This morning 1871 was lucky enough to have Mark Achler, Senior Vice President of New Business, Strategy, and Innovation of Redbox, come speak on the importance of integrating values into company culture. Starting off his early morning presentation with a round of heartwarming jokes, it was clear how important connecting with people is to him. A string of notable accolades under his belt, notably the serial entrepreneur of four companies, a partner at a venture capitalist firm, and currently an intrapraneur at Redbox, Achler could only stress the importance of values in helping him through every step of his career.
Traditionally, startup businesses embrace this hierarchy:
- Build a product
- Find customers
- Raise capital
The general assumption is that a combination of these three will produce lucrative results. However, Achler draws from his well-rounded business background to argue that there is not just one, but seven items missing from this list. They are a set of simply worded values created by Redbox CEO Gregg Kaplan reflecting the simplicity of the company itself. Using personal examples, Achler laid out the following values for maintaining a healthy company culture:
- Integrity. Do the right thing: At one of his companies, Achler had to let go of the CEO. The board made the change without any prior notification to the CEO in question. Achler regrets not having the personal courage to reach out to the CEO himself because it hurt both business and relationships within the company. If a certain decision does not feel right, like something that could come back to haunt you, rethink it. Always do what feels right to you.
- Respect. Give it and earn it: When Redbox decided to introduce video games to the kiosks, they took the time to understand every departments’ perspective on the issue and the challenges they would face because of it. Now Redbox has successfully integrated video games into its model. “If you have respect for one another, you can always deal with what comes.”
- Accountability. Walk the talk: Achler felt on top of the world when he started working as an upper-level manager at a world renowned company. He missed one deadline and was given a warning from his strict boss. Afterwards, he came to work at 4 AM every day and redeemed himself. He learned that “for success to be real you always have to deliver what you promise.”
- Dedication. Persevere: Achler once made a very important sale at a Cleveland clinic, but the transaction was drawn out for two and a half years. “You have to finish something until it is done. You are going to get “no” all the time, but you have to keep on knocking doors down like Jack Bauer.”
- Humility. Stay grounded: Achler maintains a high degree of humility at Redbox. Although it is growing at a fast rate, “you don’t want to have too swelled a head because you need to stay grounded and realize that technology changes fast.”
- Communication. Be open, be honest: A lot of times when a company is making a major decision it really breaks down to how they communicate those changes to the parties involved. “Arguably communication is one of the most important values.”
- Empathy. The secret weapon: Lastly, “if you can truly understand someone, customer, partner, someone from another department, you can design products and services to meet those needs.” Redbox had a deep understanding of what customers wanted from a movie rental service and gave them just that - simplicity, value, and convenience.
Attended by more than 65 member of the startup community, the overall sentiment was that it was a rewarding presentation and a great start to the morning. Achler ended by emphasizing “that CEOs who are thoughtful and considerate of the importance of values, who create a culture that is values-driven, ultimately make better decisions and deliver better results.”