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How Is Your Company Built?

Do you love business? Like the real interworkings of business? The DNA of companies? The culture and distinct values of really successful organizations?

I sure do.

I am weirdly passionate about what makes businesses tick. How did they get to where they are? And why?

That's why I get so excited about Guy Raz's podcasts: "How I Built This."

If you're sort of a business culture anthropologist like me, then you must become a devoted listener to "How I Built This." Guy tells amazing, engaging stories about all sorts of businesses and their circuitous paths to success.

Big companies like Crate & Barrel, small businesses like Luke's Lobster, fashionable businesses like Outdoor Voices, classic businesses like Ben & Jerry's, innovative businesses like Beyond Meat ...

... all kinds of companies and businesses.

What is so intriguing is how eventually getting the culture right is the one constant success criterion that permeates all of these success stories whether you're a retail business, a law firm, a global sports leader, a tech firm ... whatever. A caring culture and authentic values are the pistons that drive each of these business journeys.

Conversely, periodic departures from a company's core values and authentic culture lead to inevitable breakdowns in Guy's stories ... again ... and again ... and again. When we hear about big bumps in the road, that 'bump' almost always involves a people issue. That's why culture and strict adherence to your organization's principles and values of that culture is job #1.

Here is Guy talking recently to NPR's Rachel Martin about the tried and true concept of culture being the common success denominator to most all of these business success stories that he tells. Listen to this 50 second clip from the interview where Guy talks about the role of culture in emerging businesses.

So, if you are infatuated with why some businesses thrive and some just get by, start listening to Guy's Raz's "How I Built This." (Check out the story on Tate's Bake Shop Cookies - one of my favorites!)

And, while you're listening - think about your own company and your culture and values. Are they really where they need to be? Is everyone charging in the same direction, following a clear vision, working with the same values? Or you might ask, "Is it time for a tune-up? (It's OK, all vehicles need a tune-up every now and again.)

Who knows - your company might be an upcoming story for Guy to tell. Like all of Guy's stories, it will not be a clear path along the way where everything was done right at every possible juncture. But after all, what's really interesting about that "everything's perfect" story?

It's business, and there will always be mishaps along the journey. Getting through those mishaps is what the true value of the journey is all about. It is important to remember that despite those inevitable times in business when all seems bleak and the company appears to be just about done, the tried and true compass of culture and values gets you through. It's almost magic.

And, it's a story that never gets old.

So, if Guy is talking about you and your company in an upcoming podcast, it's because you are now at a point where you have employees who are totally engaged because you have a caring and inspiring culture, you have clients who feel proud to be part of your purposeful, inclusive community; and you have clear values and behaviors that everyone follows.

In other words, you have a successful business.

And, you should certainly feel proud about how you built it.


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