Question: Which business leader do you look to for inspiration on creating an incredible company culture, and why?
Clate Mask and Scott Martineau of Infusionsoft
"Infusionsoft co-founders Clate Mask and Scott Martineau inspire me with their singular focus to help small businesses succeed. After meeting many of their team, we realized there's not a single employee we didn't want to take out for a beer! The culture infiltrates the entire company, and they're open and receptive to anything that will support small businesses."
Female Entrepreneur Marie Forleo
"She's built an incredible business, and her customer service and entire team is top notch. I think she's created an awesome internal company culture, and it shows from the outside of her company too. She's motivating and keeps everything on the positive."
Jeff Lawson of Twilio
"I was lucky enough to spend an evening at Twilio visiting a friend who worked there. While I was there, I saw and felt an amazing culture in action. The employees felt like a team that had genuine camaraderie and a great, high-productivity environment. Jeff comes from Amazon, who is also known for a great culture, so it's no surprised they have a great culture of their own."
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook
"Did you know Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has one of the highest approval ratings of tech firm leaders? He's an inspiring young founder who built one of the most notable digital companies in recent history. I greatly admire his commitment to hack culture, and the company's well-crafted growth. It will be fascinating to see his performance as a public company CEO -- as a startup CEO, he's top-notch."
Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway
"I may never have the level of business acumen that Warren Buffett has, but the way he works with investors and employees alike is phenomenal. CEOs of giant companies are glad when Buffett takes an interest in their company and to be a Berkshire Hathaway investor is an education in and of itself. Just read Buffet's annual letter to his investors to get a glimpse of what I'm talking about."
Ilya Pozin of Ciplex
"Ilya Pozin has converted his LA-based marketing agency Ciplex into one of the first completely hierarchy-free agencies. Clients are positioned at the top, employees (grouped into teams) in the middle, and “senior” staff (known as “team support”) at the bottom. This is clearly an avant-garde structure (or lack thereof) which to date has been utilized by the most cutting-edge tech companies. To see an agency do it is quite inspiring."
Tony Hsieh of Zappos
"I'm inspired by what Tony has done at Zappos, not necessarily because of the awesome atmosphere he's created or the rabid loyalty of his employees and customers, or the culture thats synonymous with fun and success. I'm amazed he did it without being that "rah rah!" Type-A personality that you hear so much about when it comes to creating culture. It's easy for us to get caught up in thinking we have to be outgoing, great at motivational speeches, etc. But Tony proves that it's not how loud or outgoing you are, it's how dedicated you are to creating and living out the culture, and how you can relay that message in quirky ways that inspires people to follow you."
Brent Grinna of EverTrue
"Something that appears very small on the surface but has a great impact is simply eating lunch as a team. This allows the group to have a brief period of unwinding, while creating a culture of all-inclusiveness. A team I've seen do this is EverTrue, and the benefits are clear – they've grown as a unit by keeping everyone on the same page and maintaining an atmosphere of camaraderie."
Brant and Brock Bukowsky of Veterans United
"Brant and Brock Bukowsky are two great examples. They founded Veterans United, which has grown into the nation's leading veteran mortgage lender, with close to 1,000 employees. Their secret sauce is to create an absolutely stellar work environment. Think massages, free lunches, blowout parties, transparent management, humble founders, a charitable focus, and opportunities for both personal and professional growth."
Joe Reynolds of Red Frog Events built a treehouse in the office
"Few entrepreneurs have taken the measures Joe Reynolds has to create a great company culture. Red Frog's office is themed like a summer camp and feels like a Disneyworld attraction, including a tree house, climbing wall and zip-line. But it's not just about having a cool office -- Red Frog's employees seem genuinely thrilled to have the privilege of working there. It's a result of hundreds of brilliantly designed policies, perks, and systems. To anybody who has ever visited their Chicago headquarters, it's clear why they are consistently ranked among the best places to work."
Steve Jobs of Apple
"Steve Jobs caught a lot of flak for being a jerk to his employees at times. However, it is still hard to deny his power to put together amazing teams full of top talent, squeeze every drop of their potential from them, and make awesome products."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.