Disclaimer: These are my takeaways and notes from Culture Summit. This blog is just my own personal interpretation of what the speakers said while I was taking notes. It might be messy and not understandable haha.

Elena Gomez Zendesk Chief Financial Officer

How do sub-cultures play in the overall company culture? How do you make it work while keeping the harmony of entire company culture? Downside of culture team is that they are in charge of culture, that’s why she has an amplify culture group. We don’t want to copy other people’s cultures

Rant against soft-skills: Real Skills: Dropping the “soft” skills and adopting “real” skills to not belittle these very important skills that are often regarded as not important versus hard skills like coding, etc.


Dan Spaulding Zillow Chief People Officer

How much does maintenance of culture work through company acquisition? Translation of company of where you were to where you want to go. People care more about what you stand for today and the future versus who you were in the past. Translating daily where Zillow was and how Zillow aspires to be as you continue to grow.

When do you know you should hire someone to manage company culture? What he learns at Starbucks, you don’t tell the stores what to do, you influence and inspire the stores what to do. Those stores run themselves, conversation of core values, Zillow founders waited for a year to decide core values. Dan doesn’t control the culture, Zillow people controls it through individual decisions on how they take away from culture or add to it.

How do you react to Glassdoor reviews? We encourage transparent feedback and we take each review on Glassdoor seriously and address them ASAP.

How did you solidify great leadership definition?

Curated 4 leadership qualities, then broke the leadership qualities into attributes. No company can outsource the relationship of a manager to employees, it has to come from developing that manager into a great leader.

Sarah Nahm Lever CEO at Lever


How do you scale culture and preserve it?

What type of company values do you carve into your culture from the inception of your company? Didn’t write company value for Lever until they were a 100 people company. We don’t have values when hiring the first employees at Lever, and we told early talent that they were going to help write Levers value as culture and value gets created through the growth of Lever

Do you believe in culture fit? We don’t believe in culture fit at Lever. We talk about cultural contributions, we interview talents and ask, “what can this person contribute to our culture?” Don’t hire for absence of weakness but hire for the presence of strength in talents. Strongest cultural contributors are often those who challenge company culture versus people who submit to existing company culture and values easily.

Making The Business Case For Culture Initiatives  Marta Riggins Global Director LinkedIn 

“Would the start up you were, be proud of the company you are becoming?” – Ed Martin


What is culture? Anything can be culture at a company, it’s very vague, that’s why it’s important to define culture in common language. People need to describe culture in the same language and vernacular

Why do we need culture? Culture is your brand, culture and employee experience is a differentiator, a stronger culture makes you an employer of choice, happy and engaged employees = strong performance and business results

“Everyone just needs to get their job done, we don’t need to waste money on culture” – Executives Everywhere

Millennial Talent Landscape

40% of workforce, global perspective, diverse (culturally), $ constraints (late marriage, late buying homes, etc), job switchers (we are consumers of work places, and want to find a place where we feel connected), and least engaged (in U.S. history)

What matters most to millennials?

Career Development, strength based performance, meaningful workplace connections (70% say they are willing to stay at a company if they can talk to their managers about non-work conversation) , and personal well-being (how do you help employees achieve financial goals, relationship goals, fitness goals, and community, if millennials have these 4 aspects, they are 85% more likely to stay in that company)

What is B2E Marketing? Business to employee marketing. Think of company as a brand and culture is your brand.

How to get stakeholder buy-in for culture?


  • Do your homework: what companies or best practices do we want to model after? Best practice share: visit top employers, talk about challenges and whats working, best way to get stakeholder buy-in is to admit that competitors are doing something better than you.
  • Define what is sacred at your company: what ritual, what activity, etc brings your company together and help employees live out company culture
  • Outline Key Focus Areas: focus on things that are low cost and high perceived value, ex. Would be volunteer work.
  • Make The Case For Culture: gather data in your company to prove the case for culture, like our company has the highest engaged employees in our space and its correlated to high performance, etc.


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