A little over 2 years ago I left SportsLabs— a startup company that builds apps and websites for college sports teams. I was a UI Designer.
While I was there I and a few others started the Culture Squad, a team dedicated to transforming the culture at our workplace.
We rallied our coworkers to play basketball at lunch, cooked breakfast together once a week and launched “Imagination Thursdays”— an hour where everyone gathered in the middle of the office and riffed on the question, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” We had huge nerf gun wars, played Tug-Of-War against other startups, participated in Tube To Work Day, and made the CEO secretly deliver these bizarre mini-sculptures to the desks of top performers each month.
It was so fun. People loved it and we reduced turnover by 50%.
And despite all that, I remember thinking that it felt superficial. All these activities were fun but they felt like bandaid solutions. They took a lot of effort and only temporarily improved morale. We weren’t transforming our culture, we were distracting ourselves from it.
Culture is big. It’s the way a team experiences themselves and, as a result, the way they are experienced by others. It’s what attracts great employees and retains them. It’s what brings customers and users back. It’s what characterizes your product or service and your relationships with vendors and investors. It’s how people will remember their experience of your business.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Culture is how you made them feel. It’s paramount. John Taft said “If you don’t get culture right, nothing else matters.” And it’s much deeper than perks and activities.
What does it look like when you get culture right?
After SportsLabs I got goal oriented about finding a company that had mastered culture. If it was possible to achieve, it should be out there and I should be able to find it.
I’m writing this article because I found it.
At Trinfinity we got culture right. I didn’t know it was possible to get culture this right.
I’ve studied organizational culture for a long time and, frankly, we break the model (and most of the rules). We don’t have an HR department. We don’t have defined hours or roles. We party at the office almost as much as we work. We’re horribly politically incorrect. And we’re the most impressive, cohesive, inspiring, diverse, powerful team I’ve ever seen.
All of us are dedicated to this team and our vision. Our work is our passion. Our mission is the most inspiring part of our lives. After work we often spend weeknights and weekends together. I mean look at what I’m doing right now — I’m raving in my personal, independent blog about my company. I’m not getting paid for this. I’m actually this impressed.
I recently wrote an article called Finding Fuck Yes. Since, I’ve been intentional about identifying my Fuck Yeses—the things that make me come alive, empower me and enlighten me—the things that I would drop everything else for. I have two:
Writing and Trinfinity.
That’s an employer’s dream-come-true: An employee who is a “Fuck Yes” to their work; who is completely committed to the company and vision. It’s rare. And valuable. And elusive as hell. Some companies invest millions in employee engagement just to see folks burn out or leave. What’s the difference?
Stop giving a fuck about culture. Go all in on your vision. Merge with your vision. Become your vision-come-true. Surround yourself with people who share your vision. Be the person you would be if your vision were already manifest. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
I asked our founder, Bentinho Massaro, what he thought about culture a few days ago and he said “It’s a shared belief system? I don’t know. I’m not that interested in talking about this.”
Lol. The founder of the company with the best culture I’ve ever seen has almost nothing to say about culture. This didn’t surprise me. Great culture is an afterthought at Trinfinity. It’s an inevitable byproduct of our vision.
Let me explain.
Our vision for an enlightened global civilization by 2035 means a world full of people who take 100% responsibility for their lives and their experiences. People who understand the emotional guidance system and prioritize their alignment. People who are free of bias, attachment and story— who identify as their true selves, not their personality-mind. People who have a genuine desire to grow and the humility to not know; who are transparent, honest, and open, and who trust and love themselves.
In other words, these people are transparent, free, open, loving, confident, fun, helpful, authentic, and they take full responsibility for everything they experience. Can you think of a better set of qualities? Can you imagine working with an office-full of people like this?
This is the future Bentinho embodied before he founded Trinfinity. This is the standard he held when he invited others onto the team. This vision is what we most have in common. And because our personal alignment with this mission is what attracted each of us to this team in the first place, our commitment is solid.
“…there is a great camaraderie among members of the team. We are a collection of very different people from diverse walks of life, who probably wouldn’t even be friends under ‘ordinary’ circumstances. We connect through the mission we are drawn to support.”
— Lisa Rapp
Allow great company culture to unfold effortlessly by committing yourself to the change you wish to see in the world. This is the criteria for lasting employee engagement and fulfilling work.
This is what it looks like when an organization gets culture right.
“Who’s in and who’s out. That’s your culture.” — Patty Fahy
Photo by the lovely Ryan Brown