Five Signs Your Company Culture May Actually Suck

When I read this article I knew I had to share with everyone, these are some things that when starting Southern Hospitality, we tried to avoid when creating the identity of our culture. This is a great read for anyone who is struggling to get their company culture off the ground!

Great company culture is visceral. We’re talking about the type of culture that is so real, it envelops you from the minute you step into the office. It’s refreshing, like splashing cool water on your face in blistering hot weather. It radiates from every person in the business.

Having a strong company culture is the secret ingredient to modern success. Airbnb’s Brian Chesky has gone so far as to proclaim company culture as the sole subject of a company’s legacy. Company culture, he says, is the foundation for all future innovation. It’s that important.

Related: Time for a Company Culture Audit

Most companies want great company culture, but only a few do what it takes to actually have it. It certainly doesn’t come easy, but pinpointing your weaknesses and shifting your work environment will put you on the right path.

The first step of improving your culture is to identify where it’s lacking. Here are five indications that your company culture may actually suck, and solutions to make it better.

1. Your culture relies on perks. It can be tempting to say you have good company culture since you have a company-sponsored happy hour every Friday or because you recently hired an in-house barista to make lattes every morning. But culture does not come from perks, it’s rooted in a shared philosophy that brings your people together. Perks are used to empower your culture by supporting the company philosophy.

Buffer, for example, has a philosophy of transparency. One of the company perks is a free Jawbone’s Up wristband so that the whole team can share their sleeping, eating and activity information in full transparency. In this case, the perk supports the philosophy while helping build strong relationships among a remote team.

2. Your company has a generic mission statement. It’s not enough to simply plaster a mission statement from your first business plan across the office wall. Your company must have strong core values and a noble cause at the foundation of everything you do to achieve great company culture.

noble cause captures your company's higher purpose and what your team is working to accomplish every single day. It is a statement that defines the direction of the company, everything from business development to new employee orientation. The company’s core values and shared beliefs are the soul of a company and its foundation for outstanding company culture.

3. Your culture only exists at work. Great company culture doesn’t drop off when you exit the building, it is carried out into the world by your people, ambassadors and witnesses of your culture. It is internalized and adopted by your team, shaping them as people and helping them to evolve at work and beyond.

Related: Creating and Keeping a Positive Company Culture

At Digital Telepathy, we empower employees from the inside out through betterment bonuses. Every year, our team members each receive $1,500 for a project to simply better themselves or others. They choose something they have always wanted to do, work on the project throughout the year and share their experience with the whole team.

Betterment is a core value at Digital Telepathy, so as our team betters themselves, they are evolving our culture inside and outside of the office.

4. You hire skills, not people. Every person you hire either adds or detracts from your company culture. Employees who don’t fit into the culture, no matter how talented they are, will not contribute to the longevity of your business.

study from RoundPegg found that new employees with strong cultural fit were 27.2% less likely to leave within their first 18-months on the job. If you don’t have job applicants going through intensive, culture related interviews before you hire, you may want to rethink your hiring process. Consider using a personality profiles, in addition to a skill tests and reference checks, to help decide if an applicant is a cultural fit.

5. You discourage risk. Part of learning and growth is trial and error. Not everything can be predicted, practiced and projected. If your company culture awards short-term performance and punishes risk takers, you’ll be cultivating a norm of anti-innovation. Allowing employees to fail quickly without repercussion encourages your team to explore possibilities and be more innovative. Your team will feel more valued when it has a voice and that will benefit your business.

The bottom line: Building great company culture is about being inclusive of all employees, creating a shared philosophy to guide your decisions and protecting that foundation by bringing on and empowering the right people.

When you have great company culture, you’ll feel it, and so will everyone in and around your company. It is not easy to achieve but, once done right, it can't be ignored.

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Four Ways to Lead Yourself Before Leading Others

Everyone wants to be a leader. However, leadership doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just walk up to a group of random strangers and declare, “I am your leader. Follow me.”
Before you can lead others well, you must first be able to lead yourself. As the Latin proverb goes: “It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” Even after you become a leader, you owe it to your followers to lead yourself well.

So how do you begin to rule yourself? Here are four habits of successful self-leaders:

The Four R’s of Self-Leadership

  1. Recognize
    Self-leaders must be first and foremost self-aware. The self-leader recognizes when to take the responsibility, both for successes and for failures. This requires a great amount of humility and selflessness. In a hierarchical system, it is tempting to shift the blame on others above or below you while shifting the praise to yourself. As a leader, sometimes you will have to accept responsibility for the poor decisions of others under you; other times you will need to give credit where credit is due. Developing self-awareness through accepting responsibility will earn the respect and admiration of others, deepening their commitment to you as their leader.
  2. Risk
    Leaders who don’t grow don’t lead very long. If you want to lead yourself and others better, you must be willing to take risks. The risk doesn’t have to huge (though those tend to have higher rewards); it could be as simple as admitting you were wrong or asking someone else for help. Leaders who take risks should do so out of humility (“I am not perfect and need to grow”) as opposed to out of pride (“I have to do this to prove what a great leader I am”). Taking personal risks not only allows you to grow, but inspires others to seek opportunities for growth as well.
  3. Read
    President Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Since much of a leader’s work takes place in the mind first, it is essential to stay mentally sharp. Reading expands your thinking, keeps you up-to-date on the latest news and trends, and presents you with new information to guide your actions. In order to lead yourself well, you need to set aside time to read on a variety of topics. I recommend a reading breakdown somewhere in this ballpark: 60% related to your job/passions; 35% unrelated to your field; and 5% that you fundamentally disagree with. This balance will keep you well-rounded and informed while challenging you to better defend your views.
  4. Relax
    You’ve heard the expression “Work hard. Play hard.”, but do you actually put into practice? One of the hardest things for committed leaders to do is to periodically step back and unwind. Instead, many overwork themselves, often resulting in exhaustion or burnout. If you want to lead yourself well, you must recognize when it is time for some relaxation. There is much wisdom in the practice of taking a Sabbath, whether it is a few hours, a whole day, or an extended vacation. This rest allows you to stay focused, energized, and passionate about your leadership role. Despite what you may believe, your followers/company can survive for a little bit without you and the world most likely won’t come crashing down. Take some time to relax.

Taking these steps will allow you to “become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position” (Brian Tracy). In other words, leading yourself well allows you to lead from example and not from your position.

Whether you are currently leading five people or five hundred, remember that the most important person to lead well is yourself. Go recognize, risk, read, and relax so that you can be the best leader for those who have entrusted themselves to your care.

Lawson HembreeGuest post by Lawson Hembree. Lawson is an entrepreneur and ministry leader focused on glorifying God and serving others by building brands with integrity. You can check out his blog here or interact with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.




Play for Legacy - Chess not Checkers

Will you outlast the temporary?


4 Time Management Tips For Leaders [ReBlog]

I get to meet lots of leaders. Some are young, some are old, but without a doubt the ones who get the most done always manage their time well.
Most young leaders I meet have no idea how to manage their time. I’m one decade into what I pray will be a lifetime of ministry, and I have made plenty of mistakes, but there are four time management tips I have learned. I pray these will help you as you grow in leadership, by God’s grace.


Most young leaders do too much. In my early twenties, I tried everything out and was average at lots of things, but not good at very much. It was a smorgasbord of singing on a worship team, leading a community group, running a video camera for live events, making announcements, overseeing activities at a summer camp, and on and on. The only connection was that I did them all. I was well on my way to epitomizing the slogan, “jack of all trades, master of none.”

Most young leaders do too much.

It’s fine to try things out, and it’s natural as young leaders find their place. But eventually you need to find what you are uniquely able to do that others can’t do.

The New Testament church is often called the body of Christ. Paul explains that members of the church have been given gifts and need to work together as members of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12). How has God uniquely gifted you? What has he called you to do?


It was my first vocational ministry job as a youth pastor in an established church. I was new to the church, students, and ministry rhythms. There was much to do, and I was excited to do the work. For the first few months, I could not stay away from the church. On my intended Sabbath day I would sleep in, but eventually I would go to the church because there was work to be done. Those months I wore myself out because I did not allow myself to rest.

Eventually you need to find what you are uniquely able to do that others can’t do.

You have to take a day off to rest or Sabbath. It is counterintuitive, but you are actually more productive when you take time to rest. God set the pattern for us when he worked for six days and rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). When you take the time to Sabbath, you should not only rest, but also connect with your Lord and Savior. Learn to rest.

When do you Sabbath? What does your Sabbath look like?


Make sure what’s most important gets done. As a young communicator in ministry, I would get everything ready for that week’s service before starting the message. In my mind, it was more efficient to get 9 of 10 things done than to get 1 of 10 things done. As you can imagine, there were lots of bad messages taught and preached. Leaning into my natural gifting was not enough to make up for not prioritizing my preparation.

You are actually more productive when you take time to rest.

Having a to-do list can help you get things done. Having a prioritized to-do list helps you get the most important things done. Setting priorities allows you to arrange your time to accomplish your goals. Even Jesus stayed focused on the mission he was sent on.

What’s the most important thing for you to accomplish this week, this day, and this time-block?


Ministering to people happens when you least expect it. Working for a church, I quickly realized that people dropping in unannounced was the norm.

People needing to meet with me, their pastor, started to mess up my schedule. Didn’t they know I had ministry to get to? I doubt many of those people left feeling well cared for by their pastor. God was kind enough to lead me to realize how wrong I was (Rom. 2:4).

Ministering to people happens when you least expect it.

Save space in your life for the unexpected. I have found that the random conversations, interruptions, and drop-in meetings often are some of the most fruitful times. I have learned to set aside margin in my day and week for people and things I did not plan for. Think of how many people Jesus ministered to who interrupted him along the way.

Where is the space in your life?

[Reblog, Original Article]

19 Successful To-Do's

  • You have to make the call you’re afraid to make.
  • You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.
  • You have to give more than you get in return right away.
  • You have to care more about others than they care about you.
  • You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.
  • You have to feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.
  • You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.
  • You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.
  • You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.
  • You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.
  • You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.
  • You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts.”
  • You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.
  • You have to try and fail and try again.
  • You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.
  • You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.
  • You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.
  • You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.
  • You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

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