How to Build a Positive Workplace Culture

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Ep. #729 - Creating a Winning Culture

In this episode of Startup Hustle, join Matt and Matt for Part 41 of “How to Start a Tech Company” as they discuss how to create a winning culture.

Covered In This Episode

How do you create a winning culture? A solid and positive workplace culture helps a business fight off the threats of the volatile marketplace and enables it to scale successfully.

Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson discuss the factors that affect workplace culture. They share tips on building a winning culture by listening to the people, fixing recurring problems, implementing a structure, and defining company values.

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Join the Matts in this Startup Hustle episode to learn more about fostering a winning workplace culture.

Missed the previous episode? Click here to listen to other episodes of the “How to Start a Tech Company” series.


  • What is culture? (1:58)
  • Winning culture starts with transparency (6:12)
  • Examples of toxic environment (8:21)
  • Winning as a group (9:16)
  • The Great Resignation (9:42)
  • Communication is key (12:07)
  • Giving people a vested interest in winning (13:16)
  • Incentivizing work (16:10)
  • Full Scale loyalty incentive plan (17:40)
  • Money as the strongest influencer (18:57)
  • How do you get rid of a bad culture? (20:56)
  • Providing structure for employees (26:59)
  • Lack of structure contributes to losing culture (27:02)
  • What are your company’s values? (27:58)
  • Define the vision of the company (32:18)
  • Setting realistic targets and meeting them (33:37)
  • Creating a positive environment (39:51)
  • Letting people know that they’re important (40:50)
  • Open communication (41:56)
  • Have fun creating culture (45:16)

Key Quotes

The culture of a company is the imprinted DNA, fingerprint, and footprint of the founder.

Matt DeCoursey

People want to be heard. People want to know if the company is winning. People want to know how the company is doing. People care about job stability, right? They want to know. And all that stuff adds up.

Matt Watson

Money, on many days, may be the strongest influencer. It’s not the only influencer, you can’t just have a shitty culture socially at your company and pay people well. But I’ll tell you, there are a lot of people that seem to have a lot higher tolerance for bullshit in general when they’re getting paid more.

Matt DeCoursey

It’s creating the right culture amongst all the middle management as well. And how they mentor people how they lead people, all that kind of stuff, and trying to permeate that through the organization becomes difficult.

Matt Watson

Don’t overlook the fact that people, in general, feel underappreciated. It’s the same reason that, that people have problems in human relationships, partnerships, husband and wife. These are the same things translate over to your company culture.

Matt DeCoursey

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt DeCoursey 0:01
And we’re back, back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here with Matt Watson. Hi, Matt,

Matt Watson 0:06
What’s going on?

Matt DeCoursey 0:08
Oh, I’m just trying to win, man. Because you know, all I do is win win win.

Matt Watson 0:14

Matt DeCoursey 0:18
Hashtag winning.

Matt Watson 0:19
Yeah, and my Charlie Sheen for this episode,

Matt DeCoursey 0:22
I was gonna say I don’t know if that is actually the winning culture that we’re trying to create really anywhere. I’m not sure that is a winning culture. But that’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’re here in part 41 of 52, of How to Start a Tech Company with Matt and Matt.

And today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by, helping you build a software team quickly and affordably. And we have a winning culture. We’d like to create a winning culture. And I think that creating a winning culture and saying that it’s also a buzzword and a buzz phrase that everyone loves to say. And most people don’t really do.

Matt Watson 1:07
Well, there’s no magic silver bullet of how to do it either, right? It’s not like you do these three things. It’s kind of an organic thing that just happened.

Matt DeCoursey 1:18
Yeah. And so I’ve been recording, reaction videos, and some of us some of the other hosts have as well for upsizing over the YouTube channel. And, check some of those out as they are beginning to publish these days. But I was just recording one before I hit record here. And I was saying that creating a winning culture is a moving target because it changes as your company changes, the bigger it gets, the harder it can be. Just there’s a lot of factors that go into it. And you know, I think that when you talk about culture that’s defined as the values mindsets, and behaviors that constitute an environment conducive to success, or that’s a winning culture. So, I mean, you can have a great idea. And you can have a shitload of funding, you can have a terrible culture.

Matt Watson 2:14
Yeah. And it can be as simple as hating your boss or not liking the CEO, or just all sorts of stuff, right? Like, it’s, it’s a wide array of things. I mean, imagine working at some of these companies today that are gotten hyper-political, even internally, right, like, everything, everything is sorts of great a toxic like us versus them mentality within larger corporations, which sounds like a terrible culture these days in some of these places.

Matt DeCoursey 2:43
I mean, you can pick up the Wall Street Journal on any day of the week, pretty much in the history of that publication and find some article about something that’s imploding. And, you know, you look at like, just this week, there was Activision, the video game company who had like, all these like crazy cultural problems that were, you know, sexual harassment, and just like all kinds of stuff, and it was like, they were ignoring it. And then all of a sudden, they have like, 1000 employees that have signed a petition that say they want the CEO out. That’s not a winning culture. Yeah, that’s, that’s what’s you’re trying to avoid people. So But alright, somehow, just like so many things in the series, and so many things we’ve talked about. And you know, we’re coming up on the fourth birthday of Startup Hustle, by the way, you know, over the last four years, so much, so many things are easy to say. And they’re very difficult to do. I mean, this is this is definitely in that category of easy to say, difficult to actually execute. So where do you start? I mean, I, you can start from them, obviously, I think the culture of a company is it has the imprinted DNA fingerprint and footprint of the founder, or errs. And that’s where it kind of starts, but what happens after that?

Matt Watson 4:05
Yeah, I mean, absolutely comes down from the top leadership, which usually is the CEO, but it can be the whole man, you know, it’s the whole management team, right? I’d be honest, I haven’t been like the biggest cheerleader of like, culture stuff. I’ve been the guy that’s just like, I’m just trying to get some work done. If y’all want to go create a good culture and do these things, then I’ll let the rest of the management team like, try and do some of those. I have been just the guy that like, I just want to get some work done, leave me alone. But sometimes it’s gonna be more of the management team. Right. But a lot of times it definitely starts from a leadership perspective. And my lack of care of the culture may therefore impact the culture because I don’t focus on it. Right. So.

Matt DeCoursey 4:49
Yeah, I mean, that can be tough. At the same time, you know, I think that it’s kind of funny if you watch shows like Silicon Valley or I think the whole the culture thing, and I said this in my reaction video as well, it’s not about like, Hey, can we should we add a bowling alley? To the office? It’s not about another air hockey table or a keg of beer. I mean, some of that stuff can be helpful when creating, you know, getting people to bond with each other or do some stuff like that. But, I mean, I don’t think that’s what it’s about. I mean, one of the things you’ve always said to me over the years is people want to know whether or not you’re winning. Yeah, for sure. And I think that a lot of the winning culture starts with the transparency coming down from the top meaning like the success or like, are we winning? Are we losing what and what needs to occur to win? I, for me, when I think about a winning culture, I think about a group of people that are interested in each other success. And I think that that, I think that that stacks on top of itself, and, you know, affects the company, I, I’ve been in some companies where it was so you know, back when I, a long, long time ago, where everything was set up. So it was just like, individual achievement. And it was like, Yeah, I’m glad you did great. I didn’t, and I don’t give a shit. And that’s not a great place to work, you know, you want to like they’re like, in another place I and I won’t name huge company, but they have it was like they had two major divisions. And those divisions were almost at war with each other. Yeah, they didn’t care about the success of the other side of the building. And I’m like, it’s the same company, you know, like, you shouldn’t have this division. And with that, they had to create a bunch of redundant type of roles and stuff like that to Alma, they had basically had two companies under one roof. And,

Matt Watson 6:48
well, it feels like a lot of feels like a lot of stories you hear about people who work in unions, right? Like a lot of times the union workers are a different class than the main Corporation, right? Like if you’re a Ford employee, and you manage your manager at Ford, and you deal with a bunch of union employees, like it becomes an us versus them thing very quickly. And that I think that’s one of the unfortunate sides of unions, when not everybody’s part of the Union.

Matt DeCoursey 7:14
Well, and then some of that, also, the you and I’m not, you know, one way or the other on unions, I haven’t really been, I don’t know enough about them, but some of the things that you’ll see at least hyped or shown, or sometimes along the lines of like, I can’t, I can’t or won’t do that. That’s not part. That’s not my job. Yeah, I don’t like that. Because I think I mean, it’s all our job. I mean, that’s I don’t I mean, you’ll find me emptying trash cans, or whatever.

Matt Watson 7:41
And I think back to your last point there a minute ago, was a lot of times it comes down, I think to the management team, and how the management team gets along. Because, you know, if all my manager does is bitch and complain about one of the other managers or the CEO or whatever, like that becomes very toxic. And if the managers don’t work well together, don’t respect each other. And, you know, all that stuff, just creates a toxic environment, and then it permeates to all the other employees, right, because then everybody notices it, and people talk about it. And, you know, I’ve worked in organizations where, for example, the leader of sales, was always selling shit that the company couldn’t do. And then that created all sorts of downstream issues. And like, everybody just hated this person, because there’s

Matt DeCoursey 8:28
just people that have to do it or pest. If they can’t do it, they’re the ones that are they’re the they’re the deflector shield.

Matt Watson 8:36
Yeah. So yeah. Because, you know, because of the problems this one department creates, right, it downstreams affects all the other departments. And then next thing, you know, the whole company is just frustrated by everything because it’s just, you know, and and, and so the point is, right, it’s everybody’s got to be like, winning as a group, right? Like if one if one part of the company is winning, but that forces the other part of the company to lose sight usually pretty good.

Matt DeCoursey 9:02
So we’re in the midst of this, this you know, every you go back to the only reading I do is actually the Wall Street Journal. So I’m not I’m not like a huge WSJ fan. I just where I get a lot of my business news, but they keep talking about the great resignation. Yeah. And you know, that 20% of employees want to are going to quit, and a lot of that has to do with things like being forced to return to the office or do different things. The reality is, is that shouldn’t surprise you, because I’m curious what the number of people that would have resigned was going to be anyway, because if you talk to most in most polls that I see, and this is not I’m not going to try to be scientific here because I don’t have data in front of me, but most people don’t like their job. That’s the bottom line. And so what’s the why about that? I mean, I think on some levels, you can’t prevent it. But on at the really in the end, if you get it down to like the why? Most of the time? It’s because they feel like they’re they, they they’re they have the inability to be heard. Yeah. Like, no one’s listening to them their problems or their input or you know, and and so I think when it starts when you talk about from a leadership side of things, and you talk about creating a winning culture, you need a leader that that has the ability to go around and listen to the different departments, different people and ask and say, you know, and this is that simple. If you hear a problem, okay, what’s a what’s a way to fix it?

And, you know, when we and it’s been forever, since we’ve ended the Full Scale office in the Philippines, but I used to go around and it was, I thought it was so crazy that I would I would go around and talk to all of our employees, all of our teams, all of our groups. Just like they i There are people I work with, they don’t work for me, they’re working for clients. And the feedback that I would get is people would be like, I can’t believe Matt would come and sit down and talk to us for that long. And And my reaction to that was where the hell did these people work before Full Scale? Because that seems very, like I enjoy that. I want to hear that to act, how you keep your finger on the pulse of your business, you talk to the people that the in our case that are service providers, and also taking time to talk to the people that they’re providing services for? And just do some listening and ask, and

Matt Watson 11:27
go ahead? Well, I think communication is a big key, right? To your point, like people want to be heard. People want to know if the company is winning, people want to know how the company is doing. People care about job stability, right? Like they want to know. And all that stuff adds up. And, you know, I guess you could argue some of that is that part of the culture, not part of the culture. But if at the end of the day, people want to know if the company is doing is doing well, that they can make a difference. I mean, I talked to my dad every couple of weeks, and he always complains about work. And it’s the same thing like, oh, they do this dumb stuff. They don’t listen to me. You know, it’s all it’s usually that same sort of theme, right of like, they’re not listening to him, they don’t focus on the right things. You know, and people, people get frustrated with that. And eventually, some people are like, You know what, I’m just going to do something that is more fun. But I think the other you talked about the great resignation right now, I think a big part of that, too, is there’s so many job openings, that people are just moving from one place to another because they can simply make more money. Because there are so many job openings. It’s like an auction, right of like, who wants to pay the most amount of money, I’m just gonna keep moving seats until I get to the highest place.

Matt DeCoursey 12:36
Yeah, and, you know, I have another solution for creating a winning culture, give the people in the culture a vested interest in winning. Right? So now if your job is $36,000 a year flat? And whether the company wins or loses, or does well or doesn’t, that’s what you make. Should I expect you to like realistically expect you to care a whole lot past whatever it is you show up to do from nine to five each day?

Matt Watson 13:12
Not as much. I mean, some people are naturally just going to do a good job, and then others will do them and in fact possible, right? So

Matt DeCoursey 13:19
Correct. And you’ve even said this to me in the past. You’re like, the word average exists for a reason. Yeah. And you know, it does, but the thing is, is so there’s a difference between it’s easy to say, well, people should show up and care and they should work hard and they should want the company to win. Okay, there’s that and then there’s reality. Yeah, right. And that’s that people care about their own shit their own interests like they are at work to provide for their family. Yep. For their reality for what they do. So if they I mean, this doesn’t have to be significant sometimes it’s just literally like, I like celebrating little wins you know? And it’s sometimes it’s as simple as that. You know, it can be as you know, a gift card or you know, we I wanted to take you last week now that we took every one you were a Disneyland so you were having your was we took we took all the Full Scale people local locally to see a rock show. We had

Matt Watson 14:19
fun. I was at the edge of the galaxy. Check it out. Yes, you you know Star Wars and stuff. So

Matt DeCoursey 14:27
did you bring home any kyber crystals?

Matt Watson 14:29
No, but I have to say one of the best meals I’ve ever had was at the edge of the galaxy and like had an excellent lunch there. So interesting. You didn’t I’m not sure what species of animal I was eating.

Matt DeCoursey 14:40
I was gonna say

Matt Watson 14:41
university but

Matt DeCoursey 14:43
yeah, it was good. That could be interesting. That it tastes like chicken. I bet it did is it tastes like chicken Yeah. Yeah. Okay, so I think we have some good points about do you see my point with the with the vested interest, though, like some of that is, like give me a reason. isn’t to give us okay, if you know, most salespeople have never had a non commissioned sales job. Why? Because why? That’s the whole purpose of a commission. Now, this can be tricky. This can be tricky, because I’ve actually set people up on like, performance based stuff. And then after I did it, it was really, really obvious to me that it didn’t, that it didn’t matter. Meaning like it wasn’t a driver for them.

Matt Watson 15:30
For some people, it’s not right. And some people it is, it’s like everything. You know, you could do this a lot of ways like it could be commission based or performance based, it could be an annual bonus, it could be profit sharing, it could be stock, it could be a lot of thing extra PTO. Yeah, it can be a lot of different a lot of different types of incentives. And, you know, it’s one of the advantages in the United States of working for a big company like Facebook, or Microsoft, or Google or whatever is they they dole out lots of stock. And so then you get employees that work there, because they want the stock to do well, and this and all that. And,

Matt DeCoursey 16:02
and some startups do that, too. They have a pool of what are often known as incentive shares, and those shares don’t, they honestly don’t really mean much unless the company sold. But if it is,

Matt Watson 16:15
and when that was one of my favorite things happened at VinSolutions. When we sold the company, we had several people that had it, and a few of them became millionaires that day from that stock is employees. Really, that was? Yeah, that was pretty damn cool. Yeah, we had several employees that did well.

Matt DeCoursey 16:32
And if you’re old enough, and you remember the tech boom, starting there were like things and pictures and like Newsweek, and stuff were, like the janitors at Microsoft, driving Ferraris, you know, and just like, okay, but hey, I bet they were loyal. And I bet they really cared about winning after that. So let me share something that we did at Full Scale. So Matt, one of the things you mentioned, is people want to know how we’re doing. And they also want to, they want to feel secure. So when the pandemic hit really hard. Last year, we decided to stop supporting two types of technology, meaning like, we just didn’t feel that, well, one of them was Salesforce, we just couldn’t find enough people to do it. So we actually laid a couple of people off, it was like 2% of our total employees. But that sent a little bit of a shockwave through the employee base. So we rolled out what we called a loyalty incentive plan where we basically anyone that signed it, we said, Yeah, we people were worried they’re gonna get laid off, right and laid off and what could have been a challenging hiring climate, our competitors, were reducing salaries and forcing people to take PTO, what we did instead is said, Hey, we’re not doing any of that, we’re actually going to guarantee you, you have a job, like we literally gave them a waiver that said, you will not be laid off guaranteed. And not only that, if you’re still here a year from today, we’re going to give you a couple percentage of your of your salary as a bonus we call a loyalty incentive program. And it’s huge, it was a huge hit. I mean, it cost us some money. But we were happy because we wanted our folks to say to our intent wasn’t to downgrade or downsize things. Now, I think one of the things that if you if you want to, okay, people equate their individual winning to their own salary and the money that they make. So I think money is is on many days, maybe the strongest influencer, it’s not the only influencer, you can’t just have a shitty culture socially at your company and pay people well, but I’ll tell you what, man, there are a lot of people that seem to have a lot higher tolerance for bullshit in general, when they’re getting paid more.

Matt Watson 18:48
Yeah, and some people want, you know, recognition or their job title and things like that matter to them even more. But part of that comes back to knowing the personality of who you’re dealing with. But at the end of the day, compensation always rules supreme.

Matt DeCoursey 19:03
And that’s going to be more of a type A driver. Type B would prefer things to have less civil unrest. They want a lot more tranquility. And yeah, and like they want conflict reduction, and they want people to get along, and often want structure. And I think that’s the next thing we should talk about. Because, you know, sometimes your company grows fast. So look at Full Scale with 100 employees after a year. And I look, I remember sitting in our conference room at the old Stackify office and looking over at you and going dude, have you ever been involved in something that grew this fast? And you were like, No, and but with that, all of a sudden, you go from like, oh, wow, we got to 100 employees to be like, Oh, wow, we got 100 employees, like we got to figure some shit out here. And we had to make some we made a couple bold moves. We made a couple of leadership changes early in the timeline of Full Scale. No, because we were we were they were directly related to culture. And, you know, the way they environment and I think we knew that we were burning in the circuitry of our future there. And so how do you wash out that programming? How do you get rid of a bad culture? Because I think that that’s more difficult than creating a winning one from the beginning?

Matt Watson 20:26
Well, sometimes you have to eliminate the people that are negative, right? Like, that’s one of the most toxic things is you never really hire and that’s what we’re doing. Yeah, are really negative. And they’re the ones that just complain about every damn thing. And the only thing you can do is get rid of them. But the

Matt DeCoursey 20:41
fire starters, they are

Matt Watson 20:44
and you know, some people just love to bid, right, and doesn’t matter what you do, they’re just going to find something else to bitch about. It’s just their personality, we all know somebody like that. But, you know, in the early days of stack Fie, we, you know, people would complain about, oh, we don’t communicate enough about how the company is doing or this, that whatever. And so we would change those things, right. And that inevitably, would change the culture. It’s like, okay, every month, we have, you know, meetings, whatever. And, of course, people bitch, because we have meetings, it’s like, doesn’t matter what you do people bitch about it, but it’s like, Hey, we’re doing this for your own good. Because we’re trying to eliminate the other part of the people that are bitching. It’s like, but you just have to, you know, try and change and fix those things. Like my example earlier, it’s like, we got this toxic salesperson, that’s a director, you know, manager in a company, and it’s like, all you can do is try and change them and their behavior. And that’ll have some downstream effects. And that’s all you can do is listen to people listen to the problems that are going on and actually change them. Right, instead of like, like you’re talking about earlier, like, the company that’s got a CEO that did sexual harassment or whatever, right? Like, if you just let that go on forever, like the issue really never goes away. Now, it’s really difficult in those cases, were like, well, what do we do about the CEO of the company or whatever. And there’s been there was a lot of those meet two cases that happened, like one of the top top people at Disney, like took a sabbatical for a year or whatever. And who knows, whatever happened with that, but those things are always difficult to deal with, if it’s, you know, the owner or key executives.

Matt DeCoursey 22:16
Yeah, and that stuff is it’s a stain. Yeah, I mean, if it comes out, I mean, it’s, it’s a stain. It’s not ever something that’s gonna go away. It’s who is the who? The Weinstein guy, you know, like I watery Winkle documentaries. Yeah, I watched a couple of documentaries about him. And like, it seemed like it was it was pretty clear what it creeped this guy was, but people were still lining up to work for him. And some of them interview they knew. And I’m like, fuck, like, what do you do now? You know, it’s like, and I think that that’s tough. You know, it’s like, that’s never gonna go out. Is that dude in jail now? If not, he’s probably headed there.

Matt Watson 23:00
I don’t remember. And, you know, I mentioned earlier, you get these companies that have like, culture issues around political stuff. And like, like, there’s been some examples lately,

Matt DeCoursey 23:09
lately. Like, like, my pillow guy. Let’s talk about my pillow. Yeah, we’re like, Mr. Trump now and like, you were on Amazon

Matt Watson 23:19
won’t even have companies like Basecamp that just announced, like, look, we’re gonna ban all conversation at work that has to do with politics. And then that, you know, creates its own set of problems. Right. Like, it’s, it’s tough. I mean, imagine Netflix dealing with what happened with Dave Chappelle, right. Like you get this internal concepts that go on of because of transgender this not whatever and Chappelle and, and just how you have to deal with that stuff, where it’s impossible to make everybody happy. But those become delicate, delicate situations. And imagine, imagine, like Microsoft, right? Where Microsoft does business with the government, or does business with ice, which is the Immigration Department, right? And you got certain employees that the company that think ice is wrong, and you know, because of their political views, but they’re a customer of Microsoft. And all of a sudden, you might have employees at Microsoft that are throwing a huge fit, because who their customer base is like that? That’s a difficult, difficult thing to deal with, too.

Matt DeCoursey 24:19
Yeah, and these are, these are huge companies we’re talking about. Now, a lot of I mean, those companies in order to get the size that they did invariably have winning culture at some point. I think some of the things you’re talking about are, well, you’re never going to please everyone. No, I haven’t put I haven’t published a video about that. And Startup Hustle checked out a couple of weeks ago, because, you know, it’s like, dude, if you’re going to have any, if you’re going to have an opinion, if you’re going to do anything, you can go hold up a sign, someone’s gonna disagree with you, you know, and I think as a leader, part of that is understanding when where and how to really take notice and then sometimes you just gotta let people that handed out, and then understand that not everybody agrees with each other. And sometimes you just agree to disagree. And sometimes it’s the best thing to do is be like, You know what, okay, like quit trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. So a couple of things when it comes to like, you know, I want to revisit, we’re talking about structure, I think structure, and the lack of it is a big contributor to losing culture. And that’s like when you get a company, and that’s where I was kind of going with the growing fast thing, because if all of a sudden everything turns into a total shit show, and everyone’s like, what do I do? How do I do it? I don’t have what I need to be successful. Who do I ask this? Who do I ask that? Like, why doesn’t this person care? Like, I feel like a lot of the lack of winning culture? And what undermines that is often the lack of some structure or plan or tools, you know, it’s like, you see that a lot? Like, why why does so many school teachers? How are why are they buying their own school supplies? Like, I mean, that’s not having what he does, it’s not an entrepreneur thing. But at the same time, it’s a great example of like not having what you need to do your job, that’s gotta be a shitty feeling.

Matt Watson 26:19
Well, I think a lot of companies try to do one on ones with their employees on a regular basis, right for some of these things to try and get their feedback and keep them aware of things going on in the company. But all employees want some sense of mentoring and leadership and ongoing training and all these things. And one of the tools that I’ve used in the past, I think that helps us some of this stuff is are tools like 15 fives, where people submit, like weekly reports of just how they’re doing what they worked on, what they’re going to work on next week, and gives their managers are kind of whoever their manager is, is kind of overseeing them anyways, the ability to kind of just see how they’re doing, and give them honest feedback about like, Hey, you did a good job this week, you got a lot accomplished, or maybe you didn’t, maybe you’re struggling. But I think those types of tools are great, and one on ones in general, are important having that kind of structure for people to provide feedback and learn and all that kind of stuff.

Matt DeCoursey 27:18
I mean, that’s, that’s back to the that’s focusing on winning. So, alright, so how do you do that? Let’s, you know, kind of move towards a few ways to you know, a few more. What are your company’s values? You know, like, what do you do? What do you what do we, Why do we exist?

And while I’m talking at Full Scale, I guess we should probably mention that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by At Full Scale, we talked about being client-obsessed. Why do we exist? We exist to wake up and help our clients win at what they’re doing. Right? And that gives you a purpose-driven attitude. Like the, you know, Hey, I exist to do this. You’re not just a cog in a machine, you’re really important for the success of these people, and they’re relying on you, the way you’re relying on them. And that’s an important thing. So do you want us? Why do we even exist?

Matt Watson 28:24
Yeah. And I think that comes back to trying to create some passion around the problem we’re trying to solve, right? who our customers are. And if you’re just a cog in the wheel in the machine, and you like work on an assembly line, you’re like, I just do this thing all day, it may be harder to be kind of passionate about it. But unless you’re like, look, we’re like saving starving children. And we’re like, okay, yeah, I’m working on the assembly line, because I’m helping save starving children, right? Like, then all of a sudden, they’re, they’re more passionate about it. But for for a lot of people, it can be hard for them to understand, like, what does the company do? It’s like, Hey, I’m writing code, and I’m helping do this project, you know, I take some data out of the database, and I do this thing with the data or whatever. But I don’t really understand the grand scheme of things and what the company does, and all that kind of stuff. Like if you’re, if you’re, you know, just a small piece of it. And I think that’s why it’s important for the leadership team to also continually talk about why we’re winning, right? Like, why our customers are winning, why our customers love our product, you know, all that kind of stuff, to try and create that kind of, you know, passion about what the company does the company mission, and doesn’t have to be all these altruistic things about like, oh, we donate money in this, whatever it just but also about the products that we provide, and why that is important to the people we provide it to. Right because not everybody understands.

Matt DeCoursey 29:43
Well, and that’s where these things go astray. So you talk about like, what is my what is the company Believe in what do we stand for? My pillows. I’m going to use this as an example. You’re a pillow company you shouldn’t be you should you shouldn’t be political. Right? You should stand for making my head and my neck not hurt when I wake up tomorrow. Not for supporting Trump. Yeah, like, you know, just like that’s that DAB is a crossover that makes no sense. Now, if your business is that if you are a political consultancy, that lobbies Republicans, then I can give you that excuse or Democrats or whatever, but I think too many and that’s where you talk about like the convoluted crossover, like, just please people don’t use your company as you don’t use your company as your soapbox, well, your own political whatever,

Matt Watson 30:42
or it was the smartest thing you ever did. We’re talking about it right now.

Matt DeCoursey 30:46
Maybe wonder how their sales are looking because they got thrown out of about every single place that gets sold, but maybe not.

Matt Watson 30:53
I don’t Yeah, I mean, that’s gonna be right. Some Yeah, I mean, at some point in time, you make that tactical decision, right of like, okay, I’m going all in. And sometimes there’s no such thing as bad press. I mean, it’s hard. It’s hard to know.

Matt DeCoursey 31:08
I don’t believe that, though. Do they say that’s a yes or no? He said, There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Not so sure about that. I mean, I think that I think that’s one of the I think that’s a very commonly said thing that doesn’t, I don’t agree with that. Because just saying

Matt Watson 31:30
Netflix is doing just fine over the David Chappelle controversy. And I bet Sir David Chappelle in the in, in the end result, they’re getting lots of press right.

Matt DeCoursey 31:38
Right now on summer guards. So you see people implode shit, yeah, I’ve seen it’s not a blank, it’s not a law. But gravity is a law, supply and demand, you know, these kinds of things. But you know, not, not all publicity is great. So you got to be ready to, you got to be ready to ziget with that. Alright, so the next like, talking, what’s the division? This is your job as a founder and a leader, don’t? Where are we going for the people, if you’re waiting for the people at your company to define the vision of the company, then just shut it down. Because that is not the way it’s supposed to work? Well, and

Matt Watson 32:17
this is another really frustrating thing for people and I’ve worked at a company recently that had this problem, it’s like, if the leadership team doesn’t have the right vision for where the industry going, is going and how we’re going to get there. And do we have the resources and stuff to go there and compete, then we just feel like we’re getting our ass kicked by the rest of the industry, right? Like, if we don’t believe in our leader that is going to lead us into battle, then why don’t want to fight this battle, right? Unless it’s just a job, I get my paycheck, and I just don’t give a shit. And that’s the only way you survive in those kinds of companies, is people just don’t care, they’re not passionate anymore. Because they just don’t think that they’re gonna win, it’s just becomes a job.

Matt DeCoursey 32:57
At the same time, as an owner or leader of the company, you do have to accept the fact that no one’s going to care about it as much as you do. Know, they don’t go and definitely, they’re definitely not going to care. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care. Yeah, doesn’t mean if they shouldn’t care. Now, you know, some of that’s that, you know, like, I mean, that’s some people feel like, I’ll just, I mean, I’ll just stay here. And if they do run it into the ground, I’ll go do something else. Now, it’s not really great. So some of the things you can do is, you know, we talked about having this kind of culture of transparency, or people want to know whether when we’re winning or losing, so you talk about focusing on results and building some accountability for him. As a leader, you have to be ready to be able to say the following words, I failed, and I’ll do a better job next time. No, it’s like, I mean, sometimes that’s the case. You can’t believe the lie until it comes true. And you know, so I mean, culture is a means to support a business’s strategic agenda. And so you got to set some targets for that. And that can be difficult too, though. Because if you don’t set realistic targets, and all of a sudden, you’re like, 80% down the timeline, and you’re 20% on the way to the goal. Like, huh, so if you’re going to set the targets do with them, you gotta have some like, and there has to be some reality around it.

Matt Watson 34:27
Well, and that’s been a lot of the frustration I’ve had recently, right, is you working in a company where they have certain goals, but just don’t hit any of them?

Matt DeCoursey 34:37
Yeah, it happens. But that doesn’t make you feel like you’re winning. No one looks at now. It’s like imagine the the fundraiser thermometer at the elementary school. And if everything’s still down, and a little more at the bottom, you’re like, this isn’t really going well.

Matt Watson 34:53
I mean, speaking of that, I need to I need to sell you some cookies.

Matt DeCoursey 34:57
I need to sell you some cookies actually. Okay. My wife was just at a meeting the other night about that. And I asked her, I said, How much does the Girl Scouts get for each box? And I heard $1. And I said, How much is the box of cookies? $5? I said, so it’s better for my health, to just give $100 to the group’s Girl Scout troop, because I don’t want that many I don’t want 20 I don’t want 100 I don’t want any boxes of cookies, I’m fat enough.

Matt Watson 35:26
So you have Thin Mints, is that what you’re telling me?

Matt DeCoursey 35:29
I get whatever you want, man, we got we have we have it all online after my wife signed up to be the basically to be the distributor for all 19 Girls and the truth. So all those cookies are coming here. And we got to break it down.

Matt Watson 35:45
Let me know when the Eagle has landed.

Matt DeCoursey 35:48
I will let you know if we have a winning culture around that or not. That is That is tough to say. So you know, some other things to Matt, you talk about, like some of this and being heard. You know, the it’s important to have a support structure. Do people in the company know where to go for help with certain things or how and where they can be heard. Full Scale, we have a management platform that we built, and it has a truly anonymous feedback form in it that lets any employee with anonymity, ask a question, give an opinion, alert us to something that’s going on or anything like that. And, you know, that’s, that’s one example of a support structure. And some of it’s also just like, just I don’t know, man, just like, who can I call if I need help. And if you make it difficult for people to ask for help, then they won’t ask. And if you make it difficult for people to help, then they won’t get as much help.

Matt Watson 36:50
And then today, people just want to get their problem solved and get them solved quickly, without a lot of hassle. You know, if it’s an HR issue, or benefits or issues with a team member, or whatever it is right, like just seeing that the issues get resolved. And to be honest to you, the worst thing in the world is to work at a company where you work with a bunch of people who are idiots, and nobody will fire them. And then it just kind of demotivates everybody else that works with that person. And

Matt DeCoursey 37:18
We talked about that. We’ve talked about that in some recent episodes. And you know, there’s, you know, a lot of catchphrases and stuff like that, but one of them’s is that nothing will irritate your great employees more than watching you tolerate the terrible ones. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s part of it, man. Like, I think that entrepreneurship is a contact sport. And, you know, like, I do believe in, you know, the Extreme Ownership, like there aren’t bad teams, there’s only bad leaders, but at some point, you know, if you can’t if you get people that just truly don’t want to get better, or are on many levels refuse to get better through however it is that they’re refusing. It’s the sometimes you just got it. You got to flush it. Yep. You got to flush the turds. Flush the turds. We’re in a marketing meeting the other day. And they got congratulated for making it through a Startup Hustle TV video talking about that, and not actually using turds as the word. So I’m going to overuse it here. So all right, Matt.

So once again, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by Full Scale. Go to We can help you win, we can help you when you’re there. Go to the Get Started page, fill out the form. Tell us what you need help with and we’ll see if we can. We’ll be transparent and tell you if we don’t think we can help you win.

So Matt, here we are at the episode. We’ve recently talked about all kinds of stuff talking about when to fire clients or users which by the way can help your winning culture. If you have some really shitty clients, you don’t make money on them or whatever. And they’re just driving your people crazy. Like that can actually help your winning culture talks about not getting stuck in the middle, what are sales channels, stuff like that? Here we are talking about creating a winning culture what’s what are your takeaways?

Matt Watson 39:11
You know, you’ve probably heard me say this before, but as the founder of a company, I always kind of felt like my job was to be the cheerleader. And I think that goes in part of creating a winning culture, right? You go around telling everybody that the company is doing well, we signed up this account, this company, this account really loves our product. Thank you guys for building it, you know, letting the team know that they’re individually doing a good job and how they can improve. And I think that you know, simple kind of positive message is one of the most important things what really creates a lot of toxic culture is the negativity right? And the thing you really got to do is when the negativity comes around, just figure out how to squash it as fast as possible. If that’s an issue with a particular person, or you know sometimes things go bad and accompany it’s like, hey, we had a bad month, figure out do we how do we rebound? Right? That’s all we can do. But just, you know, focusing on the positive and creating a positive environment, I think is the most important thing.

Matt DeCoursey 40:10
I think letting people know that they’re important. I think that’s a big thing. Some of the things that make people not like their job, as I mentioned, we mentioned earlier and talked about, you know, am I heard? Do you feel important? You know, do you feel like your company cares about you, that’s really important to me at Full Scale. And recently, we’ve doubled up our recruiting efforts, because we’ve got so much incoming business. And with that I get a lot of feedback, because we ask people. What prompted you to apply? And I hear a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of comments. Great, great. I know people that work at Full Scale, and they love it. And they feel like the company cares about them. And you know, some of that is just the way we handle the pandemic and different things. And we mentioned earlier that certain things create the stain of bad PR. There’s also the flip side of that, and there’s the rosy odor of doing things well. And it’s don’t overlook the fact that people, in general, feel underappreciated. It’s the same reason that, that people have problems in human relationships, partnerships, husband and wife. Whatever that kind of stuff is, is often like, I’m not being heard, they don’t hear what I have to say, or I don’t feel important, or you don’t care about what my opinion is. These are the same things translate over to your company culture. I think also just some open communication, like one of the things that we do at Full Scale, and it’s not every month, but we’re trying to get there. But I issue a video update, and I just kind of sit in front of the camera and a mic and I tell people about what’s going on. And we try to do on at least every quarter, that’s pretty extensive. And sometimes it’s just simple stuff. It’s like saying, Hey, we’re doing great right now. Thank you, it’s you guys that are doing it. You do the work you show up every day. And thank you, we recognize that we care about that. And you got to keep that you have to you don’t just get to be positive, and tell everyone great stuff, and then come back and do it again, a year later, you know, you gotta be aware of the fact that, you know, these things have a time they have an expiration date on it. And you know, people, you can’t I don’t think that now on the flip side of that, there is a big difference between being optimistic and realistic. Two of my three books have the word realist in the title. Because there’s reality, and then there’s not. And so the things that motivate people and paying attention to that is important. We have like no employee churn. It’s like, no, it’s like nominal. And it’s many months and just non existent. Well, we pay people well. And we and we listened to our employees, they really, really liked they, if we told them before the pandemic, all of a sudden they had they had been all wanted to work from home, we were scared to death to do that. And then we got forced to do it, we deliver the message show us you can be as productive or more productive, and it makes it a very easy decision for us. And that made it a very easy decision for us when we said alright, we’re staying remote. And then that became a huge like a huge, huge asset for us when it comes to recruitment now because we got all kinds of people applying because their companies are trying to make Pete force people back into the office. So know what what know what cards are out there. Matt, do you have any fours? Or do I need to go fish? Go fish. So that’s the thing though, like if you have four fours in your hand, you shouldn’t be asking for a four when we’re playing Go Fish is my point like know what’s out there know what you got, just keep your finger on the pulse of it. I mean, it’s just really that simple. So

Matt Watson 44:02
yeah, one other thing I want to mention, that I didn’t mention earlier is one of the main reasons that people quit their job isn’t because they don’t like their job, or they don’t like the company, they usually quit because of their manager. And that’s the thing, you always have to remember. And as the company gets bigger, you’re not the manager for everybody. Right? So it’s creating the right culture amongst all the middle management as well. And how they mentor people how they lead people, all that kind of stuff, and trying to permeate that through the organization becomes difficult.

Matt DeCoursey 44:36
And maybe the last thing we should probably mention that we didn’t like, have some fun with it, man.

Matt Watson 44:41
Yeah. Yeah, I think you joke about you know, having a pool table or ping pong table isn’t the winning thing. But, you know, finding ways to have people build meaningful relationships with their co-workers is important. You know if it’s going out and having drinks once in a while or doing this or whatever. Now That’s a lot harder these days with working remote and COVID and all that. But, you know, it can’t satisfy. We had a lot of local employees that would get together on their own. Like, we didn’t even really sanction those events. And they, you know, became friends. And then next thing you know, people don’t want to quit because, hey, they work with their best friend.

Matt DeCoursey 45:15
I’ve been working with my buddy for a while and whatever and yeah, that’s good. That’s a good thing you want that’s good culture. All right. Speaking of winning culture, I gotta get back to winning now. I’ll catch up with the next week.

Matt Watson 45:26
You mean eating cookies?

Matt DeCoursey 45:28
No. I’m gonna go run or something to get the cookies off me.

Matt Watson 45:33
Alright, so yeah, I’m out.