It’s funny how familiar music can take you back to specific places and times in your life.
For me, great business leaders are the same way. Their words trigger thoughts and memories. In fact, I can still remember the first time I heard Tom Mendoza, Vice Chairman of NetApp, and I can still recall his powerful message about acknowledging people.
It was March 3, 2008, at Downtown Disney Hotel in Anaheim, California. As a new NetApp partner, we had somehow snagged Mendoza to keynote our Zumapalooza Customer Summit. What a defining moment that turned out to be for our company, our customers, and our future.
During his keynote at Zumapalooza 2008, Mendoza urged us to create and foster innovative cultures by “catching people doing something good.” More importantly, he commanded us to acknowledge these good works in a personal, timely way. Forget the e-mail platitudes—that’s ordinary and impersonal. Rather, recognize wins as you see them, and do it in a special way with a personal phone call, a hand-written note, a letter sent to an employee’s home address.
NetApp has been in the top 10 on FORTUNE’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the last five consecutive years. So I was excited to learn that these principles are still at the heart of NetApp’s strategy around culture. In a recent interview, Tom shared his tips for motivating people to achieve more, even in good times. Here are his top five:
- Attitude —Nothing great was built by people that didn’t want to do it.
- Candor—Tell each other the truth. We want to hear it in the meeting. If you do not agree, don’t say it outside the meeting.
- Positive Culture—Always catch someone doing something right.
- Focus on Leadership—Care about the people you manage. What are their hopes, dreams, and aspirations? Keep their families in mind.
- Embrace Change—You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse.
If you have 4 minutes to spare, and you are passionate about your people, I encourage you to watch Tom speak about creating an innovative culture.
Mendoza holds a fond place in my memory bank. Five years after that speech, NetApp has grown to represent 40% of our business, and we are thrilled to be associated with such a first-class company. Building a vibrant culture has become priority #1 at Zumasys, and I invite you learn more about how we are putting employees first. More importantly, I encourage you to share your own ideas and stories on the topic by sending me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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