especially gaming and writing when the writer’s strike was going on, being pushed out just because, you know, the paper pushers were not, like, earned the number.

Guys, we’re just looking at them as numbers and not, like, their true value that they bring.

All right, sounds good. So, Jason, uh, we wanted to hear from you. Thank you for being patient. And, Bez, thank you for being patient as well. Uh, Jason, we want to hear from you. If you have a horror story or a, or maybe a, uh, you’ve had a successful, uh, a story that you can share with us. Yeah. This is very interesting.

Um, I’ve taken the time from the last couple of companies to really drill down on this. So I upgraded values to actual principles and I make them biblical to answer the question of where mine come from. Mine come from the Bible. So. I’m, I would, I don’t know, I’m glad I didn’t get some kind of horror movie given to me as my first book in grade three.

Oh my gosh! Because it was the Bible that Gideon gave me in grade three. So, I don’t think it’s just random. Um, I think, you know, there’s, I can definitely look back at my life and see that it’s, my life has been in a line with, in alignment with that book. Um, I wrote my second, my first book. Two years after that in grade five, and it was prophesied my life so far.

Uh, I haven’t become prime minister yet, but I’m running next decade. And it’s about that grade five. So I haven’t really met anybody that has my story. Everybody’s story is different, but I think because, you know, um, a lot of entrepreneurs that have a lot of employees, you know, make a lot of revenues and blow up really fast.

They don’t have the time. I had 25 years. On the side while I was working in Corporate Canada. So I had all of that time to write out all of these inspired poems. And I put together, when I got let go from my job, that’s when I became full time in the pandemic. And I put together all of my writings. And I looked at all of the values expressed in everything I had written as a poet.

And I pulled out seven principles. And I said, hey, these are biblical. So those are My corporation’s principles are beyond values like I asked my mom. She worked for Bank of Montreal like 30 something years I said you remember its corporate values. No, they weren’t that significant, but these are significant They’re in a book course and I make people do the course to have a chance to work with me I did make an exception for my first hire that I met on this app because his English isn’t great Um, he lives in Mumbai, but for other people, they actually have to win a scholarship to get hired.

And I follow Bill Gates advice, actually. What he said he’d do if he had to start over. I worked at Microsoft, and he said that he wouldn’t start so young by dropping out. And then the second thing is he wouldn’t have any full time employees. So I won’t, even my wife won’t be full time. I’m, I don’t have a co founder.

So I’ve had the time, um, without a lot of sales. I’ve had the time to really drill down, drill down. And then that’s a gift because I think you could, like, for instance, like when you’re really getting and making a lot of money, like we had this in some situations and some companies I worked for, there’s just not the time.

We had to hire so fast that we were taking people straight off the, like off the street. Because we had to, you know, set so big sales, not my company, but when I worked at Fleet Complete, another software company at one point. So there wasn’t time for people to learn the corporate values. It was just like, Hey, can you take an answer call?

You know, our call handle times are too long. We don’t want to lose our contract with AT& T. So I think having the time to delve into these things as a founder is, is a huge. Uh, amazing blessing that I’ve had. Um, sometimes I’ve lamented it, not even having a spouse or a co founder all these years, but, um, I think I’m the only one that has a business model where you have to pass the course the founder wrote over 25 years of his life just to get a chance to get to work with him.

So mine are nailed down. That’s awesome. Jason, we appreciate, we appreciate this Jason. And I think. Canada needs some, uh, culture upgrades. So looking forward to, uh, to seeing your political career advance Mi Michael. Yeah, absolutely. Like, and Jason, I think you bring up an interesting concept, Jason, and the, uh, the, the concept is do our values as entrepreneurs actually come from, uh, established texts, I’ll call it.

Um, long established texts, and do they come from our parents? Do they come from our grandparents? Do they come from, uh, like from all these different sources? And that’s ultimately where our values come from. Are we deliberate about choosing our values or do they just happen to us? I think that’s the other question I, I, I’ve been asking, are the values that I have for my life and also the values which then flow out into my businesses, do they just happen to me?

Or did I make a decision for them to happen to me? And it’s funny, uh, as individuals, we quite often herald the, I make decisions for my life and that’s why I want to be an entrepreneur. Do you really? Or have people put the decisions on you and you didn’t even realize it or did they flow their values into you and you didn’t even realize it yet.

So I must admit one of the things I do periodically is I go away for a couple of days. I go away by myself. And, uh, for a few days, actually, and I sit down and I really think, and I really think about life. The first day I spend dumping all my, all my thoughts and all my stresses into a Word document, which no one will ever read, I can guarantee you that.

Like, just, just dump it all out there. And once I’ve got it all out of the system as such, I begin to really think about the deeper things of life. I begin to think about my values. Where did I, where did they come from? I begin to think about what’s really important to me. I begin to think about, okay, I’ve got a culture inside of my business.

And it could have been a business you didn’t found, but you actually acquired. How do you change the culture of a business? What do you need to do? How do you reset the culture? Um, let’s imagine the previous founder was a megalomaniac, and you’ve now acquired the business. Um, and you need to reset the culture.

Or would I say megalomania? It could have been that they were so detailed oriented, they were a micromanager. But you want to go and have a culture where people feel empowered. Yeah. So it’s, um, how do you reset the culture? There’s all these questions which really come to my mind, but I’d love to hear from Bez.

Bez, welcome to the stage of the Complete Entrepreneur, where we try to tackle some of these difficult questions and dig into them a little bit in the hour that we have. So Bez, I’d love to hear from you. Thank you. You know, I’m glad that you said they’re difficult because they are. Um, and there’s been some great conversation.

I don’t know what’s Vincent or Justin about groupthink, but, um, culture will look different from what Colin was talking about a startup and that it takes some time, absolutely. Versus a hundred year old company. Their journey is further along and may have looked different. And that’s why for me, when you use, you know, if anybody uses the word best practices, I started.

You know, it’s cringe because what may look like best practice somewhere else, it doesn’t, it has to be modified in my environment. Right. And I’ll give you a quick example. Um, uh, I worked at a, uh, faith based, uh, health, uh, system and academic setting. And, and probably the only place I can still remember their mission.

which was the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ. The only one is pretty simple and it was prevalent over the a hundred years. They plus they’ve been in existence and then they try to go through the exercise of now we’re going to state our values and they go through the whole thing. And, um, You know, some people felt included, some people didn’t and, uh, but so what they came out with their stated values, a 100 year old organization, you know, is going to have some different dynamics in a startup, right?

Um, because they’ll be subcultures within the culture, right? And. Sub values within the values, right? And, and values and cultures needs to be led, led from the very top, but supported from the very bottom altogether, right? Because if you have a leader that rolls their eyes on one thing, You’re toast, right?

Because people real that, that has sent a strong message. If you’re a company that you’re a leader and you send your employees messages at two in the morning, you have set a value, which has set now a tone for the culture. There’s so many nuances in this. And then, um, uh, so let’s say you go through that exercise of establishing your, your values, right.

Based on your culture. And now you’re using. And every, I mean, now it permeates everything you do from even your hiring decisions. I mean, now you have hiring guides that tell you, you know, we’re going to ask these behavioral based questions and we’re going to score them. And if they, uh, you know, meet our values, we’re going to hire them.

Well, you know. You know, that can be a double edged sword, right? What if you end up hiring all the same people that not the same way think the same way? That becomes a dangerous place, right? Innovation on one side, but then on, on the other side, very exclusive and, and it can be very, and it can, with a leader.

Can go, can really go down a dangerous path and there’s other things that will come out of that, that I won’t even get into. So, it’s a lot of ebb and flow and when I say it’s green, it may be black and when I say black, it may be green. It is so hard to nail down, but um, it is something that is a continuous journey and worthy to keep working on.

And keep, and keep trying to make sure you’re developing that environment that is what you’re trying to, you know, that culture you’re trying to establish that is challenging, yet you, you know, where you want, you know, what is the culture you want to set yet also be open to hearing other voices that may not agree with you.

Right. So that way that when you’re in the room, it’s not. Diversity, but diversity of thought that you have in there and you can do beautiful things in that. So I’ll just land my my plane there. It’s a worthy journey. I don’t have an answer. Every organization is different. Yeah, Baz, look, that was really, really interesting, like what you were sharing just then.

And appreciate your thoughts on this topic. I like, I think that the, the, the interesting thing I’d like to come back to you yourself, Colin, on this is that Jackson, it’s almost a juxtaposition between values and culture. And I want to push it to the next level is that if you as an entrepreneur have identified your values, then how do they impact the culture of your business?

And what happens if you discover, hey, you know what, maybe my values weren’t that good after all, how do you then change the culture of your business? So let’s imagine, um, let’s imagine you have two partners. And, uh, they bring two sets of values as organizations. And as I used the example before, one is incredibly detailed, orange, and the other one is very visionary.

And, uh, so these two sets of values as such are going to permeate the organization. So now one of the partners goes off and it retires. So the partner that’s a visionary is left and now he’s got a culture which is a mismatch of detail versus visionary and like, like, how should you reset the culture? And if you’re going to reset the culture, how do you reset the culture column?

Like, like, what is it that an entrepreneur needs to do to be able to move their business forward? Um, and, and take those, those following steps. I will answer that. That was a mess of a conversation. I said that. No, no, I’ll get up. Uh, Bez, I like your continuous learning. I think it’s evolving. It never, it never stopped.

It never stops. Uh, the culture does change. I’m involved in about 20 companies and one of them we just changed over because, uh, the culture was absolutely toxic. I think Vincent brought that up and. And, you know, it began losing a lot of money in the millions, unfortunately, two years in a row. And so we, uh, we changed the leader and we had our first meeting, our strategic planning session in January, end of January.

And I can’t tell you how happy the leadership team was after we made these changes. And a lot of it, it wasn’t because of We’re going to implement this strategy or that strategy or this. It was because there was some culture changes. And, and I’m going to be careful here because we haven’t defined the new culture statements yet.

Uh, I will say that, you know, there was a lot of sense from a lot of the leaders that they had ideas that no one listened to them. And so we know that as we go forward, we’re going to hit that nail on the head. We’re going to Address that we’re going to make certain that we have a culture statement talks about everyone’s ideas are great, or we’ll listen to everyone’s.

I don’t have them worked out. You know, we come up when we’re doing the slide here. We’re we’re a community. You can tell, right? We’re a community of startups trying to come together and figure out how we can be more successful and help others and change the world. Um, but, uh, coming up with, you know, some type of value statements around this idea that.

It doesn’t matter where the ideas come from. Ideas can be great for everyone. And, um, and I just, it was just fascinating to see the way that they behaved and changed because they’re such talented people and, and talent can be destroyed. It can be, it can be toxic. It can be destroyed by a bad culture. And I think the first thing that we started to do, it was really the CEO who started to do this, was to work on the culture and to work on, not to sit there and write up the value statements, okay, I’m talking about the real, really, really doing it, like really setting up in the right environment so that your employees can succeed.

Recognizing greatness. You know, those kind of things that we talk about again in the book. I know I keep going back to this book, but it really does address a lot of what happens in the companies that I’ve been involved with the last 25 years. So can you change the culture? Absolutely. But sometimes it needs a leadership change.

Sometimes, I agree with you Colin, on that. Sorry, sorry to interrupt. Sometimes if you have a partnership, it means, means a separation of a partnership. Michael and I want to hand it off to you at that point. Yeah, no, I agree. Sometimes it does. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting one. Yeah. It’s, um, uh, I, I have a company for instance, where, um, the em, the employees are terrified of making decisions because they would be punished if they made a wrong decision.

Um, and, uh, I, I, I began to change the culture, um, just, just recently where I, like, for instance, I said to the development team, I said, if you guys are in agreement, then spend the money. And they immediately said, what happens if it’s wrong? I said, then you’ll have my backing. I’d much rather you make mistakes and learn from them than to make, to make no decision at all.

And they sort of looked at each other, the teams, the small team, and it’s like. You know, this is, this is not what we’re used to. I said, I’ll back you the whole way. The only, there’s only one decision I will not back you on, and that’s no decision. That’s the only one. I said, the only way we will never get from point A to point B is if we make no decision.

If we go from point A to point B and we go in the complete opposite direction, we’ll learn from that experience, and we’ll slowly bring it around with more subsequent decisions until we get to point B. Yeah. And a part of this, I began to really reflect on in some of my times, uh, a reflection and what I was really talking about as a culture in, uh, we actually have a, a, a whole company retreat on Monday, Tuesday, this, this coming week.

The, the, the culture, the thing I want to bring to bear is assigning responsibility and the agency to go along and do what you’re responsible for. I repeat that. That’s a cultural thing. It’s responsibility. Assigning responsibility, not tasks, and that came from you Colin, responsibility, but the agency to be able to fulfill that responsibility.

So what was happening in the past is the team would have the responsibility, but not the agency. The previous leaders, um, would not give them the agency to fulfill their responsibility, as they would become terrified. Yeah, so now I’m stepping in, for instance, is there a real Real thing I’m saying agency and responsibility.

So for instance, our travel policy, uh, I’ve now rewritten it basically into like one sentence, we trust our employees to do the right thing. There, there’s a travel policy. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a different, um, it’s a different way of, of, of working and, um, it is really It reminds me, it reminds me of, we had a company in, in 2005, Hostopia, and my brother, who was the CTO, he, he decided, like, to put in video cameras all throughout the office.

To see if people were working. So I came in, I had no idea. I had no idea he did this. I came into the office and said, holy shit, what the hell did you do? I had them all ripped out. We will not, we’re not a police state. What kind of company does that? You know what I’m saying? Talk about toxicity, right? But it’s just funny you said that, you know, let people you know, let people do it, yeah.

Yeah, the other thing is like another cultural thing which which I’m tackling. So this topic is very real for me right now. Is, just launch it. What I mean by that is, uh, there, there was that sort of sense of fear, what happens if it goes wrong and all that sort of stuff. I said, just push the button, just launch this thing, and then let’s learn from it.

And, uh, and, and once again, that was a really big cultural Issue, um, like how, like, what do you mean by just launch it? And one of the things I get very impressed about when I look at a company like SpaceX Isn’t the fact that they’re amazing things is the fact they have a culture still After 20 years of let’s just launch this thing Incredible adversity.

Like you think about it, like the press, when they first launched the first big starship out of Brownsville, um, it, it blew up after a few minutes into the air and everyone, I just love the culture that all the press was like, Oh, Musk blows up another spaceship, blah, ha ha ha ha. But then if you look at the control room.

The entire control room and all the employees standing outside and everything like that in the control room were all cheering, they’re all cheering because the culture somehow is still, it was permeated, was one of, wow, we did it. It got past the tower. It didn’t just blow up in a launch pad. So then they launched another one.

And it went basically just about went to orbit this, by the way, this, this, this thing is, um, three times bigger than the Saturn five that took the astronauts, the moon. Three times. So it’s massive, right? So they launched it nearly gets into space and all the press was out there saying what a disaster Long, this is the most ridiculous thing and all that sort of stuff because it blew up And once again, you take a look at the control room You take a look at all the employees at SpaceX and they’re just overjoyed because they met their goal Their goal wasn’t to get the orb.

The goal was to get to a particular point in the flight path And they did a whole lot of learning from it. So the next time there’s launching, it’s launching in March. There’s a third test going up and, um, they’ve now stated categorically, yes, they get into orbit this time. The biggest thing mankind’s ever thrown into orbit, like it does have that culture of risk taking for entrepreneurs and then to reward people to the point of, they just blew up this a hundred million dollar rocket and everyone’s tearing.

Like that, to me, that is the, the essence of, of why I say a company like SpaceX is going forward, like you wouldn’t believe, versus other companies, they’re languishing, yeah, they’re really languishing, it’s, it’s how do you maintain a culture, because I think Vincent, you brought up the fact that, um, The bean counters get involved and they say, Oh, look, we could save a hundred million dollars by not blowing up this rocket.

And we could do this, that, the other, um, and put all these, these, these things in place and all that sort of stuff. And the bean counters get involved. And before, you know, you no longer have a company. Exactly. It’s obvious. No, no, I don’t mean to interrupt, it’s just you’re saying something that’s rather important to me.

Yeah, yeah. So, another thing, if you bring up SpaceX, and, uh, let’s not talk about, like, who’s, who runs it, or whatever, I’m not gonna get into that, but, however, I, I will a little bit. So, the owner of the company, his heroes, Buzz Aldrin and, ah, Neil Armstrong, were literally When, in the beginning of this, they were just dragging on him to a level that was just disparaging, like, I couldn’t believe it, like, it’s just like, wait, this is a person who’s, like, you know, like, it might be different than what you’re used to, old guys, guess what, like, think differently, best marketing campaign there’s ever been, right?

Um, well, that’s my opinion, at least, you know, the Apple Think Differently campaign. Absolutely. Um, but, like, I, I, I personally kept the, uh, Einstein, uh, resting his hand on his head from 2008 to 2012 as my background, and again from 2018 to 21, um, just to remind me to think differently, because, well, when you’re congruent with everyone else, you’re not really doing things that really stick out.

And especially in a startup, that’s precisely what you want to do. You want to stand out from the rest of them, right? And I just have to say, yeah, the explosions, which, I rather love explosions when they don’t hurt people. They’re awesome. Um, uh, you know, movies, or, you know, targets. Yeah, um, but uh, really, successes, or what is success, right?

They say fail, fail, fail, and fail some more. That’s truly what success is. This is, um, one of my thoughts, um, truly, because if you don’t end what you said, Michael, I just launched it. And you know what? Uh, I’m right at that point where I’m about to launch myself a C Corp that I’ve built myself since October 1st, 2018, working 12 to 20 hours a day.

Mine’s 59 days. Which, don’t do that, please. Everyone listening, don’t do that. Like, not like I’m trying to keep it for myself, it’s just like, don’t do that. That might be damaging to your health or psyche. Wasn’t for me, because, uh, Well, no one, like they say about CEOs, no one will ever care about your company as much as you do.

And, I find that to be paramount that you do. Obsess over that company. If it is something you’re founding that you’ve found that’s different, that you find it to be big, like, great enough that you’re gonna go out and stick your name on it, put your neck out. And do what you’re going to do. Don’t listen to the birds.

Be you. Everyone else is taken. That’s Oscar Wilde. I completely agree with you, Vincent. Yeah, like, I think the, the thing is, is, as we discussed, just to wrap things up, I can’t believe the hour’s gone already, Colin, but, uh, to wrap things up, is really identifying what are your values? Where do they come from?

Are they good values? Are they values you, you actually aspire to yourself and then as you launch your company, you’ll probably find those values begin to flow out into, uh, the rest of the organization. If you aspire to be a very truthful person, then you’ve always have been, have been a seeker of the truth and a little flow out of the company.

People will begin to look for the truth in analysis of data and all that sort of thing. Um, if you aspire to go along and just launch it. Then that will eventually just permeate the company. Or do you want to go along and bring a different set of values, which is unique to you. And I think one of the privileges as an entrepreneur, uh, as entrepreneurs that we have is our companies quite often will reflect who we are and are like a mirror to who we are.

So if you have problems in your culture, then ask yourself another question is, do you have problems within yourself? And I will leave it on that deep thaw. I will leave it on that deep thaw. Spot on. Spot on, I have to say. But also, Michael, that document you pour your thoughts into, you said no one will ever read.

Pass it my way. I’ll dissect it. No, no, no, definitely don’t want anyone to read that one. But anyway, you’ll be listening to the Complete Entrepreneur. It just shows what happens every Thursday at 5 p. m. Eastern time. And it’s fantastic having each and every one of you here with me up on stage. Vincent, Jason, Bez, Justin and Tara, uh, a new co moderator.

And of course, my wonderful friend and close colleague. And that’s Colin. Colin, what’s going on with Startup Club as we wrap things up? Well, I think we just had an amazing show, and I’m glad we’re syndicating this one in podcast because, you know, our three values we have, um, on Colin C. Campbell and Startup Club, strength through diversity, boldly go, give to get.

And today, everyone on stage exemplified all three of those, uh, values. And that’s something, it’s really, really cool, I have to say. Uh, and so tomorrow we’re doing at two o’clock Eastern. We’re having a, uh, a second week in a row. We’re doing an open mic a I talk about how we can use a I to accelerate our startup.

Uh, it was really fun last week. This time we might bring in, uh, our a I friend pie or I think I didn’t actually be team before, but. If you’ve not downloaded Py. ai, it’s really, it’s free and it’s really neat. Um, and, uh, but in any case, uh, that’s tomorrow’s show at two o’clock and we’ve got a lot of speakers coming on.

We’re starting to book a lot of speakers up. And if you’re not on the email list, you’re not going to know when they’re coming. Unfortunately, this app does not allow us. To, uh, tell you when we have phenomenal speakers coming on and, uh, but you will know if you sign up to the email list at startup. club and, uh, that’s something I would recommend you do.

All right. Thank you very much, everyone. We’ll see you tomorrow or we’ll see you in another show on startup club. Absolutely. Absolutely. Right. Absolutely. I look forward to seeing you next Thursday. Um, next Thursday on the 29th of February, we’ll be looking at transforming into a sales organization, growing from a product development mindset to delivering for customers.

Uh, we’re going to be beginning to unpack that and like, how do you do that? How do you, how do you get that tension between development and also sales under control as well? And so we’re going to be looking at all of that because there’s always tension between development and sales. Um, sales will, will promise impossible things that development can’t deliver and development will try to drag everything out forever.

So that it’s impossible to sell. So how do you actually deal with that as an entrepreneur when you’re sitting in the middle? Trying to go along and mediate between these two parts of your, your company or are they two parts? Maybe they’re the same path. Anyway, it’s going to be an interesting conversation.

Look forward to having it with you next week and God bless in your business. Have a wonderful time. See you later. Bye.


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