The most well known brands today all have a renowned culture. When you think of Google, Apple, Microsoft and more you instantly have an idea of what they represent, what their culture and values are. Victoria Ransom also spoke at the Women In Focus conference. Victoria shared her experiences starting and then selling Wildfire (with her husband) to Google. Wildfire offers social marketing software to enterprises.
Victoria and her husband started Wildfire from their lounge room in Silicon Valley and one of the main challenges they faced as they grew was finding good, qualified staff that fit their culture and values. Wildfire was competing with the likes of Facebook and Google for the best talent available. As a start-up competing against the Google Plex, free lunches and more was somewhat difficult.
To Victoria, culture is extremely important as is holding your values sacred. What attracted talent to Wildfire was just that, the culture was fun (you could skateboard through the office), relaxed (to the point where customer service team members were able to answer calls from a hammock!) and full of thank you's.
Victoria highlighted the simple truths:
- Say Thank You!
- An email, a post it note on their monitor - it all makes a BIG difference
- Celebrate the Wins
- Be honest and transparent
- When things are good – GREAT
- When things are not so good – don’t try to hide it; your staff are not stupid (that’s why you hired them in the first place!) Share and rally together. Often acknowledging the problem is all it takes.
- Gather Together
- Dress up days; one of her funny stories was about the entire company dressing up like a person they worked with waiting until they noticed
- Team trips, team drinks; the list goes on
For me the ONE THING that stood out was her view on leadership. As Victoria was talking about the amazing culture they had created at Wildfire I was thinking wow – I am not sure I am really that FUN – how would I create something like that?
Her view is this; there is no one perfect leadership style, all kinds of leadership styles can work but you must be authentic. She gave examples of how successful Steve Jobs although he had a very unique leadership style. Would that have worked for Victoria and Wildfire? HELL NO. Would it work for me and Booking Boss – NO – and that’s okay. Find your style and be true to yourself.
That is what counts - true blue leadership (and an awesome culture to boot).