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Last year, REI decided to close its 143 stores on Black Friday and encourage their employees to live out their Culture and “Opt Outside.” They were also closed on Thanksgiving day. (Like the rest of the world used to do). REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke said he did this to reinforce their set of Values and was willing to set aside what is arguably the busiest shopping day of the year to live it out. (Black Friday shoppers spent $9.1 Billion in 2015.)

I guess REI can afford to do this since they had revenues of $2.2 Billion in 2014 with a record dividend payout of $168 million to its active co-op members. They must be doing something right and I think it’s their Culture. Someone might say “If we were as successful as REI we’d take days off too” but that kind of mentality indicates you probably will never be as successful as REI (I’m just saying.)

Yes they want to make money but their focus, passion, and culture, is to get people to#OptOutside. What better day is there than the Friday after Thanksgiving when most businesses and schools are closed, and families can get out and enjoy the Fall beauty. REI decided to put their money where their mouth is, and close the company so employees can enjoy it too!

No wonder this company has been one of 12 companies to be named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For every year since the list’s inception in 1998. This year they are ranked 58. How would your company rank?

There are other examples we can point to where businesses chose to live out their culture and values over making more revenue. Chick-fil-A has made the decision to remain closed on Sundays to allow franchisees and employees to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so. They seem to be doing just fine and the line wraps around the building no matter what time we go for some nuggets.

ZapposOnce a quarter, all of Zappos shuts down and every employee meets off-site for their quarterly All Hands meeting. Zappos makes about $9 Million a day and they close down all operations four times a year – and you worry about pulling the team into a half day session once a year! There are many other companies who have chosen to focus first on values and culture and let the revenue follow – and it certainly has.

This is not to say that the leaders of these companies don’t care about profits but they understand that if they want to have a company culture that lives out their values, passions and purpose, in order to meet the needs of their market, it all starts INSIDE. When we create and environment that models what we stand for, our employees take this OUTSIDE to serve our customers with pride. Remember, we cannot motivate anyone, we can just create an environment where people are self-motivated.

What’s It Worth?

How much is it worth to create a culture that delivers on the dream you once had for your company? Are you willing to close doors on the busiest shopping day of the year, or invest in your team so they have a better Work/Life Balance, or only work with clients who believe in doing business with respect and integrity? I think you can see the investment is worth the payout.

You simply cannot afford to ignore building a Culture that lives out your Vision, Passion, Purpose. It takes effort but the results can be seen by those who have made this central to who they are. If this seems like a challenge for you, contact me and lets do it together.

Robert Hunt