Scott and I were less than a year into building Stories Inc. and things were going great between us. And, we were delighted when we won our first large project, for The Motley Fool. We were even more delighted when we realized we could hire a videographer to help us (until then, we had done all the camera work and editing ourselves. Being able to replace yourself with people better than you is always the goal when building a business. We were on our way!).
I found our talented person and negotiated with him in what I thought was the way you did it: abrasively. When I got off the phone, I felt triumphant: yes, I got a great price!
Scott was not thrilled.
“Having a great culture is best for our business in the long term, and that includes how we treat our partners,” he said. “It’s non-negotiable for me. The way you just spoke to a potential partner of ours was very ‘I-win-you-lose.’ If that’s how you want to approach developing relationships, I don’t think we are good fits as partners.”
I was really surprised. Getting the very best price had seemed like the most important thing and I hadn’t considered any other way. I realized there were some bad habits I was bringing to our business and it required me to make a major shift.
I told him I was absolutely committed to creating a great working experience for everyone Stories Inc. developed relationships with: clients, team members, vendors, partners, landlords, etc. I just might need his help from time to time.
So, we created a value on the spot, Find the Win-Win scenario.
This moment really matters to me because it changed the way I viewed culture — it wasn’t just related to team mates — and relationships. If only one person wins, no one has won. This fundamentally changed the way I conducted business and built relationships from then on.
And, it was a step in building a really strong and trusting business partnership with Scott. Until then, things had gone smoothly. This was the first time we weren’t instantly and naturally aligned on something and the way we handled it gave me confidence I had found the right person to push me and keep the health of our business the top priority.
Our values evolve as our company evolves. As your culture changes, it’s important to respect what’s different and communicate that to candidates, while telling those foundational stories to explain why your culture is the way it is. There is comfort in both acknowledging change and holding up what has always been true. So, our Find the Win-Win Scenario value is still very much a part of our culture, but filed under Thoughtfulness.
We’re sharing these #StorytellerMoments all month long at Stories Inc. Use the hashtag to share yours or @ us on social! We may share it in this space!