Key Behaviors for Success

Episode 1007: Key Behaviors for Success, with David Friedman

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Key behaviors for successDiscover essential behaviors for success in business, focusing on quality over quantity – insights on key behaviors for success.

Key behaviors for success — David Friedman is an award-winning CEO, entrepreneur, author, and renowned public speaker. In 2011, he published his first book, Fundamentally Different, which is based on the insights he learned and taught throughout his leadership career, and in 2018 he published his second book, Culture by Design, the definitive how-to manual for building a high-performance culture. His current company, High Performing Culture, has helped hundreds of companies throughout North America to implement his culture operating system, CultureWise™.


What you’ll learn in this episode is about key behaviors for success

  • David shares how he started as a college philosophy major before moving into the business world, and he shares how he realized the importance of intentional culture
  • Why culture has an enormous impact on everything in your organization, and why getting intentional allows you control over your culture
  • Why leaders automatically emerge in every group, and why those strong personalities will fill a culture vacuum by creating a culture with or without your influence. Learn key behaviors for success.
  • Why too many businesses will plan finances, their sales goals, their business growth and every other aspect of the business but neglect doing work to create an intentional culture
  • David shares his Eight Step Framework for “operationalizing” your business culture so that you can intentionally design it to serve your organization
  • Why the two most important steps are to completely define the culture you want and create rituals that make your culture sustainable, and how the other six steps support that
  • How most businesses articulate their “vision, mission and values” without giving enough clarity, and how David differentiates between core values and behaviors
  • Why creating rituals is crucial for success by helping create regular, repeatable, second-nature habits
  • What David’s rituals look like, and how David and his team repeatedly go back to and practice those rituals until they become habits


Additional Resources:



Key Behaviors for Success: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner. 


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner you’re CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation, where I interviewed today’s top business owners. So we can learn their recipe for success, how they built and how they scaled their business. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, first of all, thank you. And you know that I’m a big fan of culture because of the impact, good and bad it can have on a business’s ability to build in scale. You know, but sometimes my guess is, is that we all his owners have done this before. We go to a workshop, we read a great book, or we have a conversation with a fellow owner and that topic terms to culture, maybe something that that other person is doing and work currently not doing yet. 


And then we, in turn, get super excited about making improvements within our business. We started thinking about the upsides of doubling down our own culture and what all that means, and then what needs to be done, because we know that if we can get it right if we can outperform the Gallup stats that we hear every year, we know we just know that we can then transform our business. So we shared our renewed enthusiasm with our team, and those are the transformations that we are super excited about to unfold and to them. And rightly so, because they’ve been down this path with us or you at a time, or to your lovely culture project feels like one more thing to add to their already full plate. 


So for our time together today, I’ve asked David Friedman to join us. Yes, he is an expert in culture as an author. He’s the speaker. And he’s an expert in helping business owners, just like you and me, operationalize culture, which has a huge difference. He’s built from the ground, what he calls a turn-key operating system, for your culture. David and I are going to take a deep dive in to what he calls the eight steps to hardwiring the framework and will likely laser in on two steps. The, he believes, disproportionately affects your results in a good way, and will begin that discussion around this really interesting bell curve around the typical teams performance. 


So my goal in inviting David is for us to have a discussion around culture in such a way that you can walk out of this episode with some steps and processes that you can purposely create an environment within your business that helps your team consistently perform at a high level, because when you do Onward Nation, not only will you come roaring out the other side of this recession, but you will also distance yourself from your competitors and the process. So without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, my friend, David. 


Thank you, Stephen. And it’s a pleasure to be with you and Onward Nation. 


Well, it is a pleasure to have you here, my friend. So thank you for saying yes and Craig Clark, if you happen to be listening, thank you my friend for making the introduction so that David and I can have this great conversation and connect before the show and all of that, so Craig, thank you very much. And David, before we dive in, actually takes us behind the curtain and gives us a little bit more insight beyond the bio. Tell us a little bit more about your path, and your journey, and then we’ll dive in. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: David’s Introduction


Sure. So my journey is an interesting one, Stephen, and it’s interesting to me, but I have spent 27 years as the CEO of an employee benefits consulting company and the Philadelphia area, and I should say perhaps that the first thing before that was when I was in college, I was a philosophy major in school and people would think philosophy major. What does that have to do with the business? In fact, I sometimes say the fact that I had no business training or background and never worked in any company other than my own was actually one of my biggest advantages. And when I say that, that was one of my biggest advantages. What I mean by that is that since I’ve never worked anywhere else and I had to have it and it didn’t have any formal training, I was saddled with traditional notions of how things should be done instead, I was just kind of free to follow my instincts and do what made sense to me. 


And so at every stage of my career over all these years, I’ve always just followed my instincts to a great extent. And I would say that I was fortunate to, I would say I was fortunate to have good instincts about leadership, but I think more important than instincts about leadership is that I’ve been very thoughtful and reflective. And so I would do things and I would think, wow, that was interesting. I wonder what I can learn from that. What does that tell me about people, about organizations, about companies and how you get people to perform it in extraordinary ways? And so you hear people say often, and I’m sure some of your guests that you’ve had on before, I’ve talked about learning from their mistakes and the failures they made in how much they learned. 


I actually think you can learn just as much or more from your success if you’re thoughtful about it. So most of what I did actually worked really well. We didn’t have very many failures, not that, not that everything was perfect and it certainly made mistakes, but most of what I did work pretty well, but because I’m reflective, I would do something and think, God, that was interesting. I wonder why that works so well. Like I was doing it instinctively, but there must be underlying principles of leadership of organizational behavior that are going on right now. I didn’t know about it, but there are happening if I can stop and I can reflect upon that experience. And I could begin to perhaps discern underlying principles and articulate them and then I could start teaching them to the people around me. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: Building Success with Intentionality and Practicality


So we can start doing this stuff on purpose instead of just by accident or just following my instincts. So over the course of my career, I built a tremendous amount of material around just things that I observed and learned and how to make it simpler and easier for people to understand. So long story short, I sold that first company and ended up writing my first of a few different books about the things we had done around culture specifically that made us so successful that book led to people, asking me to speak to people, heard me speak this and oh my God, that’s really interesting. Could you help me do that in my company? And the next thing I knew I was in my second career, which is this one. 


And I’ve spoken to somewhere between 700, and 10,000 CEOs who have small and mid-sized companies and worked with hundreds and hundreds of them to teach them how to do this in a really simple, practical way. So everything that I teach has your audience will hear his simple, it’s practical. It’s actionable. Maybe ’cause my background is as a CEO and not a consultant. I just care about what works. If it doesn’t work, it’s just a waste of my time. And so everything I do is about, it’s gotta be simple. It’s gotta be easy to do. It’s gotta make sense. It’s gotta be practical. And so as you’ll see, I take that approach to everything that we look at you. Yeah. 


Well, you are among friends here, David, because that is absolutely what we focus on too, so that our audience can take and apply what they learned from our super-smart and generous guests like yourself. So thank you again for saying yes. So let’s start diving in, when you mentioned love, how you said on purpose because there’s an intentionality about what you do. It’s not like aimlessly wandering through the wilderness and whoop, Hey, wow, we’ve got a great culture. So I love that and work, and I know we’re going to dig into it, but when you mentioned observations, that made me think of the bell curve like we were talking about in our pre-interview chat. And I know that there’s more detail to the bell curve. 


Key behaviors for success – I’ve heard you break it down into a kind of like on the left side and the right side and in the middle of – can you walk us through that process because that was the aha for me. And then the opportunity if we get the, if we get the culture, right? Yeah. So too, just maybe set that up a little bit, Stephen and for your audience is the starting point for all of the thinking about this is something that I know your audience recognizes, and that is that the culture in any organization. I don’t care whether we’re talking about there companies or a sports team or a family or a church group or any other group of people the culture in any group has an enormous influence over everything that happens. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: The Power of Intentionality in Shaping Organizational Dynamics


It affects everything, people’s performance, and the willingness to be everything. And if we understand that and that’s, you don’t have to be rocket science to me just to know this, as we all know this, as we understand that with that suggests to me is then as leaders, if there was some way that we could purposely create the culture, we could be to use that word intentional about engineering, creating, or designing the culture we want, instead of hoping that it’s going to somehow magically work out on its own will. That would be a pretty smart thing to do. And in the absence of us purposely creating a culture, the culture is getting created anyway. So whether we wanted to or not there is nobody in your audience who doesn’t have a culture and their company, every one of those questions is his at what they created, or does it get created on its own? 


These key behaviors for success and here’s where this bell curve becomes so relevant. My observation is that most people in a company will fall on the very typical bell curve. So audience members as youre listening to this picture or your employees. And I think they fall in this basic breakdown on one end of the spectrum. Typically you’ve got five to 10% of your people who I like to call rock stars. These are the people you could put these people in any environment. I don’t care where you put them there going to stand out because they are just amazing people and you can’t stop them. They’re just going to be amazing everywhere. On the other end of the spectrum, the opposite end, you’ve got five or 10% of the people who I sometimes pardon the expression, will say will stink up the joint no matter where you put them, you can put these people in the best environment, the world, and they’ll still stink. 


But in between your key behaviors for success, you’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of about 80% of your people who are gonna go with the flow. You put those people into a high-performing environment or a high-performing culture. And those people are gonna look around consciously unconsciously, even if they are thinking about it there, just going to look around and see, I guess this is what’s expected here. And those people are gonna raise their performance to match what they say around them. And here’s the really important thing. If you put those exact same 80% of people take the same people with whatever their skills, their talent, their knowledge in their ability, their experiences with that same 80 % of people in a low-performing environment. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: The Importance of Intentionality


And the same people are going to sing to the level, the people around them, ’cause the environment that we were in as, at that much influence over everything that happens. And that’s why I said, okay, if we get that will chute, why would I leave? Or any of that, the chance to see if that environment going to affect 80% of my people wouldn’t I want to do everything I could to create that level of expectation, that, that environment that would cause those people to perform at the highest level. And that just makes sense. But most companies and most leaders don’t do it purposely. It just happens by accident. And that’s just a risk. You don’t want to run. 


The upside is so high but also the risk is so high too. If we don’t get a ride. So you, you S you said something there. That would be a really wonderful path to go down, because I think it’s going to lead us then into the, into your framework. You said something to the effect of, and I’m not going to say as eloquently as you just did. So forgive me for that. But essentially this is how we do things around here. And so my guess is it’s been your experience, but please validate or contradict that the company has to get it right or, or explicit about this is how we do things around here, as opposed to letting their new teammates, if they’ve onboarded somebody or even an existing teammates, I guess you kind of figure it out on their own, right. 


Explicitly. Yes. So I absolutely it’s better. And let me explain it in two different, but related ways for your audience. So, the first thing I would say is that if let’s think about, if we don’t explicitly explicitly Senate, where does the culture of come from? Or how does it evolve? My experiences that in any group of people, whether, again, we’re talking about a group of friends, the company at a church group, this has just human nature, that when groups come together, leaders emerge, it’s just the nature of their personality. Some people are more influential over the norms of a group than others. 


I sometimes talk about pictures of your group of friends and think about you trying to decide what time to go out to dinner or meet and probably talk about key behaviors to success. And somebody in that group stands up to you. How about we meet at six o’clock? Does that work for everybody? Like who said six o’clock there was the leader of the group that somebody is taking charge just the way that works. And these leaders absent an intentional force on our part. In other words, if we’re not intentionally creating the culture, these leaders are creating the culture of the group and we talked about the risk of it this way or those leaders aren’t necessarily to talk about accompany. Those leaders aren’t necessarily designated managers, supervisors, or leaders. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: Observations and Trial-and-Error


People who possess key behaviors for success are just people with strong personalities. If those people happen to be wonderful, positive, enthusiastic hard-work and quality kinds of people you’re lucky it’s going to work out great. But if they not, if some of those strong personalities happen to be cynical jerks, which lousy attitude and we’ve all had one of those jerks and our company’s, you bet those jerks, we’re going to influence the people around them to be more light them. And the, or obviously if we understand how impactful the culture is, is that a risk we’re willing to take that were just going to allow the strongest personalities to dictate the culture. I wouldn’t want to do that. I want to take a lot more control over that. 


So if we, you think about to take that one step further and ask ourselves, okay, so if we’re not purposely creating the culture it’s getting created by leaders structure and the personality, strong personality leaders, there are two ways short of us dictating it. There are two ways that new people that come into the culture and they come into the organization, discover what the culture is one is by observation. They just watched the example. And a lot of this has happened unconsciously, but they’re watching the example of the leaders. And based on the example, that’s being set, they follow suit. When I talked about before, if those happen to be really positive, team-oriented, hardworking mentoring, kind of people, great. 


That’s what you do here. If they’re jerks and it’s every man for himself, that’s what you do here. So one way that I can learn it as a new member of this team is can observing second way that I learned is trial and error. I don’t know how it works around here. I do something and I get my proverbial hands slapped because I was outside or side of the norms of what’s expected or accepted in this organization. And I quickly there, Ooh, what we should, I, and I didn’t realize you don’t do that. We’re out here for better or worse sometimes. You know, if it’s a low-performing environment and you stand out because you volunteered to work harder or do something and somebody said, Hey, you know you’re making us look bad while then you learn, I guess you don’t do that here. 


So it works in both directions, but I could get, I could do some trial and error to discover it. Of course it would be a lot better. Getting back to your original question. It would be a lot better if we were overt and we were clear as an organization, you said we didn’t leave anything. The chance we explain to people, this is what we’re about. This is the way we do things here. These are you the rules of engagement. This is how we operate. And we teach those things over and over and over again. Well, we’re going to be a lot more successful and creating the culture we want your organization. We want to do that rather than just leaving it to this sort of organic leader by default kind of thing that most companies leave it to. This is going to be so great. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: Why Intentionality Matters in Business


8 key behaviors for success – I’m sorry that wasn’t the T’s there as we now step into the eight steps. I just thought of something else I want to ask you before we go to the eight steps Y in the world do so many business owners and I’m thinking of ways to also make big improvements within predictive ROI based on what I’m learning from you right now. Why do so many of us leave it to chance? What, why don’t we, you become more, more using your word overt about it? Yeah, it’s a really simple reason. At least, this was just my theory on this, but the S two reasons there’s one primary reason. The primary reason is, is most of you never thought about it that way. 


It’s not that they saw that nobody presented these key behaviors for success. The idea that you could be much more intentional about it and they’ve proactively decided I don’t want to do that. It has to occur to them because from most people culture, as this fluffy, nebulous, mysterious pixie dust, that’s just sort of spread over our people. You can’t really do anything about it, right? It’s just something that happens mysteriously as people come together. So if you see culture in that way, as this mysterious Ora or pixie dust will, then it wouldn’t occur to you to be intentional about it. So most leaders have not thought about culture and that way that I can give you a really simple example, there’s a thing that I do. 


And some of the talks that I do where it’s usually the CEOs and I’ll have a bunch of CEOs and I’ll ask them, okay, on a one to five scale and what you to rate for me, how important do you think culture is to your bottom line? Can you tell us more about the key behaviors for success? So we’re talking about finances, not the fluff, but like, how does this impact your bottom line one, meaning not a big deal, five meaning to huge impact around the room. And I asked everybody almost every CEO, he gave it a five. I usually have one for, and almost always off with somebody giving it like a seven or an eight on a one to five scale. So they know that this is important. There’s no question about that. Then I asked them, okay, how many of you have some kind of a written document at the strategic plan with their goals and initiatives for this year? 


Most of them have that. And then I asked him, how many of you have some kind of a sales plan with this year’s targets and quotas and goals? How are you good at your sales number to have that? How many of you have some kind of financial plan and budget and forecast? Obviously they’re not running their company without that. And then I asked him, how many of you have some kind of a structured, systematic culture plan for how you’re driving the culture of your company? Almost nobody. And I said, just let me see if I got this right. You just told me to know that this was the five in terms of its impact on the bottom line. And you’re just hoping it’s going to magically work out on its own kinda crazy. And I will say to them not having a plan doesn’t mean that we’re not trying. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: A Practical Guide to Intentional Leadership


So if we had no financial plan, we would still be trying to generate as much revenue as we could and manage it or expensive and expenses intelligently, but we’d be okay. And a lot more likely to hit our numbers. If we had a plan we were operating under and I set the same as true of our culture or not having a culture plan doesn’t mean that we don’t care or not working on it, but our chances to be way more success or do you, how would a lot better if we had some structured method, which we were doing that, and then I asked them, so it’s the most people have not thought of that before in that way. And then so I’ll ask them. So why don’t we have a plan to your question? The answer that I will hear, which makes sense is I never thought about it to its squishy. 


Key behaviors for success? You know, I’ve always seen culture. It’s easy. We talk all day long about our finances and operations or numbers. That’s hardcore, and that’s creating an actionable culture. Feel’s to people very squishy, nebulous, and amorphous. It’s just like you talk about it here and it squeezes out over here to get screened. It’s hard for people to wrap their arms. They don’t know what it is. And so at the nebulous nature of it for most people will leaves them thinking that it is that mysterious thing. You know, I sometimes say that the biggest obstacle for leaders working on their culture is the definition of culture. When we define culture as you know, the personality of our company or the environment or the, the way things get done around here or you know, those kinds of that kind of thing. 


The language leaves us with our hands tied. So your culture is the personality of your company. Okay. Go back to work tomorrow and work on the personality of your company. Like what is that? I don’t know how to do with that, but it’s as soon as we see culture and a much more concrete behavior context, as we will start to talk about, we now start to have something we can do about it. So I think to your question, it’s a long answer to your question, but I think that most leaders have seen culture as the soft undefinable, amorphous kind of thing. So it’s not that they’ve looked at you the possibility of being intentional and decided not to it didn’t occur to them, that engineer culture. 


And that’s how, and that’s one of the game-changing ideas. When you understand that you understand how important it is and recognize that you will, you can and therefore should engineer or design or create your culture intentionally. Now the conversation shifts to, okay, that makes sense. How do I do that? Right. Game changer or a hundred percent. I love how you labeled it as such. So I’m going to ask for your advice because obviously this is your area of expertise. How do we step into the eight steps? Like how do we start talking about the framework? Because it is big. And so, how do we step through that? 


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Key Behaviors for Success: The Crucial Steps for Operational Success


Sure. So for your audience, when we think about okay, with, if we make this intellectual shift to recognizing that our culture is critical and can be designed, can be engineered and should be, how do we get it so that it’s so operationalized that it’s embedded, it’s hardwired into our people because to be clear for your audience, this is not about putting a beautiful sign on the wall with the vision mission values, and think we’ve got the culture of thing done. This was just about operationalizing. We wanna get this living in the, in the embedded, in all of our people. So that culture is real. 


So to do that, I organize the steps that it takes to do that around the framework that I call the eight Step Framework, eight different things. And we do these eight things. This is how you pull this off. Having said that, I’m also, I’m all about, as I said earlier, simplify, simplify, simplify. So if we do, I never want people to lose the forest for the trees. So if we really distill it down to its essence, all of the eight steps are important, but there are two of the steps that drive probably 90% of the impact. If you do these two things, well, you’re going to be net that 90% of the way down the road to success. 


And if you don’t do these two things as well, you’re just not going to get very far. So, I’ll give you those two steps briefly. I’ll talk very briefly about what are the other six steps, just so people have it in their brain and then let’s do a deeper dive on those two steps that really impacted the steps that really drive at the most. Our number one and the sounds out this, but it is out this. We have to be able to define with much more clarity than we’ve typically done exactly what we want that culture to be. What are those the rules of engagement or what are the principles under which we operate that has to be crystal clear or we’re not going to be able to get it embedded in people if it’s too vague? 


And I’ll talk about how to do that differently from our most of them it before the second step. So that’s the first step. The second step I call it, creating rituals, creating rituals is all about how we make this sustainable. ’cause you refer to it at the very beginning stage. And that we’ve all been to the seminar or the workshop of the book. We read that we were all excited about. We talked to our team and then we got busy and we had all forgot about it. And that’s not what this is about. This is about getting it embedded in PayPal for the rest of our careers. And it’s a very simple concept that I call creating rituals. And I’ll explain that and I’ll come back and explain that when we talk about these to key steps, but if your audience remembers nothing after this interview, but these two thoughts, these are the two big ones, it’s the behaviors, right? 


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Key Behaviors for Success: 8 Essential Steps for Success


Its rituals. And I’m going to come back and talk about those in more depth. I want to explain that. You’ll see why the hell those two thoughts or game changer very quickly, the eight other steps, the third step I call selecting. How can we, you find the people who are going to be a good fit for the culture that we’re trying to get you the fourth step, I call integration integration and she has the word I use for what some call orientation or onboarding. How do we take the people we’ve just hired and how do we get them integrated into our organization? How we do that has an enormous influence. You have a culture, the fifth step in the eighth Step Framework. 


I call it communicating our culture or making it visible what or all of the different ways in which people literally see our culture everywhere around us, the more they see it, the more they thinking you can about it. The more they talk about it, the more it’s living in us, the sixth step, I call it coaching. When I refer to coaching, I’m talking about how do we teach and culture, the coach, people in your day-to-day situation use thing, our culture, right? In other words, real life situations happen every day. And our companies, customer issues, vendor issues, employee issues, every chance we get to use the language of our culture in the coach thing that we’re doing, we’re pulling it out awful wall and we’re making real and relevant and meaningful. 


And there are lots of ways to do that for you. The fact of like the seventh step and the overall framework, I call it the leading by example. So we do, and we don’t want to rely only on the leadership example, but we do need to demonstrate the things that we’re talking about. And there’s no credibility to it. If we put beautiful signs on the walls and we talked about the things that are important, then we do the opposite. So our leadership example isn’t enough, but it’s still a very important element of demonstrating what we’re really about here and the eighth step and the overall framework. I call it creating accountability for the culture, all of the different ways that we can show how serious we are from including it in our performance, review his to serving customers about how we’re living too, our culture right down the get rid of people or aren’t a good fit in our culture. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: Defining Clear Culture Guidelines


So, there are a lot of things we can do to create accountability. So those are the eight steps that when done together, really help us to drive our culture, but let’s go deeper on the two steps that really are the biggest drivers. So the first of those I referred to as defining the, how do we get really clear about what are those rules and engagements so that our people don’t have to learn them by, by trying to figure it out or buy trial and error. Then we have to be crystal clear about establishing what is it that we want to do this many companies have tried to do as most companies have tried to do this. In fact, there’s very few that don’t and the way they typically try to do it is by articulating a vision mission set of core values. 


I’m sure virtually everybody in your audience at some point has done some exercise where they’ve tried to articulate a set of core values. The problem is, and with the way most organizations do that, it’s the right idea. It’s that it doesn’t bring enough clarity. And when we talk about this, I make a really big deal about a language distinction between two very important words. This distinction will sound at first like its semantics, but I’m going to show you why it’s more than semantics. So the distinction I want to draw is between what, what many organizations can call their core values. 


And I know you practice traction. Traction is all about core values and what I call behaviors. And this is a really important distinction for the audience. So value to me is an abstract concept, quality, integrity, loyalty, innovation, teamwork, respect service. These are values. Their ideas, notions and behavior in contrast is an action. It’s something that I can see people doing. So some of the behaviors that I teach in my own organization or things like honor commitments that something actually do practice and blameless problem solving, get clear on expectations to be a fanatic about response time, do what’s best for the customer. 


These are actions things that you do. The reason that this distinction is relevant and not just semantics is that the problem with the typical core values is the sound wonderful. And we believe in them. We do, but they’re so broad and abstract that they mean too many different things to different people. And they become very difficult to operationalize. It is very difficult to give people coaching about their values and behaviors though, observable behaviors. Oh, I can talk about that all day long and I can coach people without their behaviors. I will give you a very simple example. One of the values that I see in many organizations is they’ll have the value for respect. We should all respect each other. 


And it sounds like a wonderful thing, but what does that word mean? It means a lot of different things to different people. I mean, if you grew up in an inner-city gang, your definition of what it means to respect somebody or to dismiss them might be different than what it means in your family. Or I think about this, and if your audience is in the deep south, they were probably raised his children that when they speak to an adult, they were taught you call them ser or man or disrespectful, not have to do that. You do that in the north-east where I live is just freaking weird. It has nothing to do with respect and all. We just the different notions to simply say one of our core values, his respect sounds wonderful. I just don’t know if that’s that useful. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: Defining Fundamental Behaviors for Your Company


So I prefer to define what we want in terms of a set of behaviors. And I give those behaviors a name. I call them fundamentals because I think their fundamental to success. So the first step is to define a set of fundamentals or behaviors that are exactly what you want your company to be about the things that you, as the leader say, if I can get everybody to do these things successfully, wow, we would be transforming our company and get those outlined clear. And another time we can talk about in more depth, how do you do that? But the first step is we’ve got to be able to define a set of behaviors, not values, but behaviors that describe what it looks like to be fantastic in our company. 


And I call that fundamental. So that’s step one, make sense so far. And it does. and I loved that his, you and I talked about in the, and our pre-interview chat and the green room that when I see things like to your point, nebulous, when I see things like quality or great service, or something like that, I think, right? Like, and to your point about it can mean different things to different people and, or the reverses. Somebody might think that, or I guess maybe how this plays out, somebody might think that they’re doing a quote-unquote quality job, but if that’s not aligned with the definition of the organization, what quality is that he would actually be counterproductive, right? 


Absolutely. You and that happens all the time. The, so the idea of trying to articulate what your about is the right idea, but most organizations don’t do it well enough. So it doesn’t bring to the degree of clarity that’s necessary. So the loved, the concept of the founding behaviors has totally changed that picture, this is so great because the way that you just taught us, number one is exactly a fulfillment of what you said at the onset of our conversation about this is the tactical stuff. This is in-the-trenches work. Okay. So number two is creating leaders. Yes. Or here’s the concept. So let me define what a ritual is and showing you why the system is. 


So, a ritual is a routine of behavior that we do over and over and over again, until it becomes baked dance. What we do around here. So you go to a ballgame, and we do the national anthem. You get up in the morning, you brush your teeth. And we were kids at school. We can say the pledge of allegiance, their routines. The reason that rituals are so important and their critical to success is that most people and by extension, most organizations and the organizations are made of the people. Most people think at sticking with things we’re not good at it. We come up with a wonderful idea as, and all of the best of intentions weather, it’s the diet and exercise program at home, or the big initiative at work with all of the best of intentions and life gets in the way. 


Enhance your knowledge about key behaviors for success by nurturing our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Key Behaviors for Success: Embedding Company Fundamentals into Daily Practice


And it falls by the wayside. When something becomes a ritual, it’s no longer difficult to do is just what we do. So again, we don’t struggle to brush our teeth in the morning. It’s just what we do. We wake up and to go through your routines. So when something becomes a ritual, it’s no longer difficult. It’s just part of our routines. The way we use that concept is by taking these fundamentals. They get re out into an organization at very interactive engaged sessions. And then we begin to focus on one fundamental area, the free week through a series of rituals. I will give an example at a moment. So the week, number one, everybody, the whole company, the thing all week long is to thinking about working on, focusing on practicing fundamental number one, the following week, everybody in the company in every location has focused on fundamental number two and the week after that three and four and five and so on. 


And we keep cycling through them over and over and over again every week for the rest of our lives, because that’s how it sinks in. So let me give you a simple example in my company. And every one of our clients, one of the there’s lots of rituals we practice, but one of them, which is a simple thing to do is every time we have a meeting in our company, whether it’s a project meeting at a department meeting leadership meeting or a zoom meeting, or if we have a meeting in our company this week, every single one of those meetings, the first agenda item of the meeting is the fundamental of the week. And we spend the first three to five minutes talking about it. What does that mean? How do we practice it? So to give you an example, my fundamental in my company this week is called check the ego at the door. 


Very important, fundamental. I had a meeting with my leadership team last night, and we started the meeting with, okay, let’s explore this a little bit. And I, you talked about the fact that this is a misunderstood, fundamental, cause you’ll have to be who think they’ll say, well, I don’t have a big ego. This doesn’t apply to me. And yet there are many places where ego gets in the way. For example, when we’re afraid to ask for help, what’s going on there? That’s our ego. And I want to look stupid. So, that ego get in the way when we try to defend our point of view, that’s our ego. When we take things personally, it’s our ego. There are a lot of places where ego gets in the way and creates dysfunction in the organization. We spent three or four minutes talking about it. 


And then we moved down with the rest of our meeting. But every meeting in my company all week long, this we can, every single one of those meetings, the first agenda item is check the ego at the door and we talked about it. So that gives us a lot of chances to teach that principal and talk about and explore it, notice different aspects of it and think about it. And the more we’re thinking about it, the more it’s starting to live in us. That’s just one of the number of rituals that we practice in order to give us a lot of chances week to focus on this. Week’s fundamental. So if we do that this week and next week, we do the same kinds of things around next. Week’s fundamental. And the week after around that one, and we keep doing this over and over and over and over again, eventually it starts to sink in and become second nature. 


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Key Behaviors for Success: The Power of Rituals in Building Company Culture


Pretty simple. This idea of rituals to really kind of helped your audience understand this concept and its simplest way. I like to describe it this way. If you want to get good at anything you want to get good at, whether it’s to you talking about, you want to learn to be an incredible piano player, or do you want to learn to speak another language fluently or be a master cabinet and make or anything you want to get good at? Doesn’t matter what it is. What do you have to do to get good at something he gotta practice over and over and this announced practice and because you’re never going to get their without tremendous amounts of practice, and then I’ll ask an audience. So here’s the big question for you. 


How many people do you know who loves to do practice? Not many, right? So that’s a big problem. So how do we do practice? How do we sustain it through rituals when something becomes a ritual or you can? 


I sometimes use that we are almost interchangeably. What the word habit is. A couple of big bestsellers is out there at atomic habits is the power of habits. Once some of that becomes a habit it’s hard to do is just what we do. So, the ritual or habit is the structure that enables repetition to keep going. And the repetition is what’s necessary to internalize something. So if we think about that now in the context of culture, if driving and embedding a culture and our company is really honestly nothing fancier than getting your people to live and internalize the behaviors that you know, lead to success, that’s all we’re trying to do. 


There’s nothing fancier than that will; they’re not going to internalize those behaviors simply because you had that big meeting you talked about earlier, that’s not going to get their new intern on their not going to internalize cause you to put posters on the walls, but not going to internalize their cause you put in their performance reviews are the only way they’re going to internalize it is when we teach it to them over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And the only way will ever teach it to them with that much consistency without getting bored, distracted, and quitting is to create rituals around it. That’s why the rituals are such a simple idea, but so to success in anything, whether it’s culture or anything else, its rituals that will help you to be a good tennis player or piano player or, speak the language or create the culture that you want. 


Enhance your knowledge about key behaviors for success by nurturing our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Key Behaviors for Success: Keys to Building a Successful Culture


And so when we w in its simplest form, I like to think of it this way. If you want to get a group of people where that group of people has Cole or your kids, your team, or the athlete’s and the team, or your coaching or your employees, it just makes a lot of you tickle sense that you would dramatically improve the probabilities of success. If number one, your crystal clear about exactly what you expected. And number two, you had a structured systematic way to teach those behaviors over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until they became came internalized. That’s such a simple thought, and that’s the whole idea. 


Well, it’s interesting. And it isn’t a simple thought and yet, so many of us don’t do it. I love how he said live and internalize that that’s really, really core. And I know that we’re quickly running out of time and as were his, we’re going through the fundamentals. And then you mentioned practice. I don’t know why this popped in my head, but when you mentioned practice, I remember the story of the early nineties. Larry Bird and Michael Jordan were stars in some McDonald’s commercials. Right? And so there was a point in the production of one of those commercials where Larry Bird at that stage of his career was renowned for his three point shots. And the script called for him to miss a shot, like hit it off of the roof. 


Yeah. He had to shoot or third shots in a row before he can miss one. Interesting ’cause he had done exactly what you talked about, practice. It was a ritual everywhere from, or everything from how he, the ball hit his hands to wear. He, his feet were out at just the flicker of the risks, all of the rituals. We know this, and we all know, we just didn’t think about it as it relates to the call. It’s amazing. There are. So there’s so much upside going back to your previous word game-changer so I know that we’re a at, at, at our, at our time, and thank you for being so gracious and generous with sharing your insights and wisdom. 


So I know we covered a lot before we go, before we close out any final pieces of advice, recommendations, anything you think we might have missed. And then please do tell us the best way to connect with you, David. Yeah. So first of all, thank you. And I would say that if you remember nothing from today, except this, it would be behaviors and rituals that if you want to get a group of people to operate the way you want them to you, you’ve got to Define the behaviors that drive success. And if you want them to internalize those and actually live them, you’ve got to create a structured way to teach them over and over and over again, so that they become internalized. 


And that doesn’t happen by motivation. It happens surely ’cause we create the routines and rituals around it. So behavior and rituals, or really will enable the organization to help people in bed. The culture that you want. So culture is everything in an organization you want to do culture unintentionally, and the most important elements of doing it intentionally are behaviors, and rituals. 


Enhance your knowledge about key behaviors for success by nurturing our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Key Behaviors for Success: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with David


And the best way to connect with you, David? 


The best way to connect with me is through my website, There’s lots of videos and lots of material, there are lots of the systems that we’ve built to help companies do this. 


My email is [email protected], and there are also three books out they’re fundamentally different culture by design. And then most recently my latest book, is it really a second edition of Culture by Design, which isn’t hard cover on your own hardcover, softcover ebook and audiobook on audible. 


Amazing, thank you for being so generous and Onward Nation, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back to David’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do, and you relisten to this episode over and over and over again, let that be a ritual, no matter how often you do that, if you don’t take and apply the fundamental is he sowed generously gave to you. 


You describe to you or taught to us then has a huge missed opportunity. Cause he gave us the blueprint to be the game-changer to accelerate our results. And David, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. And I’m grateful that you chose to spend some of your time with us as our mentor and guide to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, David. My pleasure to hear very well. 


This episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more food. If you have your ambition, continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


Enhance your knowledge about key behaviors for success by nurturing our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework

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