A Year in Review: The Voices of Unstoppable Cultures

December 21, 2023

This year, I had the privilege of connecting with so many high capacity, culture-driven professionals. One of the highlights of 2023 for Unstoppable Cultures was these life-changing conversations I got to experience. As this year comes to a close, I wanted to highlight some of the most meaningful lessons I learned along the way.

I had the joy of speaking with Southwest Airlines’ Megan Lee, Axialent’s Teryluz Andreu, HealthFirst’s Paula Just, Author and Founder Brad Montague, and so many more. I gleaned so much wisdom from each of them and I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on their contributions to building Unstoppable Cultures.


Storytelling and the power of Imagination | Brad Montague, Encourager, New York Times bestselling author, illustrator, and curator of Kid President and The Kindness Project

“I want every leader to know it is worth it. Imagining is worth it. The effort it takes to look for the best in the people around you and in your current situation is worth it. I want leaders to actually believe their dreams matter. If they believe it, and they imagine it and are intentional in their every day, they will live out those dreams.”

So thankful for this conversation with Brad Montague and this reminder to be paying attention to the beauty around us. In fact, Brad expounded on this idea just a few weeks ago at The Fellowship, where he encouraged people leaders from across the nation to see the good in their employees, and turn their focus on the good that is growing, rather than worrying endlessly about pain points that are plaguing their organization. Read my full discussion with Brad here.

Prioritizing a “People First” Culture | Paula Just, Health First Chief Experience Officer 

The driving force of our culture is how we embrace our patients through active listening and an individualistic approach to what wellness is and how it’s unique to every person. We believe that wellness starts with “we” and we ask intentional questions to both our Health First colleagues and our patients about what wellness looks like for them and how we can help them be and stay well. The goal for us is to be patient-centered across the board, and we continually empower and unify our leadership and associates through supporting wellness for others.”

My interview with Paula was truly insightful. I especially like how she emphasized, “Marking a journey of leadership and becoming a ‘people first’ culture requires engaging with people in deeper relationships in conversations – asking others about their aspirations, dreams, hopes and how it connects them to staying well and engaged in the midst of their Heart First journey.” 

It captures exactly what it requires to cultivate a “people first” culture and demonstrates that Health First is doing everything it takes to make it happen, and because of that, they are able to face the challenges in the healthcare industry across our country. Read my full interview with Paula here.

Everyday Decisions to foster a People-First Culture | Megan Lee, Southwest Director of Culture & Employee Engagement

The Colleen C. Barrett Institute is our way of preserving our President Emeritus Colleen’s remarkable legacy at Southwest and her personal impact on the corporate world. Colleen is the original architect of Southwest Culture, though she would laugh at that description, since it wasn’t prescribed or planned–it just sort of happened as a result of how she and Herb approached the entire concept of employment. Simple edicts like The Golden Rule (“Treat others how you wish to be treated”) or “don’t make the easy hard” or “focus on People more than policy” really shaped the foundation of Leadership at Southwest.”

I loved my conversation with Megan earlier this year. One of the stand-out comments that really stuck with me was what she said about Southwest’s founding ideas: “They believed that taking care of our People would naturally translate to our People taking excellent care of everyone else—and they were right.” What a beautiful reminder that is for all of us! If we want our culture and our customers to be healthy, we have to rethink the entire concept of employment and start by taking care of our own People through a People-First mindset. Read more of Megan’s interview here.

The DNA of a Culture: A Conversation on Individual and Global Culture | Teryluz Andreu, Axialent Partner and Co-Owner 

“At Axialent, we work with all types of companies because whenever you have two or more people, you have dynamics going on…We work with organizations of all sizes that are in all different steps of their cultural journey…We help them identify what is holding them back, change where they are unaligned, and reconnect to their mission and true nature.

We often say that culture is like you are a fish within a fishbowl – it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you and you often need that external perspective and guidance to help you see the things you are missing in order to create a new level of awareness and path forward.”

I am so thankful for my interview with Teryluz and am so impressed by the way Axialent transforms cultures across industries and country lines. I particularly love what she had to say about how culture is created  – “Culture is the bridge between strategy and execution, and a culture is born from everyday interactions and conversations. So the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our culture.” How true that is in every organization! Read Teryluz’s full article here.


I am so grateful for the conversations I have had with these unstoppable leaders this year. Each of them are elevating the standard for organizational culture in their own unique way and I’m glad to be able to share their insights with you. I hope you go into the new year feeling refreshed and inspired to take action on building the culture of your dreams.

Ginger Hardage 

P.s. If you haven’t yet heard of The Fellowship, it’s an event I founded back in 2018 to support culture builders in their effort to build and sustain cultures of enduring greatness. If you found this article interesting and want to grow in purpose as a leader of your organization, I invite you to learn more here and claim your spot today!

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