We’re pleased to welcome Rich Sheridan back to the Higher Purpose Podcast. He joined us for episode 36 and what a great episode it was! Rich is the author of two books: Joy, Inc. and Chief Joy Officer. He’s also the CEO, Chief Storyteller, and Tour Guide of Menlo Innovations, a software design and development company. In this episode, we dive even deeper into creating a culture of joy in the workplace and what that looks like in practice. Listen to the full episode:
Starting from the top
Where do you begin? By creating the kind of company you want to come into every day. Rich is the first person in the office every morning, turning on the lights, putting on the coffee, cleaning the kitchen, and watching what he likes to call the “Sunrise at Menlo.” He emphasizes that the role of the CEO is the example setter; you set the tone, and the tone Rich wants to set is, “Hey, this is everybody’s job, including mine.” There’s nothing he would ask his employees to do that he wouldn’t be willing to do himself.
Where does this joy come from?
Rich wasn’t always joyful. He often shares that, in fact, he found joy from escaping from the tough and miserable times he was going through. He reveals this because he wants people to see that, if they were as miserable as he was, and he found a way out, then maybe they can, too. Joy is something they can achieve.
What is joy?
Joy is different from happiness. It isn’t possible to be happy every day. But joy is about having a purposeful long-term view of where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and what you’re willing to put up with to get to that outcome.
To Rich, joy is serving others, and you won’t find joy until you can answer these two questions: Who do you serve? And what would delight look like for them?
Leading with love at Menlo
At every point in our dealings with others, we can be harsh or kind. Both approaches are free, but one comes at a high cost.
One of Rich’s core values is taking a chance on people, which rolls all the way back to their interview and hiring processes, and rolls forward to a company culture of helping people succeed. He shares more anecdotes about how love manifests at Menlo, from parents sending their children to work there, to what happened collectively, as a community, when one of his team members had a new baby and couldn’t find child care.
When it’s time for tough love, Rich drives home the fact that we don’t have to harm the other person to do that. The conversation needs to shift from “build an employee” to “build a human being” — a lesson underscored when he ran into the first person he ever fired, years later, and also as he recounts the story of another employee who had left Menlo and returned… thrice!
Rich shares with us some parting messages:
Stop the contemplation, and just start trying small things. Run small experiments, and see what one thing you could do today to make things a little better tomorrow for you and the people around you.
Be the example you want to see throughout your organization, and that contagion can ripple quickly.
You have permission to think differently. There’s nothing stopping you, except that moment where you take a step.
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