What stories are you telling?
The ones you repeat will end up shaping your life.
When you’re building a work culture, storytelling is key.
They will determine how employees behave.
They will shape the narratives they tell themselves about their coworkers.
And they will inspire them to work even harder.
How can you harness the power of storytelling to create an ideal environment for you and your company?
For this 5-Minute Friday, I revisited a conversation I had with Bryan Johnson where he shared how he used town hall meetings, stories, and unconventional hiring methods to make his ideal work culture.
Bryan Johnson is the founder of Kernel, OS Fund and Braintree. In 2013, he sold Braintree to Paypal for $800 million.
Bryan set a high standard for his employees that let them know they had to be at the top of their game at all times.
Learn how to build an amazing work culture on Episode 831.
Lewis: This is 5-Minute Friday!!
Welcome everyone to today’s episode and we’ve got a fantastic guest today and his name is Bryan Johnson and he live in Ecuador for 2 years in his early 20’s and became inspired to devote his life to improving the lives of others.
In January 2007 he founded a company called ‘brain tee’ which was named twice the fastest growing company in America by Inc. Magazine. Then in 2013 EBay and PayPal bought brain tee for eight hundred million dollars in cash. In October of 2014 he launched ‘OS fund’ which investing in world changing technologies that promised to rewrite the operating systems of life.
He’s an outdoor enthusiast and has climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world and all around an incredible human being.
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Bryan: We set the tone internally that we wanted the very best people, that we didn’t want the safety net internally. If someone was not up to par with what they are supposed to do, we didn’t have a training program to help them, we just said ‘go out and be awesome.’
So, we just do small things for example I look at post at job ads on craigslist and I would put on the very top ‘if you are for this position’ I would pay $5,000. Because my first assumption was if you are reading the job ad you’re probably the person I want to hire.
Bryan: Which was I mean irony aside. The most successful people are typically satisfied at their job and so then I would list out ‘please do not apply if.’ We try to list out characteristics consistently. The goal was we wanted the very best people to jump out of their chairs.
Bryan: This is where I want to work. So, we are trying to build on that culture where everyone felt they are working with someone just as exceptional as them.
Lewis: That’s amazing. How many employees are you having?
Bryan: I think about 150 or so.
Lewis: What was the biggest challenge running a company with 150 employees for you?
Bryan: It was perpetually constantly a challenge. So I learned a couple of lessons that I thought was useful: 1 is that everybody always has a pebble on their shoe, everyone is always upset about something. So, I did these weekly town hall meetings where we get together and I didn’t want to talk about. I just spend time talking about how people felt about the company and I would just let this awkward silence sit.
Bryan: We finally get it out on the table and talk about what really the honest truth stuff. We establish a culture of true transparency and just set the tone for how we can weather the challenges together. We never really had so many challenge but the ability honest relationship was really the glue that allowed us to weathered it.
Lewis: So do you recommend any company with thousands of employees or five employees do a town hall meeting? Did you it once a week and do you recommend anyone should do this?
Bryan: I can’t speak from experience 1,000 or 2,000. But I will say that 1 of the biggest government agencies that works on keeping the country came in and toured the company one time and they had this problem. There was a guy in the organization called Steve was a real jerk and was rude to people and kept getting promoted.
So, a whole bunch of people like want to be like little Steve, like that was the type of personality people wanted. So, I spent a lot of time spending people [?] brain tee who went above and beyond. Storytelling is a big part of identifying people who they [?] and keeping that is the key metric to what kind of culture you want to build. It’s the narratives that you create and the stories you tell and repeating that again and again to reinforce who you are and I think those things can be done on level, because you set the tone on what is desirables and undesirable behaviors.
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