Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

How 2 Build a Successful Company Culture, with Bryan Burdick

People often dismiss company culture as “soft” or “HR,” but for many companies today, culture has been a key factor in attracting top talent and in driving innovation and value creation. In How 2 Build a Successful Company Culture, Bryan Burdick spoke from his deep experience building out Bizo, a company that was eventually acquired by LinkedIn for $175 million in 2014. LinkedIn is known as being one of the best places to work in the world, with a 4.4 rating on GlassDoor. The company boasts around a 70 on its Net Promoter Score, which is very high (Bizo scored a 97). Burdick found in his role as CEO that, when he hired better, the team worked together better, and ultimately the company could fire better if it make a mistake on personnel.

Burdick pointed out that college students are in-sync with their principles, living the life they want based on their values. Yet when they leave college and enter the “real world,” people lose touch with their principles. It is at that time that having defined company principles and values will act as a guardrail, helping people in companies make good decisions. At this point, Burdick mentioned the book Start With Why, stating that you need to ask “why are we doing this” when building a company culture. Forming the right company culture will have a positive impact on the business, and help it grow in the right way.

For instance, at Bizo, a former salesperson was hurt the company culture. When a number of employees complained, Burdick spoke with the salesperson, who agreed to change. However, within a month, they were “back to their old ways,” and the company had to make a difficult decision and let them go. Despite losing out on their sales, the change in the office seemed to happen almost overnight, boosting morale and ultimately increasing sales.

Bryan Burdick Company Culture

Burdick’s principles have carried into his current company, Clear Gov, a platform on which local governments benchmark against each other. Burdick joked that, after spending ten minutes explaining the Clear Gov business model to his 5 year old niece, she simply replied “Clear Gov rhymes with beer glove,” and he has been trying to figure out what a beer glove is ever since (he wants one). His role at Clear Gov started out as an angel investor, where he anticipated taking a backseat as a passive investor. However, Due to the positive interactions that he had with the Founder and CEO Chris Bullock, Burdick found that he and Bullock wanted to work together on growing the company, always putting culture first.

Thus, culture is an often overlooked, yet vital component in building a successful company. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states that great companies “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” In fact, he argues that your company culture (who you start your business with) is the number one predictive factor in becoming a great company. So whether you’re working on a business that you’ve had for years or are just starting your first venture, consider what your idea of a “successful” company culture would be. It’s never too late for a conversation with your team about whether your culture truly emulates your company values, and a conversation is the first step in the right direction.