Centro is a rapidly scaling 300-person company that makes it easier for companies to buy and sell digital media. When CEO Shawn Riegsecker founded Centro in 2001 he wanted to create a culture centered on employee happiness and development, believing that “creating happy employees translates into hyper-growth and hyper-success.” We reached out to Shawn to learn more about how he’s supported this goal with Centro’s innovative in-house university and personal goals program.
Jhana: Shawn, what inspired you to create Centro University?
Shawn: Employee growth and development has always been a part of our company DNA. Centro was founded on two core values:
- Lasting success can only be achieved through dedication to the growth and well-being of the individual, not the corporation.
- Every employee is responsible for his or her own improvement, the improvement of the corporation, and the improvement of those around them.
Centro University is a natural extension of these values and just made sense once we reached a critical mass of employees.
Jhana: How does Centro University work?
Practice Fusion is a rapidly growing 250-person startup that helps physicians access patient information “anytime, anywhere.” Ryan Howard founded the company in 2005 and sold his house and car to support its operations until things took off in 2009. Practice Fusion is known for its excellent customer service and was recently recognized as one of the best companies to work for in healthcare.
Ryan believes that each member of the Practice Fusion team needs to grow and evolve as the company grows and evolves. We caught up with Ryan to learn about an innovative professional development and career growth initiative he’s set up called the Internal Mentorship Program.
Jhana: What inspired you to create the Internal Mentorship Program?
Ryan: When I started Practice Fusion, I built my own network of advisors to help me navigate the complex healthcare sector, people like Cora Tellez who is now on our Board of Directors. I had to do this by cold-calling people throughout the sector whose opinion I valued, and while the connections I established were invaluable for me, I wanted to develop an easier way for my employees to find their own mentors. We have a young team, and I know how volatile a career can be early on. I wanted to make sure that this volatility worked for us, not against us, by ensuring that employees had the opportunity to discover new things right here at Practice Fusion, not elsewhere. The Internal Mentorship Program is an opportunity for discovery, above all, and this is usually the way careers are shaped — people discover new opportunities and pursue them.
Jhana: How does the program work?
TakeLessons is a 300-person startup that helps musicians find certified instructors. CEO Steven Cox founded TakeLessons in 2005. In 2011, the company was recognized as one of the best places to work in San Diego. There following excerpts are from an interview Steven gave in 2012 (used with permission). Read the full interview here.
What does culture mean to you?
Steven: The culture of your company is really the personality traits of your company. It’s really based on the values that you have as an individual and as a collective group of people, the beliefs that they have and the behaviors that we do.
What’s the impact of having a strong culture? Why bother?
Regan Bach is a coach, consultant and advisor to many leading tech companies and startups including Facebook, Zynga, Ask.com and Paypal.
Jhana: Thanks for joining us today. Could you briefly tell us about your background and how it informs your perspective?
Regan: I have a background in sociology, human services, and organization development, which are all very human/behavior-centric fields of study. It’s important to share because they deal with “interconnected systems,” and I approach all of my coaching and consulting work through those lenses. Although each leader/business I work with is unique, and requires a certain level of customization, I find that many leaders, whether working in large companies or small startups, experience challenges in a few key areas.
By John Howard, Jhana CEO
On Tuesday Fred Wilson wrote about the conflict many startup CEOs feel between being a maker and being a manager. I’ve had a lot of personal experience with this one. Fred’s spot on.
I’d like to take Fred’s idea one step further and propose that at many startups, the maker/manager conflict is not only a challenge for CEOs, but also for frontline and middle managers. Let’s take a look at why, and why it matters.
The first step to limiting turnover is to understand why it happens. Unfortunately most manager (and many executives) get it wrong.
Let’s look at the data.
A March 2011 New York Times article (Google’s quest to build a better boss) reported on an intensive management study by Google which uncovered eight behaviors that its best managers put into practice.
We’ve quoted these eight behaviors in their entirety below:
1. Be a good coach. Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive. Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.