Last week was a big week for us here at The Motley Fool! We celebrated FoolFest, our annual member event, with over 300 Fools that traveled far and wide. In addition to breakout sessions, panel discussions, and fun meet and greet opportunities, we were also lucky to hear from some dynamic speakers.
FoolFest introduced us to the bestselling authors behind interesting ideas like the science of habit; rethinking situations that cause financial stress; and six commonalities of entrepreneurial success. So what exactly are these books and who are their authors?
1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg, award-winning New York Times reporter, explores scientific discoveries behind why habits exist and how they can be broken in The Power of Habit.To overcome habits, Duhigg says that you must understand the cues that trigger it; the routine that fulfills it; and the rewards – or feelings – that you receive from it. Duhigg explained the cycle with his own example of eating a cookie every afternoon. By learning to analyze this daily action, he realized that it wasn’t the actual chocolate chips he craved – it was the social interactions in the cafeteria. A certain time in the late afternoon was his cue and, once he understood this habit, Duhigg set out to reconstruct it. Instead of heading to the cafeteria, he now finds colleagues to chat with around his desk. With his new routine, Duhigg hasn’t had a cookie in over 6 months.
Though habits are certainly personal, businesses also use the science of habit to influence what consumers buy. They collect data based on where customers live, household incomes, marital status, and whether or not a shopper has children. Stores like Target can then predict times that will most influence these customers to use coupons or see advertisements.
Do you think you could change your habits? Duhigg argues, “The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.” This book offers a helpful perspective if you’re curious to reform your routine.
2. The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson
It took five years for Amy Wilkinson – strategic advisor, entrepreneur, and lecturer at Stanford University – to write her first published book. In The Creator’s Code, Wilkinson shares academic research along with six essential skills that have turned small concepts into big companies. Over 200 interviews and examples from corporations including PayPal, Airbnb, Tesla Motors, and Dropbox support Wilkinson’s list of traits that lead to great entrepreneurship .
What’s Wilkinson’s bottom line? Anyone can attain entrepreneurial success but it takes hard work. One of the skills that Wilkinson focused on during her FoolFest interview was “Failing Wisely.” She’s passionate about the importance of placing small bets to test ideas and build resilience. She said to the audience, “The people who can be very comfortable about experimenting and testing through are the ones who will succeed.” Whether it’s on our marketing team or among Member Service Fools, we’re constantly testing ideas at The Motley Fool. We, too, believe in consistent testing to find big wins among little mistakes.
3. The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money by Carl Richards
Emotions are easy to relate to finance. Debt causes stress for a lot of people, as do major financial decisions like buying a home or paying college expenses. Carl Richards argues that emotion interferes with making smart financial decisions, and he defines “the behavior gap” as the phenomenon between what we should do and what we actually do.
One of the best takeaways from Richards’ presentation was the importance of timing. Should you really be talking about finances with your partner first thing when you get home from work? Probably not. Why? Because you’re tired. Make financial decisions a discussion when you’re energized and clear-minded, or else you’re not setting the situation up for the smartest results.
Have you read these picks? Let us know by tweeting @FoolCulture!
Together we create our future reality, so we should do so consciously, collaboratively, and responsibly. – from “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business”
Conscious Capitalism applies to businesses that support the interests of all major stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, communities, suppliers, and the environment. Forbes.com called this revolutionary business model “the defining way to make money in the future,” and it’s practiced by leaders like John Mackey of Whole Foods Market; The Container Store’s Kip Tindell; and our very own Tom and David Gardner of The Motley Fool. In fact, Tom Gardner chatted with Professor R. Edward Freeman of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business back in 2013 about how The Fool engages in Conscious Capitalism.
Are you part of a leadership team, or perhaps an executive or entrepreneur that wants to learn more about Conscious Capitalism? Check out Conscious Capitalism 2015, an upcoming opportunity to connect with other participants, build relationships, and learn how to incorporate this practice into your organization. You’ll hear keynotes from dynamic speakers like Tony Schwartz, CEO & Founder of The Energy Project; Raj Sisodia, Co-Author of the above noted book; and Melissa Reiff, President and COO of The Container Store. Educational practicums like Creating Conscious Engagement, The Power of Purpose, and Accelerating The Journey to Conscious Capitalism are also on the schedule.
Conscious Capitalism 2015 is slated for Tuesday, April 7 – Thursday, April 9 at the JW Marriott Chicago in Chicago, IL. You can save $200 off of the registration fee if you purchase your tickets before 3/1/15!
Business is global, or at least it is here at The Motley Fool. With the help of technology, we support full-time Fools in Australia, Germany, Canada, and beyond. While some remote Fools work from home, did you know that we have an office in London? And another in NYC? As the need for communicating outside the walls of FoolHQ becomes more important, we’re constantly in search of tools that will help us.
Fools rely heavily on email, Skype, Trello, and even the good ole’ telephone to get in touch. Our intranet is useful for company-wide announcements, plus Slack is another great tool for efficient communication. A few other takeaways for mending communication gaps:
1. Consider the time zone.
Scheduling can be confusing, especially if you’re working with many people in different places. Be considerate of others’ schedules by checking time comparisons and reaching out beforehand to ask what time of day is more convenient.
2. Face-to-face communication matters.
We want all Fools to have the same opportunities for collaboration, and live meetings through Skype or Google Hangouts can sometimes be more effective than email. Consider limiting these meetings to 2-3 people for maximum collaboration.
3. Get together in one place.
Full-time employees are encouraged to attend our annual Foolapalooza retreat for a chance to learn more about the business, bond with fellow Fools, and compete in the occasional Australian kangaroo boxing match. Time away from the office serves as a great opportunity to meet Fools – and in the same time zone, no less.
How does your organization work best with remote employees? Do you have any awesome global communication tips?
Developing the perfect office space is one tough feat, but our People Team is constantly striving to fulfill 300+ Fools’ needs and wants. From adding new quiet spaces to knocking down walls, one Fool’s role is solely dedicated to our office’s cultural development. No matter if a Fool is shy or social, 4 benefits of our open office stand out:
1. Real (read: not electronic) Communication
At healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline, the absence of cubicles created more transparency among employees. After implementing an open office layout, overall email traffic declined by more than 50% and decision making accelerated by 25%. These productive shifts occurred because “workers were able to meet informally instead of volleying emails from offices and cubes.” In a casual, open environment, employees are more encouraged to engage in face-to-face conversation. Plus, you never know when a random brainstorm might lead to the next best idea.
Closed offices are a thing of the past, paving the way for more openness in both the physical and literal sense. One source explains, “Reasons for going open make for great agency rhetoric: communication, ideation, collaborative resonance, speed.” In an open office, there’s a sense of community that can’t be mirrored electronically.
2. Approachable Company Leadership
Maybe your organization’s executives are intimidating, even though we all know they shouldn’t be. Our open office definitely plays a part in connecting Foolish leaders with employees. Tom Gardner and David Gardner are just like normal Fools. Private offices aren’t requirements for them; in fact, you’ll often find Tom on a public treadmill desk and David among fellow investing Fools on his Supernova team. FoolHQ maintains a supportive environment for collaboration and creativity on all levels.
3. Unique Workspaces
We encourage Fools to do whatever it takes for them to produce the best work. Think beyond a cubicle and imagine moving around to different spaces throughout the day. Couches, beanbags, and working tables fill our office to accommodate different personalities. Not feeling inspired? Sit beside a window or find a quiet space to concentrate. Conference rooms don’t have to disappear, but we’ve added more informal meeting spaces that don’t have to be reserved.
FoolHQ is in constant flux. Fools voice their opinions on office space through engagement surveys, coaching sessions, and casual conversations. If a request can be honored, Fools will go to great lengths to ensure others’ happiness.
4. Convenient Collaboration
We keep Fools’ desks on wheels for a reason. If different teams need to work together, collaboration should be easy for them. With stationary desks, full office moves took too much time. Now that Fools’ workspaces are mobile, these moves can be finished in one (busy) morning.
Don’t isolate employees based on their departments. Some Fools are embedded onto different teams to boost collaboration and spread mastery of other skill sets. Shuffling Fools around to fit the needs of our business simply wouldn’t be as seamless without our open layout.
While a top-notch workplace culture is enviable, it also sets an example for what other organizations should strive to achieve. Tim Stevens wrote in his FastCompany article, “There is nothing worse than working in an organization that has a bad culture. It doesn’t matter how much money you make or how many weeks of vacation you are given; when you work in a toxic environment, you still come home tense and stressed at the end of each day.” Stevens is on point; I felt miserable on a daily basis during one of my first “real” job experiences (and no, it wasn’t at The Motley Fool).
Stevens goes on to list 12 traits that suggest your organization is among those with a fantastic culture. Here are a few that resonate with our organization:
1. Turnover is Low.
We want our employees to be Fools for life. Our turnover rate is less than 2%, which is remarkable by industry standards. We go to great lengths to ensure Fools’ happiness, whether it’s ordering gluten-free pizzas to celebrate monthly birthdays or building out more quiet spaces in our office. Foolish coaches also hold regular “Happiness Check-Ins” to chat with Fools about their work-life balance. Low employee turnover means you’re at least doing something right.
2. Team Members are Energized by the Mission.
Fools are passionate about our mission – “To Help the World Invest – Better.” You can feel the energy here, as well as from Fools all over the world. We have full-time Fools based in Canada, Germany, Australia, and Singapore that are all working passionately toward the same goal. When Fools are excited about projects, productivity levels rise to new heights. Creativity can also inflate, adding more valuable ideas to the mix.
3. It’s Not Just a Job.
Fools are not only excited to come to work, but they’re also enthusiastic about Foolish extracurriculars. Fools are friends too, so attending happy hours, concerts, plays, and other cultural events in the area aren’t foreign concepts. In fact, we actually enjoy spending time with our coworkers. We’re not running toward the door to exit right at 5PM (…we do have a flexible schedule), and it’s kind of refreshing from the corporate norm. A work environment is definitely more positive when it has this type of ambience.
4. People are Smiling.
Fools are shiny, happy people (and some are music lovers, too). Our Office Ops team does a great job of keeping FoolHQ an upbeat environment. These creative Fools host activities to all scales, from smaller touches like pushing around snack carts to planning larger events including our annual Holiday Party and company retreat called Foolapalooza.
5. Communication is Strong.
Though communication can always be enhanced, The Motley Fool strives to keep our conversations transparent. It’s important that your employees stay on the same page with what’s relevant, be it your company numbers or external conference opportunities. Fools are happier when information is provided instead of hidden, even if something is in the works. Simply stating “We’re working on it, but we wanted to let you know…” can make all the difference.
Interested in checking out the other qualities that make a workplace enviable and one of a kind? Click here to read more.
After uploading a new Foolosophy video on the importance of Foolish recognition, we were delighted to see a sweet shout-out from our friends at YouEarnedIt. We implemented their employee engagement tool last year and Fools have been big fans since day one. This online app allows Fools to recognize fellow coworkers for jobs well done with “gold,” which can later be cashed in for prizes. So what’s in our YouEarnedIt redemption vault? Some pretty amazing stuff like Amazon gift cards, subscriptions to BarkBox and Beer of the Month Club, SouthWest Airlines vouchers, and much more! High-value rewards include a trip to our FoolUK office in London and a 3 day weekend in NYC for two.
While these prizes are awesome, it’s the reason behind why Fools give gold that really matters. Even the little tasks deserve recognition, and now we can thank fellow Fools through YouEarnedIt. A public feed is active all day long so that we can keep up with the great work Fools are doing all over the world. In just a year, nearly 13,000 pieces of recognition have been sent – wow!
Receiving and sending gold excites Fools, plus our prizes inspire everyone to work even harder. Happy employees lead to a more engaged work environment and that’s what we’re all striving for, right?
Since we’re constantly striving to spread the word about Foolish culture, our latest endeavor is pretty darn exciting. Introducing Foolosophies, a peek into life at FoolHQ through interviews with the Fools that know our company best. This video series uncovers answers to many questions about the Fool, from the importance of core values to our Foolanthropy tradition; different collaboration opportunities; and the 411 on our insurance benefits.
Do you feel like your organization is in need of a culture makeover? These videos provide valuable information that could inspire you to make a big change. Fools share their best tips for accommodating different types of workspaces; fostering transparent communication; and holding companywide events like Pizza Day and Cake Day – for a purpose!
More #Foolosophy videos are in production, but we’d love your feedback! Is there a question that you’re dying to have answered? Comment below and we’ll take it into consideration! Wondering how to see such great content? See our Menu above – and click “Foolosophy.”
Fool On, Foolish readers!
Where would The Motley Fool stand without the mentors that have shaped our company with their bright insights? The road to success hasn’t always been smooth, but we hope these 4 tips inspire you to take the wheel and change your organization – for the better.
1) Hire the Right People
Much like The Motley Fool’s investing strategy, we prefer to hire and hold onto employees for the long-term. Chief People Fool Lee Burbage explained, “When we are hiring for life, recruiting is the most important thing we do.” Our team strives to find the perfect candidate for every position because, in the end, the best hires will pay dividends. With every candidate, we consider whether or not they could potentially take our business to the next level. Throughout the hiring process, recruiter Jen Elliot focuses on applicants that are entrepreneurial, innovative, and unafraid to break the status quo. Burbage noted, “We want this to be the last job you ever have, and the long horizon makes things like job titles and hierarchy unimportant.”
No matter the job title, personality skill-tests are instrumental in maintaining employees’ happiness. If developed within your company, chances are high that employees will evolve and even develop their own job descriptions. Kara Chambers, VP of Talent Strategy at the Fool, notes that while cognitive diversity and collaboration is important in the workplace, communication issues can arise as a result. Assessments like Myers-Briggs and Kolbe allow managers to better acknowledge issues in advance and pair people in a more strategic way.
Les McKeown influenced us to evaluate new projects and teamwork organization with his Visionary-Operator-Processor triangle in mind. His quick assessment digs into the psychology behind how an employee handles their work. Because Fools feel more empowered and aware of their strengths, teams that struggled before are now thriving. Les has given us the ability to view a project’s life cycle by better understanding where we’re deploying resources.
2) Focus on Your Highest Performers
Burbage believes that while job fit is important, employee performance must be taken into consideration, too. Imagine that your workforce was a portfolio and you primarily invested in underperforming employees as stocks. Over the holding time, you’d progressively see a negative return on this investment. Though the real profit lies behind investing in high performing employees, many companies continue to foster their low performers.
Enter Steve Kerr, a member of The Motley Fool’s Board of Directors, who encouraged us to focus more energy on top-tier employees. Cultivating high performers to the level of Steve’s vision begins with measuring employees’ performance through feedback and one-on-one meetings. While asking for feedback isn’t mandatory here, it’s something that we care about and encourage. Guidance and constructive criticism only boosts motivation.
Steve once said that the highest performers are your future leaders. Do you want to leave your company in the hands of those that could fail?
3. “See the world through the eyes of your customer.” – Steve Kerr
A great employee is one who understands your business and, two years ago, we implemented Steve Kerr’s smart advice in a company-wide initiative to invest. Most Fools learned the investing basics, which started with how to open a brokerage account. Once the account was open, $1,000 was deposited into each and every one. Investing became a topic no longer segregated to our writers and analysts, but instead a dynamic, accessible discussion for everyone.
Sam Cicotello, who heads up Member Experience at the Fool, reflected on the benefits that this challenge left with our Member Services team. Expanding on the shared emotional experience, Sam explained “If a new member is ready to start in the stock market, we understand it’s not just as easy as pushing a button. Like members, the team feels on top of the world when trades are up, and angry or anxious when the market takes a negative turn.” It’s true that we’re a better company because Fools are smarter about the nature of our work.
4. Be Transparent
Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store and a true Fool himself, shared that one of his company’s foundation principles is “Communication is Leadership.” We’ve adopted the value as our own (thanks, Kip!) because we believe in the power of being a transparent organization – and we’ve seen the benefits first-hand. Our goal of having “totally informed Fools” is achieved by giving everyone in our company access to pretty much any information they want. Head Communications Fool Adrienne Perryman adds, “Building a culture of open communication between every facet of the company is a high priority of The Motley Fool — it builds trust, engagement, alignment, and ultimately, happy, productive Fools.”
This is not to say that communicating is easy. We’ve found that benefits of being upfront and transparent, especially when the news isn’t the best, far outweighs the damage that could occur if we didn’t share. With an open, honest, and timely explanation, employees are able to react more quickly and, even during the toughest times, collaborate for a solution.
Open communication is used in a number of ways to keep Fools up-to-speed in our fast-paced culture. Our monthly Huddles, which are attended by the entire company and streamed for our remote Fools, offers a full hour of 100% transparency. Do we talk in-depth about our numbers? Yep. How about strategy and what’s coming next? Check. Role changes? Sure do. Is there time for open Q&A? Obviously. In between monthly Huddles, we keep Fools informed via our intranet, which features weekly videos and a news feed, our weekly email, and sessions with leadership around specific topics.
We make communicating a priority because it matters. In fact, it makes us a better company. Does your organization do the same?