Make the most of your magic ingredient.

Yeast is like magic. It is the secret, almost invisible ingredient that makes bread rise. It creates action and life. It creates transformation. And alcohol. And stank.

But yeast only works if the conditions are favorable. If the environment is too cold it won’t activate. If the temperature is too hot it kills the yeast that makes the magic. #TooHotInTheHotTub

The human spirit is like yeast. It is your magic ingredient. It is the will to win. The drive to succeed. The hunger for more.

The human spirit fuels your resilience and determination. It is the force that will transform you into something even more remarkable tomorrow. Something far more remarkable than bread. Or beer.

But just as yeast needs the proper conditions to activate, so does the human spirit.

Remember

If you are a business owner, leader, parent, teacher, coach, or the person who runs Fight Club, you are responsible for creating the environment.

Your most important job is to make sure the environment doesn’t kill the magic ingredient.

Great people won’t stay in a toxic work environment.

Great athletes won’t stay to play on a negative team.

A lion tamer won’t stick his head in the mouth of a stressed-out lion. (At least not more than once.)

And most importantly, a poor home environment will prevent children from growing into the amazing adults they were born to be. We can’t let this happen.

Key Takeaway

Create an environment that lets the human spirit work its magic. Or seek out a supportive environment for yourself. And magic will surely follow.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

For more, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

There are no A-holes allowed at our agency. In fact, we baked the rule into our logo.

I’m not a huge fan of rules.  Creative people as a species are naturally averse to them. But if you want to develop a business with a strong culture you need some rules to guide you.

When I joined my first advertising agency executive team our first order of business was to create some simple rules to govern the organization. Because we believed that a great organization is made of great people who enjoy working together the first rule we unanimously agreed on was the ‘No Assholes’ rule. For those not familiar with the rule, or the obviousness of the phrase, it means that your organization will not tolerate people who act like A-holes.

Prevention

Preventing the A-holes from joining your team isn’t easy. Because they are on their best behavior in interviews. Sometimes we sniff them out (yeah, I said it). But often they sneak past our filters.  So as much as we try to prevent an A-hole from getting into our organizations in the first place, they get in. So now what?

The Problem

You just get rid of them, right?  After all, no one likes an A-hole. Unfortunately, it’s typically not that simple. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of talented A-holes. The drive, intelligence, confidence and will of a typical A-hole make things happen. It’s common for them to make a quick impact and create immediate wins.

But that upside comes with an equally significant downside. Because A-holes are uncomfortable to be around, they drain morale and sap energy. The unfortunate reality is that when you retain an A-hole, it sends a terrible message about your values to your most valued employees. You’ll watch them drop like flies.  Among the employees that you retain you’ll lose untold dollars in productivity as co-workers gather to talk about what an A-hole the A-hole is.

Of course, the worst problem of all occurs when the A-hole develops a close relationship with the client.  Because then the agency has to decide whether they want to lose the valuable contributions of the A-hole and irritate or lose a client.

Removal

I recommend a proven 2-step process to handle such problematic employees.  

  1. Ask a handful of cross-functional team members if they think the co-worker in question is an A-hole.  
  2. If the consensus is yes, put on your scrubs and perform an Assholectomy.

No Compromise

There simply is no room for the distraction, the division and the drama caused by A-holes. Accepting them tells the rest of the organization that it’s okay to be an A.  That can’t happen. Because eventually enough people will leave, or threaten to leave that you have no choice but to get rid of the jerk anyway.

After implementing the A-hole rule in the past, I’m proud to say we purged several very talented but very difficult people. And the culture, vibe, productivity and love for the organization improved as a result.

That’s why when I started The Weaponry I wanted it to be rule number one. I felt so strongly about it that we designed the rule right into our logo. We purposely removed the A-hole from the letter A in the word Weaponry. It is a constant reminder of our persona non grata.

Notice the A? Notice there is no A-hole?

Key Takeaway

Don’t be an A-hole. And don’t let A-holes on your team. They kill the culture and they ruin the fun. If an A-hole does sneak onto your team get rid of them quickly. It will send a message to the rest of your team that you care about them. And it shows that you care about creating an enjoyable work environment for your team. Which is worth more than all the A-holes combined.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of my foundational life and business philosophies check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The A-holes Rule.

I’m not a huge fan of rules.  Creative people as a species are naturally averse to them.  But if you want to develop a business with a strong culture you need some rules to guide you.

When I joined my first agency executive team our first order of business was to create some simple rules to govern the organization. Because we believed that a great organization is made of great people who enjoy working together the first rule we unanimously agreed on was the ‘No Assholes’ rule. For those not familiar with the rule, or the obviousness of the phrase, it means that your organization will not tolerate people who act like A-holes.

Preventing the A-holes from joining your team isn’t easy. Because they are on their best behavior in interviews. Sometimes we sniff them out (yeah, I said it). But often they sneak past our filters.  So as much as we try to prevent an A-hole from getting into our organizations in the first place, they get in. So now what?

You just get rid of them, right?  After all, no one likes an A-hole. Unfortunately it’s typically not that simple. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of talented A-holes. The drive, intelligence, confidence and will of a typical A-hole makes things happen. It’s common for them to make a quick impact and create immediate wins.

But that upside comes with an equally significant downside. Because A-holes are uncomfortable to be around, they drain morale and sap energy. The unfortunate reality is that when you retain an A-hole, it sends a terrible message about your values to your most valued employees. You’ll watch them drop like flies.  Among the employee your retain you’ll lose untold dollars in productivity as co-workers gather to talk about what an A-hole the A-hole is.

Of course the worst problem of all occurs when the A-hole develops a close relationship with the client.  Because then the agency has to decide whether they want to lose the valuable contributions of the A-hole and irritate or lose a client.

I recommend a proven 2-step process to handling such problem employees.  First, ask a handful of cross functional team members if they think the co-worker in question is an A-hole.  If the consensus is yes, put on your scrubs and perform the Assholectomy.

There simply is no room for the distraction, the division and the drama caused by A-holes. Accepting them tells the rest of the organization that it’s okay to be an A.  That can’t happen. Because eventually enough people will leave, or threaten to leave that you have no choice but to get rid of the jerk anyway.

After implementing the A-hole rule in the past, I’m proud to say we purged several very talented but very difficult people. And the culture, vibe, productivity  and love for the organization improved as a result. That’s why the ‘No Assholes’ rule will be printed on page one of The Perfect Agency Project handbook.