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Episode 3: Why Our CULTURE Is Uniquely Qualified To Thrive In Shelter In Place

Episode 3: Why Our CULTURE Is Uniquely Qualified To Thrive In Shelter In Place

From only having to be in the office two days per week pre Covid-19 to how we internally communicate with Slack, this episode discusses why our culture is able to thrive under shelter in place.

We created this podcast so we can share our hard learned lessons, and talk through them while they’re fresh. The story we want to hash out today is about how goodr was uniquely qualified to work remotely, once hit with Covid-19.
One factor is that the goodr culture prides itself on raising adults. Our work from home policy calls for three days at home and two mandatory office days each week.

People don’t need to be coming into the office every day. We have our all staff meeting on Tuesday (Tuesdays with Carl, known as TWC by the flock). The second mandatory day was Thursday. This became a big day for meetings, allowing individuals to connect in person. As a result, 80% of the company works remote.

“Fun fact: The average LA commute is 56 minutes per day, and that’s generous depending on where you live. If you only have to come into the office two days a week, you get 18 more work days back in your life. And that’s not time goodr gets, that’s time every person here gets back in their life.” Thank you Stephen!

The second factor that helped goodr thrive is that we’re straight gangster on Slack. No emails boggin’ us down. This creates an epic transparency element. Every product launch has its own Slack thread. This means no closed door communications. Everything is real time and out in the open.

Another FUN FACT (we’re all about the F words, which you’d know if you read our CULTURE email today-- oh wait, you haven’t signed up to get the podcast delivered straight to your inbox? WHaT?! Find the CULTURE goodr email sign up here.)

Back to the Fun Fact: The average person spends 2.5 hours per day on email. We’re guessing we’re reducing that by 40% thanks to Slack. That’s a whole lotta time. (And Slack, if you’re reading this and want to sponsor us, we’re here for ya baby.)

Our onboarding process requires reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive, he talks about Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose. We were inspired by this and created the super clever acronym AMP… aka everyone at goodr has an Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose project. The Autonomy projects are what give goodr employees the flexibility to work from home. Basically, if you’re on a team, you have a plan to consistently show to your brand, flock leader, and yourself, that you’re crushing it, so no one has to wonder what you do.

Every quarter we do AMP reviews. Each employee walks through their Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose projects. This April was the first time we had to do them all remote. “The show must go on!” mentality helped bring us back to some form of normalcy. We led by example, and it helped guide us into the new normal. It was a strong point of connection during wildly uncertain times. Every single person from goodr got to hear direct feedback from Stephen. It was also the first time Stephen sat through every single employee’s AMP review.

In Jeff Olson’s book Slight Edge, the premise is that consistent small gains adds up to huge gains in the end. We’ve adjusted our AMP reviews little by little each quarter. One of the biggest shifts was having people get more consistent feedback throughout the year, so there are no surprises. It is okay to give people critical feedback, this is how you raise adults. There is also praise. BIG SECRET: If you give people the hard feedback during the inbetween, then everyone knows what to expect during the quarterly reviews and they can be more based on praise and celebrating success. BOO-YAH!

Our friend was telling us about their remote work structure, and it sounded mizzzz. They start every day with a 30 minute meeting telling everyone what they were going to do that day, and then they end the day with 30 minutes about what they did. A colossal waste of time. And to that we say, get the flock outta here!

We were already video chat pros. We use Google Hangouts regularly, so people know how to do it. We transitioned smoothly to a virtual Tuesdays with Carl and offered an optional Thursday evening “cheers” weekly. At TWC everyone shares what’s going on in their flocks (departments). It is our anchoring point. OH, you’re lost? What’s TWC? So you didn’t read the third paragraph? You need to learn to speak flamingo at goodr. Refresher, TWC is Tuesdays with Carl, our weekly all staff meeting (just wanted to drill that one in. Please resume.). We share our weekly numbers, and any other important information. This was probably the best way we stayed connected. We shifted to meet with our flocks first before diving into the full 60 person chat. Another reminder from previous discussions: We have 12 different flocks, we don’t have giant org pyramids, it’s flatter than ol’ Chris Columbus thought the Earth was.

In our GTD process (a time management model discussed in the book Getting Things Done by David Allen) we create a “someday, maybe” list. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Thanks to a little extra time brought on by being quarantined, we were able to tap into this list, and that was cool. For example, we’re shifting how we launch projects in 2021. We’ve been able to really get ahead of it. We also launched some new digital marketing campaigns that are really important to our business currently. And of course, the podcast shift, we ended up doing something completely different than we originally envisioned.

We also had our first virtual version of our quarterly summit/celebration, goodrSTOCK. There were all kinds of ideas for Virtual goodrSTOCK that would have never happened. We did a talent show! Trivia, game nights, photo challenges, we had no way to connect together in person, and seeing people participate and enjoy this event, was a really wonderful experience. People stepped up and leaned in.

Part of cultivating calm was giving everyone permission to feel their feelings. Leaving out your feelings is like swimming with one arm. You’re just going to go in a circle. Acknowledging feelings is really important. Whether individuals are performing great or poorly, there is often something behind it.

Talking about feelings is the quickest way of understanding the root of the problem. We strive for transparency. “I don’t know what the right thing is to do, I don’t know what we should do, but I know what we can do.” Another fine Stephen Lease quote from this episode. Acknowledging this breeds trust. “If I want people to do the same to me and tell me when they don’t know something I need to lead by example.” Stephen recognizes that when you talk to people like adults, you realize how smart people are when you treat them smart. Trust is built over time, and this is how we build trust in our culture over time. It is a long game.
flamingo man wearing goodr pink sunglasses
We greatly value leaning into tough conversations at goodr. We help train people to have challenging conversations as a part of their onboarding. This was something that was added later on, as we became more than seven employees. Our model for this is the Clearing Exercise, which is an outlined training conversation, for having tough conversations. We strive to eliminate fighting, small talk, and venting (another word for gossip). No matter what, healthy conflict will exist. If you’re avoiding a tough conversation though you’re not being clear. You’re avoiding the discomfort of having the conversation. Check out the steps of this Clearing Exercise to get an idea on how we get clear with one another.

The Clearing Exercise:

A structured conversation designed to separate facts from feelings/opinions, and communicate difficult issues in a skillful way.

Facts: The objective, observable truth. No feelings or conclusions.

Feelings: Emotions, not judgements. “I felt…” no compound sentences here!

Own your role: Own it completely or you’ll lose your listener

The desired change: What you’d like to see moving forward that’s positive

The Clearing Exercise says, “I’ve thought something through, because I respect you and want to have a good relationship with you.” It gets rid of backchanneling and the political stuff. It builds more connection and more trust. It’s not something you summon with words like “trust me.”
When everyone has a tool box filled with unique gadgets to help them communicate, stay organized, cope with the awkwardness of life, you can truly relax and focus on the task at hand. Might as well call us Go Go muther fucking Gadget! At the end of the day, if you treat people like adults, they’ll act like adults, if you treat people like children, they’ll act like children.

AND NOW, we enter, drum roll please, THE LIGHTNING ROUND :::::thunder and lightning sounds for dramatic effect:::::

Most important internal meeting at goodr:

Our weekly staff meeting, TWC.

Proudest moment in the ways we’ve found to connect with each other:

The amount of private DMs Stephen has received from individuals stating that they are grateful and still feel connected to the brand. We had 16 new people start in February, and to hear that from them, was something else.

One thing you want a do-over on: “I want to order my Peloton sooner.” Yeah… buddy. You and everyone else.

The biggest win:

We’ve elevated our game. In everything that we’re doing.

One thing that you’re excited about:

To see people again in person.

First of all, what is Circle Bar? We started calling this section that last week, and then never explained ourselves, whoops! Sorry, not sorry (but actually sorry). (That’s the name of the Canadian Flag sunglasses we released recently if you haven’t heard yet.)
Circle Bar is this amazing bar on the main street of Santa Monica, we’ve named glasses after it, we venture to it after goodrSTOCK, it’s all about celebration. So it seemed like a fun name to describe the section of the podcast where we “circle back” and discuss one thing we were too drunk to remember to discuss.

The one thing we didn’t talk about today, is we are really hardcore about making decks, and since we use Google Slides, we can share them. We can always be looking at the same thing together, it’s on the top of the list of why we were uniquely qualified to work remotely.

The importance we put on decks is a part of our culture. We have a strict (and beautifully branded #humblebrag) template, and offer classes on how to build decks up to brand standards. Now we’re looking at you Google. Where’s that sponsorship at?

Some mantras to take away from this episode are:

* Treat people like adults and they’ll act like adults. (Message repeat that.)

* Done is better than perfect.

If you want to let employees work remote when this is over, do it. Let people fail. Learn from it and keep it going. Because in the long run, it’s going to pay off way more than micromanaging ever could. To give support and resources to your employees it brings engagement and the feeling of camaraderie and teamwork. We’re not takers, we’re a team of givers.

- Start with a transparency process Use Slack… get your employees off of email. (We use email for external factors, we have to, but it’s very limited)
- Start teaching people to have tough conversations. Practice the Clearing Exercise.

- Ask managers, what would you need to see from your employees weekly/monthly/daily to push your team out of the nest and know they’re flying. Ask for those things and ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT.

We referenced quite a few notable reads in this episode, so queue these up on your summer reading list:

Drive by Daniel Pink

Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Getting Things Done by David Allen

And that's a wrap for episode three of the CULTURE good podcast. Thanks for following along, and don’t be an asshole.