Why does the Fab Award and stealing ideas go hand in hand? Check out our latest guest, Matt Jung, co-founder of Comfort Research, as he discusses what he has done to build the best culture for his company!
Content is summarized from the podcast:
-From an early age, Matt always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. His dad is an entrepreneur. He ran radio stations, then bought a radio station that ended up not working out for him. But Matt always saw this passion around him.
-Received an accounting degree from Hope College
-He started selling product out of a car at Michigan State University. He was hoping to get into Meijer, a midwest superstore, but was turned down several times.
-That product [bean bags] ended up turning into the number one selling product at Meijer, which is just awesome.
-Everything was working with the business, but they weren't making a lot of money. But they were able to invest everything back into the business and the business was growing. At that time, they saw this competitor that was opening up stores in malls. So they did it. "Well, we know this industry better. We know the furniture landscape. We know housewares. We know all these things. Why don't we have our own concept?" Up to that point in time, everything is working. Why wouldn't a retail store work? So, they go gangbusters man. Because why would you just start with one when you can open three? So, they opened three stores.
-What ended up eventually happening was that they were focusing all of their time and effort and funds trying to build up these stores, but lost sight of the core. What happened was one day the bank came to Matt's business partner, George Julius and said, "George, we're thinking about calling the loan unless you sign on it." And he's like, "Well, I'm not going to sign on it." We got ourselves into this mess, we'll get ourselves out of it. Luckily, with time, they were able to convince them, "all right, don't shut us down." They know these stores are losing money. They know how to run this core business. So, They shut down the stores and refocused on the core business, so it was the first time they had ever really we lost money.
-They needed to create a vision statement, mission statement, core values, and start identifying these things. And so, they did what most companies do: have a small core group of leadership team at that time and round table it.
-They created a strategy of 140 pages, but what good was that? If you don't open it up after you create it will it really change culture?
-If you were to look at their one page strategic plan from 2012 to 2019, the one common thing there is simplicity. How can they make it simpler so they can communicate to everybody, not only theirselves but the rest of their team.
-Expect the best, screw the rest
-Comfort Research asked: How can someone submit an idea on how they are going to find a better way to do something? And how do we make sure that we're not the suggestion box company, that we're not just that company with a little wooden box somewhere in the plant with the little slot on top and someone has the guts to come by and just dropped a suggestion in there? Nothing's ever done with it. It's simple: The Fab award. They will support them with time and money and other resources for the employee to make it happen. It's a $2,500 award. You get half up front because you won. The other half comes when you try to implement, and we're not talking about successful implementation, just how are you trying to find a better way. Did you try something? If it failed, fine. You tried!
-They focus on the three core values, every quarter we're able to go through all three of them and award an employee each month who shows this value.
-To be able to celebrate people like that, that warms my heart in a really big way.
-Culture and core values needs to start at the top.
Teams also need to get away and have time to think together and reflect together. Be able to spend just an hour to be curious about each other. -Denise Van Eck, Owner of Thought Design