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For Top CEOs Culture Drives Value Creation

According to Larry Ackerman, the father of identity based management, “The most powerful cultures spring naturally from the identity of the organization – the value-creating core of the enterprise.”  This direct link between “value-creating” cultures and organizational success intrigued me and led me to explore perspectives from top CEOs.

On September 18, 2012 I facilitated a roundtable to gain insight from leading CEOs across industry. This included: Steve Kaufer the founder and CEO of TripAdvisor which has quickly become the world’s largest travel website with more than 60 million unique monthly visitors:  Curt Anastasio, founding CEO of NuStar Energy from its start in 2001 already has $6.5billion revenue and was ranked #15 Best Company to Work for in America; Lori Dickerson Fouché, CEO of Fireman’s Fund founded 150 years ago as an original societal brand; Dan Mead, CEO of Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless carrier in US with $70 billion revenue 78,000 employees and 94.2 million retail customers; and subject matter expert Eric Riddleberger, Telecommunications and Media Leader, IBM, a company transformed by culture. Below are their insights …

1.     What does culture mean to you?

Curt Anastasio, CEO, NuStar Energy: “Culture is everything. The culture is the number one most important thing about a company. And the success of the company really depends on having the right culture and keeping it strong.”

 Lori Fouché, CEO, Fireman’s Fund:  ”Culture is the glue that holds an organization together. It helps guide all the decisions, how you behave and act. You can pick whatever strategy you want but how you go about doing it is the difference between, oftentimes, success and failure.”

Steve Kaufer, Founder & CEO, TripAdvisor:  “Culture is the style or the method by which the employees are working each day to fulfill the mission of the company.”

Dan Mead, CEO, Verizon Wireless: “Culture is the very core of what we do. It starts with integrity, earning the trust of customers and following through.”

2.     Talk about culture and your organization

Steve Kaufer, Founder & CEO, TripAdvisor:  “The key to our culture is speed. At every moment we’re striving to get whatever we’re working on done faster.  New folks that come into the company are genuinely amazed at all the stuff that we accomplish. People that thrive here want to be in a small, nimble, empowering environment.  And we feel that this kind of focus is a great way to drive productivity throughout the organization.”...

3.     What’s one thing you do personally as CEO to build the culture?

Steve Kaufer, Founder & CEO, TripAdvisor: “It is a challenge to sustain the culture of a small, nimble company with over 1,400 employees globally. So one thing I try to do is to present in front of as many as I can to reinforce our culture and our mission of helping travelers around the world plan that perfect trip. I need to ensure that we’re going about our work the right way no matter what size our company grows to, with a similar drive, similar focus on execution speed, a similar focus on automation, and with the most important focus being the millions of folks visiting our site.”...