How to Get Company Culture Right

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 Yesesthe 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?

You ready?

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

 

 

 

The Trinfinity Team

Here’s the description I usually give people when they ask me about where I work:

I work for this experimental startup in Boulder. Our founder is a public figure—sortof an inspirational / motivational speaker— someone many of us were following on YouTube before we became part of his team. Instead of focusing on projects, he’s focused on culture. So over time he’s collected this group of us who he resonates with— so far we’re only about 15 people— and his intention is that as the organization grows, we become the heart of the company; the trunk of the tree. This means most of us don’t have specific rolls. Our responsibility is to develop ourselves, to support each other, to follow our own intrinsic guidance, and to show up. 

This is an honest answer. But it’s kinda like curated honesty.

I’ve toned it down and found a way to fit it into a more mainstream worldview.

Here’s the truth:

I work for Trinfinity Corp — a company dedicated to an “enlightened civilization by 2035, ready for interstellar absorption.” Our founder, Bentinho Massaro, is the leader of the most powerful, high-level movement I’ve ever seen. The scale of our vision surpasses Elon Musk’s easily. The first time I heard Bentinho speak I remember very clearly setting this goal for myself: “I want to experience life the way he experiences life.” He’s an intense, controversial 28-year-old. He plays video games and smokes cigars and dates models and lives in a mansion in the mountains. And he’s brilliant. A spiritual prodigy.

Our team is the most remarkable group of people I know. Hands down. I once asked Bentinho what we have in common (the team and the broader community) and he said “they’re the most competent.” — Not technically competent necessarily (though we’re plenty technically competent) but competent in our ability to sift through the bullshit. To be exceptionally honest with ourselves. To see the bigger picture. To recognize truth even if it’s unpopular or inconsistent with current belief systems.

What we do is important, but “doing” is not the priority. Doing comes as a result of our state of being; as a result of what we’re committed to and what we prioritize. Our duty is to take 100% responsibility for our experience and our development; to enlighten and empower ourselves; to be of service to others to the greatest extent we know how. To realize our potential. To reclaim our power, individually and collectively.

Otherwise we have almost nothing in common. We’re all ages, from different countries and backgrounds, we have vastly different interests and ways of living. But we’re committed to the same thing. We’ve been drawn together because we’re aligned with the same vision.

I believe this company will be the most impactful, successful, game-changing organization in the world.

I believe people will know Trinfinity as the company that broke all the rules, created the future we want instead of waiting for gradual collective iterations, and built the new model which made the old model obsolete. I believe that this company will disrupt humanity as we know it, for the better. 

A little over a week ago we had a historic team shift which I wrote about on Facebook (here’s a screenshot:)

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-1-09-40-pm

Which was followed almost instantly by the appointment of a new CEO.

That’s when I realized that now’s the time. Right now, as we begin to pick up steam, this is an opportunity to track our transformation in real time.

Almost nothing we do is conventional. The projects we work on, the way we work, the conversations we have, the team breakdowns and breakthroughs we go through. I’m not exaggerating when I say it feels historic. I’ve been on many teams but none like this. Nothing even close.

Recently Pete said, “Being here—doing this with you guys— this is my edge.” That’s how I feel too.


 

I’m going to supplement my #100Somethings 100 blog posts with behind-the-scenes stories about our team, our development, and the lessons I’m learning throughout. I might include some interviews, videos, screenshots, whatever. To keep these distinct from my other posts I’ll use the tag “Trinfinity Team.”