The cavnessHR podcast – A talk with Daniella Young of Culture Forte
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Daniella’s Book Recommendations!!!
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
Link to purchase is below.
Resources from Daniella!!!
Daniella is offering a free 30-minute consulting to anyone interested in talking about the culture of their company. Then seeing if maybe some of the things that frustrate them. That they have been beating their head against the wall, might be a culture problem and something that we can build as a strategy and start fixing. People can contact me on my website www.culturalforte.com and there is a contact form to fill out and I will be in touch for their free call.
Jason: The cavnessHR podcast is brought to you by SM Diversity. SM Diversity is a full services staffing agency. SM Diversity is looking to fill numerous principal software engineering positions in the Seattle area. The requirements for these positions are as follows. A computer science related degree. Eight plus years of overall experience. Then one plus years of leadership experience, solid experience with cloud-based service development, extensive experience in building, deploying and managing large distributed applications. Experience with Agile development methods. Experience with Dev Ops ad CIC tools and methods. Preferred qualifications. To have a strong network in the Seattle tech community. This position is not going to be a remote work opportunity. Actually, all the positions are going to be located in the downtown Seattle area. So, this is not going to be a remote work opportunity. For anyone interested in learning more, send me an email to jasoncavness@cavnessHR.com.
Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR podcast. I'm your host Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Danielle Young. Daniella, are you ready to be great today?
Daniella: I'm ready Jason.
Jason: Danielle is a speaker, writer and CEO of Culture Forte. A culture innovation consulting firm. She works with CEOs who are frustrated by turnover, employee conflict and lack of productivity to help them build strong teams with creative individuals by creating a supportive and positive culture that everyone loves. After going up in a seriously bad religious cult. She became a Captain in the U.S. Army and became the first woman on a ground combat team in Afghanistan. After military service, she consulted at Microsoft before founding Culture Forte to help organizations, small teams and individuals embrace innovative thinking, cultivate strong teams and avoid the dangers that can plague even the most dynamic leaders. Her cults, combat and culture seminar helps senior leaders to proactively engage in building high passion, high-performance teams, strong organization culture and a place for Diversity and personal strength are actively cultivated. Amongst her clients are CEOs of large corporations or small startups. Government and military and nonprofit leaders. She will help you make your culture your forte. So, what are you focused on right now, what is keeping you busy?
Daniella: I am focused on right now. I have a boot camp coming up in Tacoma where a bunch of CEOs. It's a four-hour course. There's different breakout sessions and my session of course will be focused on culture. How to build culture and really how to think differently about your culture. I also have a TED Talk coming up so those are kind of my two big things.
Jason: How do you get on to do a TED talk? How do you go about getting through the application process? How does that even work?
Daniella: I guess I should correct myself and say it's a TEDx talk which is different. TEDxTacoma, is our locally founded talks that are licensed with the TED program and each one is run a little bit differently. For example, TEDxPortland has 4000 attendees. Getting on there is a much bigger deal. TEDx Tacoma is going to be about two to three hundred people. Honestly, I got on it because I've spent the last two years networking building my business in Washington and sort of connecting. As part of what I do is a lot of connecting with Veterans and Veteran resources. It was a local connection that reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to share my story from the TEDx stage.
Jason: You know you have a good point. There are a lot of people starting companies that think one month later I'm Mark Zuckerberg. But this is a long process. Can you talk a little bit about how long the process is how hard it is?
Daniella: I definitely can. There's also a famous interview where someone asked Mark Zuckerberg how he was dealing with his overnight success. He pretty much laughed at them and then told them about seven years of coding in a basement. But I definitely think that's true. You know there is this success myth in the US. Definitely in the world of entrepreneurship that we all just are successful overnight. Certainly, it's probably never true. It's a journey. I developed the idea for several companies I started and completely failed at least one if not two depending how you look at it. You know again it's been about two years of full-time building and building. Until I got to the point now where I've got some big talks and big deals hopefully a book deal in the works and I'm starting to see how it all comes together. But it's definitely a journey.
Jason: Can you give an estimate of how many people you talked to about your business?
Daniella: Why do you ask me the hard question? At least two thousand. In my desk, I probably have at least a thousand business cards from networking events that I've attended.
Jason: I think people don't realize that you've got to talk everyone. You have to tell your story over and over and over again. So, there's so many coaches out there and all of them do different things. How do you recommend someone to pick the coach right for them? What would they be looking for?
Daniella: You know I think you hit the nail on the head especially with culture. So, culture was the word of the year in 2014 and everybody talks about it. There's like more flavors than Baskin Robbins ice cream in culture and what's right and what's wrong. I think as far as picking a coach or consultant it's the same as picking a culture for your company which is just being honest about what your values are that's where it starts with the culture. I think you know what I do of it differently is there's so much focus on people like the words good and bad. Honestly, I believe that values are gray, values are how you implement them. Nothing is black and white. If you're honest about what your culture is. That's where you're gonna start. I'll give you an example. Everybody loves to say that they are all about work-life balance. Because that is a big thing these days. Which is great but it's not true for every company. So, if you're giving your people work to take home on Fridays that is due on Monday. You don't care about work-life balance or at least that's not your priority.
Daniella: That doesn't mean you're a bad person or your company culture is bad. It's just maybe means you're looking more for 27-year old people looking to work 80 hours a week and get to the next level of their career and not a for thirty-five-year-old Mom with two young children. How that helps you if you define your values without trying to say this is what people want to hear this that people don't want to hear. Is that it helps your individuals align themselves with where they are in their life and you're much further along in creating a strong team. To get back to your initial question you know how you pick a good coach or a good culture consultant. Is by as the leader by being honest with yourself and the coach can help you do that. It's just like you mentioned like how many people do you talk to about your business. Talk to three or four or five different coaches or consultants and you're gonna figure out who you click with because there's no one right culture. Everybody's different.
Jason: Let's say you go to business and the CEO says everything is peachy keen. Everyone's happy. Then you go talk to the employees, they are like maybe not so much. How do you convince the boss that you need to look at this in a different lens.
Daniella: I think that when leaders are frustrated with something that's usually the sign that there is a culture problem. Similarly, if the employees are frustrated because logistics are easy to fix and culture isn't. So, if it was just a matter or a matter of the hiring process or turnover it would be easy to fix and you would fix it. So, the culture problem is a little bit deeper. So, when I'm talking with leaders it's also about getting them to understand that having somewhat of a complicated culture situation doesn't mean you're a bad leader or a bad person. Again, these words good and bad seem to come up a lot and great leaders can just not be focusing on the right thing and the culture can get away from them. Sometimes the culture can be great in one aspect. But people are still struggling in another aspect. So, it's not like coming in and saying hey you need therapy. It's you're great at these things. But there are these other things that your employees are saying or thinking that you might not even know and together we can fix it.
Jason: So, most leaders are receptive to learning and listening. But there's a lot who are not so receptive to listening and learning. Why do you think that some people are receptive to this and others are not?
Daniella: I just think it’s self-awareness. I think the best leaders are self-aware and they realize that they need to learn and listen. It's usually more of a young leader thing not an age. But in newness of position or leadership that you kind of think you got there because you deserved it maybe. Eventually, people start to realize that everyone is new at the role that they're in at the time and everyone needs development. So, learning from outside sources never hurts. You know the other thing about learning is you don't have to take the advice of anyone you're learning from. You can learn from bad examples and from good examples. So, keeping an open mind is always good.
Jason: Can you talk about how your military service has helped you and your entrepreneurial journey.
Daniella: Oh yeah for sure, taught me a lot about innovative thinking. I'll tell you a fun story that we had. I was a young Lieutenant, so a brand new leader and I had a group of 18 year old military intelligence soldiers. That were supposed to be the smartest kids on the block and study all about the country of Afghanistan which we were about to deploy to and they just didn't care. They didn't care. They didn't want to get involved. I walked in the office one day and I was like if I have to hear about World of Warcraft one more time, I'm going to lose my mind. I didn't know how to motivate them. Then all of a sudden, I just got the idea. Well, I'm trying to get them to build a country brief. Basically, do an in-depth analysis of the country of Afghanistan. What if I just let them do an in-depth analysis of World of Warcraft and they did it and they spent an entire week on this.
Daniella: They spent all their own money on everything. They presented it to me. I was then able to actually hit all of the learning points even harder because I didn't know anything about World of Warcraft. So, I could play sort of the Colonel or the General that I would be briefing later and ask all the questions. I guess what it really taught me about Leadership entrepreneurship. There's different ways to approach every problem that you're trying to solve. I was beating my head against the wall trying to solve it in this one way that was told to me. That was the way it was supposed to do it. As soon as I looked at it a different way and actually let my frustration get the best of me. Then I looked at it a completely different way.
Daniella: Can you talk a little about Bunker Labs?
Daniella: Bunker Labs is an organization that I help to run the Seattle chapter. Bunker Labs is a nonprofit that's a national level nonprofit. We have 24 chapters right now and we help Veterans and military spouses become leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation. So really, we help you to start and grow your business and help it become successful. In Seattle, we have a wonderful group of people including Jason Cavness who's a proud Bunker Labs member and we have a really strong community of entrepreneurs in both Seattle proper and all around Washington. We build the online network where we can all answer each other's questions. We built an in-person networking group and we have online education learning how to be an entrepreneur. It's all about how do you start a business. Test all of your ideas to find out if they're good or bad. Before you lose too much time or money and have to go out of business.
Daniella: Now Bunker Labs has had an insane amount of growth in just a short amount of time, haven't they?
Jason: Bunker Labs is one of the fastest growing nonprofits in history. It has already reached nonprofit unicorn status. Which means a million dollars in revenue in less than five years which is of course all from corporate sponsors and fundraising. The Veterans and spouses don't pay anything to be a member of the community. Bunker Labs has gone through very much its own entrepreneurial journey where they started one way. They started as small independent startups in every city and then just now we're going through moving to the next level. We're going through a nationalization process with a new structure and everything's changing. It's really interesting. Todd Connor the CEO is very good at studying culture in fact and how he wants to grow his organization.
Jason: Next, can you talk about a success you had in the past. What you learned from this and what we can learn.
Daniella: I got to be one of the first women that was on a ground combat team in Afghanistan in the US Army. We had a very interesting cultural dilemma there. Which was we're coming in as women onto these teams with men that have never worked with women before. What are we going to do? How are we going to integrate and some of these teams completely fell apart. Our teams specifically, the leader who is of course a man was very interested in working with the female leaders. In sort of using Diversity flipping its on its head. Not saying are the women going to be good enough. But saying what do women do or know that is totally different from what men do or know, that we can incorporate into this. We had some really successful patrols and missions in the military. As well as of course helping sort of the entire military change the culture. What I learned from that was again same thing. There's multiple ways to approach every problem. Also, that big thing for me is that Diversity. When you're looking at building your teams and your culture. Diversity is not about making people feel good. Diversity is about how can you use everybody's differences to make your company stronger and your mission stronger.
Jason: Can you tell us the story of the time you went to the Afghan village and you noticed all the kids were gone. It's a great story.
Daniella: Yeah, I can. So, we were going into this village to do a key leader engagement. Which is about sitting down with the village members and getting them to realize that we're the good guys and they want to work with us. It was this village that we kept getting rocket attacks out of and so we knew the bad guys were operating out of there. We were going into the village and we'd been there a few times before. We noticed that me and my translator who was a woman. We noticed that there were no children around. There were always children around. They would flood our helicopters. We were like what is going on. We got in the courtyard and we noticed again that the women were trying to actually keep the children inside and we had noticed that. On the way out of the village, sure enough there was a bomb in the road that we had to take. We responded to it. Everyone was OK. On that day the thing I really learned from that was it's super easy to think that you're so different from someone else. It's super easy to then just not pay attention to what's going on. For us that day realizing that Afghans in a village in the middle of what we Americans would consider to be nowhere, not important. They still love their children. They wanted to keep them safe. That was the warning sign that something bad was going on that they couldn't control.
Jason: Another great story. Next talk about a time you failed in the past. What you learned from this and what we can learn from this.
Daniella: So definitely have had some significant failures in business. Jason has seen a lot of my journey. But I started one company and in fact I just found out the business model was backwards. I started a team building company where I'm going to come in and do a quick workshop and I am going fix your culture for you. Like you and I already talked about earlier Jason. A lot of people don't even know that their culture is broken. It's kind of like if I have the cure for cancer. But you don't know you have cancer, yet you don't really care. But I thought my idea was phenomenal. A lot of people told me it was great and I had to go through an entire process of basically failing a business. Talking to tons of people and getting so much advice and then realizing I was on the right track. I just needed to flip my business model around and start focusing on culture first and still do phenomenal team building events. So that was an important lesson for me that once again we don't all know everything. We need advice from outsiders. We need to consider different perspectives. Everyone always thinks their idea is right. If you don't get other outside perspectives that's when you fail. You know the final thing for all the entrepreneurs on this podcast. Is just because you fail a business once or twice doesn't mean you shouldn't be an entrepreneur. If you have an innovative mindset and you can stand to get beat up a few times you can probably build a great company.
Jason: I understand your book you recommend for listeners.
Daniella: I do. So, it's called Culture Code and it's the best book on the market until mine comes out. It's by a man named Daniel Coyle. He has a couple of good TED talks as well. But Culture Code is really interesting. He studies five different groups. Some of them we would consider to be awesome like Navy SEALs and some of them we would consider to be bad like Serbian jewel thieves. But he's not looking at are they good or are they bad. But there's a strong team it works, they're accomplishing their missions. What are they doing and what are the things that they have in common. You know what do the Navy SEALs have in common with jewel thieves and how can business leaders take those and implement them. Phenomenal book with worth the read.
Jason: I also understand you have something for listeners.
Daniella: Yes. I'd like to offer a free 30-minute consulting to anybody that is interested in just talking about the culture of their company. Then seeing if maybe some of the things that frustrate them. That they have been beating their head against the wall, might be a culture problem and something that we can build as a strategy and start fixing. So, people can contact me on my web site www.culturalforte.com and there is a contact form to fill out and I will be in touch for their free call.
Jason: Can you provide your social media links for people to reach out to you.
Daniella: So again my www.culturalforte,com. My Twitter handle is Daniela M. Young. As is my Instagram. I'm also on LinkedIn as Daniela Young and I'm also on Facebook.
Jason: For our listeners, we will have the links to her social media and everything else on the show notes. You can find the show notes at www.cavnessHRblog.com Daniella, we are coming to the end of our talk. Can you provide any last minute advice or wisdom on anything you want to cover?
Daniella: I would like to give the advice that for everybody, the process of finding your process is a process. So, don't rush it. So, whether that's changing the culture of your company. Whether that's figuring out what you want to do with your life. Or whether that for all the entrepreneurs that are building their businesses. It takes time, sometimes it feels like you're never gonna get there but you're gonna get there. So, keep going because it feels really good when you get there.
Jason: Daniella, thanks for your time today. I really appreciate it. I know your a busy person doing great things. So, thank you for your time.
Daniella: Thank you.
Jason: For our listeners, thank you for your time as well and remember to be great every day.