Be a student of your industry. The student part is the insatiable need to learn more about everything. It’s based on a curiosity, and that leads to a sincere list of questions that allows you to get to know the people that you need to know: your employees, your colleagues, business partners, whatever the case may be.
The need and desire to know not only about them and their businesses but about what is impacting their businesses, what’s influencing change in business, leads to knowing about trends and what is motivating purchase decisions and certain behaviors and certain actions.
Raise the bar for yourself first. It’s about commitment; it’s about the relentless pursuit of perfection. I raise the bar on myself higher than any of my colleagues, and they recognize that. So, I’m not just asking them to jump higher than is possible; they witness me trying to jump higher than is possible.
Environment plays such a key role in motivation. It’s just like working out at home versus working out at the gym. When you have a bunch of people around you, pushing hard, it’s a completely different environment. When you come here and get a sense of the leadership of this organization pushing hard, and not just pushing hard, but everybody participates and works together, it helps you feel attached to this cause.
Build your culture with students and self-starters. The culture of this company is we want to create ideas, so you’re going to start with who you hire. There are going to be certain characteristics of these people, and one is that they are going to be a self-starter.
When you were playing football, the coach would throw a ball out onto the field, and everybody was supposed to stop what they were doing and jump on the loose ball. That kind of instinct, knowing one group is heavy under pressure, but they’re walking over and saying, ‘What can I do to help?’ as opposed to saying, ‘That’s not my job.’ You can preach that all day long, but if you’re talking to a self-starter, they’re going, ‘Yeah, I get it, keep your eye on the loose ball.’
Second, you want someone who wants to learn. You dig in to why certain experiences were important, what they got out of those experiences, how they learned from those experiences. I just interviewed a candidate, and when I walked up to the interview, she handed me The New York Times and said, ‘Have you read this article this morning? It’s very relevant to what we’re going to be talking about.’ The first thing I told other people about her is, ‘Now, there’s a student.’
Make sure your people are on top of their game.
We encourage people to be on top of their game, and that goes back to the student piece. You have to read, read, read and read more. Then you have to go experience, experience, experience.
If we’re working with a surf brand or pitching a hotel chain or a pet food supplier, we need to go through that experience and absorb it. Being on top of your game is the study of all things. It comes from experience and staying on top of late-breaking news.
When you’re on top of your game, it helps personal growth because you become a subject-matter expert, and when somebody is a subject-matter expert, they can walk around pretty proud and excited.
When that’s happening, business grows. When our people are on top of their game, and our client’s business grows, that word spreads, and then we’re solicited to help other people grow their businesses.
Lead with positive energy. The thing we stress is that positive energy breeds positive energy, and negative energy breeds negative energy, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for negative energy. My role is to inspire great thinking and to provide an environment that encourages it and rewards it.
We have live agency newsletters where we are able to share the work that everybody’s been working on and call specific people out for it. We highlight people where a deadline was changed, and maybe they had to work all through a holiday, we make sure to bring that to the attention of their peers and also for me to acknowledge that.
We also do ‘time outs.’ We’ll meet just 15 minutes with a smaller group, and we’ll sit down and have some Jamba Juice brought in and acknowledge the great work that project team or department has pulled off recently.
I try to do that in a very timely manner, based on the performance. There’s no question that having my finger on the pulse of what is going on and being able to acknowledge it is a key part of why the reward is effective, why it adds to building the culture, because if you do it six weeks later, the execution didn’t work. So, that’s something where you get two points for the idea but eight points for that timely execution.
Fix problems without pointing fingers. When we run into a problem, I’m going to bring the team together and I’m not going to blame anyone, I’m going to focus on fixing it because what’s done is done. Once we get it fixed, we’ll then circle back and audit our process and procedures to make sure that everything is intact.
In that time, where somebody is expecting to get chewed out and you don’t, you assure them that you’re going to throw the proper resources to fix it, it builds incredible loyalty.
HOW TO REACH: Doner Advertising Co., (949) 623-4310 or www.donerus.com