Ezra’s 6 Part CEO System
1. Have fun.
That doesn’t mean screw around — it means do what it takes to show up to the job whole. Take care of your body; take care of things outside of work like relationships, hobbies, and personal life; get enough sleep.
Then we bring a positive attitude and enjoy ourselves and look to make it a party.
Because let’s get serious for a second: you don’t know how long you have. You could get sick. People die. You could get hit by a bus. The idea that you’re promised a long life is not always accurate.
So if you’re not enjoying yourself, then in my opinion you’re missing the point of this game we call life.
2. Make good stuff that truly serves the world.
If you aren’t making good products that have integrity, then what are you doing? What’s the point?
You won’t have a long-term business if you make bad products, and you won’t feel good about yourself either.
So make good products, then continually make your products better by listening to customer feedback, looking to innovate, and paying attention to market forces.
3. Be profitable.
You can have all the fun and make all the great stuff you want, but the business won’t be sustainable if it isn’t making money.
And if you can pull that off — have fun, make good stuff and be profitable — at any scale, whether it’s $100,000/year or $1,000,000/year, then you’ve won the game that’s called business.
Everyone is focused on scale, and hey, scale is wonderful. I’m trying to make $100 million liquid, so trust me — I’m interested in scale. But not at the expense of having a good time and making good stuff.
So that’s our driving force behind what we do in our businesses.
How Do We Indoctrinate New Hires into this Culture?
So that is how we create our company culture at the macro level. Now, let’s look at the micro level.
Here’s how we inspire and motivate each of our team members individually:
1. Make sure they’re comfortable.
We all work remotely, so it’s important that everyone has a proper workspace. We look at each team member and ask, “Do they have a desk? Do they have a computer that works well? Is there any other way we can help make their work space more comfortable?”
2. Give them agency and autonomy.
Corporate hierarchy is a fun concept, and obviously it exists and you need people at every level of the game, but there’s a level at which it’s BS.
Here’s what I mean: there is only the entire system. There is no isolation. Take away customer support, your business is broken. Take away product, your business is broken. Take away marketing, your business is broken.
Every piece of that corporate structure is as important as every other piece.
That’s why I tell my employees, “Listen, you’re the only person who can see from your unique vantage point, and we want to know what you see. If you see a way you could have more fun, tell us. If you see a way we could serve our customers better, tell us. If you see a way we could make better products, tell us.”
We may not take the feedback every time, but we always consider it.
This makes people feel like they actually have an impact on what’s going on. The result is that they enjoy their job more, and we end up creating better products and providing better service to our customers.
3. Give them a growth vision.
We ask each person, “What are you interested in — management, advertising, copywriting, social media? — and how can we support you in getting there?”
We want to make sure people understand there’s a place for them to go.
We even build hierarchies in our Customer Support. It’s the toughest devision with the highest turnover, so we do our best to graduate people up the corporate ladder.
We give people training, growth opportunities, and support in reaching their goals within their work career and without.
4. Make sure they’re well compensated.
In terms of compensation, we’re as generous as possible. We pay fair for whatever the position is (and then some).
We also give paid sick leave, paid vacation, 401k, health benefits, paid holidays, and on top of all that, we’re chill. We’re never asking people to work 50- or 60-hour weeks.
The Leadership Team will put in extra hours sometimes, sure, but they also have more flexibility to take time off.
If you consider everything — the culture, growth opportunity, competitive compensation — there’s no better place in the world to work.
(I think we’ve only had 2 people choose to leave. One retired and the other decided to become a full-time mom, but never because they wanted a job somewhere else.)
That’s how you attract high-level talent to come work for your team, and how you get them to stick around.
When most people start a business, they think culture doesn’t matter that much. They think it’s all about critical tasks, formal organization, and people…
But at scale, culture ultimately is the most important thing in your business. Maybe that’s why the CEO of Netflix keeps writing books about it.
Keep These 6 Categories in Balance & Your Business Will Thrive
That’s the system I use to manage my companies at the highest level.
And if the 6 parts of this system — strategy, leadership, critical tasks, culture, formal organization and people — sit in balance, then your business will thrive.
I recommend looking at each of them once a month.
This will help you be a more effective leader, and it will help you scale much easier than if you’re making decisions in isolation in any one of these particular categories.
That’s my rant — I hope it was helpful!