Forget outcomes, build culture.


At your next team meeting, forget outcomes, meditate for a moment and ask one simple question: Are we building culture?

Steve Hall, President of Drivers Select, a used car dealer  in Dallas begins his management meetings asking: What act of kindness did we notice in our company today? Hall is thinking long-term, wants to treat people right and selling cars is secondary to his business model.

Drivers Select has grown from $30 million in 2008 and expects to touch $108 million in revenue in 2016 in an industry notoriously plagued by consumer complaints. Hall has built a culture that genuinely cares for its people and embraces four core values: transparency, taking ownership, consistent learning and celebrating small victories.

According to Hall, his employees want to work in a culture that recognizes them as individual human beings.

On a larger scale, Bob Chapman, CEO of the $1.7 billion manufacturing company, Barry-Wehmiller, is so people-centric that he treats every employee as a life entrusted to him. He does not tie the individual to a business function or process. Chapman measures success by  how his business touches peoples lives and not the next quarter.

“You will need a higher purpose and conscious leaders who will help build your business on love and care, not stress,” says Raj Sisodia, a co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism movement. “Profits cannot be pursued, instead they ensue. The more you pursue profits, the more you will cut corners.”

In 10 years, 75% of the U.S. workforce will be led by millennials, a generation that doubts that capitalism can be a force for good. This selfless generation might get detached from the pursuit of short term profits, think long-term and care more about people and purpose.

Will you be ready with a great culture or will you still be worrying about short term outcomes?

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College recruiters and the battle for the American mind


For the last six months, college recruiters have been fighting for a piece of my daughter’s evolving, mostly distracted teenage mind. They desperately want her to apply to college.

I’ve tried my best to make her apply with my constant nagging. She finally looked at three colleges, chose none and the rest are in a cluttered inbox.

Recruiters across the U.S. have been trying hard to lure this young American mind to join the hallowed halls of our shared $1.2 trillion debt trap. The first to approach were recruiters from giant public universities touting the words access, innovation and entrepreneurship. Little did they know that they were trying to reach a teenager whose mind is wired to  Drake’s Hotline Bling.

The public universities offered her a huge platter, like the over-sized menu at Chinese fast food restaurants.  Her options are just unlimited: she can study, dream, experiment, leave, fail fast, innovate, or move to Swaziland through a study abroad course. The best option of all? She can remain undecided.

Next came recruiters from savvy private colleges with cute emails crafted by writers with online degrees in Teen Friendly Subject Lines. Over 2,000 subject lines are now fighting for space on a 4.5 inch glass screen. Some plead, others inspire with motivational quotes. Most have promised her that their faculty to student ratio will help her get to Mars.

Meanwhile, recruiters with sophisticated data teams have mailed glossy over-sized post cards with stereotypical images of smiling, successful Indian kids in white lab coats. Sadly, they don’t understand that some Indian kids are not destined to be engineers or physicians.

On dry Arizona evenings, we got postcards from recruiters in the East Coast inviting her to see fall colors. They gave us a sense of relief from the heat, but failed to understand that this family cannot afford to take a plane ride to see a college in the woods.

The best recruiters were the ones who took care of everything for her.  They waived application fees, told her not to worry about essays, informed her that reference letters were not needed and the greatest consolation was that they didn’t believe in standardized test scores. All they wanted was her application so that they could get our common taxpayer funded mortgage to work.

So, just 15 minutes shy of the stroke of midnight last Sunday, she finally applied to one college. We waited with abated breath outside her room just to make sure that she submitted the application before the midnight deadline. As parents, we felt greater joy than seeing her arrive on this earth.

And, we had one tip for recruiters. Kids are as selective as your colleges are and they know where they want to go.

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