Customer Service, Company Culture and Authenticity With Bob Glazer

I had the pleasure of sitting down with best-selling author, and culture and marketing leader Bob Glazer. We dive into the importance of customer service for your employees, why companies struggle with authenticity and more.


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How to Stop Hiring Toxic Employees (A Lesson for Every Company)

We’ve all done it.

We hired someone who spoils our company culture. They spoil team alignment, alienate others and are typically only cordial to your company’s best clients.

I’ve mistakenly hired these people before. But today I have guidelines that greatly increases the likelihood that I won’t hire them again. I’ll be sharing these lessons with you in this blog post and you’ll learn:

  • How to create better job descriptions to repel these people from even applying to your company.
  • My two-step sign-off system for every hire. There’s a trick here that will likely be new to you.
  • A sample of my interview process that has been replicated 100+ times by companies like yours.

Before making an offer to a team member, it’s important to understand the cost of a hiring toxic employee and familiarize yourself with red flags.

Cornerstone OnDemand created a report that shared the following data about hiring toxic employees:

  • Good employees are 54% more likely to quit when they work with a toxic employee.
  • By making their co-workers significantly more likely to leave, toxic employees lead to rising replacement costs; hiring a single toxic employee onto a team of 20 workers costs approximately $12,800. Whereas hiring a non-toxic employee costs an employer an average of $4,000.
  • Toxic employees have a negligible effect on the performance of their co-workers. This suggests that they have a stronger influence on stress and burnout than on day-to-day task completion.

This indicates that not only are toxic employees hurting the company culture, but they are also negatively impacting financial results. If this won’t get the attention of every senior executive and director at your company, what will?

Before you put yourself and your company in a vulnerable position by hiring a toxic employee, consider these red flags.

company culture, toxic employees, application, resume, punctuality

Everyone can agree that hiring toxic employees is bad business. Now let’s explore why we still do it.

I think there are three key reasons why companies of all sizes continue to hire toxic employees:

  • These employees “hit their numbers.” For example, a salesperson achieves their quarterly targets, a software engineer ships clean, high-quality code on-time or a digital marketer produces Facebook ads with a CPC of less than $0.10.
  • We’re toxic too. Sometimes leaders attract like-minded individuals. This is one of the hardest questions we need to ask ourselves, “Am I an asshole too?”
  • We don’t have guardrails in place to ensure that cultural misfits and toxic employees don’t even get a chance to join our companies.

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions should accurately represent what it’s like to work at an organization. These documents should clearly outline what’s most important to the company, how to be successful operating within it and what will alienate an employee.

Too often companies will go to Google, type in “job description template,” and plug and play. I’m not suggesting that using a template for benchmarking purposes is wrong. However, I am suggesting that before you use a template, ask yourself, “Who wrote it?” “Are they credible?” and “Do they have a similar company culture as mine?” If you can’t answer those questions confidently then don’t use it for something as important as hiring for your company.

Remember, your job description is the first impression that your company gives to new applicants and anyone looking to build a relationship with your company. This impression should align with the current state of your company culture. If your culture is performance-based, like Netflix, then have it read like that. If it’s more fun, like Zappos, then ensure the job description reflects that. 

Use Warby Parker’s job description as an example. Notice how it reads? It’s welcoming, playful and sets clear expectations. 

Also, it aligns with one of their core values, “Create an environment where employees can think big, have fun and do good.” 

Most importantly, it includes language that should repel toxic employees, such as, “Along the way, you’ll  partner with motivated, collaborative individuals who take their work (but not themselves seriously.”

toxic employees, company culture, warby parker

Key Takeaway: review your job descriptions this week and ask yourself, “Does this document represent our brand well in order to repel toxic employees?”

Two-Step Sign-Off System

In any company I have ownership in or advise on, I implement a two-person sign-off system. Every person that is hired must be approved by at least two (often more) senior leaders within the company.

You’ve likely heard of the two-person sign-off system before but it’s what we sign-off on that is most important. Often, companies will sign-off on the candidate’s ability to perform the job at hand. This is important but what is equally as important, and perhaps even more important, is their ability to join the team, and contribute to company culture without being disruptive to what you’ve already built.

When it comes to the two-step sign-off system, I have found that it works well if you follow these steps:

two-step sign-off system, toxic employees, company culture

Taunton Village Dental, the only client I still advise today (I retained this client after stepping away from consulting because the dental industry is tough and I like the challenge), is a real-world example of the two-step sign-off system working well. The dental practice needed to hire an associate dentist urgently. After a series of interviews, which included a working interview, the dental practice’s Director of Operations was prepared to make a candidate an offer.

Before making the hire, the Director of Operations met with her Treatment Coordinator (someone from a neighbouring department) asking for feedback on the hire. The Treatment Coordinator shared observations that she gathered from the working interview that indicated that the candidate would be toxic to the culture. After discussing these observations together they determined that it would be wrong to hire this candidate so they did not make an offer. Together, they reviewed the pool of candidates, aligned themselves and hired an associate dentist that they both agreed on.

Key Takeaway: Ensure that the two people signing-off on each new hire work in different departments. It works brilliantly!

The Proven Interview Process

Hospitality is known for many things, one of which is high employee turnover. In 2016, before I embarked in owning restaurants and bars in the city of Toronto, I knew that this would be a challenge to overcome so I built a regimented interview process.

Not only did this interview process help with improving our employee retention, but it also ensured that cultural misfits or toxic employees didn’t even get the chance to join us. I can’t say that we haven’t made a bad hire. However, I can confidently tell you that it has drastically improved the quality of candidates that we have made offers to. This interview process has been replicated by over one hundred companies such as Subway, Alfa Romeo, LUSH Cosmetics, and others. I teach my proven interview process through keynote speeches, workshops, and my book.

Pay close attention to the structure of the process. Notice how the culture interview happens before the skill set interview? Prior to gauging their skillset to the best of my ability, I want to learn how they will behave within our culture. At this point, what they have accomplished in the past isn’t as important as how they will contribute to our company culture in the future.

company culture, toxic employees, stop hiring toxic employees

During our culture interview we follow these steps to identify toxic employees and remove them from the process:

  • We probe for behaviours during times of turbulence by asking questions to better understand how they will lead or be led when things aren’t going well in the business.
  • We don’t bring their resume to the culture interview. All you need to know is their name and position they are applying for. I don’t want the hiring manager to be enamored by their resume and ignore the fact that they could be toxic to our culture.
  • We have five core values within our company (celebration, ownership, foresight, integrity, humility). For each core value, we ask two questions that help us identify whether or not the candidate will be a good fit for our company culture. It’s difficult to fake it over a series of 10+ questions
  • If the candidate doesn’t pass the culture interview then we remove them from the interview process immediately. It doesn’t matter what their resume says or what their past accomplishments are. Our culture is too important to us.

Key Takeaway: Don’t allow yourself to gravitate towards the candidate’s resume and past accomplishments. Evaluate whether the candidate aligns with your company’s values and team members first.

A company can’t afford to have an imbalance between hiring for skills and hiring for camaraderie. According to the Center for American Progress, employee turnover can cost organizations anywhere from 16% to 213% of the lost employee’s salary. Follow the three suggestions I’ve listed and watch your hiring methodology improve, and finances increase. 

Want more?

Brian Scudamore Interview: How To Grow A Business By Focusing On Company Culture

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E brands, to discuss how he went door-to-door with a single truck to creating 300,000,000+ in revenue each year!

Brian and the 1-800-Got-Junk? team is where I started my career in Vancouver many years ago. It was here that was first exposed to company culture and putting people over profits.

Click the video above to see the full interview or read the transcript below!

MICHEL: Ladies and gentlemen, I am with Brian Scudamore. You know his background. You know his history. I’m going to jump in to the first question. It has to do with defining success for yourself as an individual. You have built a company that does hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. You’ve impacted the lives of customers, employees, and community. You don’t come across as the type of guy that needs the Ferrari. How do you define success?

BRIAN: Yeah, I don’t need a Ferrari. I wouldn’t want a Ferrari. I’d love to go … It’s on my 101 life goals list to rent a Ferrari in Italy for a weekend and go drive the coast. That would be cool. I can appreciate the sportsmanship of the car and the mechanics and so on, but that wouldn’t make me happy. The happiness would fade after a day of driving a Ferrari. Why would I want to own one? I wouldn’t feel right in one. I’m not a fancy guy.

To me, success, and I think as we all get older, which we all are every day, is you get smarter and wiser. I think for me, what success is and what I understand motivates me is making a difference in people’s lives. I would way rather watch someone else, a franchise partner of ours, if that’s what they wanted, was go buy a Ferrari. Paul Guy who was in Toronto, who’s our most successful franchise partner, he was the first. You know him. $16 million in revenue now a year in Toronto with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He owns an Audi R8. Good for him, right?

That’s important to him. That’s a goal. Awesome. I love watching people build success and have an impact with what we’re doing, because they’re taking our recipe, whether it’s Shack Shine or Wow 1 Day Painting, to get into a franchise and they go build it to me. To me, I feel a part of helping make meaning much more than the making money.

MICHEL: One of the slogans you have within the company is it’s all about people. On the surface that could seem like a platitude and a great rallying point. How do you take it’s all about people and embed it into the DNA of the company and impact hundreds of franchisees and get thousands of employees to follow behind that?

BRIAN: That’s an awesome question. To make it more than just a platitude …

It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the junction, our head office. You’ve come in and rather than seeing a brand, you see it’s all about people with my name below it. Where that started, we had a woman who was here years ago, Holly. Holly Goes, “Brian, you always say it’s all about people. Let’s put it up in the front center for everyone to see. Let’s put your name below it so that people know it’s something you stand by as the leader that we can all follow behind.”

Then it is simply, and I say simply, I mean it really is this simple finding the right people who fit with that philosophy. When you were here, you get that it’s all about people. You were a really caring, fun guy around here. You’d sit there and say, “Hey, you guys want to learn to get healthier? Let’s go do some boxing. Let’s go downstairs to the gym. I’ll teach you how to box.” You care about others as they would about you. Find the right people, treat them right. It is all about people. That’s all any brand you own … You’re in the hospitality business, all that, all that you have in any restaurant that’s different from anyone else is really the people who are creating the food, serving the food and are part of the experience.

MICHEL: Whether it’s Netflix, O2E or my company, we’ve achieved success through company culture. Why is it that some companies or leaders still on going all in with company culture?

I think A, there’s a bit of a company leaders don’t always know how to build culture.

BRIAN: Yeah, or lack of skill. I mean, think of this, people who know how to run a good party, that’s creating culture within your home or within your business, wherever you’re throwing the party. Why can’t you put the same care and attention into a company? Make the culture the cult that you have within your organization where you’re like, “This is the party we’re living.” Every party isn’t full of tons of booze and people just screaming and going crazy. Whatever a party looks like to you as a company leader, create that same environment within your business. People overthink it. What are all the contests? What are all the rewards? Just think of the type of people you want to invite to the party first. Then sit there and say, “How do we grow this by holding ourselves accountable to the right people we’ve got on the bus?” When you’ve got the wrong people in one of your restaurants or in one of my companies, get those wrong people out. It could just be that the wrong people right now for the business or they’re in the wrong seat and maybe there’s a way to get them in the right seat.

MICHEL: Is there a company that you admire for their culture that you learn from?

BRIAN: Who do I admire for culture. I think one of them, and I talk about it way too much, but I also love the coffee side of the business, is Starbucks. The reason why I talk about them so much is they’ve got so many locations across the planet, and somehow every single time I go into a Starbucks in Saskatoon, in southern California, it doesn’t matter where it is, the barista says hello, smiles, says goodbye, says thank you.

“They just have a warmth about them. How is that possible that from store-to-store, region-to-region, country-to-country they’ve been able to maintain that? I admire that.”

I think if I look at 1-800-GOT-JUNK or any of our brand, Shack Shine, our methodology is hire happy people. I think that while we didn’t take that phrase from anywhere, but it’s our own, I think Starbucks does that.

MICHEL: Do you think it’s harder to control when you’re franchised the employees, I hate to use the word control, manage rather, when you are a franchise versus corporate or licensed?

BRIAN: Is it harder when you’re franchised? I’m going to give you the old yes and no. I mean, as a franchise owner, someone comes in. If you’ve picked the right franchise owner, I think it’s easier. Because if you’ve gotten that right, you have someone who’s got skin in the game, who’s got ownership, who goes,

“This is my culture. It’s going to be slightly different than Brian’s culture or O2E’s culture, but we’ve got the same values. I care about it enough that I’m going to make sure we always find and treat people right.”

I think as a franchise organization it becomes harder if you didn’t get the right franchise owner. I think there’s a lot more failing franchise owners out there than there are successful ones, because if you don’t find the right people, it just implodes quickly.

MICHEL: When I was working with you, I understood my purpose very clearly and that was to one day get into entrepreneurship. I didn’t know, I had no idea that ended up in the restaurants. My agreement with the company, and it was just kind of a self agreement, was I’m going to give myself to the brand. During that time, I’ll contribute to their success, and I’m going to learn entrepreneurship in this environment. If employees within the organization aren’t clear on their purpose, how can a leader help them discover it?

BRIAN: I think a leader can help people discover purpose by just asking questions. If I’m sitting down with young Michelle in the sales center answering phones, doing customer experience work, I’m asking you like “What really motivates you in life?” You think about it. You might have trouble answering that question. I try and push and dive deeper. I’m like, “Why? Why is that important? Why do you love doing that? When are you most alive? When do you most energized?” I think that a leader’s job is to help create followers. How you create followers? Get them connected to you. Learn more about them as a person. What interests and excites them? Help them uncover their purpose in life. Help drive them forward.

MICHEL: How would you describe your leadership style?

BRIAN: I think I lead by trying to throw possibility out there. Simon Sinek, he used to be on our board years ago. I remember he helped me uncover, through a lot of questions, what is my why? He did a brilliant job with it. It really turned into some level of, I create big possibilities and share them with the world. Like magic, some of them might happen. My leadership style is giving big ideas out there to others or helping them find big ideas in themselves and saying, “Hey, maybe we can actually make magic here.” Imagine being in a third country. Imagine having a fourth brand. Just thinking big ideas. Imagine getting on the Oprah Winfrey show.

MICHEL: Which of those that you did?

BRIAN: Yeah, we did the third company or the fourth company. We did the third country. All three of those examples I gave you happened. I didn’t do any one of them. I came up with the idea, but I wasn’t the one executing it. My why, my purpose and leadership style would be inspire with big ideas and create room for others to go out there and make them happen.

MICHEL: Past or present, who would you want on your advisory board that you haven’t had in the past or don’t have right now?

BRIAN: Yeah, that’s a good question. Past or present, who would I want on my advisory board? Nobody. I don’t want an advisory board. We don’t have one any longer. Here’s why.

MICHEL: Why? Because you did.

BRIAN: We did for years. No disrespect to anyone on that board, because they gave a lot of time and energy. What I feel when you’ve got an advisory board and you bring people together, it’s hard for the leader, the entrepreneur to distill whose advice is the best advice.

MICHEL: But don’t you think that you should have been like, “I trust all of these people, therefore I would want to take their advice, because they might come with different expertise.”

BRIAN: Yeah, I trusted them.

MICHEL: This is the first time I’ve ever heard anybody say that, and I love it.

BRIAN: I trusted my board. What would happen is sometimes we’d get this group think. People are like, “Oh yeah, yeah, we all agree you need to do that.”


BRIAN: But I wouldn’t necessarily agree. My gut would say, “I don’t need to do that.” Then what do you do? You’re going against your board. What I prefer, this might just be me, I wouldn’t want to pick one key person to be on my advisory board. I would want to pick key advisors that I go to to learn from.

MICHEL: Got it.

BRIAN: I do that all day long.

MICHEL: Who is you have yet to connect with that that you’re like, “Him or her, I need to get time with that person?”

BRIAN: Yeah, everybody I’ve met with that I felt that way about, you realize there’s a bit of a rockstar in them. Whether it’s a Gary Vaynerchuk, who I met with recently or Fred Deluca started Subway, you get these great people. You meet with them, but then you kind of get a level of, not disappointment about them, but you kind of go, “Wow, they’re just real people like I am right or like you are.” It’s almost like getting behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz. You’re like, “Whoa, you’re just this little person.” I think I enjoy connecting with random strangers. When I’m on a plane, when I’m traveling somewhere, I’m sitting on a train in Europe, and you just meet someone beside you and you start connecting and talking and getting different perspective, that’s the type of advice I love to hear. I love to hear what people are saying about our business and their own innovative ideas rather than connecting necessarily with the rockstars.

MICHEL: Would you suggest that companies are extraordinarily marketing centric before their customer experience focused?

BRIAN: Focused on marketing before customer service? Absolutely not.


BRIAN: No, I think you need to focus on customer service.

MICHEL: It’s not, what do you think we should be doing? What do you think of companies are doing? If you were to look at …

BRIAN: Oh, what do I think companies are doing?


BRIAN: Yeah, no, I think companies are doing it wrong. I think companies are focusing on marketing first and then customer experience. I think you need to flip it. You should have 1/10th of the business and do it really, really, really well before you get up there and market it more. Wow 1 Day Painting, our painting company can go in and paint someone’s home in a day. I want our franchise partners to go in and just nail the job and get it perfect, so that that person is then talking to their neighbors, their friends, their family and saying, “Have you heard of this Wow 1 Day Painting company? They come in. They paint your home in a day.” I want them to be so blown away because of the attention to detail and the care that our franchise owner gave, rather than that franchise owner going, “Let’s go market the crap out of this business. Let’s just get so much business. We can grow this like crazy.” You can grow it organically first, figure out the system, then layer on.

MICHEL: We’re using a lot of the jargon, the organic growth that I absolutely gravitate towards and just the controlled growth. When it comes to customer experience, how are you equating the ROI of your efforts financially?

BRIAN: Yeah, when it comes to customer experience, we’d like to measure NPS.


BRIAN: You were all about NPS here as well. We want to measure our net promoter score to see how we’re doing. Across brands, it varies from high 80s to low 90s, which is awesome. We’re proud of that. I don’t think we’re really quantifying the ROI of customer experience.

MICHEL: Is that a bad thing?

BRIAN: I think we’re almost not trying to quantify it, because it’s just hire awesome people, take care of those people. Here’s my belief. We say this in our painted picture, or vision for our brands. Take care of your people, and they’ll take care of your customer. Take care of your customer, and they’ll take care of the brand and the future growth. With taking care of your people, most companies say, “Oh, the customer is king. The customer’s queen. They’re always right.” No, you know your employee is the king or queen. Treat them with love and respect. Watch how they will then go on to take care of the customer.

MICHEL: Do you think that it’s easier for you and I, because we own private companies? What about the individual, the CFO or the controller of the publicly traded company that needs to report to the street every three months, easier said than done?

BRIAN: No, I think you always take care of your people first. A CFO still has customers. They still know and they’re smart enough to know that the bills are being paid and the money’s rolling in because of whatever product or service they’re selling. They take care of their team, and they do a really great job. Finance is an incredibly important part of the customer experience. If people aren’t getting paid on time and the payment experiences isn’t easy, customers don’t feel valued and then they don’t give value to … employees don’t feel valued and then they don’t give value to the customer. Everybody plays a role.

MICHEL: As a consumer, what companies are you admiring right now for their customer experience other than Starbucks?

BRIAN: Other than Starbucks? Who am I admiring? I think Air Canada, this is interesting because I wouldn’t have said this years ago. Air Canada does a brilliant job in business class. Now I fly coach, but I fly enough that I often get upgraded. I feel like I’ve just won the lottery, because the service in their business class is just so smiley and professional and unbelievable. I think they’ve got an opportunity to figure out how to do it in economy. I think they do such a good job in business class. I feel like, “Are they paying those people more in business class?” Probably not. There’s a level of expectation of the service that needs to be provided. Why can’t you provide that in economy? They do a good job and a not so great job. Who else am I loving right now?

MICHEL: I love that you mentioned Air Canada. My mom’s worked for Air Canada for 30 years.

BRIAN: I ran into your mom at the airport.

MICHEL: Yeah, I told her this morning. I was like, “I’m going to go see Brian.” “Tell him I say hi.”

BRIAN: Yeah, your mom’s awesome. She’s a great women.

MICHEL: She’s worked with him for 33 years as a front line employee. Her relationship with the brand is very, very strong. Therefore, she brings her whole self to work for 33 years. You get that outcome. With NPS and the data that you collect from your customers, going to your strategic planning and budgeting for the year, if the ROI isn’t going to show up on your PNL for 12 to 24 months, do you still make that bet?

BRIAN: If the ROI for what isn’t going to show it for 12 to 24?

MICHEL: If you’re wanting to build initiatives that are going to positively impact the customer experience, but the ROI is 12 to 24 months out.

BRIAN: Yeah, I think it’s so hard to even measure that the ROI is ever there, right? Like my previous answer, I don’t know if we measure it really that closely, because I don’t know if you can. It’s like someone saying, “Hey, here’s the rating I give you as being a good friend right now.” It’s hard to measure that experience and that connection. I think it’s really just you know the right thing to do. Put money into it, enough money that makes sense, and you’re not spending too much.

Customer service is something got to invest in. You can’t grow a brand without being an amazing at what you do.

I think companies that do well at it, Airbnb I think is also great of listening to their customers and listening to their people that are renting places and just getting feedback from their community. I met with the company. I met a guy, Bill, who’s the chief of marketing, chief of community for Yeti. Yeti makes these coolers and drink holders and so on. I was impressed with how much he travels around connecting with the community to understand, and they’re a billion dollar plus company, understand what the customer’s love, opportunities for improvement and just really having that connection to make things better.

MICHEL: When you were in New York with Gary Vaynerchuk, you guys talked about entrepreneurship. I’m paraphrasing, but Gary said something along the lines of entrepreneurship is a really hot topic right now. It seems like everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. Can everybody be an entrepreneur?

BRIAN: I think there’s differing degrees of entrepreneurship. I think that you can get out there and start a small business and sell stuff on Etsy. Is that an entrepreneur? Yeah, you’re entrepreneurial. I think the old school term of an entrepreneur as a real risk taker, getting out there and building something from nothing and growing it. Not Everybody’s cut out to do that. We have a woman who works with us here at Tressa who’s run some businesses. She’s helping with Shack Shine. She’s like, “I don’t want to be an entrepreneur again.” She loves processes and systems and building things, but she didn’t want to go up and just start from scratch and be alone and work through that lonely phase and so on. It isn’t for everyone.

Can everyone be one? I think what I love about O2E brands is I feel like we’re building something bigger and better together versus what we would have ever chosen to do alone. People can choose their degree of entrepreneurship. Someone can run an entire brand, like a Wow 1 Day Painting or You Move Me or someone can be a franchise owner in Shack Shine, building grow their local territory, Toronto, San Francisco, whatever it is. I think it’s a bit of a choose your own adventure type model where pick what you want to do. I think there’s very few people that want to do it all and start from scratch like I might have 30 years ago. The best part of my business career is every time I’ve gotten rid of something to allow others to come in, like Eric Church is our COO, to have others build this with me and to do a better job in just about every area of the business than I ever could. That’s what I love.

MICHEL: What would Brian of today tell the 20 year olds who are wanting to get into entrepreneurship?

BRIAN: Yeah, so for those that do to get into entrepreneurship, I think, we’ve certainly seen a model of franchising is one where a franchise partner can come in with a bit of a springboard and learn from us and grow with a bit of a recipe of success versus starting from scratch. I think I would say to that younger audience, “Don’t shy away from franchising and that learning through someone else’s mistakes.” The other thing I would say is anybody that does go out at whatever level of entrepreneurship is understanding that failure, and I know you’ve got my book prominently displayed, my book WTF, Willing to Fail. I wrote the book without a title. We finished the book, Roy Williams, my coauthor and I. We closed the book and went, okay, “now what’s the title?” It just jumped out, because it was stories of ups and downs, ups and downs, plenty of failures. We just came up with this WTF, Willing to Fail.

What I would tell the 18 year olds in the world who want to start something is understand that failure is your best friend. Failure is a gift. You are going to make mistakes if you’re going to be an entrepreneur. You’re going to make plenty. You’re going to make some that cost you your business. It’s okay. Take the learning from every failure to understand that it will get you to a better place if you allow it.

MICHEL: If you were to pick one failure that you’ve experienced in your career that has allowed you to be the CEO you are today, what’s the one that resonates with you the most?

BRIAN: I don’t think there is one that resonates most. They were all stepping stones to certain points. I needed to make all the mistakes. People say, “What would you have done differently if you could do anything differently?” Nothing. I needed to learn it all. The one that resonates from a relatability standpoint that I think people can get is 1994, five years into the business. Nine bad apples. One spoils the whole bunch. I had 11 employees. I brought them all in to the business. I said, “I’m sorry guys, I’ve let you down. I don’t have the right team, the right people. You’re not the people that I see in building this professional junk removal business. I might’ve made the wrong hires. I haven’t given you the love and support.” I parted ways with my entire company. I fired my entire company. Went from five trucks down to one, because that’s all I could drive, and then rebuilding the business. That was me learning from a massive failure that you’re only as good as your people. Find the right people, treat them right. I vowed that day never to make a hiring mistake again. Have I made them? Of course, but very few relative to where I would’ve gone hadn’t I decided to very intentionally recruit people in the company.

MICHEL: Guys, on that note, here’s the book. You can find it on Amazon. Just Google it. Don’t just buy one copy. Buy a handful. Buy it for your your team. Brian, I have been able to build a career that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s literally, it started here. My recommendation for anybody watching this who is one you get into entrepreneurship is learn first. If you have the opportunity to work with a company and contribute to their success and get paid to do so and be able to understand in a real environment, that is what helped me. My business partners and I have had an advantageous position, because we’ve built the systems and processes sophisticated enough to operate within $100 million company. I learned it here. On that note, Brian, thank you so much.

BRIAN: Yeah, thank you.

MICHEL: I appreciate it.

BRIAN: I think you give way too much credit to 1-800-GOT-JUNK, because you say, “Oh, it got started here.” I’ve met your mother. She a wonderful lady. It got started when she helped raise you and probably a lit a spark in you. Congratulations.

MICHEL: She’s melting right now. Thank you so much.

People-First Culture Keynote: Las Vegas 2019 (Employee Engagement & Company Culture Keynote)


I was recently invited to Las Vegas to give a keynote at the Airport Exchange News Conference at Caesars Palace. Above is a a video with the full presentation, or you can read the transcript below!

>> Transcript Begins <<

I want to do one thing real quick, take your hand like this, go like this. Every time I ask you a question that you say “Yes.” To, you put one finger up at a time; just don’t start with the middle finger.

My first question is, is 2019 going to be the year that you continue to reinforce efforts to improve your employee experience? Are you content with your customer experience? Do you feel like it’s good, but it really needs to get great year over year? And the last one, and you have to be truthful, don’t BS me, are you hung over right now?

My man right here’s got three, see. All right, now you can put your hands down, guys, thank you so much. I’m going to give you a lot of entertainment and engagement, but a lot of education as well too. I do not have enough confidence to stand on the stage and give you guys theory that I haven’t tried, I haven’t tested, and aren’t orange true, so I’m going to introduce you to something called the people first culture, the three piece strategy, some micro customer experiences. And then we’re going to evaluate customer wants and needs and why it’s so difficult to really understand what your customers need to build an experience that they’ve never seen before.

But before I do that, I need to borrow a few minutes of your time, because I need to let you know what I’ve been up to for the last decade; but I promise you, it’s not going to take more than 10 minutes to explain this to you. And the reason I do this is because regardless of our industries, if they’re similar, or if they’re maybe the same, or how big our companies are.

I recognize that there’s a couple big ballers in the audience that have billion dollar companies and, I’m not there yet, but if we strip everything away, the industry and the size of the company, what the commonality is, is we’re managing one thing: human behaviour. The expectations of our employees and our customers must be managed to build a people first culture.

In 2007, I was a young professional trying to really understand what I wanted to build my career off of; what was going to be my niche or my nitch? And I looked at PR and biz dev, and I was like “That sounds cool and all, but what could be my thing?”

And I had just left business school because I wasn’t an academic, I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so I paid for my own post secondary. But I lasted three semesters, it didn’t make sense to me to pay and then I wasn’t engaged, I wasn’t learning.

So at the time I live in Vancouver, Canada, and there was two real juggernaut companies, at the time, to work for. 1-800-GOT-JUNK, you’ve ever seen the garbage trucks driving around? If you’re not familiar with the company, a guy started in 1989 knocking on people’s doors, being like “Hey, do you have a couch, a fridge, an ex-husband or something you want to throw away and pay me for it?” That company now just $400 million a year in sales, system wide, across the globe.

And the great thing about that business is one owner, no outside [inaudible 00:05:17], one owner, no debt, like “Oh man, that’s an amazing business.” The other company was Lululemon, the athletic apparel company. I applied for both, and then I was hired by both companies, and I chose one 1-800-GOT-JUNK because they had just won the Best Workplace in Canada Award by Maclean’s Magazine as a medium sized company. That is a massive achievement, and it was it garbage company; nothing about that makes sense.

But I joined the company, and I started off in the call center answering 100 calls a day. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a call center agent; no disrespect to the industry, but it’s just nothing I aspired to do. But I knew that that was going to be my stepping stone to understand how companies are grown and take my career from there.

It was in year one that I read a Harvard Business Review article, and they were talking about a term that I’d never heard of before; I wasn’t even taught it in business school when I was there for three semesters. And it was ‘Customer experience management’. And it made sense to me. You build an organization that have systems and processes happening behind the scenes to enrich the lives of your customers, and you grow an organization, organically, through referrals, and repeat business, and being an admired brand, and all these great things.

So I said “That’s it, that’s my PR equivalent.” And it was super niche, 2007 nobody was really talking about it; shortly after, Zappos was the company that was really taking off, leveraging customer experience management. I soon realized that there is no customer experience if two things don’t happen first: build a people centric culture and focus on your employee engagement and their experiences as well too; it just can’t happen. And I’ve seen this, I’ve worked with many businesses, to this date, and it’s just impossible to do it, genuinely.

I was at 1-800-GOT-JUNK for five years, I was promoted five times in five years because I gave myself to my career. I knew where I wanted to be, in Las Vegas speaking at conferences like this, but I knew I needed to cut my teeth first and earn some credibility.

So I went ahead and Got Junk, we launched Net Promoter Score program complaint resolution systems, built customer centered training material for thousands of employees, and many other good things. In 2012, I woke up one morning and, literally, it was kind of one of those movie moments, I looked myself in the mirror after brushing my teeth and said “I’m done.”

Not because there was any resentment for the company; I loved 1-800-GOT-JUNK, but I wanted to scratch that entrepreneurial itch. So I started off and I built an advisory company, I called it Falcon Consulting Group, and I made sure that it was a group because I had the aspirations of growing this massive agency. Truth be told, I operated it from my parent’s kitchen table, and my only employee was my dog; so it never got bigger than a group or than one person, it never became the group that I aspired it to be.

But one day I got an email from an executive of Verizon Wireless, and just before that like, literally 24 hours before that, my biggest client was Ferguson Moving and Storage based in Vancouver; about a $2, $3 million company at the time. So I went from $3 million to $100 billion, and I was like, “I better figure out how to write a proposal, and I probably got to get a phone line that’s not my parent’s house line.”

So Alfa Romeo, Blue Cross Blue Shield, McDonald’s Canada, that companies started getting bigger and bigger, and I was advising them and working on some strategic initiatives, building content, hosting workshops, and giving keynote speeches for them.

But then in 2016, I realized “I’m bored.” I was lonely, actually. Traveling to conferences and everything is fantastic, traveling to go speak at or work with clients, eventually that drink by yourself in the lobby bar gets really lonely. So I said “I want something else.”

I moved to Toronto and my business partners and I now have grown a portfolio of restaurants and bars on King Street in Toronto. And we’ve gone from two years ago, just under that, we went from zero employees and zero dollars in revenue to just over $15 million a year in revenue, and 150 employees and we’ll add another 75 employees within the next three months, when we open our next venue.

The things that I talk to you about today are the tried, tested, and true initiatives that we’ve deployed. And, again, I’m not a theory guy. Yes I wrote a book, but the book talks about all of the strategies; ones that I’ve worked and ones that haven’t worked. And I’m very transparent about that and that’s something that I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys.

Every company wants to build an organization like this. They want to recruit and onboard a high performing team who have high engagement, and they take care of their customers. I don’t think anybody that would say “You know what? That’s not for us here at our business.” But why is it that some companies succeed and others fall short of actually achieving this within their business?

I sat on this for months before I developed and wrote the book, and I created something I call ‘The people first culture’. Now on the surface it’s very simple, you build a business that your employees and customers admire. But again, if we agree that that’s something we could subscribe to, why doesn’t everybody do this within their business? Not just quarter over quarter, but decade over decade?

So I sat on this some more, and I developed something I call ‘The three P strategy’. The three Ps is what hinges everything together: purpose, process, and profit; in that order. So let’s do this again by leveraging the three Ps strategy. We recruit and we onboard high performing professionals, we understand the purpose of three key entities.

What is the purpose of our company?

What is the purpose of our customers?

And what is the purpose of our team members as individuals, not as employees?

Once we’re able to create alignment behind that and have clarity within the organization, department to department, what we’re going to experience is genuine engagement. Then and only then can we start building processes that will enrich the lives of our customers and our employees.

If you have ever built a strategic initiative, and you’re like “I can’t wait to deploy, this is going to be so great.” On paper it was fantastic, your project management teams came together to develop this, and then it fell short, or it wasn’t adopted like you thought it was going to be adopted?

When I advise companies, I ask them to generally ask themselves “Are the team members that are living within these processes actually engaged?” Because we may have gone out and built the processes for them, but neglected that these are going to fall short unless our team members have high engagement to live within these processes; because they are the ones that push them forward.

As leaders, we are the ones that often build them, or have them built with our teams, but we have to make sure that our front lines and our junior and senior managers are able to live within them within high engagement, because that’s when adoption happens.

Once we’ve built these processes, we are able to take a step back as leaders and allow these engaged professionals to deliver an experience to our customers that they’ve never seen before. Then is our reward; profit is a reward, it’s not an outcome. And please know that I’m an extraordinarily profit driven entrepreneur; it’s just how I go about it might be a little different than others.

I’ve trained myself to think long term, because the initiative that we build today maybe it doesn’t pay us an ROI for 12 to 24 months, and I’m okay with that, I’m patient. Because I know that I’m managing something that’s very sensitive and it’s human behavior. Think about your personal life for a second, the person that’s your best friend, your aunt, the person you married; that took time to build that relationship, and now it’s fruitful.

So why is our relationship with our teams any different than that? Strip that all away, it’s just human behavior that we’re trying to manage; but yet we’ve trained ourselves to think short term. And I get it, many of you guys probably have to report the street, every quarter, I get that. But how we find a balance between having to do that, and building lasting relationships internally and externally with our customers and our employees?

I said that there’s three key entities with purpose: the company, the customers and our teams, as individuals. I want you to pretend that we’re at McCarran airport, a beautiful airport and I’m sitting at the gate, and we happen to start talking and I ask you a very loaded question. I say, and I want you to think to yourself, “How would I answer Michel’s question if he asked me this?” What is the purpose of your company, if I asked you that, how would you respond?

And this is the rule guys, if you do not want me to pick on you and call you out, divert your eyes because if you … Yeah, see, this always happens. But if you don’t want me to, but if you want to engage, Keep your eyes on me, and we’ll engage; I don’t bite, I’m good.

So, what is the purpose of your company? I told you I was going to pick on you guys first. So, I want the three of you, because all from the same company. How would you respond to me if I asked you what is the purpose?

It’s customer service.

Okay, so put that in a tight phrase, just button it up.

Delivering exceptional customer service.


Provide a great experience.



Same thing? Okay, that’s cool and that was super rehearsed, so, but let me ask you this. If you went around to each … How many stores? Seventeen?


Eighteen. If you went around to your [inaudible 00:15:54] employees and asked them the same question on the same day, let’s say, would you get the same answer in a buttoned up way?

Probably wouldn’t. And I’m not trying to undermine you guys, because have we included that in onboarding and our training? I was taught when I was a lot in my earlier years as a young professional, that building a culture is a little more than the sports team, a little less than a cult; it’s right in between.

And to be able … Look it sounds funny, but it’s kind of true; and for me alignment absolutely matters. And that’s something that is extraordinarily actionable for you guys to go back to your place of business and ask, just department to department, just randomly do it on a certain day ask, “What is the purpose of our company?”

You see, a company like Nike, their purpose isn’t to build great products. It’s to stand behind things that they believe in, even if it’s not popular, and even if some of their customers are going to burn their gear. Did anybody see the Serena Williams? That was powerful video that came out; if you haven’t, Google it immediately after this powerful. And notice that in the video they talk about nothing about their products, that is an outcome of having alignment behind a strong purpose, and they’re a pretty high performing company.

Here’s a company, you’ve probably never heard of Pela Case. What you see here is a bio degradable cell phone case. Now Matt Bertulli is the founder of the company and he’s in my entrepreneur group. And when you ask Matt “What is the purpose of your company?” He doesn’t say “It’s to build biodegradable cell phone cases, it’s to build a company that’s not going to harm this planet.” That’s just one of their products.

And when I asked him, I said “Really, is the market big enough?” He’s like “Yes, we’re serving a community of zero wasters.” And I said, “An emerging group of consumers called zero wasters, how many people are in this, like 76 people?” Oh, he’s like “No, there’s actually millions of people that will only buy products that decompose on their own or last at least 25 years.” And that’s the market that he’s going after. That is the purpose, the outcome are these products.

In my organization, our purpose is embedded within the mission of the company, what you’re looking at here is something that we borrowed from Starbucks. That’s an apron and we stitch the purpose and the mission inside the apron so our team members see it every single day. And it’s simple “To consistently deliver seamless experiences.”

It’s not to deliver seamless experiences to customers, it’s to everyone that interacts with our brand; the media, the people that sell us steak and vodka, those suppliers, even the government. We went through an audit, and I told my find finance team, I said “Guys, they are our best customers, we treat everyone the exact same way.” That is the purpose, the outcome of this is a great steak, a great bottle of wine, a great experience for our customers by having strict alignment.

I have a rule, five by three, and I highly recommend adopting this. Five times a week, three times a day I will walk around our venues … And we have them all congested in a one block radius in downtown Toronto. And five days a week, three times a day I will ask somebody, at random, “What are our five core values, and what is our mission?” And if they’re not able to recite that, I ask our managers to take them off the floor, get trade alignment behind that before they can go back and interact with our guests.

I know it’s a little cult like, but alignment matters; aligning a company behind the North Star of the organization really matters. If you’ve ever asked yourself or been frustrated by “Why aren’t they getting it?” It’s probably this, there’s probably no alignment but the purpose of the company, or the purpose might be viewed differently by them than by you.

One thing I know very well, because I worked in a call center where I was answering 100 calls a day for about a year, and that might sound exhausting, but picture this. I had the longest average handle time in our hundred person call center, and the reason why is because when you call the phone for someone in the US, and the first words that come out of their mouth are “Michel? You don’t know sound like a woman.”

And then you’re like, “Sorry Joanne from Florida, in Canada we do things a little bit differently.” Anyway, so the first three minutes of the call was burned because of that having to explain that. One thing that I know after taking all these calls, I didn’t just want to sit in my seat, remember I had goals for my career.

So I said “I’m going to start documenting these common traits and behaviors that these customers have, because I can’t speak to the same customer in Sydney, Australia that I can Calgary, Alberta or Fort Worth, Texas; so I started documenting all of these notes, pages and pages and pages of notes. And I developed something called the ‘Three common customer personality types’ which was adopted by the organization; I’ve implemented it in Alfa Romeo and many other companies like that.

Now I don’t know her personally, but if Ellen DeGeneres was a customer of ours, what happens? Long winded conversations, often off topic, a lot of energy, hard to keep them on track. I was just at the Orlando airport coming down here at Chipotle, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m so hungry.” I want to eat my food which I see right there, it’s already packaged up, and my flight’s starting to board, and this woman in front of me, God bless her, starts talking about this, that, and everything.

And I can see the employee’s eyes be like “SOS, help me, help I need to get out of this.” But for me, I was like, “Gosh, maybe there could have been more education around how to go from here to getting the customer where you need them to be to help that next customer.”

So with the socializer personality type, we need to train our team members for their out; how can you get them to go … The customer is a way over here on right field, and get them right where you need them to be without being rude? I understand the interactions that you have with your customers are, time is the game.

I have a business called Petty Cash, it’s a bar, it’s the most popular bar in Toronto right now; and it’s like a quick service restaurant, but flooded with people that are waiting two hours to come inside and people that want their vodka sodas; it’s hard to manage, it’s a different customer experience.

Whereas at our other locations, where you’re there for two hours, for me I tell my team “That’s easy, you have their attention for two hours.” Whereas you have their attention for 20 seconds, and that’s more your world; and I get that.

So when I have to go design our customer experience with our management team, we have to keep in mind this personality type who just wants to talk about their dog, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and how they just signed Mark Stone. Is anybody a Las Vegas Knight fan here? Yeah. Good on you guys for Mark Stone, that was a huge pick up for you guys.

Now I don’t know him personally, but if you’ve ever seen his movies, he does not want to talk about Las Vegas Golden Knights, he does not want to talk to you, he doesn’t care how your day is going, he doesn’t really care how his day is going; but often, they’re going to know more than you too.

Could you picture this person watching the barista being like, “You should be pouring it this way.” Because often they feel like they know more than you. Don’t talk to them about their day, they don’t care; I’m that person, okay. And I know it might be positioning myself to sound like a jerk, but this is the thing, my purpose is to save five to seven minutes with every interaction that I have with the supplier or a vendor.

Because throughout the day, that might save me 30 minutes each and every day, so that I can spend time with my dog Maggie, or go exercise, or do stuff I really want to do. It’s not that directors are rude, it’s just their definition of success is different, and we must teach our team members how to manage that versus managing the experience with the socializer customer personality type.

This is something that education around the common personality types, not just customer facing people in my organization go through this, my finance team does it as well too. Because they interact with our investors, with our payroll company, with the government; literally everyone in our payroll will go through onboarding with this in their curriculum as a module.

Now this is the personality type that is misunderstood. Have you ever asked somebody, “How’s your day going?” And they’re like “Good.” And then don’t respond with like, “And how’s your day going?” That’s the passive personality type. Often people will say “Oh, they’re boring or they’re not enthusiastic.” But really I think that they’re guarded. They’re guarded probably because your company or your industry has wronged them before, so they don’t trust you.”

But it’s not that they’re not willing to trust you again, they just have to be greeted by one of your frontline employees in a very hospitable manner so that they can lend that trust to your company again. And I find that the passive personality type could be some of your most loyal customers, if you’re able to rebuild that relationship with them.

The three common personality types, maybe you have something similar and fantastic, I’m not asking you to change your curriculum. But what I am asking you to do is be honest and say, “What is our knowledge retention like coming out of training if they’re onboarding, when it comes to managing different experiences for different customers?”

What is our team’s purpose? I said that we must understand this on the individual level. Each one of your team members that reports in to you has a defined purpose. I was recently in London, England speaking for CenturyLink, a telecom company there, and they actually didn’t allow me to present this. And my message here is that you should care about the purpose of each individual on your payroll, with or without the company.

The reason that I don’t track employee retention anymore, as a metric, is because I want people to leave. Food and Wine Magazine is the Bible of hospitality; they wrote about one of our venues our flagship location. And this venue, in particular, is four floors, 16,000 square feet, 30 to 40,000 guests will come every single month; it’s a really unique restaurant, it’s more of a venue, more of a mini hotel, if you will.

But at the time, she kept asking me about employee retention, employee retention, and I didn’t tell her any of the strategies, I talked to her about the philosophy. I said “The reason why people stay here is because we know that we are absolutely committed to enriching their lives as individuals, not as employees, or even team members, as individual human beings.”

I have somebody named Christina [inaudible 00:26:52] on my team, she started off as a server, she got promoted to a shift leader, now she’s an Assistant General Manager. Her purpose in her career is to be the Director of our Learning and Development Department for our entire hospitality company.

As her leader, as a benevolent and servant leader of my organization, it is my responsibility to get her there. It’s my responsibility to clear a path for her to allow her to do good work; but this is the rub, she has to meet me halfway. We have to tell our team members, as well too, look we’re not going to give you everything on a platter, you need to own your development as well too, you need to be reading blogs, listening to podcasts, meeting people on LinkedIn.

But I’m going to pave the path for you, and then you’re going to take the reins and go for it. But then I also have somebody named Riley, Riley’s one of our top three bartenders system wide, and he’s in school right now and he’s about to graduate in the next 45 days.

He has been studying because he wants to go into biotech, and he wants to be in business development. Guess what my job becomes at 45 days? To exit him from the company; it’s my responsibility to find him the next job. Because you want to develop people so that when they leave, they say “That’s a great place to work. I’m a better professional person because of my time at XYZ company.” And I’m not scared of my people leave, I want them to leave to pursue other things, and I’m very genuine about that. But if they’re willing to commit to the organization; follow me, let’s do this together.

And we’re able to achieve this free media; we’re written about in publications like this in Entrepreneur, in Inc. Magazine all of the time. We’re not, necessarily, doing anything revolutionary, we’re just building a people first culture, which allows us to create experiences both for our customers and employees that they’ve never seen before.

We’ve understood the purpose of our company, our customers, and our employees, now and only now can we start building processes; ones that are going to be highly adopted that really will impact the top and bottom line. I have 20 operational processes that happen behind the scenes in our organization; that’s actually grown now to about 28.

I’m going to talk to you about three of them, but if you want this slide deck, at the very end of the presentation I’ll throw my email address out, you can just pull out your phone and say, make sure … It’s not Michael Falcon, it’s Michel Falcon, and to say “Give me the slide deck.” You don’t have to be polite, just say “Give me the slide deck.” And I’ll send it to you, and you can review this later; but let’s talk about the first one.

Before going into this industry, remember I had zero hospitality experience two and a half years ago, zero, none. As a matter of fact, my father in the 10th grade, had a file for bankruptcy because this industry chewed him up and spat him out when it was done with him; there was a lot of hardship in my family when I was growing up.

So I’m not saying this so that you’re like “Oh he’s here to seek vengeance for his family.” Not at all, it was just like, “Hey, this industry’s really challenging, and I kind of want to roll up my sleeves and see if I can do some cool things, leveraging what I know about people.”

One thing I know is that employee retention is quite low in hospitality and in quick service. Raise your hand if retention is a problem for you and your company. Okay, only some people are being honest, but that’s all right.

So I knew that we can’t just hire people right off the bat, we need to make it hard to work for our company; that’s where retention will go up, we need to create a rigorous process for them. Because often sometimes you’re like “Hey do you like sports?” “Yeah.” “You’re hired.” That’s how some companies hire.

So this is the interview process, I’m not going to take you through every step, but I can send you that step by step guide if you email me at the end, I want to focus on two steps within our pyramid here; the culture interview is the second step.

I do not care if the individual before me came from the Four Seasons, is the best chef, or the best cocktail artist in the city of Toronto. If they do not pass our culture interview, they do not go to skill set; I don’t care, we exit them right away.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix says it best, “We will not tolerate brilliant jerks, because the cost of teamwork is too high.” So during the culture interview, we ask two questions per core value that we have. And I’ve built this pyramid to be scalable, because I need 75 percent of my team to be able to interview, because everyone must act like a recruiter for our company. So in theory, I can have a dishwasher host this interview process for any candidate, because we’re scaling quickly, we’re all hands on deck when it comes to recruiting.

So we’ll ask five interview questions, or two interview questions per core value; we have five core values. But there’s a couple other questions that I like to ask as well too. One question … I want you to think of the answer to this. Let’s say you are applying to be a hostess, I’m going to ask you a question, this question’s asked to hostesses, bartenders, dishwashers, everyone because everyone goes through this exact same process. The questions start changing when it comes to the skill set, but the culture interviews are the same for every position so here’s the question.

What is an indulgence that you cannot live without that costs less than $20? What is an indulgence you can’t live without that cost less than $20? Who’s going to answer for me? Keep it legal because a lot of your peers are here. Yes, sir, thank you, thank you. I really appreciate that.

red wine

What is the brand?

Oh, that’s really hard to pronounce

Okay, let’s just call it R. Keep it simple, what grape is it?

Oh, got it, cool, so I’m writing that down. What about here? $20 indulgence that you can’t live without?


What roast?

Oo, just a medium roast with coconuts.

Okay, great. Somebody over here?


Fantastic. Okay, you probably already have Netflix, right?


Okay, What accompanies your Netflix, is it a nice blanket, is it popcorn, is it like what do you got going on?

One bottle of wine.

Okay, what type of wine, because it usually is two, and you’re just kind of limiting yourself to one? What brand and what grape?

Cabernet and pinot.

Fantastic, congratulations guys you were all hired. What do you think is waiting at your workstation on day one of onboarding? It’s your $20 gift and a handwritten card from our ownership team saying … And the language matters in this message, “Thank you for choosing us. We understand that you could get hired by any company on the street.” King Street is where all the restaurants and bars are in Toronto. “Thank you for choosing us. We can’t wait to build this business with you.”

Okay, language matters in your business to build your culture. I don’t allow employees to call me ‘Boss’, it creeps me out. I don’t say “I work for him,” I’m like “We work together.” Period.

So why do I do that $20 gesture? Okay, they’re warm and fuzzies, I heard some people say “Aww.” So I get it, the warm and fuzzies, but I’m asking you guys now to deliver an experience to our customers that they’ve never seen before; shame on me, if I’m not willing to do that for.

I’m now asking you to care about a stranger. Listen, when you ask your team members to deliver a great experience, you are asking them to care about a stranger. I must do that for you too, because at the very beginning, we’re strangers and hopefully we build a relationship so that’s not the case in time, but on day one, we’re strangers.

And lastly, here’s the real benefit from an operations perspective, you guys are just about to go into training, I need to influence your engagement on day one, because once you go into training, I need your knowledge retention to be high. And the best way to do that is to create an experience that you’ve never seen before to increase that engagement because knowledge retention will get higher because of that. Not only that, if you haven’t bought into this yet, the last thing is own the dinner table.

That’s a chapter in my book, Own The Dinner Table. And what I mean by that is you’re going to go back to your homes, and perhaps your spouse, your children’s going to say “Where did you get that idea?” And you’re going to tell that story, and now I got your family squad on my side, they’re never going to let you quit; I’ve got advocates in the home, I’ve infiltrated your home.

I know that sounds a little much. Let’s move forward to the offer, guys, we have to stop hiring people and being like “You’re hired, here’s your apron on Monday, you need to speak to LuAnn.” Celebration, one of our core values is celebration, we make this a celebratory time for a team. Remember, starting day one at a new company’s awkward, like kindergarten, first day awkward; so we need to celebrate and embrace people into our culture.

One thing that we do is, if you’re hired as a dishwasher or bartender or whatever, our general manager’s is going to call you, put you on speaker phone, and we’re going to grab two people that happen to be in the building; maybe it’s Joey the dishwasher and Samantha the server. And Joey be like “Hey, Steve, I haven’t met you yet, but can’t wait to meet you, I’m the dishwasher here. What’s up man, I’m going to be your culture buddy, can’t wait to meet you.” And then Samantha flies in there with her message too, so that candidate’s like “This is a different place to work.”

And as leaders, now we get to take a step back and allow great people to do great work. Look, I barely work anymore, I’m literally in my venues one day a week now; the rest of time, I’m traveling, speaking, sharing this message, because I’ve built a people first culture within our company.

Have you ever had employees in your career say “I don’t feel like I have a voice?” Everyone. So knowing this, in this industry, I created something I call it ‘The employee advisory board’. Because I knew I needed to mitigate that as an issue within our business.

So what I do is, once a month, or pardon me for a six month term, we will democratically elect one team member from every department in the organization; so one bartender, one dishwasher, one hostess, and so forth, one cook, dat dat dat dat dat.

And they’ll sit down with me for two to four hours a month, and we’ll talk about two things; the current state of the company culture, and the current state of our customer experience; and all I do is listen. And they give us operational feedback, both on the constructive and on the positive; and some of the outcomes from this is alignment. Every time we meet, I’ll hear a hostess say, “I didn’t know that servers go through that. That’s why you guys do that.”

And I’m just sitting there taking notes, allowing them to have conversations amongst each other and do what I love, peer cross learning. As leaders in our organization, we don’t have to do on the education; allow your great team to educate each other. It’s much more enjoyable for them, and much more enjoyable for you too, I promise you that.

Voice of the employee is one element within our voice of the employee program, we survey our employees as well too. Servant leadership, servant leadership is something I outlined in the book as well too. And, I’m sure you can imagine what that means, but it allows our team … The employee advisory board allows our team to give us feedback.

Then I go to my management team and say, “Guys, is there any validity to this?” And sometimes you’re going to say “You know what, absolutely, we have to fix that, they’re right.” And then there will be other times where they’ll say, “You know what, the reason we do A, B, C is because of 1, 2, 3; they just don’t know that.” And I said, “Well then whose fault is that?”

When there’s an absence of communication, opinions are formed. So when you are like “Why do they think that?” It’s because you didn’t communicate that to them.” People don’t fail, processes do. So if you’re like, “Why isn’t the team getting it, it’s probably the process; whether it’s the way you communicate, the way you hire, the way you onboard, the way you train. That’s where kind of the rubber meets the road is when we’re able to understand that people don’t fair, processes do.

And become an admired brand. The employee advisory board’s probably the program that I’m asked about the most by organizations of all sizes around the world, because they’re like “You know what, that makes sense, we survey our customers intimately, why wouldn’t we do that for employees?”

Again, I’ll give you a step by step guide on how to deploy this in your organization, whether it’s on a local or national level. This is probably my favorite initiative, because I light up when I hear of great experiences. A micro customer experience is a subtle, memorable, and affordable gesture that you do for your customer that resonates with them for years.

Now I want you to keep an open mind here, because I recognize not many of you guys have the luxury of having your customer’s attention for two hours like I do; but again, I do have venues as well too where somebody’s like “Give me my vodka soda right now.” Just like you might be like, “Give me my coffee right now.”

I want to introduce you to somebody named Alyssa. Alyssa’s purpose is to sing, she’s a musician with her boyfriend and they travel Canada; they sing together. But she works for me, with me pardon me, to secure her livelihood. And the agreement is this, “We’re going to help you get more gigs, so that you can live your purpose, but during your time with our company, we’re going to ask you to give yourself to our purpose and that’s to create seamless experiences.”

One day, on the weekend, a group of ladies comes to one of our venues to have brunch, and it’s the last time that these four ladies are going to get together, because one of them is just about to have a baby. Alyssa takes the education that we give her during our learning and development onboarding modules, because we don’t tell our employees to listen to our customers. Listening is a cheap skill set; listen and take action on what you have heard.

Acknowledging what your customer has said isn’t enough anymore; that’s table stakes, listen and take action what you’ve heard. Gather the customer intelligence, because your customers are having intimate conversations, whether it’s over a five second conversation or a five minute conversation with your employees, and we need to train them to be able to take that and build an experience that our customers have never seen before.

So Alyssa took the information that one of the ladies here is just about to have a child, she put the micro customer experience program into action. She goes straight to our hostess, our hostess goes across the street to a Shoppers Drug Mart which is the Walgreens equivalent in Canada. The hostess buys a box of diapers, a rattle, wrapping paper, and scotch tape; comes back in time, wraps the gift, handwritten card gives it back to Alyssa; Alyssa goes hands it to the guest.

Now I recognize that you can’t have your customers sprinting out of your stores to go do this. But what about something as simple as this, which will drive sales; compliment my shirt, tell me I’m having a good hair day. And how is that going impact sales, because if you’re like, “Would you like an extra shot of espresso?” I’ll be like “Yeah, because I feel good.”

Or, “Do you want guac?” “Yeah, I do because you just made me feel good, I’m still in this trance of I do feel good, I do look fly.” So, guys, those are the little things that we have to train our team members on, the micro experiences. We got to play in the macro, the bigger interactions I get that, both online and offline; but it’s the micro, and we must deliver that experience to them.

And guess what? The customer loyalty, positive reviews, all that stuff’s going to happen when this happens and you deploy this in the business, but one thing that we can’t neglect, my team loves doing this; their engagement is high, they love doing this.

I’m pretty much telling them, “Go compliment people and do gifting.” And guess what our budget is on this? I’ll just tell you so you don’t have to guess. This venue, in particular, will do just over $10 million a year in sales; the budget’s only $500 a month. Why, could I afford it to be $5,000 or more? I could, it would be like a wrestling match with my director of finance, but I could.

Because I don’t want people handing out bottles of Dom Pérignon; I want the smaller the budget, the more creative they have to get. And again, this doesn’t have to be gifting, it can be something as compliments, something to help your customers release endorphins when they’re at the airport; a high stress environment sometimes, we have to make them feel good.

Now, once we’ve done all this, is our reward; profit is a reward. And these are some of the things that you can go to your CFO or your director of finance and say “Hey, this is going to produce a return.” Are you on the finance team? You’re looking … No, okay, you’re looking at me like you are.

So look, this is what I say to my director of finance and he knows I have this like ammunition; when I go to my meeting and we’re budgeting for the year, I’m walking with guns a-blazing, and this is what I’m talking about. “Look, if we build a people first culture, which is going to cost us some resources and some money.” Not a whole lot, well, depends on how much you want to scale of course.

Customer experience influences customer loyalty. If you have customer loyalty, you can so choose to market as much or as little as you want. Therefore, profit’s going more to the bottom line, or you can reinvest that to more training and development for your team.

Repeat customers, more sales, we don’t advertise a lot at our venues because we just deliver a great experience and trust that they’ll get they’ll come back and it happens.

Brand admiration, we get free PR by doing this stuff. Some companies would have to pay 10s of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars to get free PR in Inc., or Entrepreneur, or Business Insider, or whatever. Food and Wine magazine, that didn’t cost us anything, we just did something genuine and we got massive PR from it.

Decrease in refunds and discounts, more profit; make price secondary. Our venues, we’re not cheap, but we’re not scared to say that it does cost money to come and dine with us, but we support that with a great customer experience, to have people make price secondary.

On the employee side, less turnover, which means manageable training costs, more profit, employee loyalty, team alignment, higher productivity, less mistakes, higher sales, more profit.

But the thing is, is we have to be patient. I hope we’re trying to build businesses for the next decade, rather than just for the next 10 weeks. And I know, sometimes, it’s a tough conversation to have within our businesses, because we have to produce our quarterly results.

I get my P&L every single week. One of our venues has four P&Ls, because its that complex. You don’t think the first thing I’m looking at is straight to the bottom, and then I worked my way up? Are you sure you’re not a finance guy?

All right, might be my disguise. So guys, this is it, this is it. When I host workshops for companies and speak at their events, I say “We need to operate like our grandparents did when PPC and SEO weren’t anything.” The way that my grandfather learned how to grow his business in Lima, Peru, and he sold fish … My family has actually a funny history about … Like I was a garbage guy and he was a fishmonger; it’s not very sexy businesses.

But the only way he knew how to grow a business was by building genuine relationships with his employees and his customers. And I think with the launch of the internet, PPC, SEOs and things like that it kind of made us disingenuous. Because we were like “Hey, we can acquire more customers by using this internet thing.” And our resources went to that, and they were taken from people initiatives.

But now I think it’s coming back, largely because of social media we gave everybody a voice and we’re like “Oh crap, we have to care again.” That’s hard for some companies; but I think we’re all getting better, but we can’t stop. That’s the thing, why this might be exhausting for some people is human behavior never changes, expectations are always changing; therefore, we must change before they do.

We have a service level agreement within our business, three people first initiatives must be launched within our business every single quarter. It could be something like our net promoter score’s down, or response rates to net promoter score are down. Let’s get some better copy for our email subject line so that we can increase that rate.

Or it might be we are revamping our learning and development program; that’s a much bigger initiative, of course. But nevertheless, create a service level agreement within your business to ensure that you were always people first. And it’s not a campaign; this isn’t a campaign or a platitude, it must be embedded into the DNA of the company if you’re truly going to be authentic and be a people first company.

When it comes to customer experience, I follow three rules: we design it, we discover it, and we deploy it. When we surveyed 1,000 customers in Toronto to understand their hospitality behaviors, what we learned is they want this: they wanted value, they wanted a seamless experience, they wanted solutions, they wanted confidence.

They wanted to consumer confidence, and in my world it’s me and my wife don’t get to go out a lot, let’s say, you have this couple that goes out because they have a newborn child, perhaps; they barely get to go out anymore, maybe once a month. They want the conference know that if they select my venues, that they’re going to have a fantastic night and a great experience. Because it would really suck if they had a bad experience, because they have to wait till next month, perhaps, when they can get a babysitter.

They want to consumer confidence in your brand. What do you want your customers to think and feel when they see your employees in their uniforms, or when they see your logo? It’s upsetting to me when a company spends more money redesigning their logo, but the pain is within the business, within the employee.

Look, I’m not admiring your logo and being like, “I wonder what hue of green they use?” I don’t care, it could be like an emoji of poop and I’d be okay with that, sort of I think unless you share food and that’d be weird, but anyways. You get it.

When you ask your customers “What do you need?” It’s extraordinarily difficult, because customers don’t know what they need until it’s been presented to them; customers don’t know what they need until it’s been presented to them.

I’m going to share the story in a way that you’ve probably never heard of before. Before the iPod, which resurrected Apple as an organization, which led to the iPhone, what did we listen to for our music listening pleasures? Mp3 players.

To get from song one to 50, what did we have to do? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or hold until your thumb turned a different color; that was literally a painful customer experience. So if Johnny Ive, Steve Jobs, and the Apple engineering and design team had come to us and said, “Ramon, what do you want from your music listening pleasures?” Maybe Ramon would have said, “Let the mp3 player hold 5,000 songs and have a bunch of different colors.”

That’s not invention, that’s an iteration of what was currently in the marketplace; that’s not innovation. That’s what Ramon wanted, what we needed was the iPod in one feature alone within the iPod to better the experience; the scroll wheel. That took us from song one to 50, literally like this, rather than like this; and I’m not going to do this until 50, but you get it. Nobody in this room would have said, “Steve Jobs, give me a scroll wheel.” Nobody would have, that’s what we needed. But remember, we didn’t know we needed it until it was presented to us, and that’s why customer experience invention is so difficult.

I’m going to share this story with you, but I’m going to share it in a way that you’ve never heard of perhaps. A lot of people say “Michel, Netflix put Blockbuster out of business because of their technology.” I would never argue that. But for me, Netflix understood the purpose of customers faster than Blockbuster did, and the purposes is, is time. That is where Netflix beat blockbuster was time.

This is what we once went through to go to Blockbuster:

“Hey, sweetheart, want to watch a movie?” “Sure, let’s jump in the minivan with our kids.” Dat dat dat dat dat.

15 minutes to the store.

Park our car which, we probably didn’t find a parking stall right away.

Go into the store, go “Oh, this movie, oh they’re out. Okay, this one.”

Okay, 15 minutes in the store, you’re dodging little snot eating kids, and I noticed because I was one of those kids; so I’m not undermining any kid because I was one of those kids.

Then you would go pay, and maybe you were talking to employee that didn’t really like their job.

And then you drive back home for 15 minutes, put the DVD in, you watch your movie.

Then you drive it back, in time, so you don’t get charged like your arm.

And then you drive back.

That’s like two hours to watch an hour and a half movie; that made no sense. What would you rather do? Do that or sit on your couch naked and just press one button? Netflix understood time was the definition of success for customers; the outcome was better technology.

Has anybody eaten at Sweet Green? Okay, so, for those not familiar, it started by a few Georgetown graduates; eight years ago they didn’t exist. Today they have 100 locations, highly funded and at Sweet Green, they sell a lot of warm bowls and salads. And if they had asked me, “Michel, what do you want?” I would have been like, “Don’t charge me extra for a guac.”

What they’re building, is what I need is a consumer. This year, when you use their app to purchase your pesto chicken salad that might have tomatoes in it, you’re going to be able to find out, in the app, because they’re leveraging blockchain technology, and be like those tomatoes were picked in Arkansas, the owner of that farm was X, Y, Z family, this was the temperature outside when the tomatoes were picked and harvested, this is how long they’ve been in the store for; that is what I need.

Because I know people are becoming more conscious of what they put in their body, but there is zero chance that I would have ever been able to tell them that. Imagine that like, “Yeah, why don’t you leverage blockchain technology to tell me where my tomatoes were harvested and at what temperature?” Nobody would have ever said that, at least not me.

You see the difficulty is customers are really good at … They tell you what they want. But then you’re going to go build it, and they’re gonna want something else. We need to focus on what they need, and that takes some critical thinking with our high performing team that live within the people first culture.

So let’s do this one more time. We recruit and onboard a high performing team, we understand the purpose of the company and create alignment behind that. We understand the purpose of customers, and we share that amongst the organization, everyone on our payroll must understand what our customer personality types are.

And then we understand the purpose of each individual within our business. I’m not asking you to remember the purpose of 10,000 employees, I’m asking you to remember the purpose of the people that report in to you, and those people must understand the purpose of the people report in to them, because we’ve done that, we experienced genuine engagement.

We go out with our project teams to build strategic initiatives and processes, the outcome of that is that we create experiences that our customers have never seen before. And as leaders, we get to take a step back and allow great people to do great work and build a great company.

The reward of all this is profit, not just dollars and cents, but profit by having an admired brand, profit by getting free media, and much, much more. I want you to go back to your place of business and remember this: every company on this planet is going to tell you that they deliver a great experience; after all, why would they say otherwise?

Some companies are going to be able to tell you that they devote as much resources into their employees as they do their customer experience. But the fact of the matter is, only a few companies actually do both, genuinely. If you are interested in an organization and being a servant and benevolent leader, I highly recommend implementing the people first culture within your organization.

Thank you very much.

How To Transform Your Company Culture In 2019 (7 Guaranteed Examples)

Hey Everyone,

Above is my video on how to transform your company culture in 2019. These are all strategies I’ve used in my businesses so I know they’ll work for you as well!

If you prefer to read my company culture strategies, check out the transcript below.

Hey team. In this video I’m going to share seven company culture strategies that you may have never considered to transform your company culture. Stay true to the end because there’s a bonus company culture tip that you’re definitely gonna want to use.

I built an eight figure business. I have 150 employees and I’ve been hired by companies like Mcdonald’s, Canada, verizon wireless, an Alfa Romeo.

I know that these strategies are gonna work for you because they’ve worked for me as an entrepreneur, a keynote speaker, and for my clients as well, so I guarantee that they’ll work for you to, these new strategies are going to help you elevate your company culture such as why private podcast should be used for employee onboarding and how my employee advisory board is helping transform company cultures plus much more. Don’t forget about the bonus strategy that I’m going to share with you, but you’re going to have to wait to the end and I guarantee nobody’s using it.

All right, let’s get into it.

Company culture idea number one is to create an internal podcast to onboard new employees. Because you know, new to company culture, I’m going to assume that you’ve already built your employee onboarding strategy.
Some of the education that you might have within this process is when was the company founded? Who are some of the executives and what are some of your core values?

The question is how are you delivering this education to your new employees? Have you ever noticed that during training, managing employee engagement levels can be difficult? We’ve all tried tips and tricks to be able to increase this engagement because of the training becomes more successful.

The answer to being able to create higher engagement is private podcasts. Instead of having your trainee manager stand in front of the room and explain your company culture, how was built and things that are aligned with the culture.

Use an internal podcast that new employees can listen to before their first day with your company.

According to software companies, Silk Road,

53% of HR professionals say employee engagement rises when onboarding is improved.

The beauty of leveraging an internal podcast is that it’s affordable and it’s a different experience for the employee. All you really need is one or two of your current employees to share the story and record it. Not only is this a unique idea, but it sends a message to new employees that you’re willing to think and do things in an innovative manner.

If you want your employees to do the same, you must first lead by example company culture. Idea number two is to create an employee advisory board. The employee advisory board or EA B is the most popular strategy that I’m asked about when I speak at business conferences as an employee engagement and company culture.
The employee advisory board is a fairly straight for strategy, but it does include some intricate details that you must manage to ensure that the program is successful.

The EAB is a group of team members within the company that meet with the senior leader of the organization on a monthly basis for two to four hours to talk about the current state of the company culture.

During the meeting, you will always ask two core questions that will set the foundation for the conversation. The first question is what are the strengths and opportunities to improve the company culture? And the second is describe the workplace of your dreams.

A few key elements of the EAB are is follows. The meeting is confidential. Create an environment where team members feel comfortable speaking freely. The host of the meeting should be a senior leader like an owner or the CEO to ensure every department has a voice.

Elect one team member from each department across the entire company to be a part of the EAB. Flip the team every six months and ask ea be team members to elect the replacement or do so democratically by internal vote.

Now, this is the most important part of the EAB. After you’ve gathered the feedback as the leader of the organization, you must take that information and discuss it with your management team to start transforming your company culture.

That is where the value is.

The employee advisory board is definitely the most valuable company culture idea that I’ve implemented within my business for my clients and have spoken about during my keynotes and workshops. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what one of my managers has to say about the employee advisory.
“I think the employee advisory board is a great opportunity for all staff to have their voices heard, voice their concerns, their ideas to the company and give that to management and ownership.”

Idea number three is to create a company culture book or video.

You may have heard of company culture books or videos before.

The time I was introduced to them was when I visited Zappos in 2008 while these ideas might not be revolutionary, there’s that element of it that I highly recommend doing to take it to the next level and that is to include a section that shares the success stories of current and past employees.

For example, you could share the success story of Sarah, the frontline employee who grew from our call center position to become the vice president of customer success or of Steve, the employee who contributed to the company culture for five years.

Then ventured off on his own to start his own successful business. Your company culture book or video should have anybody who reads or watches it, whether it’s a customer, an employee, the media, or even a prospective employee, invoke a certain type of emotion that gets them excited about your company profiling current and past employee success stories allows you the opportunity to share a great story rather than just listing off facts such as where is the company located and when was it founded?

Company culture idea number four is to invite current and past employees to interviews. Your All Star employees should be leveraged as ambassadors for the company so that they’re able to share their story. Working within your company culture.

After all, when your company is growing, everyone in the organization should act as a recruiter. Somebody has started doing in 2018 within my businesses, I would invite great employees who define our company culture and welcome them to our interview process.

Even if they did not have any interview experience before. Specifically, I would invite these ambassadors into the company culture part of the interview process. They can ask a couple questions and it doesn’t matter if they don’t have a lot of experience in asking you interview questions because you’re going to be the person there that will guide them through the process.

The biggest value is having them there. Describe the company culture from the perspective of the employee, not as the leader. There would even be times where I would excuse myself for the interview to allow the candidate and the current employee to be able to speak one on one without me in the room.

I’ve even gone as far as inviting past employees, individuals who were culture ambassadors when they were with the company to the interview process to speak to the prospective candidate. This works extremely well when you’re trying to recruit senior talent that is being approached by other companies as well too.

One forgotten piece of value in doing this is because if you do hire that prospective employee, not only do they know the or the person hosting the interview, but they will also have built a bond with that culture ambassador.

I would go ahead and make these culture ambassador culture buddies during the employee onboarding experience company culture. Idea number five is to conduct quarterly company culture audits.

In the first few pages of my people first culture book I quoted somebody named Dan Guerrero with the athletic director of Ucla and he says,

“Culture is like a baby. You have to watch it 24/7, it needs to be fed at least three times a day and when it makes a mess you have to clean it up and change it”

Company. Culture audits are something that I implemented with in my own businesses in 2018 and it’s something I’m recommending to my clients as well too.

Before doing company culture audits, I was reminded of a leader that I greatly admire.

The leader I admire is Daniel Schwartz. He’s the CEO of restaurant brands international. The organization is the parent company of Tim Horton’s Popeye’s and Burger King. This organization has a very high level of meritocracy.

Operating a company with high level of meritocracy means that high performers are rewarded and celebrated and low performers are giving coaching to be able to turn their game around. However, if they don’t take the coaching, then they are off boarded and replaced with other potential high performers. A colossal mistake companies make is not offboarding non culture fits fast enough.

If you do not do this, these individuals will erode your company culture from the inside and make your job infinitely more difficult to get the culture back on track. When deploying our company culture audit initiative, I work closely with our senior management team. they will print off an entire list of every single employee on our payroll and they will go ahead and rate these individuals from one to five stars, five being individuals that greatly contribute to the success of the culture.

Before our meeting. I will ask our managers to already come prepared with their list of their rankings and be ready to explain their valuation of each and every team member. This might sound labor intensive for your management team, but it shouldn’t be because they should already have an intimate understanding of each of their team members and how they’re contributing to the company culture, but even if it was labor intensive, what is more important than protecting the company culture you’ve built?

Here are a few reasons why company audits are important. You’re always refreshing your talent pool and protecting your company culture. You’re giving your managers the autonomy to pick their team and make it their own and you’re sending your company a very loud message that regardless of how talented you are, no one is excused from contributing to the success of the company culture and no one will harm it.

After being presented with the list, I asked three key questions.

The first is what are we going to do to celebrate fours and fives? The second is what are we going to do to support threes to turn them into fours or fives and third, what have we done to coach ones and twos? If I’m satisfied the way that my management team has coached ones and twos, then we will begin the offboarding process. Before doing this, I highly suggest consulting with a labor and employment professional to be able to give you guidance.

Reed Hastings, the cofounder and CEO of Netflix says it best:

“We don’t tolerate brilliant jerks because the cost of teamwork is too high.”

Company culture idea number six is to host company culture tours. Company culture tours is a fantastic way to showcase your culture, to perspective employees, the public, the media or anyone who is interested in learning about company culture.

1-800-GOT-JUNK. The company that I started my career at does company culture tours in a fantastic manner. When I first joined 100 got junk in 2007 as a call center employee, I was amazed that people from throughout North America would fly to Vancouver and take the tour.

This told me early on my career that company culture matters to the success of any business.

Don’t feel that it’s absolutely necessary to be able to host the company culture akin to 1-800-GOT-JUNK after all they’ve been doing it for years.

My recommendation is to start small, host a couple tours and start refining it along the way to host company culture towards you’re going to need a single point of accountability and give them a couple of resources. The first is give them guidance by sharing this video with them so that they can review the examples I’ve provided.

Next, allocate time for them to design what the tour would look like and consider other logistical things such as time of day and duration of the tour and third a budget that they can work within to make it a great experience for tour members.

I will never stop learning about company culture.

I will always be a student, which is why to this very day I will still go on company culture tours from other companies so that I can learn from my organization and share ideas with you as well.

Company culture idea number seven is the 3 x 5 strategy. It is by far the easiest. It costs you nothing but it’s often forgotten by most organizations.

Let me ask you a question. If you walked around your business and ask your employees to recite your core values or your mission statement, would they be able to recite it back to you?

Similar to how if you went to a Starbucks, they would most likely be able to recite the mission statement of their company, which is:

“to inspire and nurture the human spirit. One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” 

The three by five strategy will have you asking three employees at random across different departments in the organization five days a week to recite your core values or your mission statement.

After doing this for a long enough period of time, you’re going to create alignment which will help transform your company culture.

And now for the bonus company culture idea…

I present you the $20 interview question earlier in this video I told you that the EA b was the best strategy I’ve ever created, but I’m having second thoughts based on the feedback that I get from my keynotes, my workshops, and my book.

The $20 interview question is what’s resonating with companies around the globe.

All right, enough teasing here is the $20 question.

What is an indulgence that you can’t live without that costs less than $20?

At first, the candidate is going to be stumped and they may be thinking, why is this company asking me this question?

One thing’s for sure. They have never been asked this interview question in their career before, which makes it very unique. I’ve heard many different answers to this question. Dark chocolate, cool ranch, Doritos and red skittles.

After asking this question, what do you think is waiting on the desk or the workstation of the new employee on day one along with a hand written personalized card from the management team is the $20 gift that they had answered to the question in the interview.

Now there are a few key elements that you must follow to make this successful.

Number one, when asking the question probe further, if the candidate answers with dark chocolate, ask them what brand of chocolate from where this will help you further personalize the gift.

Number two, when presenting the gift to the candidate, ensure the person delivering the gesture reminds a new team member of the question.

For example, say, Hey Kelly, do you remember what you answered when we asked You what your $20 indulgence was? Have the gift out of sight, then hand it to them and number three, make sure it’s an indulgence, not a necessity because handing out a large package of toilet paper is just weird.

Not only will this transform your company culture, it is sending a very loud message to each and every new employee that this is how we treat people within our organization. We are thoughtful, we are genuine and we are caring not just to new employees but to everyone that interacts with the brand.

Start asking the $20 interview question today.

There you have it, the seven it company culture strategies to transform Your Business and that bonus interview question that I shared with you whenever you visit my youtube channel, my promise to you is that I’m going to share company culture, customer experience and employee engagement strategies. If you learn something by watching this video, it would mean the world to me.

If you subscribe to my youtube channel so that you can be alerted when I released my next educational video, visit my website, Michelle to learn about my keynote speeches and the private workshops that I host. But before you go, go into the comment section of this video and answer this one question so that I can help you implement some of these strategies. What strategy are you looking forward to implementing the most within your business?

Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation.

Thank you so much for watching this video and I’ll see you next time. Right.

People-First Culture™: Why Some Teams Win Together and Others Don’t.

People-First Culture™: Build a business your employees and customers will admire.

Customer experience, employee engagement, company culture and leadership are all extremely important factors in building an admired company/brand. The People-First Culture™ is a combination of all of these factors to assist businesses on the going down the path of becoming that admired brand in the eyes of both their employees and their customers.

It is extremely important to make your employees just as happy as your customers. I’m in the business of making my employees cry…. good tears of course! You need to show them that you care, and once you show  your employees that you care, that you respect them and that you appreciate them, they will deliver an experience to your customers that they have never seen before!

This video was shot in one take without a script. It’s just a real talk. It’s everything I believe captured in a short(ish) message.
I highlight the following in the video:
  • My People-First Culture and 3P Strategy concept.
  • I share stories from companies and leaders you may not have heard of like The Beautiful People Company (nearly half their workforce is disabled), Howard Behar (a legendary leader) and Warby Parker (a million to a billion in a few short years).
  • A diagram to share with your company and team.
If you watch the video and like the message, please consider sharing it on social media and TAG someone you think needs to hear the message.

Breakfast-N-Jam Sessions


When you have a handful of employees it’s easy to remember people’s names and have a one-to-one relationship with your team, but as you get bigger, as your company starts to scale, in our case, me and my business partners have over 100 employees.


Having that one-to-one relationship becomes more difficult, unless you put forth the effort.


So, I’m introducing something that I call “Breakfast-N-Jam” sessions every Monday morning at 9am, I invite one team member to have breakfast with me, and I’m not trying to use this time to motivate them as an employee, I’m trying to get to know them as an individual.


Another outcome of the breakfast is I want them to share their goals with me, whether that’s with the company or without the company, if you’re going to be a great leader, you need to take your employees motivation, understand their goals, and it’s your responsibility to help them accomplish those goals with or without the company.


That is why I’m hosting “Breakfast-N-Jam” sessions on a weekly basis.