There are two major sources of stress for a business owner:

Money (cash flow) and
People (Employees, Suppliers, Financiers, Shareholders).

We are not going to tackle all that in this edition, but we are going to dive deep into the people side—specifically employees, and culture.

You see—people problems are more often system and culture problems. If the right culture exists, certain behaviours are not tolerated. If the right culture exists, good people thrive and attract more good people.

I’ll be careful not to paint a high performance culture as the holy grail, but it kinda is. Let’s face it, if a company has a unique competitive advantage and a high performance culture in a market that is large enough … that is a winning recipe.

So, let’s take a look. Much has been written in recent years on the topic of building a high performance culture and in my experience it is an area that does not get enough attention in most businesses.

The truth is, most of us are focused on building our businesses and servicing customers, while forgetting about the foundation it is all based on—our people. No matter how you slice it, the strength of your team is a key component in building a company that will endure.

It was hard work finding the best articles and snippets to send in this edition as there is just so much out there. So what you see is leading edge and the current thinking around building high performance cultures. Enjoy!

The Golden Child – Zappos

One of the most cited best examples of powerful culture is Zappos. The US online shoe retailer (bought by Amazon for $1.2B). While this example may be overused I think the lessons here are massively relevant.
Here are a variety of sources to learn how Zappos built their culture
A overview video (5:40)
Kevin Rose (Google Ventures) interviewing Tony Hsieh (CEO Zappos) (40mins) – start at min 20 to get to the culture stuff.
A summary of Tony Hsieh’s book – Delivering Happiness

Culture Shift in Action: An Interview with Aaron Lavell – WMS Chartered Accountants

Before meeting Aaron a couple of weeks ago, I was researching his company and was struck by the impressive focus on their culture. Honestly, I was skeptical. Many companies talk about it but very few actually do it. After meeting Aaron and learning about the journey they’ve been through, I knew it was a story to share. Have a read of this interview to learn about some of the tips and pitfalls from a local Gold Coast success story. Enter Aaron Lavell, Managing Partner of WMS Chartered Accountants. Read it Here .

How Exceptional Companies Create High Performance Cultures

In this Forbes article (3 minute read), Chris Cancialosi , summarises a much larger and longer paper that builds on the key components companies need to incorporate and create a high performance culture.

The Gap Adventures

Bruce Poon Tip had a fast growing company, Gap Adventures (now G Adventures) but found that rapid growth came with some unintended growing pains. In this article that was featured in Profit Magazine back in 2011, Bruce shares how he got things back on track. (10min read). Read here

The Advantage – Book Review

What I consider to be one of the best business books to date, Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” gives some great insight on creating competitive advantage by building a ‘healthy’ company vs a ‘smart’ company. Here’s a summary , but I highly recommend reading the whole book (at least twice!)

Thought of the Month: