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Creating a Healthy and Consistent Company Culture

Hi, and a warm welcome to The Human Side of Business Podcast. I’m your host Ange MacCabe. I have the pleasure of introducing you to Gabriel Cowan, Chief Executive Officer at Audio Design Desk.

Audio Design Desk, won 2022 NAB Product of the Year, CES Innovator and Fast Company’s “Next Big Thing In Tech” with its AI-assisted software suite that reinvents the process of creating audio for video. Used on Netflix, HBOMax, Amazon Prime, and others, ADD gives creatives the ability to perform sound design, sound effects, and music in real-time, turning hours of tedious work into minutes of immersive fun. In this episode Gabriel and I dive into workplace culture and discuss the strategies behind maintaining a consistent and healthy work environment.

Developing Workplace Culture

Gabriel Cowan: So I think in terms of creating a positive culture, there will always be conflict, there will always be issues. If you can remove the assumptions, remove the gossip, the minute that you start hearing people chattering and go and step into whatever the issue is and leader through curiosity - my experience is that there's a real reason for whatever the issue is, and the person on the other side of that issue is struggling with it, and they need resources. These are the three resources we have. We have time, money and creativity. And we don't have any more time or any more money. So we have to get creative about solving this problem. And that's where this trust can really help.

Open Communication in Leadership

Gabriel Cowan: I think what has been positive about our culture, even though it’s on Zoom, is just keeping really open with everybody. So in these morning meetings, I really share exactly what's going on with a fundraising thing or with a business thing, or with our business, the good and the bad. But to have people share in the challenges as well as the opportunity really does create that environment where we've all experienced challenges. And somebody like, literally, sometimes an intern will have a voice in one of the challenges that I'm presenting in the morning, and that'll be the spark of an idea that solves that challenge. Not to mention that just having a community to commiserate with makes you feel better.

Utilizing Employee Skill Sets

Gabriel Cowan: You're always going to get 200% out of somebody when they're doing something that they like. And so as much as I possibly, I find out where people are, what they like to do, and then try to lead them towards that. My partner in this business is a guy named Ryan Francesconi, he said a job is three things: It's how much you learn, how much you make, and how much shit you take. That's it. Ryan is a programmer, he could be making, like, ridiculous money. He's like, I'm not making as much, but I take zero shit and I'm learning a ton. And it is true that not taking crap, that's a huge pressure valve that can be released. So we try to lead with empathy and we try to make sure that they're all learning.

Defining Expectations

Ange MacCabe: Right, so my definition of good performance from a consulting perspective is that people are industrious, they can have high levels of autonomy. There's candor and transparency, and they're huge problem solvers. And in the consulting world, problem solving is not as commonsensical as one would think it would be. So one of my jobs in creating Intuity Performance was to really kind of check my own expectations at the door, and I guess figure out what's my 75%, versus me having the expectation that a consultant is going to be able to step in and meet my expectations out of the gate without me saying anything? So I guess my question has multiple parts in the sense of how are people showing up in your organization if they're not meeting your expectations?

If you're interested in learning more from our Spotlight Leaders check out Laura Meyer's Leadership Spotlight on: Leading with Intention.

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