097 | Aligning Organization’s Unique Values With Strategic Goals | Creating Culture-Driven Companies | John Waid

Today we will be talking with John Waid. John is a former founder and CEO of C three corporate culture consulting firm specializing in aligning an organization culture with its strategic goals. John has worked in sales and marketing in giant companies like Pfizer, PepsiCo, Nestle, and so on. During these experiences, he developed a heightened awareness of the indispensable role, people’s attitudes in implementing effective processes and procedures.

This interest led him to study behavior in corporate settings and working as a behavior consultant. Because behaviours don’t exist in a vacuum, john examine and analyzes the effects of corporate culture on behaviour and found his real purpose in life. As a pioneering expert on that subject. He understands the direct link between a company’s culture and its performance. As a globally recognized expert on corporate culture, he leads companies to clearly define their values, and then build positive and purposeful behavior focused on results. Wow. That’s, that’s amazing.


John, we are so excited to have you here and learn everything about company culture, which is a hot topic these days.


Yes, thanks for having me.


Alright, so let’s get started. Let’s try to understand this word, corporate culture or phrases, rather, which is kind of confusing for a lot of people, a lot of people talk about it. And there’s a lot of, you know, the emphasis put on what kind of culture one can create. But when I talked to people, there seems to be confusion, what they actually mean by corporate culture. So can you clarify that for us?


First of all, right, so that’s a great question. So core corporate culture on a very basic level is, is a set of values and behaviours, that that are aligned in the company where everybody’s following, you know, the, what I like to say, three values and some behaviours, because I feel like most companies overcomplicate this subject, by having too many values to the values are too generic. And then people don’t, don’t live them every day, because they don’t most of the people in companies don’t even know what the values are. There’s only about 11%, according to statistics, XR bread, and I feel like that, that, that numbers high, because I go into lots of companies, and I asked them, hey, what are your values? And it’s like I was talking Chinese to people?


I see. I see. So when we derive these values, how do you? How do you figure out? What are the values? Like? Is it the values of the founders or the CEO? Or how does that all work?


It’s, it’s it, that’s a great another great question. The idea is that the values should come from your, from your frontline, they should come from your employees, a lot of a lot of the methods that the that the cultures developed from the top down, and that that can work as long as as long as they’re communicating with everyone in the organisation. And nowadays, it’s pretty easy, through Survey Monkey and other tools to get everybody’s input. When you create your culture.


A lot of people in our audience, are startup founders or aspiring entrepreneurs. So as you can imagine, when they start small, is, you know, a very small team that they are, or even in some cases, they are just working by themselves. So, you know, when you say that the culture comes from the front lines, how do you adapt that to a smaller company to a startup, where you may have only a few people working? And, you know, they may not be even clear on what exactly is going on? Because earlier on in the company’s life cycle, you know, there’s a lot of chaos.


Right, right. Right. Right. The idea is to, and the way we do it is we believe in the KISS principle, keep it short and simple. That’s the more elegant way to say kiss. And then we also, we also believe that it’s not about the knowing it’s about the doing so the part of creating the values is something that can be done fairly easily, whether you have one person in your company or, or, you know, 500,000 It’s, it’s, it’s the idea is, what do you see your best employees? If you’re the only employee? If you’re, if you’re the sole founder? What do you do that makes you successful? What do you do if somebody were to record you without sound? What would they see you doing? And how would they put a name on that? I was listening to some of your podcasts and there was a guest you had on not too long ago any any talked about that. You had to care. He talked about caring as a value. And he said, if you really care, you’re going to develop a good business, because you’re not just going to listen, you’re going to care about helping the other person to solve a problem. Yeah, and I thought that was a fascinating podcast, because he gave really good input about what to do when you’re starting a business, what to do, and not to do. And one of them when he said the word care, caring that that signified to me that that was the main value for him. So the idea is to create three unique values. And let’s just take the word caring, you can put a caring heart. So caring heart would be a unique value for the for this gentleman. And, and then you pick another two, no more than three because most people can’t remember more than three. And there’s a statistic that shows that if you have 123, you’ll get 123. Done, if you have four to seven, you’ll get one done, if you have more than eight, you’ll get zero done. So the idea is to keep it simple. And make sure that the values are unique. So caring heart would be a unique value that that company could have. What are some values that you see when as as you get your as, as you’re working on startups? And as you’re talking with other startups and people that are boots dropping their dreams? What do you see as values that they that they hold dear, as you’re talking to them?


Well, yeah, there are some common ones that I come across. And, and I’m not totally sure that most founders I talked to, they are aware of this value based system. But, you know, in just rescissions, what I uncover is, you know, freedom is one independence and freedom because that’s why they start a new company, startup. And adventure is, you know, I think they are adventurous, but maybe not like, I’m not too sure, exactly. They know what kind of adventure they’re getting into.


Yeah. Okay. So you could be that you could do free spirit would be one of them. free spirit. Yeah. And then the other one could be an adventurous soul. Yeah. And that courage could be a courageous, courageous heart. Yeah, could be one. So the idea is that, that you want to make these a little bit more unique, and you want to tie into motion. Because most of the time, we’re very head heavy. And companies, especially startups, and especially people that are highly technical, very, very headstrong. So we use our head, we use our IQ when we’re entrepreneurs, and we’re starting our business. And the idea is that you need to include the heart part. Also, as a matter of fact, as you start to get employees, the heart becomes more important than the head sometimes, because people will will stay at your company or leave your company based on emotions. Not oftentimes on on on the mind, I’ve seen people walk away from $500,000 jobs because they didn’t like their, their manager. And sometimes I question I go, Oh, my God, just stay, they’re a little while walk until you find another manager that you like. And sometimes, you know, sometimes they do, and sometimes they follow their heart and, and rightly so. And they find something else. So. So it’s really important to make sure that you’re balancing the the mind and the heart that you’re balancing the intelligence, intelligence quotient, the IQ with the EQ with the emotional quotient, nothing great. And I know this is a lot for an afternoon podcast, this is a lot to digest, the culture is a lot to digest,


I think this is vital for any company to succeed as important, like, you know, once a while, if you don’t know what your core values are, it’s kind of hard to get on the same page with everyone. So I think, yeah, it may be a heavy subject, but I think it’s a very, very important one, for sure.


It is and, and the more you even for the people that are very headstrong, as they’ll take some time and work on the culture and, and put the emotional, you know, get that in order, it creates a really nice environment for success. Because lots of times will, you know, companies will have their strategy, even the smallest one will know, you know, what they’re doing have their strategy, they’ll know how they’re doing it, and they’ll have their structure set up, even for small ones. And then lots of times they don’t know why they’re doing it, they don’t have an idea of the culture and really the best leaders focus on employees, and employees live the culture and then the culture drives the company and the company and, and that the company drives results. And the really great companies are aligned in their culture, and it makes for smooth sailing, especially in harder times. If you don’t have aligned cultures, when the economy goes south, you’re going to be in trouble. There’s going to be chaos. Yeah, so. So the idea is to focus on something that we’ve made various simple, I’ve studied the subject probably for the last 25 years. And it’s and I’ve managed to make it simple. And it’s really not complicated if you keep it to the basics. And what I find is that people don’t keep it to the basics.


Common sense is not very common, as they say. So, let’s, let’s quickly before we jump off the subject of values, I wanna quickly ask one more question. So sounds like the list of values, the three that you recommend, they can, it’s not set in stone, they can sort of evolving as the company grows, is that correct?


That’s correct. And, and they can evolve and they can, they can change, what I would tell you is if you, if you have three, and you see that you need to modify them, it makes it a lot easier if you only have three, yeah, and I would start with one and then work your way to the next and then work your way to the next because it really, if you can get one down the ideas choose one value, maybe you you choose courageous heart, and you put down some behaviors around courageous heart. So so the idea would be, you know, we take risks around here, calculated risks, and, and we run with them, we, you know, we, we don’t we ask for forgiveness, not for permission around here. That kind of, and then you put some behaviors behind it. And the idea is that everybody should live these behaviors as, as a matter of fact, it works in the workshops I do, I can set up a culture and 15 minutes, and I can get people to live the culture for two days. And these are people I’ve never met in my life, and they’ve never met me. And my workshops run really, really smoothly because I set called I slept values and behaviors at the start of the workshops. And really funny story real quick as there’s another consultant that was doing a course it was a sales course. And I we do a lot of different we do sales cultures, we did management, culture, etc, and company cultures. And the idea is that he went in there. And he said, he said, You know, I told everybody that if they, you know, if they were late for a session, or they were on their phones that they had to put $1 in the jar? Well, what happened is quickly, one of the salespeople put $500 in the jar. And that ruined the whole day, nobody learned anything, it was a disaster. And I said to I said to this, this guy, he was sitting at the bar next to me, and I said, Man, that’s happened to me before. And you know, I find that if you treat people like adults, they’ll act like adults, if you treat them like children, they’ll act like children, I said, What I learned to do is, is I’ve had workshops go south on me, and I take blame for It’s my fault. And what I do as I learned that I need to set the rules. And an easy way to set the rules is three values and some behaviors, because I can always point if somebody, somebody on their phone during a workshop, and they’re paying me, you know, money to be there, I go respect, and they go, Oh, sorry, and they put the phone down. And then and then somebody will be on the computer, I go respect and Oh, sorry, and then put the, you know, so it’s, it’s really easy to hold people accountable to the values, where it’s really, really difficult to write a manual with all the rules and regulations and have people pay attention to that. So values are extremely powerful. That is an often not used in companies. Yeah.


So if I understand this process, the way that you laid out to you first drive your values, you agree upon them, you attach some behaviors with them, and that sort of, you know, that the set of values and your behaviours become sort of culture and that evolves, as people start to follow it. Is that is that correct? Or there is there are more steps to it?


No, that’s, that’s you align the you make sure you align the behavior. And let me give you a quick example, that that if, if some of your listeners are familiar with chick fil a, or Southwest Airlines, those are two culture juggernauts that I often refer to. And chick fil a worked for four years with their people, to get the phrase, it’s my pleasure, solidified not only as a phrase also as an attitude, and it’s part of their courtesy value. And so it’s my pleasure is what they say after you say thank you. And the founder of the company actually got that phrase from the Ritz Carlton and Atlanta, Georgia, and he liked it so much, because he said, Thank you to one of the waiters, and they said, It’s my pleasure. And he said, oh, gosh, I’m going to get all my people to start saying that, well, to align that behavior all the way through the organisation took them four years to fully align it. Now, it’s, it’s not only an industry standard, it’s a lot of industries are trying to adapt that to their industry, you here, it’s my pleasure, more and more as you go to marry outs and other places. The thing about it is that chick fil a says it and they mean it. And they’ve got you know, thousands of people line saying, saying it’s my pleasure and acting. Like, it’s my pleasure and what they mean by It’s my pleasure, it’s my pleasure to serve you. So if you can align simple behaviors like that, throughout your organization, you have thousands of people saying and meaning it, it’s, it’s tremendously powerful. And let me just give you the bottom line results of chick fil a versus Kentucky Fried Chicken, their nearest competitor, so Kentucky Fried Chicken sells 1 million per store, and pixelization sells 5 million per store. Wow.


Wow, that’s huge. That’s huge. And you said Southwest, you wanted to share any stories about four Southwest Airlines as well.


So Southwest has three values, and they’re unique. And they’re really, really cool. One of them is a warrior spirit. So warrior spirit is their operational value. That’s how they get you to know, they, they get the suitcases all loaded in, they keep the cost down, they make sure they run a really, you know, the first-class operation with that courageous, or I’m sorry, with the warrior spirit value. So that’s their operational value, then they have the servant heart value, which I call their growth value, that’s what helps them to grow and get better. And they’re there to serve each other, and they’re there to serve the customer. So that’s a servant heart, that’s their second value. And that helps them to grow and get better and, and provide really great service, first to the employees. And second, to the, to the customers. And this is really important is to understand that, that you need to set these values up for your people, for the employees, they’re not for the customer, they’re for the employees, a lot of companies say, you know, customer service is one of our values. No, it’s not. It’s unless you involve the employees and the word customer service, that’s not a good value. Because the idea is to get people in your company to behave a certain way. Because aligned behaviour is really, really powerful. So the third value that that Southwest has, and this is there, their aspirational value is is fun-loving, and they spell loving luv VI, n g. So just how they spell love. They say they have a saying without a heart, it’s just a machine. So that’s there, you know, the loving and the fun-loving is there aspirational values. So not only do you need three values, but they also need to be balanced, you need one that helps you to be the management value, which I call it the operational value or the get it done the money value. The second value is the growth value. And that’s going to help you to keep growing and getting better. And the third one is your leadership value or your aspirational value. And that’s the one that keeps everybody wanting to come back. And Southwest believes that we treat people we treat our employees, like we want our employees to treat our customers. It’s, it’s it’s very powerful.


Awesome. That’s great. And so once you have developed you have, you know, you figured out your values you have attached to behaviour, you’re sort of building the foundation of your culture, how do you make sure that it reaches, you know, to every employee and they embrace it? Because, you know, larger companies may have a problem with that, like they have offices all around the world. And, you know, actually actually the big crossover on multiple time zones, multiple cultures and all that. How do you harmonize all this?


Okay, so So let me give you another example. So Delta Airlines with 80,000 employees, they had a CEO, his name was Richard Anderson. And he what he did was he operate, operationalize the culture by coming up with a booklet that basically tells the culture of delta, and it’s called rules of the road, he rewrote the manual from the 1940s, of the founder of the company. And he’s got the values and the behaviors that they expect from every employee. Now, the interesting thing about Richard is that he, through his communication, because the CEO, he believes that the number one thing he does is set the culture. The second thing he does is set the structure, then he sets the strategy helps set the strategy. And then he communicates all that the first thing that the great leaders do is work on culture on aligning the behaviours and values of the company. And by launching that manual and training heavily on that the manual, they were able to operationalize that manual for 80,000 employees. So much so that Richard was so well loved that they called him Richard, he didn’t like to go by Mr. Anderson. He said, Please call me Richard. So when he signs the book, it says, Richard, those are your better leaders go by their first name. Because they realized that it has to be they have to touch everybody’s heart before they touch the mind. So they and Richard were was really good, you know, he was a Delta for 10 years and left an airline that’s still considered the best of the three, the three largest domestic carriers in the United States. And it’s because of Richard and his team and all the employees at Delta that really live the culture every day. And that’s what makes it I’m better than the other airlines. So. And they actually make more money. Yeah, to a lot more money. So that’s great. So not an easier operation to run.


Yeah, I mean, if they’re all on the same page, you know, obviously, there’s more harmony between the people who are trying to accomplish their goals. Right?


Right. Right. Okay. And now, so you have to invest in it.


Yeah, for sure. So now, let me talk to you about how you help companies develop their culture. So when you walk into a company, can you tell whether it’s a culture driven company? Or is it sort of more chaotic? Can you tell me? right away?


Yes. Yes, can you?


while I’m, I have a difficult time here, obviously, it will take some time for me to figure out what they are doing. But you are an expert in this case, but the tools that you are giving today, I think that will help me and the viewers and listeners improve that ability to tell or show. Right?


Yeah, you can tell a culture right away, because of the way that people behave, you can see the behavior and you can see whether they smile or not, you can see how they talked you, you can see if there, you can even see if they’re depressed or not, you can see if there’s anger in the company, you can see if there’s happiness in the company, you can see a lot of things, and the interactions that you have with any of the employees. That’s why it’s so important that, that the leaders, make sure that they work with the employees and make sure that they align the behaviours and the values with the employees, the number one job of a leader is to work with the employees, if the employees if they do a good job with the employees, and they train them and them, they hold them accountable for living these values and the behaviors, then the customer is going to be delighted and the customer is going to spend more money. And it’s going to be a really beautiful cycle, of continued returns. And, you know, the top companies in every sector tend to outperform the other ones, at least by you know, twice, if not, like five times, as the example of chick fil a. And Southwest Airlines in a 30 year period, if you had invested $10,000, in the late 60s, you’d have 12,000,030 years later. And they’re known to be the culture juggernaut of the airline industry. And there, they tend to do better in good times. And also in recessions. Because people like Southwest, they get a smile on their faces, and the employees are happy and they treat people well. And, and if I’m going to go on a low-cost airline, I want them to treat me nicely. And they spent tonnes of money on culture and tonnes of money out training and tonnes of money that they feedback to the employees. So it really it pays off to work on culture, I often say start with culture. People go, Well, I do culture, and I’ll go with that. What are your values, I don’t know? Like, okay, then you don’t do culture. Start with culture. And then they’ll say of the cut the customers, the most important thing I’ll say, then you’re not a culture driven company, your us your strategy-driven company, and that’s okay, you’ll you’ll make good money. The thing is, your employees might not be too happy. And and that’s a shame. Because Wouldn’t it be nice to go home with happy employees, and, you know, really good profits. So you can have both the ideas that, that we need to start balancing out companies to have the IQ and EQ working together nicely. And what our company does is we heavily focused on the EQ, because we know that there’s a huge lack of that, within companies and within leadership teams. Especially.


Yeah, that’s true. Now, let’s talk about the corporate brand. So when we talk about corporate concern corporate brands, is there an overlap between them? Or do they affect each other? And what are your views about that?


So so the customer experience is, a lot of times, especially for service companies is brand, right. So if I go into chick fil a, not only am I buying chicken, I’m also buying an experience. So are the bathrooms clean, or the floors clean? Are the tables clean? Are the people friendly? Do they care about me, all that happens in a matter of less than a second, when you walk into to just about any business. And that less than a second, you have to show that that you have the values in the behaviors that are driving the experience. And a lot of companies spend a tonne of money on, you know, on the branding on going out doing a lot of social media, they spend zero money on their employees. And the majority of the experience is coming from the employees, you call a company and you get a nasty person on the other line, welcome to your brand, that’s the brand, you go into a fast food restaurant that’s dirty and smells like urine, welcome to your brand. It doesn’t matter what you did to get that chicken or hamburger to the person quickly, if the place smells, or if the people are nasty, I often go into into places and I say the values here are nasty, disgusting and horrible. Because that’s what I see when I walk in. And I’m sure most people that own companies don’t want the customer to say nasty, disgusting and horrible. As they describe the experience that they got, when they walk into, you know, you know any place, whether it be an office, or whether it be, you know, whether it be a restaurant, or whether it be an airplane, so it doesn’t matter your customer experiences coming from your employees, and if you don’t spend the time and money on your employees to train them and, and treat them while then they’re going to treat the customer poorly. And you’re not going to be happy with the results. And unfortunately, it’s very much human nature that we promote people to the highest levels of organizations, who are extremely smart. And they lack in the emotional intelligence area enough to where I go into companies and often say, you know, we do corporate culture, and they laugh at me. And they go, Oh, we already have that covered. I say and I say well, your bathrooms are dirty, your people are nasty. I said I guess you have your culture covers. Have a nice day. You know, because my I have a good friend that runs a company and he says, john, I do culture? I said, No, you don’t. I said because you’re sore experiences and aren’t excellent. Until it’s excellent. You don’t do culture. Yeah, you do processes, you do systems, you handle the money really well. You spend a tonne of money on SAP and on point of sale systems and all those types of things if you’re not working and spending money with your employees, and that’s where you’re going to fail. That’s where you’re going to fail and, and companies that do it right are so much better in so many ways. And the reason that I get excited about the subject is not for the money, I love that people make more money, I love that chick fil a makes five times more money than Kentucky Fried Chicken. What I wish is I wish that the employees that Kentucky Fried Chicken had his nice experience of working there, as do the ones at chick fil a, because that’s when it’s really really cool. For me, it’s about the frontline employees, I grew up working from the frontline old my all the way up to, to the highest levels at these big companies and, and I know that the front lines get treated very, very poorly. And for me, the main thing that drives me is to help the front line get treated better so that they can give better treatment to the customers. And so that so that the company can make more money and invest that money back into the employees. That for me would be the miracle solution for a lot of a lot of companies. And if we could get, you know, leaders to change their mindsets, and to really start investing in this and not just paying lip service to it, it would be incredible. And that’s my dream. That’s my dream as much as I can before I die. I’d like to influence as many organizations as I can, and as many people as I can to really focus on culture so that they can focus on the employees so that they can, you know, so the employees are happy. And the results are really, really good. Because I believe that you can have both. Yeah, amen to that.


That’s a noble cause. And I’m the, you’re doing this. So thanks a lot for getting on this mission. Now, we are running a little bit over time. But I want to ask this one last question is, there’s an on the macro scale, there’s a trend of outsourcing and shipping jobs, overseas and all that. So how do you maintain your culture in that kind of economy where you have to work with external parties, vendors, outsource companies, what are your views around that?


So three values, your behaviors, and you hold them accountable, you train them, and you make sure that they’re living up midday live on, they get promoted, if they did not live in them, they, you know, you let them go. So that’s and you hire for culture, and you train for culture and you promote for culture, and you know, and you lay off for culture, you do all the things around culture because if you got your culture, right, everything else will work itself out. The famous for I hate to say that the obvious quote, The thing is, I’ll say it any its culture eats strategy for breakfast. It’s a quote attributed to Peter Drucker and it’s so true today, it’s truer today than it’s ever been. And, and it’s really, really powerful. If, if people embrace that’s what kind of got me, you know, started in this business is, you know, I, I was the first one to register www corporate culture consulting. com. And I was amazed it was open, because if you went to, to get the word strategy, there’s no way you could calm strategy, but the corporate culture was wide open. And I was like, that’s incredible that companies haven’t realized and people haven’t realized how important this subject is. To the point where we’re, you know, I, I feel like I was one of the pioneers in establishing what is now starting to become an industry. So that’s, I’m proud of it, because then I want to keep the I want to keep this at the forefront. So I’m getting as many most many podcasts as I can to get the word out.

That’s great. That’s great.

Alright, so thank you so much for being with us today. And making us sort of realise how important culture is even though a lot of people understand it, but I think this conversation has opened my eyes at least, like, you know, how how important this is, and also the way that you have described laid it out in simple terms on how you can actually develop your culture that has been a really good education for for for everyone involved, I think. So thanks a lot. Now, before I let you go, can you tell us how people can reach out to you and if they want to hire you for their company? How can they? How can they make use of your services?


Right, so you can reach me one of several ways you can you can call me which would be that would show that you want to work on your culture and the numbers for 0491530 51404 915 3051. You can also reach me at JWA id at corporate culture consulting dot com. And you can also go to our website, www dot c three culture dot com.


Awesome. That’s great.

Well, once again, thanks a lot for being with us today and sharing your knowledge and wisdom. Thank you.


Yeah, thank you.


Links And Mentions From This Episode: 


John’s Website:  https://corporatecultureconsulting.com/

TetraNoodle consulting services: http://innerget.com

TetraNoodle professional training: https://courses.tetranoodle.com 


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