How to Foster a Healthy Company Culture

(with Rael Bricker)

How to Foster a Healthy Company Culture

Rael Bricker is a professional speaker, mentor, and coach with a diverse work background. His career ranged from being 6,000 feet underground in a mine to start an education business that grew to have more than 4,000 students to spending years working in venture capital. Rael has listed multiple companies on international stock exchanges, and his financial services group has settled more than $3 billion in loans for the last seven years. 

Rael is also the author of Dive in Lessons Learnt Since Business School. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss some of those lessons and how we can foster a healthy company culture. 

Bottom-Up Culture

Rael believes company culture is driven from the “top” and the “bottom” of the company; however, while executives and CEOs have an impact on company culture, he believes the staff is the members who raelly define what the culture is. 

“The truth of it is, the actions of the majority of staff are what define the culture,” Rael said. “Culture only makes sense if it’s actually reflected by the actions of the team. And that’s what bottom-up culture is. The management and the C suite have to be defining the course of action, but really have to take dramatic steps to make that [happen] to get the team to come along.”

If we want to have a healthy company culture, we need to make sure every staff member reflects the values and morals we want to be known for. 

Rael interviewed 87 companies in over 25 countries about what makes their company culture great. To his surprise, he found that 25 of those companies talked about how toxic their culture was, while the rest of them talked about how great their culture was. So what was the difference between a healthy culture and a toxic one?

Rael found that the two driving factors that make great cultures are purpose and values, not a mission or vision statements.

“It’s [about] having a purpose that’s greater than the organization and the set of values that drives the actions of the team,” Rael said. “The actions of the team drive the culture (bottom-up). And if you have a set of values that everyone buys into, then that defines the actions of the team, and therefore creates a rich and robust culture.”

If we want to foster healthy company culture, we need to make sure everyone on our teams has aligned their values with the values of the company. We shouldn’t be so focused on our mission statement that we neglect our values and central purpose. As we work with everyone on the team, our companies will see greater long-term success. 

Value Each Team Member

In 1962, John F. Kennedy visited the NASA space center for the first time, just seven years before the first man landed on the moon. While he toured the halls, he noticed a janitor carrying a broom. Kennedy paused the tour, walked over to the janitor, and introduced himself. He asked the janitor what he did for NASA and in response, the man said, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” (Source: The Business Journals)

While the janitor may have been cleaning the building, he understood the bigger picture. He knew he was helping make history in his small role. “At NASA, they created a culture where everybody felt that they were part of the machinery in getting a man to the moon,” Rael said. 

Every team member has an important role. In our businesses, we should strive to create a culture where every team member understands the impact they can have on our business as a whole. 

Though Rael worked in management consulting, venture capital, financial services, education, and coaching and speaking, he learned one of the most important business lessons while he worked in the mines as a junior engineer. In the mines, he realized he needed to be a part of the bigger picture. Instead of solely focusing on his personal role, he learned how to focus on the impact of his role in the grand scheme of things.

“The defining thing of my life is understanding that everybody has an incredibly important role in the business, no matter what their role is in the business,” Rael said. 

One of the best ways to foster a healthy company culture is to help every employee understand the purpose of their role in the main goal of the business. Every employee should feel valued and important. If we can give every employee and team member a purpose in our business, our employees will stay longer, have greater satisfaction, and be more efficient and productive. 

Build Relationships 

The biggest monetization secret Rael has is to go back to the basics and focus on relationships. In our company, we should create a healthy culture by making sure every employee, partner, and team member know the importance of our customers. Our customers are our best asset and we should treat them as such. 

“The truth of the growth of my business and how we’ve monetized our business is through referrals and not being afraid to ask for referrals when a client is happy,” Rael said. 

Rael never had to focus on advertising for his mortgage business because he had customer referrals. When his customers were happy with his service, he would reach out to them and ask if they could refer him to others. “How do we monetize that happiness?” Rael said. “[By] asking them to refer other people.”

Give up control_Blog

We can ask our customers, “Who do you know that would benefit from our services?” If we are spending all this time and money to gain a customer and make them happy, we should take it a step further to gain some return on investment. Statistics have found that people are 4X more likely to make a purchase when it is referred by a friend (Source: Extole). 

Building strong relationships with our customers is essential in today’s digital world. Our customers want to feel like they are buying from someone who knows their needs and wants. Even in the digital business world, Rael still sends out birthday cards in the mail to his customers instead of emailing a digital card. He goes out of his way to make his customers know they are valued. 

We should make sure every member of our team prioritizes the customer. While it is important to have healthy customer relationships, we should also make sure we establish healthy relationships within our business. As we go out of our way to make sure every team member and customer is valued, our success rates will increase. 

Give Up Control 

In Rael’s book, he said, “Give up control to gain control.”

When Rael started his education business, he did everything. He sat on the phones, he did the marketing, he answered emails, he stood at the photocopier, etc. He had control of his entire business, but he needed to give that up. Rael explained that entrepreneurs are often control-freaks and so it takes a lot of courage to give up control, but it is necessary. 

As soon as Rael employed staff, he empowered them to make decisions and he gave up his own control. However, by giving up control of the simple day-to-day tasks, Rael gained control of his time. Instead of focusing on the small things to keep the business running, he could focus on the bigger picture and invest his time into what was really important. 

“It’s about empowering your team members to know that they’re allowed to mess up. It’s not about standing there with a whip saying, ‘You’d better get this right.’ It’s actually [giving] enough space for them to get it wrong. That’s how you give up control,” Rael said.  

As we give up control and show our staff and team members we trust them, we will see more growth in our business. Instead of relying on our ideas alone, we gain the thoughts and ideas of everyone that works with us. As we do this, we actually gain more control of the important things as it frees up our time. 

“It’s about . . . empowering people with the ability to make a mistake, whilst you go out and generate more business because you are the most passionate advocate of your own business,” Raal said.

Create an Atmosphere of Inclusion 

People must _Blog

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

– Nelson Mandela

It is so important to make sure everyone feels included and valued. No one should feel like a lesser person because of their background, race, skin color, religion, role, gender, etc. In our businesses, we should strive to understand others. Rael explained that it is only by reflection that we learn things, and if we don’t take the time to reflect and understand our employees or partners, we will never learn. 

“You can’t have diversity without inclusion. A lot of companies just go for diversity, but don’t do anything to build the inclusive nature of their organization,” Rael said. “If I’ve learned anything over the last 30 years in business, . . .  [I’ve learned] it’s about having diversity and inclusion together. You can’t have one without the other.

In Rael’s business, he had team members from six different country backgrounds, six different places of birth, and three different religions. He made it a priority to not only promote diversity but to also promote inclusion. We should make sure everyone feels comfortable in our business. As we do so, we will create a healthy company culture our employees will feel safe and valued. 

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Rael for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. The actions of the entire team drive the company culture. While management needs to define the course of action, they have to get the team to come along.

2. Every member of our team has an important role. We should strive to create a culture where every team member understands the impact they can have on our overall purpose.

3.  If we can give every employee and team member a purpose in our business, our employees will stay longer, have greater satisfaction, be more efficient, and be more productive. 

4.  We should make sure every employee, partner, and team member knows the importance of our customers.

5. As we give up control and show our staff we trust them, we will probably see more growth in our business.

6. We can’t have diversity without inclusion. We should make sure everyone feels comfortable, safe, and valued in our business no matter their background. 

Connect with Rael

If you want to learn more about or connect with Rael you can find him on LinkedIn or visit

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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