Rob Anspach interviews Coach David Greer on getting unstuck and the culture of driving high performance entrepreneurs.

Here’s part 1 of the transcript. 

Rob Anspach:
Hey, this is Rob Anspach and welcome to another edition of E-Heroes. Today, we’re going to talk about how culture drives high performance. So if you’re an entrepreneur out there and you want to get to that next level, or you’re on that plateau and you’re stuck, I actually brought in Coach David Greer to tell us how we can do that. So welcome, David, and thanks for being here.

Coach David J. Greer:
Thanks, Rob. I’m really excited to be here with E-Heroes.

Rob Anspach:
Now, you’re up in Vancouver. I’m in Pennsylvania. Right there, there’s already a culture difference.

Coach David J. Greer:
There is. Indeed.

Rob Anspach:
You’re just nicer up there and we’re just mean down here.

Coach David J. Greer:
I think that when an entrepreneur starts a business, what manifests itself typically is the culture, whatever the beliefs are of the entrepreneur end up manifesting themselves in the people they hire and the way they operate. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that per se. I joined a young software startup as the first employee after the founders. We added people slowly and we added a certain kind of people and built a certain culture and it worked out really, really good. We were very service-oriented and very Canadian, really wanted to look after customers. If we had one angry customer in a year, every employee would stop what they’re doing to deal with this person because we were so uncomfortable. We don’t do well with angry clients.

Rob Anspach:
Yeah, I would have just fired them.

Coach David J. Greer:
Yeah. Right. Exactly. And that’s okay too. Subsequently from selling out of Robelle, I’ve realized that there’s a lot of benefit to being more proactive about your culture, to actually writing it down. I look at some of the people who didn’t hang around or people who I hung onto when I was running Robelle for too long, there was really a cultural misfit. If I had been clearer about what the culture is and what the expectations were around that culture, I think it would have sussed those people out sooner. My belief is that you want to… You can’t teach culture. You were taught what your parents taught you, the ethics that you have, the way that you operate in the world is baked pretty deep. I think you can teach people a lot of skills, but I don’t think you can teach them culture.

Coach David J. Greer:
So my belief is that you want to hire people that match your culture, and actually have a culture filter that you put on. I have one client who’s massively growing. They net added 38 people last year, but they let go 12 and these are super smart engineering people, but they did not fit the culture. It was just becoming more and more of a clash and senior management was having to consume more and more time managing these people. Whereas when you hire people who fit in with your culture, you spend less and less time managing because they have behaviors you already want. I think that’s a sign of a really healthy company is one who’s clear on its culture, hires for culture and is prepared to fire for really serious violations of culture.

Rob Anspach:
Now let’s take that a little bit further because I see that when it comes to software companies such as Microsoft versus Facebook, when Microsoft grew, everything was culture-oriented. When Facebook grew, they enveloped all the cultures that they were going into. So with Facebook, it started out as a US company, but as they started creating Facebook for Europe, Facebook for Germany, all these different companies, they started changing their own internal culture and okay, now we’re a worldwide phenomenon. And then they had to start changing all their dynamic internal rules and regulations and policies to reflect the world instead of their own culture.

Coach David J. Greer:
Yeah. And that makes sense if you want to build a global company. I don’t know the Facebook story well enough. What I would be curious about is how many people were let go or not even necessarily let go. I think when culture is really, really powerful, people self-select themselves out. They’re like, “oh shit, this is not the place for me.” As they moved into a global company and had to go recognize and honor a lot of different cultures and a lot of different ways that people operate, that some people probably self-selected themselves out of that because it didn’t match what they valued. It’s interesting. I did an interview with Ray Zinn who’s the founder of one of the largest electronic companies in Silicon Valley. And Ray is a big, huge proponent of culture.

Coach David J. Greer:
I asked him, so you have this global operation, you have factories all over the world in many, many different cultures. And he said for him, it all just boiled down to family, that family was what was most important and that people should make decisions with their family in mind. If people had to go look after a sick child or they had to do things, that’s universal and also sharing stories about family is universal. They could always bring teams from all over the world and get people to share something about their family to help get that connection going. That was his belief and it was his belief about how he built such a successful global company.

Rob Anspach:
Twitter just announced that they’re allowing almost all their employees to stay home indefinitely. And what I’ve always discovered is that if I’m going into a company and I’m working with a company, I interact well with the people that are there. Well, if they’re all at home, I’m not getting that same interaction. I’m not getting that culture. All I’m getting is a Zoom call like we’re doing now. So it’s one dimensional.

Coach David J. Greer:
It is. I still think there is a place for face-to-face. I started working home in 1982. We didn’t have video, we just had a phone. And in the 20 years I built Robelle, the software company that I joined when I was still in university, we ran it as a virtual company. We had an office, we had a number of people who did go in the office for frontline tech support and sales, partly because the phone infrastructure didn’t allow that to be distributed in the 80s and the 90s. Bob Green and I, the original co-founder, we co-invented host-based email in 1985 because we realized the phone really interrupts me If I’m in the middle of some really deep technical problem and Bob just wants to like, are we going to have lunch on Tuesday? We wanted it to work like snail mail, but be faster. Now I see instant messaging and I see email used in a way that was not our vision.

Coach David J. Greer:
I think what happens when you’re virtual is you have to bring way more conscious thought to the interactions and the connection because you can’t, as you say, you can only get so much through this medium that you and I are talking to. You can take it quite far, but sometimes you will have to meet face-to-face. I don’t think that Twitter is precluding that by having everyone work at home. I think it’s going to be very interesting as things advance in our current society to see. I think a lot of people are going to want to go back to work. For many people, they may love their work, but the social interaction is actually one of the really driving forces of being in the organization. And again, I think it gets back. So we’re back to culture because it’s the culture that is bringing together these people that you like to interact with, not just on a business, but what’d you do on the weekend? It’s actually really important.

Rob Anspach:
Yeah. I have some clients I’ve never met face-to-face. I’ve talked to them on the phone. I’ve done video, but I’ve never gone to lunch with him. I’ve never shook their hand. I’ve never been in their office. So, it comes back down to, as an entrepreneur, where do we want to go? Who do we want to see? Who’s our ideal client?

Coach David J. Greer:
One little anecdote here. We’re building Robelle. We talked to a lot of people on the phone. I’d have people who I probably had interact on the phone with, say, for four or five years, and then that person… So in the venue, in the market that I was in, annual trade shows were a big thing in the 80s and 90s. So, one of those people say shows up at the trade show and I’m like, wow, you’re a lot taller than I thought. You’re wearing glasses. Because we didn’t have video. And we don’t have LinkedIn with everyone’s profile picture. It turns out that each of us had built this whole mental model of what we look like from what our voices sounded like on the phone.

Rob Anspach:
Yeah. Right. Yeah. I went to a conference and someone came up to me and they say, Rob, and I’m like, I didn’t even know who they were. They knew me. Scary. But let’s talk about people strategy. It comes down to hiring. Do they fit that culture? We’re bouncing back, but I think without people, there is no culture.

Coach David J. Greer:
There isn’t. So here’s another mantra of mine. So my belief system for me and what works for me is I think what’s the point if you don’t have fun. I only hire people who have fun. I only work with people we can have fun. When I facilitate with senior teams, I always set an expectation at the start of a one or two day facilitation is have fun, to just remind people no one will die during-

Rob Anspach:
Hopefully.

Coach David J. Greer:
Hopefully during the facilitation. Everyone tends to treat it so seriously. I love people that are that engaged with their work that they want to treat it seriously. But truthfully, in any organization, if I go by a meeting room, well, it’s much harder to do this on Zoom now, but to go by a meeting room and hear a bunch of people laughing tells me they’re on the right track. No matter how bad the problem is, what the difficulty is that they’re trying to overcome, if there can be some lightness in it, then I think it’ll all work out. I look for that in people when I’m hiring them too. I encourage and find ways when I’m working with groups of people to inject a little bit of fun or try something that might be a little bit of fun.

Rob Anspach:
Yeah. Besides fun, what else do you look for in an employee or a contractor or somebody that’s going to partner with you on a project?

Coach David J. Greer:
Sure. So if we go back to interviewing, so I believe the two things that I work with most and coach my clients with is Brad Smart in Topgrading. And then his son, Geoff Smart, has written a book called Who, which I find a much easier. I can consume Who. I haven’t been successful at reading Topgrading. So again, it’s about asking open-ended questions that let people reveal themselves to you. And these have nothing to do with their skills per se. It’s about how they work. And in Brad Smart’s process, there’s really only two of the most critical things I think that he is a proponent of is one, go back to high school. What was your first job? Tell me about that. Tell me about your second job. And obviously if they’re 28 years old, you want to hear about every job. If you’re old like me, you probably don’t want everything in between.

(read part 2 here)

 

Rob is affectionately known as “Mr Sarcasm” to his friends - to everyone else he’s a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist, a Foremost Expert On Specialized SEO, a Best Selling Author, Podcaster, Speaker and Authority Broadcaster who can help amplify YOU to your audience. Rob has authored, coauthored or produced over 30 books covering social media, search engine optimization, podcasting, copywriting, personal injury law, weight loss, military law, life lessons, scams, customer service and more. His book clients include lawyers, speakers, doctors, real estate professionals and more. Rob is also host of The E-Heroes Interview Series available on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify & many other podcast channels. Rob works inside corporations across the globe, helping companies generate new revenue and capture online business. Rob is also available to share talks and give interviews. To learn more and to get started visit www.AnspachMedia.com or call Anspach Media at (412)267-7224 today.