It’s often been said that workplace culture happens whether you intend it to be there or not. That may well be true, but if you have a particular type or tone of culture in mind, it won’t build itself. It’ll need help from you and other leaders in your organization.

This is one of the key ideas that John Stein, owner of sustainable design materials company, Kirei, spoke about with me recently. John created the company 18 years ago and generously shares some of the highs and lows of growing his own workplace culture.

Starting with a laid back attitude of “make it cool, and cool will follow”, John soon realized that he needed to be more intentional. This meant that he had to work at culture each day, just like operations and finances. For him, being intentional means telling people what your culture vision is and then offering guidelines for behavior, because core values alone don’t take care of culture. 

This episode is jam-packed with real life examples and tips for building workplace culture from the ground up in a small business. As a sustainability warrior building a sustainable business, John’s story also demonstrates how hard it can be to pursue something with conviction, and yet how satisfying it can be when you stay the course. Culture nerds and small business owners will get a lot from John and his journey to date.

Listen to the episode