October Culturati: Magazine

By Myste Wylde, COO, Culturati

As crisp mornings and turning leaves signal a seasonal changing-of-the-guard, fall provides an excellent opportunity for evaluation. Every year I pause for introspection and examine what should stay and what should go, (a leg up on the old “new year, new you” if you will).

I find this also works well within organizations, and at Culturati, Q4 is an especially exciting time. As the end of 2022 draws near, we’re taking stock and connecting more deeply with our network to better understand your challenges and goals. Surveys have gone out to CEOs, CHROs, and the larger community, and November marks the official start to 2023 program planning with our Knowledge Partners.

Initial survey responses highlight mounting economic tension with financial models changing as uncertainty increases. Spend freezes hamper revenue forecasting. Companies struggle to balance contingency plans with business development (while ideally maintaining transparency for employees). And, inflation and housing prices add another consideration to return to office. Concern then bleeds into de-prioritized DEI+ and other initiatives which can take a back seat to more existential issues.

Retention is still top of mind as is keeping remote employees engaged, navigating the post pandemic environment, generational leadership issues, and protecting HR’s strategic seat at the table. Topically, the highest ranking categories thus far are the future of the workplace, the science of culture-building, strategic leadership, talent, and mental health.

I’m also freshly returned from San Francisco where I attended Culture Summit and Atlassian Presents: Work Life. At Culture Summit, Managers/Directors/and other People Leaders gathered at SF’s Metreon to engage in two days of speakers and activities. The standout for me was Calendly CPO, Jeff Diana’s, keynote on the incredible investment Calendly has made into their culture. Their “Remote First” approach includes a $1000 stipend for setting up a home office, membership with conference credits to WeWork (or similar), and a three-day, twice-a-year gathering…for all employees. CEO, Tope Awotona, also creates a welcome video for each new hire and handwrites cards for their “Moments that Matter” gift boxes (weddings, babies, new home, and so on). Key components to “Remote First” are the facilitation of people getting together, the right communication infrastructure (Slack, intranet), and a value set that is fit for purpose and tied to behaviors. As Jeff points out, remote work shouldn’t be seen as a way to save money. In their case, the cost is actually higher with travel budgets and so on, but it’s an investment.

Other noteworthy moments include Steven Huang and Shane Metcalf on “Psychadelic Therapy as the Next Employee Benefit,” LinkedIn’s Leah Smart, Awaken author Michelle Kim, and the Conversation Factory’s Daniel Stillman (mainly because he’s really fucking funny).

At Atlassian Present: Work Life, I enjoyed getting to learn more about “Team Anywhere” as well as Jira, Confluence, and Atlas capabilities. Featured keynotes Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Candace Parker were breakout stars of the stage with their raw story-telling, camaraderie, and surprisingly sage advice. Additionally, the Biology of Belonging Bootcamp with Culturati Scholar, Rajkumari Neogy, started two weeks ago, and I’m expecting the unexpected.

A newfound passion of mine are the casual “culturati chats” I’ve been having with various community members. Recent conversations turned up interesting observations from both DLA Piper’s, Amy Warmke, and Brightstar Capital’s Tom Meredith, on a Gen Z “return to roots,” old-school hustle ethic. Tom speculates on the rise of traditional values and its connection to belonging, as well as the focus on value-based, purpose-driven consumption. Ethics, sustainability, and brands taking a stand all factor in.

GitLab’s Darren Murph spoke to a thematic shift from “where people work” to “how work happens” emphasizing the importance of teams. GitLab’s new TeamOps helps organizations operating in any environment make the most of this crucial connective tissue and social capital.

At NXP, Elsa Zambrano and Rachel Halls are focusing on their new Manager Intensive which ties together core practices and values. And, at Atlassian, Danielle Dannenberg is digging into the employee engagement life cycle, scaling systems, and the microcosms of culture.

Hagerty’s Andy Heller discussed how their leadership avoids lip service by baking in a growth mindset and dedicating serious resources to helping people grow. And, new Culturati scholar, Jeremy Hunter, shared his insights into how he helps execs manage themselves to achieve extraordinary results.

As we continue surveying and having these conversations we encourage your input. Our community is a direct line to what’s really happening within organizations and your contributions are an invaluable part of our process. The programming we develop for 2023 is critical to our mission to change the world through the workplace — and we need your help. If you haven’t received a survey link, you can access it here or drop me a line anytime for a one-on-one chat (myste@efctx.org).

With our thanks,




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Culturati Team

Culturati is a community of CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors and other c-suite leaders who practice & study culture building and share our play books.