Team Spirit Event

 

“A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candour, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.” 

— Ed Catmull, President of Pixar

 

Company Culture: What is it and why does Is Matter?
Company culture is more important than ever! We recently had the fantastic opportunity to bring together three brands with three great stories, and a brilliantly unique business that taps into a human’s ability to adapt and create, to explore the delicate balance between team spirit and leadership. At the event, Bobby Melville (Founder of IGO), Guy Hacking (Founder of Tribe), Chris Wyles (Founder of Wolfpack), and Flick Hardingham (Founder of Habit) shared their top tips on how to create a good work culture!

As we felt the discussion resonated with us and was so in line with Agora’s ethos. I am happy to announce that we have decided to share Teamspirit event notes with Non-members -which we don’t usually do!
I hope you find it as insightful as we did, here are the key takeaways from the panel:

 

Guy Hacking- Tribe

Q: How did the idea come about to starting a startup?

 

A:

“Initially, we set off the mission to raise 100 thousand pounds!

There were two ways we could have gone about doing this. We could have either gone out and just asked people for their support and been like ‘Hey can you give us some money?” or we could have engaged the community with the build-up! In turn, bringing them along this fantastic adventure with us! 

So that’s what we decided to do ! – while doing so, it brought home the power of the collective.

Not only regarding raising money for a great cause but also in terms of actually getting people to the finish line. The knowing that I had people joining along the way and being part of something a lot greater, really got me to the finish line.

This power of the collective is something that stuck with us. Throughout this journey we made sure to eat healthily- we were eating when we could use natural products to get us over the finish line. As a result, upon our arrival/return to the UK, we developed tribe a response to the existing synthetic sport nutrition bars out there. Marrying this idea alongside the power of the collective. We have over time switched from a monthly subscription to traditional E-commerce, and we also are stocked in stores!

The idea that you ‘archive all together’ really is a driving principle of Tribe!”

 

 

Flick Hardingham- Habit

– ‘Supercharge your people power” – slogan.

Q: How did your business come about?

 

A:

“I work with companies to help build their employee base as communities!

The way I came up with the concept was somewhat unusual. I used to work in media, and then I  trained as a teacher, teaching six-year-olds. However, I didn’t want to do either of those, so I decided to combine both! Now I teach adults how to be creative, I have done this with a few companies, and it does drive communication and collaboration which make people work better together.

It stemmed from an idea of helping people be more creative not only just giving them the tools to be creative but also creating the right culture. Now the work that I am doing is employee consultancy training, where I’m helping them create the right environment, so it’s possible to combine both digital and human interaction to help people work better together. To define their purpose and values. But, not just have a purpose statement on the wall but integrate them into the meaning of the business!”

 

Chris Wells- Wolfpack

Q: How did Wolfpack come about?

 

A:

“By day I still play rugby.  Here at Saracens there is a significant focus on player development and trying to help people after a sports career.

It’s a harsh environment, to say the least because no one seems to have a clue what they are going to do.

I and Alistair Hargreaves decided to start a business after he sadly suffered a concussion while playing rugby. However, we didn’t know what that company would be-Pretty much every time we met up was over a beer. Therefore,  we wanted to combine our entrepreneurial spirit with our love of beer and create a cool environment within our business.

We started by converting double-decker buses at the stadium, opening every game day. Everything we want to do is a replica of what Saracens have done for the culture, which is about putting people first and being good to those around us. We wanted to encapture a good working environment within our small business, indeed capturing what Saracens has taught us throughout the years.

It’s a saturated market, and we are aware of that. But we hope our story and the experiences we want to offer people will make us stand out in the crowd. We aren’t trying to make weird and wonderful beers; we are trying to find the middle ground. A good beer which people of any background or class can enjoy and have a good time without all the trimmings.”

 

Bobby Melville- IGO

Q: Bobby you are an adventurer and an international polo player! How did IGO come about?

 

A:

“I guess I will begin by summarising my 20s. I skipped uni completely, and then I played polo professionally for around ten years.

So I got to the age of 29yrs old and met this incredibly inspirational woman. You meet inspiration people that change your lives, and that is what happened to me. She had just rowed across an ocean, I then after hearing this decided to gather a team of 10 other professional polo players to join me to row 5 thousand kilometres across the sea!

I wanted to do something within the adventure community- I’ve always had a passion for it!

My experience was made up of a year and a half of financial preparation. In essence, it does take your life; it takes every bit of energy to get these significant exhibitions going.

It was upon reaching Antigua and seeing my friends, family and people that I have never met before clapping.It was an incredibly emotional, adrenaline fueling adventure feeling and I just thought to myself. If you could bottle up that feeling, of reaching Antigua never having sat in a boat ever before in my life, it would be incredible and ever so rewarding.

I then went and tried to find a way to do so. Eventually, someone came along and joined me, and now we create multidiscipline disciplined challenges in the most remote areas of the world with camaraderie!”

 

Guy Hacking- Tribe

Q: How do you feel your story, your brand Tribe influence company culture?

 

A:

“At the absolute root of what we do is push limits! Our core mantra is precisely that. However, not just by yourself and for yourself, but the concept of doing things together. Regarding company culture- we don’t just make the product we create experiences with people!

For example earlier this year we completed a 2 thousand kilometre triathlon, it created this bond and the experience that Bobby mentioned earlier is genuinely an extraordinary one. The elation and the feeling that the harder it is, the better it feels and doing it with other people around you makes it even more enjoyable!

Regarding company culture, it’s the things you can’t measure, but can just feel, that are core to our company (experiences for example).  

The concept now is that people aren’t necessarily interested in buying things but more so experiences! People aren’t just buying the bars, but are engaging at a broader level! We are getting out of the office and experiencing this adventure day today and that is what we want to show to our customers. It’s essential that everyone experiences the product at Tribe and enjoys the adventure! You don’t have to be super athletic to complete a marathon, but you do need enthusiasm and curiosity.

In Tribe, we believe in approaching things from the first principle. Constructive criticism and transparent feedback are just some great examples in which we practise in the workplace. We believe that every individual should be able to feed into the objective and be able to express their ideas openly. However, when one does not meet a target it’s not a failure it’s a learning curve. You have to be open and honest with yourself and accept defeat when it comes your way. Being able to move on quickly and work on your mistakes, is critical.”

 

Flick Hardingham- Habit

Q: How do you feel your brand and story is representative of your ethos?

 

A:

“My Ethos is always ‘everything is focused on the user’ which in turn means in a company the users are your employees, they should be seen as necessary as stakeholders.

So when we use design thinking, we look at employee motivation, values and behaviours and what brings them to work (they have every right to love what they do). For example, in a GP practice in tower hamlets. They are super duper stressed in the NHS obviously, and a lot of energy was dropping, people weren’t motivated. They were, in turn, losing money as GPs were dropping out!

But the reception team were smart people, inspiring and could do way more than the data entry that they were doing!

They brought me in to see how they could empower the reception team. We went with the working model ‘Teal’ where you, in fact, lessen hierarchy. It’s near impossible to get rid of hierarchy altogether, but everyone works in self-managed teams, and there is a significant emphasis on wholeness. Which means bringing your whole self to work, this doesn’t mean sitting at your desk crying this means that if you are going through a tough time, you can let someone know. People giving away power is hard, and people taking responsibility is even harder!

The results have been fantastic- The managing partner who used to be in every day is now out of practice three days a week doing amazing NHS research.

It now has a lot more of a flat structure, where everyone can work on their potential

My ethos is that everyone has talent! In an ideal world, there would be no hierarchy, with self-management teams. This is very tricky to achieve as there will always be some hierarchy!”

 

Chris Wells- Wolfpack

Q: How do you feel your story shows itself within the company culture?

 

A:

“Relating it to Saracens is the best way to start because at Saracens we ultimately turned ourselves from a mid-table rugby team into european head hitters! It was all about the people. It was very easy to talk and very easy to say things. However, what we did do was back up the talk with action. For example, when it came to looking after the players themselves it came down to doing actual tangible things which in turn, made them feel like they were treated well and in turn, they would then play better.

Saracens went above and beyond for each other!

For now, it’s easy to build that spirit and camaraderie in a smaller office, but what Saracens has done is massive and spread over an enormous organisation.

-Tangible things are essential- there’s often a lot of talk and not a lot of action!”

 

Bobby Melville- IGO

Q: How do you feel your story replicates itself in your ethos and culture?

A:

“The main thing for me I guess is that every week we do something, so we are able to live and breathe our brand. At the beginning we worked off laptops, working off past memories but after a while, you need to refresh that. Therefore,  when you are selling a product you’re talking about that adventure, it’s so key that you’re actually doing it at the same time!

Its Key to keep the passion for what you are selling. Work weeks away are essential, getting outdoors and doing things. We need to be engaging in a broader level not just sitting at home, day to day.”

 

Guy Hacking- Tribe

Q: How do you build that workplace for your team of 12 that helps them work to their potential?

 

A:

“Now we have grown as a business we now are at a stage where we need specialist areas of expertise. We are currently able to think how is each individual contributing to the company, how does everybody fit into this objective on the wall. Like I  said earlier we believe in transparency as a company,, openness and honesty within our business. Not only do our employees  know where we are heading as a company, but they are also aware how they are contributing towards it.

You have to be open and honest with yourself, in the sense that there is indeed nowhere to hide. Reiterating everything we learn out on the road from our failures and so forth back unto Tribe.”

 

Flick Hardingham- Habit

Q: Do you think it’s a threat that AI and robots are taking away human jobs and how can we rise to the challenge?

 

A:

“It’s most definitely going to happen! They say that more than 50% of current jobs can be automated by technology.

It really depends on the work sector in which people are in.

Despite this, there are a lot of skills that will still be needed. Anything that is an algorithm can be automated, for example,  a GP could be potentially automated. But the thing with a GP is that their value lies in their empathy.

We will see in the future people coming around a common purpose and have robots work on the ‘other’ things. Technology is most definitely a threat to some groups and sectors. It’s like the industrial revolution on crack, it’s not going to happen altogether, but it’s going to happen!

How you lead is going to have to change. Managing a team of 10, 100 and then a remote team is very different. In years to come it’s empathy and emotion which will set people apart from one another.”

 

Bobby Melville- IGO

Q: How does automation fit into your businesses?

 

A:

“From our point of view, that’s what we are trying to fight against. I don’t think that robots are ever going to be able to deliver the specific type of safety that going into the wilderness requires. Also,  it’s very unlikely that robots will ever be able to create an emotional experience in which we provide through an adventure.

As I said earlier, I doubt this will ever be replicated by technology. However, when we started IGO, we could have gone down an aggregative route or on something that would have relied heavily on tech.

True wilderness is becoming increasingly difficult to find, and that’s our slogan ‘touch the wild’ – if we had gone down the tech route, this would have been difficult to archive.”

 

Chris Wells- Wolfpack

Q: How does automation fit into your businesses?

 

A:

“Our Aspirations as a business is all about social experiences. Yet, at the same time if technology could make our business a lot more efficient, even though our mission is about joining people together we would probably use it.

When you think about it it’s a bit worrying, but if it helps our business grow then why not?”

 

Guy Hacking- Tribe

Q: Do you think that the appetite now for buying an experience will continue if automation progresses

 

A:

“Yes, 100%! I believe that automation will never replace that feeling of summiting a mountain or being there, in the moment. I think there are so many great things and it’s empowering that the technological possibilities are endless.

However, what’s so true is when you have a digital experience it can look exactly like the real thing, but there’s a sort of magic that you will never be able to bottle. There is also the physical mentality that you won’t be able to replace, the feeling of wanting to push yourself; there’s no feeling like it.”

 

Q: What do you reckon we should judge /metrics to judge productivity in a startup environment?

 

A:

“You need to forget about perfection and get things done! If an idea is not working, move onto the next.

It’s important to realise that you can’t measure everything.

For example, when we just started a business, we decided to do a pop up in Old St station. However, we lost money doing so. We invested a lot of money, time and care into it and we still lost money! But the upside of this loss is that we put ourselves out there and look at us now. Productivity is about interaction. You need to make sure your team have realistic goals in which they can achieve and sees every opportunity.

Also while meeting with investors, it’s important to be yourself. Otherwise, they will see straight through you.

Be a good person – ethically!- Be bold and make the fist step!”

 

mm

I am Emma Watkins, the Founder of Agora. My career began at systematic Investment Manager, Winton Capital Management, where I developed and ran the Charity, Sponsorship, Brand and Events Department. After 5 years, I moved on to become Operations Director at Fifty Media, a technology company focused on large scale analysis of social media data to redefine how brands fundamentally understand and engage their customers.