The inspiration for this post is the new employee orientation program we’ve started at Rodale Inc, Get Rooted at Rodale. To kick the program off, I was asked to share my five keys to finding success while working at Rodale. After writing them out, I thought it would be good to share them with everyone—including employees who’ve already been through orientation and all of my blog readers.
Sure, you might not work here, or if you do, you might not forever, but even so, these suggestions will work for a lot of companies…at least for places that are committed to doing work that matters and to making the world a better place.
1. Be curious. Ask questions. Never assume anything. Get to know our customers like they’re the most interesting people in the world—because they are! Read all sorts of crazy things. Go shopping at different places, including in small towns and in foreign countries (I always say shopping is market research). Know what’s going on in the world, but don’t believe everything you read. Or see. Try out all the new social media platforms and watch random videos online…and sometimes, watch TV. Go see films that are unusual. Wonder about nature and the universe and our place in it. Most of all be curious about yourself and what you love to do, because when you find it, you’ll really succeed. And be happy at the same time.
2. Be ambitious and bold. Don’t wait for projects to land in your lap or for people to take notice. Go after what you’re interested in and ask for more. Be respectful of your colleagues, and communicate with grace and honesty. Don’t be satisfied with yourself just because you have a great idea; what are you doing to make it real? I always say thinking of new ideas is easy. Turning them into reality? Not so much. Making new ideas real takes ambition and bold action. And our competitors are coming from surprising and unusual places. So think big, and then make big things happen.
3. Be adventurous. Be fearless about trying new things, and forgive yourself for failing. We all fail. Go new places. Do new things. Experiment and laugh about it when it doesn’t work. Doing the same thing over and over again is a recipe for depression and a darker world. Let the light in by breaking down walls and opening windows! Talk to strangers (but always be a little careful, too)—OK, don’t do anything stupid, but have fun! When you surprise and delight yourself, you are more able to surprise and delight others.
4. Be friendly and kind. This is something that sets us apart from a lot of other places, and people notice it all the time. Rodale is all about creative positive solutions for people, so practice positivity in your own life, and you will grow. There’s no excuse for not treating people with respect and kindness. But it goes further than that: Be self-aware—check in with people and make sure you’re being effective; don’t just talk about yourself all the time. Ask questions! Be considerate that there are all sorts of differences here, and that’s what makes it interesting! And when in doubt, smile, laugh, and let the drama go.
5. Be true. First, be true to you, to your own values and soul and your own dreams. We are most successful when our employees’ personal dreams are aligned with our dreams. Second, be true to our mission. You don’t have to be perfect; you don’t have to run or look like a cover model (I don’t!), but you do have to fundamentally believe in what we are trying to accomplish here and get some joy out of it. Finally, be true to each other. Tell the truth; look for truth. Accept and understand that truth is different for each person and from each perspective, but look for it, anyway. And one of my truths is that even though we are first and foremost a mission-based business, we are a business. And the revenue and profits we generate go into investing in our future and in your future. Together, we create the future.