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Culture is a powerful concept in business, identifying the way people actually work together to get stuff done. It’s connected with other larger cultures, of course, including the community, society and country we live in.

Individuals also bring their own micro-culture — how they interact, communicate, make decisions, and so on.

But here I’m focusing on the culture we all share in our organizations. Our key processes interleave with the way we work together as people. We’d like to think that they’re in sync. When they’re not, everyone gets frustrated and the processes don’t work well.

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I want to express my appreciation for all of you who have stuck with me for so many years. I’ve been publishing a newsletter since 2010, and have received an incredible amount of support and valuable feedback.

Thank you.

And that’s the subject of this article, actually. Expressing thanks for the great work that people are doing, whether paid or not. This is something I’ve learned with leading volunteer groups, but just as important for my employees.

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Here’s today’s headline from Gallup’s research: What’s Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in the U.S.?

This great company has been monitoring the trends for many years, so seeing an upward trend in employee engagement is truly important. And a bit shocking, really, after all the bad news we’ve been hearing.

So what’s behind it?

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In the past weeks, I’ve taken us through the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. And I’ve introduced another VUCA to help us navigate: Values, Uplift, Commitment, Action.

The problem is that we might think of “times of change” as individual events. Our objective is to survive each change, then get back to “normal.”

Unfortunately, “normal” is now Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. Always uncomfortable.

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The solar industry is growing, and rapidly. I’ve watched as the economics have shifted over the last couple of decades, and we’re now to the point where it can totally make sense to outfit your house or business with solar.

Ian Skor

That’s why I was excited to speak with Ian Skor recently. He and his partner Andrew Lyle started Sandbox Solar in 2015, focused on serving clients here in northern Colorado. It’s mostly residential for right now, but both residential and commercial are growing rapidly.

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RECENTLY I HAD A CHANCE to speak on a panel about nurturing international and cross-cultural relationships. This is a wonderfully rich topic, because it can get to the core of who we are as humans.

Here’s the deal: I think I’m normal, but everyone else is various shades of weird.

We’re all like that.

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WE’VE ALL CREATED lots of marketing messages. Our products will solve this problem. We’ll make your life better. We’ll treat you great.

Those are fine. Even powerful and compelling.

But how does this benefit your employees?

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OLD TOWN MEDIA has developed an amazing reputation in northern Colorado. They’re a creative and thorough marketing agency based in Fort Collins. With a love for office dogs!

Every time I hear someone mention this business, the same words keep popping up:

  • Small and personal
  • Amazing expertise

When I had the chance to chat with CEO and Founder Miles Kailburn recently. We talked about the phases they’ve gone through since starting the company in 2007.

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WHEN I GOT my first professional job out of college, I was impressed with the array of employee benefits that companies would provide. Time off. Savings programs. Paid travel.

As I moved into management, and saw what it was like to work in a different country, I realized that a lot of these were supported or mandated by government programs and tax code.

Which is totally fine, even necessary. But those programs aren’t as compelling as we’d like to think, because they’re pretty much standard everywhere.

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RUNNING A BUSINESS sure seems like a lot of work. I don’t want to disregard that.

But if that’s ALL it is, why bother? Go out and get a real job that’s less stress!

Let’s be honest: We do this because we find joy in the mission, the problem-solving, the control. There’s a lot of things which are a pain in the ***, but on the whole there’s a balance toward making the business work.

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