The Entourage was recently named the fourth Best Place to Work in Australia by BRW Magazine. In this post, Jack Delosa, Founder of The Entourage and BRW Young Rich List Member, reflects on his unique and unconventional principles to building a world-class culture…
Culture is not about beanbags, bicycles and fireman poles. These are gimmicks that often serve only to detract from the true essence of an organisation. Culture goes far beyond the surface level eye candy the media hold up as “great culture”. Don’t be fooled. Go deeper.
Culture is about uniting people around a purpose, collectively sharing and working toward a vision. It is about creating an environment that inspires and enables people to do their lifes best work. And to create a world class culture we as leaders need to understand the dynamics of both head and heart that are at play.
“To create a world class culture we as leaders need to understand the dynamics of both head and heart that are at play.”
If you are approaching culture as a way of ‘increasing productivity’ or ‘manufacturing loyalty’ then you have already lost the game. If you view your people as ‘resources’, or worse ‘capital’ then you’ve missed the point and my approach will probably not work for you.
I approach culture differently. I obsess about culture. I obsess about leadership. The principles that I employ around culture cannot be manufactured, nor can they be faked. The foundational principle of any great culture is that you need to care. I mean really care. Really, really care.
On Saturday, me and my Team were hosting one of our Entrepreneurs’ Unconventions in Brisbane. As I was talking on stage to 750 high-growth entrepreneurs, I saw through the lights shining on stage a silhouette of our Events Manager, Jami-Lee walking around at the back of the auditorium with her clip board and her walky-talky, elegantly directing and commanding a crew of 20 people. Seeing Jami-Lee in her element, I couldn’t help but pause, gather my thoughts and ask the crowd…”I’m sorry, so many of you came up to me during the break to congratulate me on a world-class event and I’ve just seen our Events Manager, Jami-Lee at the back of the room… Do you guys realise that everything you see here today was organised and managed by a 24 year old?”
There was a gasp that went across the auditorium and for the first time that day a completely spontaneous round of applause broke out as Jami-Lee, looking at me with a cheeky smile standing at the back of the auditorium started to cry. Against my best efforts I too was also moved to tears watching one of the people I care about most in this world standing up straight with 750 peoples eyes now on her, being applauded for achieving something that not to long ago she herself would not have thought possible.
At The Entourage we are a vision, mission and values driven organisation. That doesn’t mean we wrote some stuff down in a workshop a few years ago and today they rest on our wall. It means that everything we do comes back to our vision, our mission and our values. We recruit, hire and fire, promote, praise, reprimand, manage and lead, market, sell, communicate….all according to our values.
“We are a vision, mission and values driven organisation. That doesn’t mean we wrote some stuff down in a workshop a few years ago and today they rest on our wall…”
Vision – The Art of Seeing Things Invisible
Vision: The ultimate purpose the organisation is trying to achieve. Vision is contribution centric, meaning it is centred on the contribution you will make to your consumer, community, country, the planet, or humanity at large.
A good culture speaks to the hearts and minds of everyone who is immersed in it. A strong vision about the contirbution you want to make as an organisation provides a heightened sense of purpose and constantly reminds everyone why the work you do is important.
Steve Jobs was considered by most to be a visionary. However I do not believe that seeing into the future is a talent that you are either born with or not – it is a skill like anything else and one that can be developed. Jobs obsessed over where technology was going to be in five years, freeing himself up from the operations of Apple to focus purely on piecing together where the market was heading and initiating products that spoke to the future. He was demanding, impatient and at times rude, however people forgave this in Jobs as they saw he had such a claim on the future.
As people who believe in pushing things forward, we spend our lives tinkering with a universe that doesn’t yet exist. By definition, one cannot lead another, without a vision for where they are heading – if the vision is uncertain then to which destination are we leading?
Your vision for your life, your business or your work should be the ultimate objective. The vision for The Entourage, is “to push civilisation forward through better education.” I, and my entire team, view this as our life’s work and our lives are richer everyday for having such a sense of purpose.
Mission – What We Are Doing To Fulfil Our Vision
Mission: A company centric goal that you are striving to achieve.
Your mission is what you are working towards, the tangible milestone that will enable you to achieve your vision.
Your mission is what you and your team fight for every day. It spurs you on, gives you an audacious goal to aspire toward and throughout the journey demands that you are showing up as your very best self to ensure the mission is achieved.
Oprah is another leader who has proven to be very vision and mission driven throughout her career. For Oprah, her TV show was not just another segment throughout the day, but rather an opportunity for her to reach into the loungerooms of millions of people and impact them in some small or large way. She has a very elevated way of looking at her life’s work which extends far beyond the day-to-day practicalities of what she does.
While your vision should be contribution centric – focused on the world, the planet or others – your mission can be internally focused. This is a goal that you can achieve for the purpose of actualising the vision. Our Mission at The Entourage is “to be the world’s number one education institution for entrepreneurs.” It is this standard that ensures every day we show up as our best selves and are comparing ourselves only to who and where we know we can one day be.
Values – Bottling the DNA
Values: Principles that guide and govern who we are and who we must be.
If your vision is the peak of the mountain, and your mission is that path toward that ultimate destination, then the values that you hold for yourself and your team determine who we want to be as we walk the path.
Values are simply a set of principles that govern how we want ourselves and our team showing up along the journey. If you were to hold a microscope over the DNA cells of The Entourage, what you would see are our 10 values. These are principles that give language to the magic of who we are and who we want to be.
For example our number one value is “Be Wow – Seek to Amaze in Everything You Do.” This value ensures that every word, every conversation, every interaction both within and outside of your organisation is driven by this principle. It ensures everyone is living up to a standard of “wow” that might otherwise go unspoken. If you have a high performance culture that prides itself on results, another value might be “Make it Happen – Be Outcome Orientated.” This principle would ensure each member of your team, regardless of position or seniority, is always focused on getting the outcome rather than simply going through the motions.
Values should be driven and determined by asking ourselves perhaps the three most important words we can ponder…who are you?
Values are a way of bottling our ideal DNA and setting a standard for everybody, including ourselves, that we must live up to every single day.
The terms of vision, mission and values have been bastardised over the last few decades by corporate misuse and abuse. These are not principles that hang on the wall, these are principles that must live in our hearts. It is not about the values, it’s about your alignment to the values and to what degree you live and breath them in everything you do.
“It is not about the values, it’s about your alignment to the values and to what degree you live and breath them in everything you do.”
It is only through truly caring, effectively communicating and then being the example, that we can reach the hearts and minds of our people in an authentic way that enables us to do our life’s best work, together.
I want to thank my incredible Team at The Entourage for enabling such a powerful and profound culture. This award belongs to you and is great recognition of how much you care. Thank you <3