A Culture Built on Love: The CEO as Chief Culture Officer
Love is an incredibly powerful word with many meanings. At Madison Reed, it is one of the core values that not only shapes our strong culture but inspires us to care deeply for people.
During a recent conversation with our founder Amy Errett, fellow entrepreneur Jon Slavet was struck by this notion, and shared about it with his network. With more than 20 years of experience in the media, wellness and eCommerce sectors as both a start-up entrepreneur and a leader in the Fortune 500 world, Jon has contributed to the growth and success of numerous companies including Electronic Arts and TBC Worldwide, Inc.
We are so honored and humbled to be featured in his story about love and its value in the workplace.
I spent time this past week with a leader committed to building a powerful culture … built on love. Yes, love.
That leader is Amy Errett, CEO of the innovative, premium DIY hair color company Madison Reed — which is quickly on its way to transforming a multi-billion dollar beauty category.
Amy relayed a story about a job applicant who read the world “love” in Madison Reed’s statement of values and inquired as to why the company would actually mention “love” as an important element of its environment @ work. This applicant immediately selected himself out of the running for a job, and it’s worth explaining why.
Amy is a no-nonsense leader who wants to win just as much as she wants to foster a positive culture @ work. In the culture she’s building at Madison Reed, the two go hand-in-hand. For Amy, it’s all about creating a culture and a company where employees can individually and collectively achieve their highest aspirations, while being their authentic selves.
Before you close your mind, consider that once you start to feel your mortality, the importance of being able to personally develop at work becomes compelling. Perhaps this is something those of us closer to middle-age understand because we’re staring it in the face. But regardless of your age, the workplace can and should be a personal development experience. So how does Madison Reed do it?
First, honest and direct communication. Communicating the full reality of where things stand in terms of performance, and, the state and quality of your working relationship with others, is an act of compassion. When you’re straight with colleagues it helps them to be better and builds trust, and when you’re not, it robs them of the opportunity to improve and degrades trust. Of course, Good EQ is essential here. Fostering this kind of culture is also the key to building self-awareness and to use Amy’s words, making work a “lab for personal development”.
Second is a love of the customer. Amy is personally copied on every piece of customer feedback, reads all of it, and understands both the personal stories and macro trends. In the early and critical stages of growth, understanding the nuances of how customers are experiencing products and services is everything. The company has a specially trained team of cosmetologists who personally understand the customer because it’s second nature for them, and they’re on the phone coaching them through the product experience on a daily basis. Many of them could never have imagined leveraging their styling experience via phone to empower someone to make themselves beautiful at home. On one hand, Madison Reed is selling DIY hair color, and on the other they’re selling DIY personal empowerment.
Third is knowing who you are. Amy recounted how in the process of sharpening the company’s brand positioning it became apparent that regardless of whether their customer was a woman used to seeing a stylist at a salon, or a woman used to coloring her own hair at home — that Madison Reed stands for healthy, professional-grade and simple to use. When you know who you are it makes things much more simple and focused. There’s also an element of knowing who you are when it comes to team members who fit with the culture of the company.
Back to the job applicant who questioned the use of the world “love” in the company’s statement of values. Amy shaped this value to read that the emphasis is on creating a culture that “fosters love, not fear”. Anyone who’s worked in fast-moving companies from start-up to F500 knows that fear (unfortunately) drives many people and many decisions, too much of the time. And there’s a by-product of fear — People operating out of fear aren’t really themselves. They’re constantly scanning their environment for what “could go wrong” or “how I should be”. This dampens creativity, collaboration, and trust. And this comes from the top.
Madison Reed is a company on a mission to create huge value and change — but on its own terms and in the process of consciously building a special culture.
CEO – Slavet Advisors LLC