My Favorite Culture Takeaways from 2019

December 9, 2019

As 2020 draws to a close, I want to take the opportunity to THANK YOU for being part of this incredible community of Culture Creators. The work you do in your organizations, seen and unseen, to create spaces where your employees can thrive is so important. Know that I am cheering you on always and here to support you!

I’m thankful that we have the chance to connect in your inbox once a month. Below are a few of my favorite takeaways from the year. I hope they are as helpful to you as they were to me!

(Each has a button to view the full newsletter on the website.)

Kendal Jolly, Managing Director, Brand Awareness and Alignment at Toll Brothers, on driving consistency:

“Like any organization that is geographically dispersed, this is something that we constantly have to work on. The number one thing that drives consistency is the integration of the values and staying true to who we are. One of the things that we have done is created a Values Do’s and Don’ts Behaviors Toolkit. It’s very simple: it takes the six values and defines them so that everybody works off of the same definition. We then put every single employee in working groups based on similar roles and we ask them, ‘what do you think this value means for you? What are some behavioral expectations that you all could hold one another accountable to in order to live this value? What are some dos in order to live this value?’”

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Jenny Love Meyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Culture Officer at Love’s Travel Stops, on keeping culture grounded:

“One of the activities that keeps our culture grounded is communication, in terms of making sure that people are crystal clear on not only what the culture is but what their role is in sustaining it. I present to all new managers coming in – here’s what our culture is, and here’s why it’s important that you help sustain it. That’s a good onboarding session, but I’m very aware that is just one day, one hour, out of their life. And so we need to layer on more to that. One of the things that that we’ve started is amplifying recognition of our folks… there’s various mechanisms for that but we’re really starting to make that more visible and official so that people see it. The idea is then that other employees will replicate that behavior because they know A) what it is and B) that it’s a big deal to the organization when you do it.”

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Rea Foster, Chief Operating Officer at Teach for America DFW, on what she took away from The Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship:

“After attending the Fellowship, I would say two or three big learnings stuck with me. The first one being a refresher and re-anchoring on the power of remarkable moments and how to create those in a more organic, fluid, and ongoing manner. We had done some good work on having some remarkable moments here and there in the very predictable places. Coming out of the Fellowship, I was much more intentional about creating them. For example, creating random surprise and delight moments in our office or finding ways to include significant others more often and more strategically. And just finding ways, big and small, to include people and show our staff how much they matter. The second lesson was around how much of your culture is built or not through deliberate storytelling—the circulation of positive stories that reinforce the culture you desire. Since the Fellowship, I’ve been more intentional about sharing good news. I’ve noticed that the more myself and senior leaders share positive stories, the more I see others do the same about our teachers, alumni, and about how we operate as a staff. Storytelling is an underutilized tool to building organizational culture that I look forward to continuing to leverage.”

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Paige Chenault on her role as CEO of The Birthday Party Project:

“We call ourselves the support team to our group of volunteers. We are not we are not in charge. In fact, I’m in charge of nothing these days! We realize that if we wanted to do as we say, equip and empower our party coordinators to host parties on our behalf, then that’s exactly what we need to do. That means we fall into a support role and ask this daily, “what does support look like for you?” For me, that is where I have found myself recently with my team, and also with the party coordinators, is stepping out of a role of authority or having the loudest voice in the room. People want to talk to me and they want to hear from me and I certainly appreciate and understand that. And yet, my team is incredibly capable- they are the ones making sure that things are happening on a daily basis. My days are spent asking, “what does support look like?” And if they say “I’ve got it,” then I step back and get out of the way and if they say, “we need some help here then,” then we start to explore what it could look like to bring other people in to help find the solution. I certainly don’t want to be in the rescuer or the hero seat. I want to be the conduit between our team and resources to make things happen.”

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Kelly Ann Doherty, Executive Vice President and Chief People and Communications Officer at Mr. Cooper, on the intersection of people and culture:

“As the People organization, we have to think about the team member experience at every point along the journey, and ensure that all the teams who impact that journey are talking to each other. In both marketing and product design, I see that customer journey maps are a pretty standard practice. However, I don’t see a lot of that on the team member experience side, so creating one was one of the first things that I tackled. I want to know what our people are feeling from the moment that they hear about us to the day that they decide to pursue a different opportunity – and everything in between. So instead of simply focusing on policies and procedures, thinking about this journey is a flip of script that I think my unique skills across communications and culture are bringing to the table. That’s been one of the great joys so far: to see what that team member experience map looks like but also seeing the teams come together to brainstorm around it. It’s given us a lot to do, but it’s also given us a clear way to tell that team member story that not only celebrates the success of my team, but also celebrates all of our team members and gives them the best possible Mr. Cooper experience.”

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And a few personal highlights:


Strategically wore the right shoes at #Raytheon! A brilliant way to highlight outstanding employees with “RedTalks.” Similar to #TedTalks, but giving a nod to Raytheon red. #UnstoppableCultures is proud to be involved!
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Yes, these employees are whisking around the stage on roller skates! Why have a ho-hum meeting when you can have an annual convention like @SonicDriveIn?  Always be “on brand.”  Kudos to President @ClaudiaSanPedro for leading such a dynamic team of leaders – and thank you for including #UnstoppableCultures in your line-up!
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SHRM Talent

#SHRMTalent Leaders, it was a delight to be with you this morning! I left inspired and confident that Talent is in great hands at your #UnstoppableCultures. Build on!
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Leadercast 2019

No wonder Leadercast Live is the largest one-day leadership event on the Planet.  Class act.  Honored to be among speakers like Patrick Lencioni, Dr. Caroline Leaf, and Gayle King. #leadercast #unstoppablecultures #organizationalculture
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Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship 2019

The 2019 #UnstoppableCulturesFellowship was nothing short of remarkable! Meeting so many wonderful new Fellows in an environment purposefully designed to create space for learning, growth and connection was an honor. I can say with confidence, they all are incredible Culture Creators for their organizations! This video is a short recap of the inspiring weeks at the beautiful Four Seasons Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Full recap video to come! || (For those asking, yes, 2020 Registration for UCF is now open!)
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If I was to give you one encouragement as we look ahead to 2020, it would be this:

Regardless of your personality or your position on an org chart, you have the ability to make a positive impact on your organization’s culture. Start with the area of your organization that you can impact and build from there. People will notice that you are motivating others to be more highly engaged. You are the one for this movement because you know the power of putting people first.

Here’s to another year of Unstoppable Cultures – and to you!


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