Posts Tagged ‘company culture’

What do the Boston Swan Boats and Market Basket Have in Common…

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

A deeply embedded company culture!


In a recent Boston Globe article, For Swan Boat pedalers, a storybook ride… the author talks about the Paget Family who has owned and operated the city’s famed swan boats since 1877. What I found so amazing about this Boston icon was the story behind the Swan Boat operators. Most of these folks have worked for the Paget family for generations and are considered a part of the family. These jobs are passed down within families for years and years, however, the younger siblings don’t just get the jobs from older relatives. According to the story: “They have to go through a long training period before they are allowed to take a swan out on their own, a process the Pagets call “earning your wings.” Aside from driving the boats they also consider themselves representatives of Boston.

Now, this is what I call a wildly successful organization based on establishing an awesome company culture, and embedding a strong onboarding practice for new hires. images-1

Then you have the Market Basket grocery store chain, a family-owned business based in New Hampshire that is in crisis. However, let’s look at it from a positive culture perspective. Arthur T. Demoulis, the ousted CEO did a phenomenal job of creating a company culture that was so successful that employees, as well as customers have rallied around him – refusing to go back to work or shop at the stores until he is reinstated in order to show their undying support. For example, last week employees were ordered to go back to work by the new CEO’s or face terminations. Employees chose the latter. And customers are still boycotting the stores while Market Basket employees are rallying their support for Arthur T.

This is what I call a wildly successful organization based on establishing an awesome company culture, and with dedicated employees and customers who will support a leader who showed managerial excellence in leading the organization!   Unknown

So how can you create an organization that can survive through the decades or through a crisis…

It is all about CREATING and CULTIVATING a company culture around a consistent set of practices…

  1. Commit to managerial excellence
  2. Develop consistent and transparent communication
  3. Dedication to hiring and developing the right employees

The Swan Boats and Market Basket hit the nail on the head around practices #1 and #3. Being a great company is not good enough today given the competition, changing economic landscape and emerging technology. Today’s organizations need to be wildly successful, yet many struggle with how to achieve this. The answer lies in a company’s culture, which both the Swan Boats and Market Basket exemplify! This is the key to driving commitments that achieve results.

Download the whitepaper Being Wildly Successful And Three Ways to Make It Happen, and see how you can get started on the road to success. Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.11.01 PM

Delivering Happiness: Book Review

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I just received the monthly newsletter Small Business Matters from Tim Fulton, my former Vistage chair.  I loved his book review on Tony Hsieh’s book:  Delivering Happiness – as it relates to the work we do with clients and our philosophy about business.  I asked Tim for permission to publish his review.  Happy Reading!

Delivering Happiness written by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Two weeks ago I ordered a pair of nice dress shoes online from Zappos. The shoes arrived almost the next day. How convenient. I didn’t have to get in the car and visit the mall or some big retail box store. Several clicks and I was done.

I opened the shoe box and noticed immediately that they were the wrong color. Brown instead of black. Great news! I was now going to be able to test their highly touted customer service reputation. I called the 1-800 number and was astonished as I was almost immediately in touch with a service rep. She was friendly, very apologetic, and ready to take care of the problem. The new shoes would be at my door step the next day. She asked me to return the old shoes at my convenience and the shipping label was emailed to me within the hour. What an experience!

It was this experience that triggered my desire to read the story behind Zappos, “Delivering Happiness” written by their CEO Tony Hsieh. This is a great book that details Hsieh’s rise from a serial entrepreneur in high school to the CEO of one of the largest online retailers in the world with over $1 billion in annual revenues. Hsieh sold the company to Amazon last year for $1.2 billion and continues to serve as CEO.

In the book, author Tony Hsieh shares the lessons he has learned in business and in life. Here are several of my favorites:

  • Pay brand new employees $2000 to quit
  • Focus on company culture as a #1 priority
  • Help employees grow both personally and professionally
  • Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company and not just one department
  • It’s possible to be happy, create happiness, and build a world-class company


For more information about Small Business Matters and Tim Fulton:

Tim Fulton, Vistage Group Chair
“Dedicated to Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the Lives of CEOs”