Bruce was interviewed by Matthew E. May for American Express OPEN Forum. From the interview:
OF: What did G Adventures gain from eliminating things like traditional titles and functions, such as CEO and human resources?
BPT: It helped provide a sense of freedom, as well as help underline what’s most important in our business: the customer.
Everything about our success is based around our customer service and if we don’t take care of our customers, somebody else will. To do that well you have to manage your people differently. To drive a culture that is customer obsessed is hard if you don’t understand that it’s all about two things: happiness and people.
Human resources was created to take away people’s freedom, which restricts happiness. It is a department that is set up so companies avoid errors as they get bigger while systematically eliminating both people’s freedom and the ability to create happiness. It takes a bit of faith, and that is where karma creeps into business because you have to believe that if you get your people and culture right, everything will fall into place.
OF: In the Innovation section of the book, you say that “your culture is your brand.” Are you redefining both?
BPT:I don’t think you can ever stop redefining your culture or your brand. They are living, breathing entities that have very little to do with you and more about what people think of you. I think the great misconception in today’s business world is the ownership of brand. You’re only as good as what people think of you and you’re only as strong as your weakest person or department.
Entrepreneurs are notoriously paranoid and never settle. They always think they can do things better and spend many sleepless nights thinking about how to achieve this. Good entrepreneurs realize early on that people are what drive a successful business. You can never stop redefining your culture, which in turn breathes life into your brand.
Again, your brand is nothing without people and what they think of you.