Rebecca Friese – Workplace Innovation Consultant & Author of The Good Culture: The Leader’s Guide to Creating a Workplace That Doesn’t Suck

Episode 104

Rebecca Friese is an expert in workplace culture and innovation. She recently came out with the book *The Good Culture: The Leader's Guide to Creating a Workplace That Doesn't Suck*, which is based on her experience creating organizational change with big and small companies over the last 20 years. Rebecca is the cofounder of FLYN Consulting which works with organizations to create great work cultures that inspire and motivate employees to help the company achieve top-notch performance. On this show, Rebecca talks about her new book, The Good Culture and shares tips on how companies can create a "good culture" for their employees. She also talks about what good culture actually is, how to create the culture that is aligned with your mission during the pandemic, how to empower employees to thrive so that businesses thrive, and much more.

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Kara Goldin: Hi, everyone. It’s Kara Goldin from, The Kara Goldin Show. And I’m here today with my friend, Rebecca Friese. Hi, how are you?
Rebecca Friese: Hi. I’m so good. I’m so happy to be here.
Kara Goldin: Super happy to have you here. So, Rebecca, I keep wanting to call her Becky, because I’ve known [crosstalk 00:00:20] her for years.
Rebecca Friese: That’s okay. Just do it.
Kara Goldin: She goes by both. Is the author of the brand new book, The Good Culture: The Leader’s Guide to Creating a Workplace That Doesn’t Suck. And I have to tell you that Rebecca has been really at the forefront of how do you create great culture? I think I spoke at one of your events. Oh, my God. I’m totally dating [crosstalk 00:00:43]
Rebecca Friese: It was in 2012. It was [crosstalk 00:00:44]
Kara Goldin: Yeah. That’s what I was going to say.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: I was going to say it was [crosstalk 00:00:47] eight years ago. And that’s how we met.
Rebecca Friese: Yup.
Kara Goldin: And she runs this amazing group called, FLYN Consulting. You can check out what she’s doing, but she basically has a really, really unique model, which we’ll talk a little bit about. And she gets out to lots of different companies, and brings lots of different experience from different leaders in different industries in to think about how to do things differently, especially when companies are stuck. They’re a great company, they’re stuck and how do we change things? Which we’ve all been there before. But anyway, she’s done this amazing thing by bringing a lot of this together in her book, nicknamed, The Good Culture. So I’m very, very excited to have her here. And like I said, she’s a workplace crusader with more than 20 years of experience in change management leadership. And she’s based in the Bay area as well, used to be in New York. So knows the New York climate quite well.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And like I said, has worked with lots of different companies and everything from food and beverage to apparel, to tech. She knows it all. Right? I mean, you’ve done a ton.
Rebecca Friese: I know enough to be dangerous at this point. That’s for sure.
Kara Goldin: Exactly. So much for coming in, and being with us here today. I really, really appreciate it. So let’s dive right into the book, The Good Culture. What made you write this?
Rebecca Friese: Wow. I was just telling this story. I’ve wanted to write it for a very, very long time because culture is one of those things that we all talk about, but there’s not a lot of agreement or definition around it. And there’s not a lot of how, when it comes to, okay, of course we want to have a good culture. Everybody understands having a good culture is probably a good thing. Right? And we can get into that more about how actually critical it is, but there’s just not a lot out there about how to actually do it. And this is the work, this has been our purpose for years now at FLYN, around really understanding what is good culture and how does a company actually create that for their employees? And we’ve been doing that work in projects.
We’ve been working with companies for years, trying to understand, get behind the scenes, share their knowledge with each other. But we needed to just really document it and get it out there so that people could understand that not only is it possible to influence or change your culture, that there’s companies doing that. And that there’s a process, and a way to do it. And I think it was one of those things that finally, the last year I was like, okay, I got to get this book on paper. We just have to make it happen. We were so busy doing the work that we realized, we actually have to get it down so that people even know that this is a possibility. So last year was the moment where I said, this is happening.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Rebecca Friese: I’m getting a publisher, we’re making this happen.
Kara Goldin: So you talk about good culture, and you say the good culture isn’t just about the feel good policies. What do you mean by that?
Rebecca Friese: Right. Right. I think what we’ve seen over the years is those that deeply understand what culture is, really get it. But those on the outside of it, may look in at these quote unquote good cultures and say, well, they put ping pong tables in there. They have kombucha on tap. And that’s what makes a good culture, that makes our employees happy. And they’re not actually recognizing the distinction between some of those outward actions or end things, and what they’re actually trying to accomplish at the organization. So when we talk about good culture, there’s no one definition of it in the sense of you can’t just say, well, a good culture has these things happening, right? We talk about good culture, meaning it’s a culture that’s aligned with a business strategy that creates a work environment in which people can do their best work towards that business strategy, and towards that purpose.
So what comes out of that is these end result things. If they aren’t things that are actually helping towards that alignment or that purpose, then they’re actually in a disconnect between what they’re trying to do as a company, and the things that they’re putting in place. So then that ping pong table that may work at one company is because it’s helping align and create conversation and create casual moments, and whatever that they need for innovation, creativity. Doesn’t work at the company that’s all about security and understanding process and having a culture that needs to have a more stage gate process to get their work done. It’s definitely become this disconnect that you’re putting in a solution that actually isn’t going to create the culture that you need in order to get the work done that aligns everybody. Does that make sense?
Kara Goldin: Yeah. Well, and I also feel like that is something that a lot of people look for, but actually don’t necessarily want. I mean, we’ve talked to people [crosstalk 00:06:11]
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: Right? Thinking that that’s what I thought I wanted. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: And then I got there, and then it was all the things in addition to the pool table and the kegs and [crosstalk 00:06:25] sort of the culture [crosstalk 00:06:27] that ends up getting created off of that, that they didn’t see coming.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: Right?
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: I’m sure you’ve heard those stories as well.
Rebecca Friese: Well, your own story, Kara, was such a perfect example of this. I just want to come back to [crosstalk 00:06:41]
Kara Goldin: Which story? I’ve got a lot of stories.
Rebecca Friese: Your career story.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: So going from Time, and then to CNN, and then to AOL where it was small, your articulation of the work environment and the different cultures, which in and of their own rights were the right culture for those companies. So Time had that culture in order to get the work done that they needed to get done. You went to CNN, it was more a startup culture at the time, and everybody was going million miles a minute. And you were like, that’s the culture that they needed at that time. That was the work environment. You personally were like, what suits me?
Kara Goldin: Right.
Rebecca Friese: And that fit for you is what needed to be aligned. Right? And to understand that, there’s the CEO of, have you heard of the website, The Muse?
Kara Goldin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rebecca Friese: Yeah. So the CEO, Kathryn [crosstalk 00:07:30]
Kara Goldin: Yeah. I love Kathryn.
Rebecca Friese: Of, The Muse.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: I love Kathryn too, and she talks about how, there’s no one better culture than another. Well, there are, but it’s more like dating she says. It’s more like a culture that’s good for you, may not be good for another person. Right? And where a culture is bad, is if it’s not aligned with what its purpose is.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: So if you went into a CNN environment and they had, at that time brought in a bunch of old stodgy processes and Stage-Gate things, and people were hitting barriers to getting their work done. It would have been really hard for them to accomplish their business strategy in that work environment. Right? And it would have been a disconnect between the culture that they had and what they needed in order to get the work done.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Right? So that’s the thing. Bad cultures are ones that are misaligned. But there’s no perfect profile of a good culture. It’s just one that’s aligned with their business [crosstalk 00:08:32]
Kara Goldin: No, I totally agree.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And I feel like one of the things that I talk about in my book too, is I’m actually really thankful for experiencing all these different cultures, because I couldn’t have identified that.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: From the beginning, I mean, I didn’t sit there and say, oh, I want to go work for… I mean, a lot of people have this opportunity where they want to go for a smaller company or a startup. And then all of a sudden they’re shocked by what has occurred. And then they’re like, oh yeah, it was too small, it was too this, it was too that. I liked the pool table.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah. It didn’t have a lot of direction.
Kara Goldin: Right. [crosstalk 00:09:11] All of this other stuff.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: But as I have worked in all these different environments, I’m like, well, what did you like? Right?
Rebecca Friese: Right. Exactly.
Kara Goldin: And how do you pull those things out of the more challenging or negative opportunities?
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: And instead just say, it couldn’t have all been bad. What was it [crosstalk 00:09:34]
Rebecca Friese: It couldn’t have all been bad.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And I think that’s what’s so important, and I think that’s what you have always been excellent at too, that you’re like, this is the situation and this is what’s good. And this is what’s more challenging for some people, and who are the types of people that will do well in this sort of environment?
Rebecca Friese: Well, exactly. So the interesting thing is, is you have to back up. And first and foremost, if leaders of that organization aren’t aligned on what they’re trying to create, right? What is their purpose? What’s their mission? What’s their vision? What are their values, and what kind of culture do they need to have in order to support that? Right? If they’re not first and foremost, aligned and clear about that, and then secondly, transparent about it, it’s so hard to then attract the people that will be aligned with that work. Right? So you think about it, it’s like a black box and there’s Maria Ross. I know you know, Maria, she’s a branding expert. And she talks a lot about this disconnect between this aspirational brand and what you’re trying to create, and then what’s on the internal.
And what happens a lot of times, is you have these leaders who create this picture perfect brand on the external, and attracts people. And then they come in and the way that work gets done, which is another way in which we define culture, is how work gets done, is completely different than the brand that they’re espousing. Right? And then you have people that are then, completely disengaged. It’s very hard for them to get up and go to work every day knowing that they’re going to a place that they didn’t really sign up for. I thought I was going to be working at this type of place and it’s actually this type of place. Again, it’s not that one is good or one os bad, it’s the misalignment of those expectations and the lack of clarity around it. It makes it very hard for a person to choose organizations to work for, if there’s not that alignment and transparency.
Kara Goldin: Totally. So, I mean, I feel like there’s two audiences for your book. I mean, there’s one who is sitting inside of a company thinking, my company’s a mess right now, and how do I create culture?
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: And by the way, there’s a whole other piece where even if you thought that you had your culture figured out, the last nine months in the pandemic, you’re now feeling like this major disconnect.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: We can’t have the pool tables anymore. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Uh-uh (negative).
Kara Goldin: We can’t do this stuff. And so how do you change that for employees? And then I feel like there’s also this audience too, that is trying to find the right culture. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: Maybe their company, I mean, I’ve talked to a number of people who are really challenged during this time in the pandemic, where they’re sitting here working from home and they’re like, my company is not going back to the office till at least the end of 2021. And while that may seem like super great to some, there’s other people who are like, I don’t want to do that.
Rebecca Friese: It’s really challenging.
Kara Goldin: Right?
Rebecca Friese: It’s really challenging. Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And so I feel like there’s that question out there too with, what culture do I want? Right?
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: How do you figure that out as well? And I think, to your point, it’s not always what it is on what do you think are the top things [crosstalk 00:13:05] when you’re interviewing for… What kind of questions would you ask?
Rebecca Friese: Yeah. So there’s fixed questions in there, which it’s all really good and all interrelated. So first of all, the audience of this book, it’s really the leaders in organizations. And you could be a CEO or you could be a leader of function or just a team. Right? Because we have all these sub cultures. And I like to say, even if the Uber culture, you personally can’t impact. You can impact those around you and those in your team. Right? So we all know that people leave or stay with organizations because of their manager. Right? That is literally the case for… The percentage is something like, 85% of the reason why people leave is because of their direct manager and that relationship. It’s what makes or breaks their day on a daily basis. Right? So that’s why this book is for them. And it’s for any level.
If you’re talking about your whole organizational culture, or if you’re talking about just, how do I create a team culture that can thrive? Right? And work with that. So that’s the first part of the question. The second part of the question is around this, how do you have culture in a pandemic? What do you do now that everything has shifted? There’s no physical way to nudge your culture in a way that you like to, whether it’s with open spaces or private spaces or ping pong tables or whatever it is, the physical aspect of your culture. And what that encourages is now gone. And we have to think about, what is now missing now that a physical work place is not there? And how can we replace that? And my answer to that is it, first of all, it’s a hard thing to do. There’s no doubt in my mind, but it’s not an impossible thing to do.
And not only that, what this has created, is incredible opportunities for us to, as leaders, really show our true colors when it comes to the values that we espouse. So it’s really easy to put values on a wall and say, look, we’re supporting their culture. We did this thing and we did OpenSpace, because we like innovation. And it’s like, okay, now that that’s gone, if you truly value innovation, how are you going to make that happen? How are you going to actually make that value stand up when you can’t be in a room with somebody. And it’s making leaders dig deep and really think about what it is that they really truly need and want, and put their actions behind that. And we’re seeing a divide. We’re seeing leaders that those values are showing up left and right. And they are even getting better engagement scores with their people.
They are getting even more productivity out of their team, more loyalty through this pandemic, because they are stepping into this and saying, how can we do this? And then you’re seeing the opposite, where leaders are truly failing their people where they could skid by before. Now in the face of a pandemic, and people not being in their offices and not being able to see them, and be reassured just by physical presence, they don’t have the future skills, the empathy, the whatever is needed in order to actually bring their people along. And really, truly embody whatever their values are for their company. Right? And I’m sure you’re facing this as a leader yourself. You’ve got 200 people around the country, and around the world? You have some global [crosstalk 00:16:33]
Kara Goldin: No, just all in U.S. [crosstalk 00:16:33]
Rebecca Friese: Global people as well? No? [crosstalk 00:16:34]
Kara Goldin: No, all in the U.S.
Rebecca Friese: Okay. But just thinking about that, how you’re supporting your people, leading with empathy, really going back to your values as a company. Those actions that you’re taking right now are truly actually making people be even more connected to their company, depending on their leaders and their actions throughout [crosstalk 00:16:55]
Kara Goldin: Well, I think the biggest difference that I’ve seen, and I’ve talked about this with some other leaders, is that no one I know has ever been through a pandemic and has gone… We luckily had a lot of people who were working remotely, because we have salespeople all over the country.
Rebecca Friese: Right. Exactly.
Kara Goldin: And so they didn’t need this office.
Rebecca Friese: They’re used to that model. Yeah.
Kara Goldin: We didn’t always see them. We saw them once a year, we would have a whole company get together or actually every other year we would really spend a whole lot of money to sort of bring everybody together in this really nice place.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: And again, we did it every other year because we thought we can do that. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: Everybody wanted to stay at a nice place and have a lot of fun. And so, we did it every other year. They’d rather do that than a cheap place where [crosstalk 00:17:52] that’s what people [crosstalk 00:17:52] there we’re like, let’s do it right.
Rebecca Friese: Every other year. [crosstalk 00:17:52]
Kara Goldin: And that was quality versus quantity. We had decided as a company [crosstalk 00:18:00] that that’s what we wanted. So that’s what we did. And then that got canceled this year.
Rebecca Friese: Of course. Yeah.
Kara Goldin: But I think the key thing that we recognized, was that even though they didn’t need an office in many cases, we have 60 of the people work in San Francisco, we had a chunk of people working in New York as well. What they did need was some one-on-one, and sort of we had a few handfuls of people that actually had different situations where they were taking care of aging parents, and they couldn’t sort of… They wanted to be salespeople and do their job every single day, but they just didn’t think it was right for the family. And was there something else that they could be doing. Right?
Rebecca Friese: That’s amazing. Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And so we didn’t lay people off during the time, but we did have to take one-on-one with a lot of people to sort of say [crosstalk 00:19:03]
Rebecca Friese: And adjust.
Kara Goldin: And adjust.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And then there were other people that were saying, is there any way I can start my job if I talk to a grocery store or whatever, could I do my job at six o’clock in the morning versus doing it [crosstalk 00:19:19] starting at 9:00 or 9:30, because I want to [crosstalk 00:19:24]
Rebecca Friese: Right, because then I have to help my kids get into school.
Kara Goldin: Literally.
Rebecca Friese: Then I have to do X, Y, Z. Right? So can I shift my schedule around?
Kara Goldin: Right.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: And then also, there were people that said to us, I know everybody’s working remotely until the end of the year, but people were like, I’ve got three roommates. This is really hard for me, and is there any way since there’s no one in the office, can I go in to the office?
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: So part of our culture, especially during this pandemic time, is actually being able to go one-on-one and not treating everybody as the same, just because you work in this department or even [crosstalk 00:20:02]
Rebecca Friese: 100%.
Kara Goldin: You’ve been the stellar employee. It’s not about equality or however you want to… It’s really about, let’s work through this together.
Rebecca Friese: Let’s work individually through it and see what’s going to work for that person given this context. And I think that is exactly what you’re seeing in good leaders. So thank you for being a role model for that, honest to God. Because what’s happening is leaders that are… I don’t even know how to put it. There’s a fear factor. To do the wrong thing, to say the wrong thing. If I give this to this one person, I’m going to have to give it to somebody else, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and stripping away. And we see this pre-pandemic, whenever big changes are happening or whatever, that the fear, well, I can’t be transparent yet because it’s not perfect yet. I can’t roll that thing out yet, because we haven’t figured out all the intricacies. The people that we see winning frankly, in this pandemic, are the leaders that are just like, look, we’re building the plane as we’re flying it. Right?
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Nobody’s been through a pandemic before. We know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re just going to go and go, and we’re going to do… The head of people at Kronos, or it’s now, UKG, have this great quote. He was on one of our events and speaking to our group and he said, “We’re just going to do the next right thing.” “We’re just going to do the next right thing.” And those are the leaders that are just going forward and saying, okay, let’s take a conversation. Let’s try to get the context. Let’s be empathetic. Let’s understand that we’re all in this together. And I think that’s one of the opportunities that we have is actually, it’s not just like, oh, this one employee over here and this one… We’re all going through this together. And so what an opportunity for us, for the first time in our lives to all be in a situation together, and what an opportunity for pure actual empathy, to be able to say, okay, let me put myself in your shoes.
And not only that, I’m being invited into your home. I’m already learning so much more about you than I ever had, because now I’m literally in your home, I see your kids running across the back. I see the cat walking across the thing, but I’ve had clients of mine changing diapers while I’m on a video call with them. I mean, when have we ever been able to be ourselves in a way that’s so genuine and true, and it’s been hard. I’m not saying that it’s been blissful, but it’s a wide open opportunity for those leaders that can lead with empathy, to really double down on their values and double down on what’s right for their people, in order to frankly, still let the business thrive. And the people thrive, because the good leaders know that if my people are thriving, my business is going to thrive.
Kara Goldin: Totally. Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Right? And that’s where that disconnect of people thinking, well, we just have to focus on the business. I don’t care about everything else that’s going on with you. What? You can’t do that. You’ve got a person that has got to get his kid in school at 9:00 AM.
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Of course, we’re going to try to let him work beforehand if he’s willing to do that. How amazing is that?
Kara Goldin: Totally.
Rebecca Friese: Right?
Kara Goldin: Well, and I [crosstalk 00:23:17]
Rebecca Friese: I love that [crosstalk 00:23:17]
Kara Goldin: Also feel like the other thing that I’ve really seen as well, is that things change sometimes like every couple of weeks. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: Where people, I think being able to talk to people and motivate people and be open [crosstalk 00:23:38]
Rebecca Friese: Be open.
Kara Goldin: And go one-on-one with people, because I think everybody’s got their challenges. If you see [crosstalk 00:23:45] yeah. You hear that, whatever, two of your people have now come down with COVID. Right? All of a sudden you’re thinking, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to make my revenue goals or whatever that is, again, I think you have to be able to go in and go one-on-one with these people.
Rebecca Friese: Yup.
Kara Goldin: And I think we’ve seen in our company too, people that I never would have predicted as having mental health or depression prior to this.
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: And this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Exactly. They were right there. They’re coasting through, they’re holding it all together. You would have never known, but then it [crosstalk 00:24:32]
Kara Goldin: This just hit.
Rebecca Friese: It’s a lot.
Kara Goldin: And it hit a lot. [crosstalk 00:24:35] And I think that compounding it, I think is like, if your parents are living far away and you haven’t gotten a chance to see them [crosstalk 00:24:43]
Rebecca Friese: Absolutely.
Kara Goldin: It just affects different people [crosstalk 00:24:44]
Rebecca Friese: Can’t see them.
Kara Goldin: And so, I think that sort of ying and yang that goes on too during this time is also, another piece of the culture.
Rebecca Friese: Absolutely.
Kara Goldin: So, I love how you talk about how to figure out what works for your company in real life.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And I’m going to push on you too, because I do believe your book is also great for the individual looking for the right culture.
Rebecca Friese: Right. No. Yeah. So I want to come back to that.
Kara Goldin: Because I do think [crosstalk 00:25:12] I really do think it’s a question where, I’ll give you an example, and I’d be curious to hear what you say.
Rebecca Friese: Okay.
Kara Goldin: So I’m mentoring this guy who was a pretty big guy inside of a couple of big companies. Then he went to this one company and he realized that he didn’t really want that culture. And I said, so what was the culture? He described it to me. And then he said, I think it’s me, it’s not them. I’ve now got a small family. Part of the culture, what I realized was hanging out at work and liked being able to go out.
Rebecca Friese: I don’t want to do that anymore.
Kara Goldin: I don’t want to do that anymore.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: I don’t want to [crosstalk 00:25:57]
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And so he said to me, how do I figure this stuff out before I get in there and have to get out of there? Because I want to join a company and be successful, but I’m also… And so I said to him, that if they really want you, right, and I think higher you are, I think you have more time to start to figure this culture out.
Rebecca Friese: Explore it. Yeah.
Kara Goldin: My thought to him was, I would actually ask how people… Try and figure out. Is there a picture in the room? Or you’re in a house, you hear screaming kids in the background. Oh, do you have kids?
Rebecca Friese: How do they know that?
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: And oh, yeah [crosstalk 00:26:43]
Rebecca Friese: Does he shut the door and pretend like there’s no kids in the background to be all professional, or is he like, oh, hold on. And he brings his baby onto his lap during the interview. Right?
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: It’s like a [crosstalk 00:26:53] those kind of indicators. Yeah.
Kara Goldin: That may be like a positive thing for some, but not so much for other people.
Rebecca Friese: Right. Again [crosstalk 00:27:02]
Kara Goldin: Right?
Rebecca Friese: It’s like what Kathryn said, it’s like dating. A guy that’s great for one person may be horrible for another person. Right? It’s the same thing with companies. A work environment where you will thrive could be very different than a work environment where somebody else would thrive. I mean, and you have to think about where am I? So to answer your question, I think you asked, what would be the interview questions? But I think that first and foremost, it’s getting clear for yourself.
Kara Goldin: What do you want?
Rebecca Friese: Right?
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: And I’m going to come back to your book too, because it just was such a great example of this. It’s really understanding what you want. When you founded, Hint, you wanted to do something that had an impact. You wanted something that felt purposeful, where you were helping people in some way or another. And so, that coming together, you got really clear on that purpose part first. So I think that’s the first thing is understanding even the type of company you want to work with, and what is their purpose? And that can be all across the board. I think people get really confused when we say, purpose, because they think it has to be some sort of peace giving, social purpose, something like, solving world hunger.
Kara Goldin: No.
Rebecca Friese: It doesn’t have to be. It can be designing products that delight. It can be designing the best flavored coffee, because that makes you happy [crosstalk 00:28:16]
Kara Goldin: But with no sweeteners in it.
Rebecca Friese: Giving people joy of coffee. With no sweeteners. No sweeteners involved. Please, no sweeteners. But, I mean, I do think it’s an interesting thing. Because people get caught up in, oh well, what’s purpose? All it is, is what gives you joy? What is something that you want to create and have input on in the world?
Kara Goldin: Totally.
Rebecca Friese: Right? And finding a company that’s doing something that aligns with that, and it could be a higher level. It could be something that’s not a very specific thing about clothing or beverage or tech. It could be more of a, I want to do something that solves big problems. I want to do something. But understanding that first and foremost, and then the second piece is really thinking about, okay, when I am thriving at work, when I’m in flow, when I am just having the best time of my life and I know I’m killing it, what is happening? And really envisioning that, really thinking about, am I around a lot of people or am I by myself?
Am I collaborating a lot or am I given projects that I go off and do? Am I strategic thinking or I’m an executer? Am I getting into the details or am I a big idea person? What are those qualities and things that will help you not only find a job description within a company, but then also that work environment in which, you know you can thrive. So there’s some things that us as humans need to exist in order for us to thrive. And I think Dan Pink’s book just nailed that on the head. So you have to give people a sense of purpose. You have to have them have autonomy and mastery. So you have to be learning and growing the whole time. Right?
Kara Goldin: Totally.
Rebecca Friese: I think he just nails it. I feel like any work environment, if you want your people to thrive, you’ve got to nail those three things, you really do. But then other than that, it’s all around the context in which you’re working. Again, if you’re working for a Disney versus an S&P Global, you have a different type of work culture in order to meet the business objectives. Your work culture has to meet up with a strategy. We need a certain type of environment and work culture, and values that support our mission and vision and strategy and our purpose. Right? And it’s going to be different for different types of companies. So that’s where you start to go, okay.
If this is the type of place where I thrive, what types of companies create that kind of environment? And then is the truth telling piece of it. It’s, okay, they purport this, is it actually true? And that’s where your research… I mean, you’re really good at this. The detailed research, getting in there, getting behind the scenes. But it’s all about, there’s all these websites now. You’ve got, The Muse, you’ve got, Glassdoor, you’ve got LinkedIn. There’s so much information out there. I mean, when we were coming out of school, I mean, I loved your story about meeting people at the restaurant and saying, well, where do you work?
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
Rebecca Friese: I mean, we had nothing. We had the career services, which had a bland description. They have so much now to do research. But then I would always go to ask people that you know, that have worked there or are working there that can tell you stories about what it’s like to work there. Tell me what it’s like to work there, in their own words. Don’t ask, well, are they innovative? Just say, what was it like to work there? And see if you’re getting excited about the way they’re describing it or if it’s actually bringing you down. So that’s first and foremost. And then, yeah. I think that there’s cues now. Almost every company now has a set of values or at least can describe their culture. Have them talk about it, but then they shouldn’t just list it. Have them say how that shows up on a day-to-day. So you say that you’re transparent in your organization.
Tell me about it. Tell me how that shows up. How would I know if I was working there, that you are transparent? And if they don’t have a story to back it up, then it’s probably not actually happening. It’s probably an aspirational value versus an actual value. Right? And hopefully they can even tell their own personal stories about it. Well, I’ll tell you why. I know that we’re transparent, because there’s one time when I was questioning a decision that was made by leadership, I put my hand up in an all hands meeting. And they answered me truthfully, even though it was a really hard answer to hear, whatever that story is. Right? That’s what you want to hear when you’re going through the interviews. That their actions are actually aligning with their values. So, yeah. I guess [crosstalk 00:32:44]
Kara Goldin: No, I love it. And I do believe that this book, I mean, I think that the other thing, is that you may not think that you have impact in what your company’s culture looks like. But actually I think coming out of COVID, I think everybody is… The longer we’re working from home or when we all go back into the office, there’s going to be, I mean, the stuff is not going to get figured out. And I think every great organization really believes that ideas can come from anywhere. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Oh, my gosh. 100%.
Kara Goldin: When you read a book like your book, and it really helps you to think about how we can just be better, which is really what everybody wants.
Rebecca Friese: Everybody wants it. I feel like sometimes there’s this us and them thing going on, but doesn’t everybody want to have a culture in which they can thrive? Doesn’t everybody want to do good work and have impact? I mean, it’s so much of our lives, and everybody wants it. So I couldn’t agree more. I think that ownership around creating a good culture definitely starts with the individual. Absolutely. On every level.
Kara Goldin: Totally. [crosstalk 00:33:59] well, and I think that the offices that sort of banked on the idea that they have a culture of ping pong tables and kegs, and everything. Even if you thought, okay, I don’t want to go work at that company anymore because it’s got that culture, that’s no longer there. Right?
Rebecca Friese: Right.
Kara Goldin: So there’s a whole eruption that is going to happen in 2021 when a lot of people are going back to work, because they’re going to be lost without that culture. And so I think that, that’s a whole other topic that I think is so really, really interesting. So where do people find out or where’s the best place for listeners to find, The Good Culture and whether it’s the book? And then also, well, we’ll talk about the book first. So where’s the best place for people to purchase it?
Rebecca Friese: Okay. So they can go to, and purchase it. All the links will be there. So that’s the best, or just find me on Amazon, of course. Always. But the last name is Friese, Rebecca Friese, and it might be hard for people to spell it. So, F-R-I-E-S-E. And then you can also just find me on LinkedIn, and elsewhere. I’m everywhere.
Kara Goldin: And FLYN Consulting. And to the point about what we were just talking about, about culture and what is next for companies in 2021. If you guys need help, Rebecca, she’s the girl and her and her team.
Rebecca Friese: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: And they are great at looking at, how do you move forward and how do you roll into 2021, and really get the culture where it needs to be so that you can do lots of great things? So, yeah.
Rebecca Friese: Amazing work.
Kara Goldin: Thank you so much.
Rebecca Friese: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: And if you guys all liked this podcast, please give it lots of high marks, and come see us on the other great ones that we’re doing on Mondays and Wednesdays. And definitely go out and buy Rebecca’s book too. Yeah, absolutely.
Rebecca Friese: Thank you.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. And mine.
Rebecca Friese: And yours.
Kara Goldin: If you can buy two of them, great holiday gifts. So thanks so much, everybody.
Rebecca Friese: Exactly.