Last week, entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk published a piece in which he attributed the success of VaynerMedia to the fact that it's a "human-based company." Over the last 7 years as the company grew from 20 to 600+ employees, Vaynerchuk says that focusing on culture was his number one priority. Specifically, he was focused on getting to know and empower his people.
"Despite the movies and the media portrayals, having endless snacks and espresso bars aren’t what creates great corporate culture. You don’t get to claim that you have great culture just because you have an unlimited vacation day policy or an open floor plan.
"Company culture stems from the top. That’s why I like to say that I am an HR-driven CEO—I am the head of HR as much as I am the CEO of VaynerMedia. It’s the best way I can communicate how strongly I care about my employees and how much I believe that a strong internal culture is the key to a company’s success."
Although I wish he'd said "culture-driven" instead of "HR-driven," I love the point he's making. Successful business today requires that we treat people well, and that we recognize them as unique individuals, with unique aspirations, personalities, and dreams.
As Vaynerchuk says, "You can’t put everybody in the same box—everyone is driven by different goals and aspirations. I recognize that my team of more than 600 people is driven by 600+ individuals who each have their own specific wants and needs."
Focusing on culture and people-development has become a non-negotiable for those who want to attract, engage, and develop word class talent. Sadly, that's not yet a mainstream belief, but hearing it from the mouth of a thought leader with a massive global is a powerful step in the right direction. Hearing it from a management consultant or reading it in an HBR article helps, but there's nothing like social proof from someone with a lot of street cred.
"I care about what they care about. Why? Because life’s a value exchange—when you care about your employees, it translates into value they can give back to your company."
Say hello to the Chief Heart Officer
While I was nodding along excitedly as I read Vaynerchuk's article, the part that put a full-on toothy smile on my face was this:
"At the beginning of April, I created the Chief Heart Officer (CHO) position at VaynerMedia—the second-most important position at my company (aside from CEO). It’s my next step in scaling my goal of having everyone believe in this strategy. I know Claude Silver, our CHO, fully believes in it and I’m excited to have her on board."
I'll leave you with this closing thought from Vaynerchuk:
"When it comes down to it, you need to make sure that each employee is happy with where they are. When you help make your employees happy, it gives them a reason to be excited to be a part of your company."