Schedule a Free Consultation

Burning Man + Sledge Hammer + Addams Family

Burning Man + Sledge Hammer + Addams Family

By: Ross Paterson
We have been sharing insights and #XtraMile truths about hiring the last few weeks. Here is the most critical truth about hiring for your SMB team.


XM Truth: If you can’t define your culture—you can’t hire people that will fit your company.


We were working with a tech company in Virginia two years ago. Lots of military veterans, they’re gritty, fast, and well-led at all levels. When I individually asked the executives what made the company so strong, they talked about similar ideas, but they all used different words and stories.


With the whole executive team in a basement room, we began the work of creating a common language for these five big concepts. The next day in a full company meeting, we asked the employees to share what they saw as the unique qualities of the company that made them love their work. The executives were amazed as the same common themes emerged. We were on the right path.


We challenged the CEO and his team to codify these consistent ideas,  and to create a uniquely compelling language to describe them internally. This is what they came up with:

  • Burning Man + Afghanistan = we work on weird, hard things

  • Sledge Hammer = we work at a blistering pace

  • No Other Room = no one else is working on these problems

  • Lewis and Clark = boldly explore with great autonomy

  • Addams Family = quirky outsiders are welcome


So creative and unorthodox, which is the power of this unique company. Since the creation of this cultural language, they have hired the right person 85% of the time. Turnover is at an all-time low, and they are kicking ass and growing fast in their market right through a global pandemic.


So many of our clients and prospects struggle with a cultural definition. It is difficult to work and hard to make it a priority with tough daily battles demanding your attention. However, it will become the most powerful leadership lever in your toolbox, and create acceleration towards the #XtraMile.