Search Discovery President Mike Gustafson: Use Data to Drive Discovery (Part 1) - Transcend Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

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December 6, 2019

Search Discovery President Mike Gustafson: Use Data to Drive Discovery (Part 1)

Search Discovery President Mike Gustafson: Use Data to Drive Discovery (Part 1)

Watch the video here.


Patrick: So I’m here with my good buddy, Mike from Search Discovery. Mike, I appreciate it.


Mike: Yeah, absolutely.


Patrick: Funny thing is we did a post last week on the core values of Search Discovery. And it got such a great audience, probably over eight thousand views now, that we wanted to come back and talk to Mike about the core values, but also about the software that they use called 7Geese. And Mike and I have been friends for a while. We’re in a Venture group together, which is a bunch of CEOs. So we always are talking about culture, OKRs, core values, how to get it out into your company. And I was honestly amazed cause the pictures were bad, but how good of a response we got from just saying you guys put this out all over your office with the core values and what people have done and how they’re resonating those core values. So I just wanted to talk to you about it and kind of get your thoughts on why you do it, how you do it and how’s it been for Search Discovery. 


Mike: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been terrific. So we’ve been using this particular tool for two years now. We established our core values a while back.


Patrick: Yep. And how many do you have?


Mike: We have eight.


Patrick: Ok.


Mike: We started with four. They were not definitive enough. So after a year of using those four, we clarified them. So we didn’t really change them, we just expanded how we talked about them.


Patrick: Yep.


Mike: So then we had seven with an aspirational value of wellness, which we didn’t feel that we were living out completely, but we wanted to. And so then we worked for a few years to make that a core value and now we have eight core values with wellness kind of transitioning to an actual.


Patrick: What do you mean aspirational value of wellness? Or an aspirational value period.


Mike: Sure. So for us there’s kind of pay to play core values that everybody has, right? Like everybody talks about trust and you know, respect and responsibility.


Patrick: Yeah, innovation. Yeah.


Mike: But those are just kind of like table stakes that lots of people have. They’re not unique to what we’ve decided is important to us and how we behave towards one another.

Patrick: Gotcha.


Mike: So that’s what a core value is. It was an articulation of what were the unique behaviors and attitudes that we felt were most important to what we’ve become over the years.


Patrick: Yep.


Mike: And how we articulate those. And then as we went through that, there were things that we really wanted to be, but we weren’t quite yet.


Patrick: Gotcha.


Mike: In that, we could say it, but the reality was we weren’t living those things out. We didn’t see them reflected and manifested in our company behaviors or individual behaviors consistently. So- but we wanted it to be. So we made it an aspirational value and then we’ve worked for years to encourage people in that value, ensure that as we develop new approaches or policies or programs and you know, we finally have gotten to the point where we feel like we’re now really living that out and made it a core value.


Patrick: That’s actually incredibly impressive because we do a lot with culture and we talk to a lot of companies about their culture and rarely do we hear people say, this is what we are today, but here’s where we want to be. And they’re willing to work- I mean I think I heard you right, for two years to get there. So you identified something and then you worked your way to get there.


Mike: Yeah.


Patrick: I don’t think I ever really hear that period.


Mike: Yeah, I mean the idea- it’s not an original idea. We got it from a book from many other people who’ve talked about core values. Particularly Patrick Lencioni talks about that a little bit in a couple of his books. There’s a few other people. But it was exciting. And It was interesting, even after a year people started to assume it was a core value and he had to say no we’re not quite there yet. But it is important. And even the 7Geese system has helped clarify, oh we’re seeing people be recognized for living out that value even though it’s aspirational.


Patrick: Yep.


Mike: On a pretty consistent basis. So part of it was, even deciding how we decide when we’ve kind of crossed that threshold. And really it wasn’t even a definitive moment. It was, oh people now have bought into it. People are living it out. People are talking about it like it’s a core value.


Patrick: Yeah.


Mike: We didn’t stand up in front of the company and say ok it’s a core value now.


Patrick: Check!


Mike: When we announced it as aspirational, we did.


Patrick: Yeah, yeah.


Mike: And then we’ve just kind of- now it’s talked about like it’s one of our core values.


Patrick: That’s awesome. And then y’all again do an amazing job, just when you walk around your office and you see on every screen and you have the people, the pictures and is it testimonials? Like what is it that’s popping up when it- you know I see resilience up there.


Mike: Yep.


Patrick: And it’s on Tori. Like it’s going- is it scrolling through all the ways she does different core values or certain core values? Like how does that work?


Mike: So the way it works is, we use 7Geese to run a lot of how we keep alignment in the business.


Patrick: Ok.


Mike: So we use it for our OKRs. We use it for our feedback process that we do quarterly for our employees. And we use it for recognition.


Patrick: Gotcha.


Mike: And so, it’s really great cause at the end of the year when you’re doing- or at the end of each quarter when you’re sitting down with our team members to say hey, how are things going? How are we helping you be successful? We can look at how they had worked towards OKRs that aligned up to company OKRs. We can see what feedback they had given others, when feedback they had received and what public recognition they had given. Not everybody loves public recognition, necessarily. But it’s been a really important part of what we’ve done for the last five or six years where at our town halls we do big public recognition for a few people.


Patrick: Yeah.


Mike: By our senior leadership team. But that’s not enough, it’s not frequent enough.


Patrick: Yeah, yeah.


Mike: And so we for a while in Slack, we had a different tool where people could give recognition. And you’d see it. We have a Slack channel called SDI Props. And so everybody subscribed to it and can see in real time whenever somebody gets recognition and they can respond to that. Which is actually a really cool additional benefit.


Patrick: Yeah, that’s great.


Mike: And so 7Geese gave us this additional thing where it integrates with Slack. So anybody can go in at any time and give somebody recognition. We really try to encourage people to do it for a person. You can do it for a team.


Patrick: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Mike: So it’s very specific to the person about how they lived out or exemplified a core value. And so, what’s awesome about it for me and I think for our team is two things. One, we’re creating a place where people can get recognized for the great- not just the work they’re doing but how they’re doing the work.


Patrick: Yeah.


Mike: Which is what core values are all about. It’s about things we’ve decided are important behaviorally of how we treat each other, treat our clients, how we work together, how we think about things. And this gives us a way to see and reinforce what that actually looks like. Instead of it being just a nice definition with a pretty icon-


Patrick: Right.


Mike: Hanging on a wall. Everyday, you see a reminder in the Slack channel, on our TVs. Cause we have people in the offices, but also you know in their home offices.


Patrick: Right.


Mike: They see everyday examples of this is what it looks like. It’s not always big grand gestures or big events or big moments. It’s little things.


Patrick: Yeah, yeah.


Mike: Here’s how this person helped me, here’s how they did this thing, whatever that might be. And so the tool, what it’s doing is it’s just looking at recency, right? And things in the last couple weeks, it just rotates through those.


Patrick: It’s really cool guys, you should check it out, 7Geese. And I’m kind of laughing in my head because I forgot the accurate statistic but it’s something like 65% of employees can’t name all your core values.


Mike: Right.


Patrick: And I hate to admit this, but one of my partners was giving a speech on core values and I was in the audience and he started going through Transcend’s core values. And I’m like please Lord, don’t ask me because I can’t think of the last one. I just had the you know, brain freeze. So that got to me at least thinking like, well how can Transcend know what our core values are and be living them out everyday and we’re a smaller company. So the question I’m really going to is, I mean is there a certain size where you think this should be implemented or should this be implemented you know, day one of you are kicking off a company?


Mike: I think you could do it out of the gate. Something. It doesn’t have to be 7Geese, whatever. But if you have core values, you should find ways to reinforce them. And let your team show and talk to each other about how they’re living them out together.


Patrick: Yeah.


Mike: It’s not about me enforcing it or me- cause we did the same thing. I always worried like, ok we got to get everybody to memorize them. But I’ve really moved away from that.


Patrick: Yeah.


Mike: Like I don’t actually care if you could tell me what our eight core values are. I care that you actually behave them.


Patrick: That you live them out.


Mike: Right?


Patrick: Yeah, yeah.


Mike: And so there’s something subconscious I think that happens when you see it all the time. You see real examples of it. And even if you might call it something different than I do, if we’re aligned that it’s really the behavior that we want and we value and we believe is important to how we work together-


Patrick: Yeah.


Mike: That’s ultimately the goal and when you have a public system where people can do that for each other, it’s really powerful.

Patrick: Gotcha.



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