Ansarada's Sam Riley on intentional culture

Patrick Campbell Mar 16 2021
What does your favorite flavor of ice cream say about you? If you’re a vanilla fan does that signify the plain and basically status quo? How about Neapolitan enthusiasts? Are those just naturally indecisive people, or are they people that want it all? This delectable treat is loved by billions but most people are particular to their own palette or their brand... and I think this tells a story about people.

When you know the the story behind someone’s favorite ice cream, it may not unlock the deepest meaning as far as what makes them tick. But, if you do understand who someone is it can allow you to apply your leadership situationally. Knowing about Bob’s experience as a construction foreman can give you insight into why deadlines are so important to him. Glimpsing into Becky’s time as a line cook reveals why clear expectations drive her productivity. While no two individuals have the same story (or ice cream interpretation for that matter), it’s those collective tales that build an intentional culture.


No one has better credentials in this area than Sam Riley. As the CEO of Ansarada, he built a company culture unlike any that I’ve ever seen. And he is one of the top five people that I would ever want to work with out there in the world, and I think that's saying a lot, or at least that's saying a lot for me. After being invited into their Sydney office, he showed us the implementation of the values that Ansarada has all the way down to a stitch on the conference room chairs. It’s a skillset he has developed all the way back to his days working in an ice cream factory. So what exactly does an ice cream factory have to do with running a SaaS business?  Read on.

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Here we summarize the main takeaways for you to implement or hand off to your team for implementation.


Key term

What is company culture?

Company culture refers to the shared values, attributes, characteristics, and behaviors of an organization. It’s visible by the way an organization's people interact with each other and the through the decisions they make.

Company culture includes many components like company mission, goals, environment, ethics, and leadership style, etc.

Why is it important?

Company culture is crucial because it’s the basis to every organization. Strong company culture is the recognition and acknowledgement that people are the company’s most critical asset for success.  

When properly aligned, culture can foster an organization’s capacity to not only grow, but to succeed long term.


Action plan:

What to do today: 
  • Follow Sam Riley.
  • Schedule a time to meet with your exec and leadership teams to discuss the type of company culture you currently have or want to have. Is it in alignment with your company mission and values?
What to do next quarter:

Once you’ve discussed the kind of culture you currently have or that you think is ideal for your company to succeed, begin by taking some steps that will take you in that direction. Make your company culture front and center and be intentional. As Riley explains, lead by example to create the environment that you want.

Additionally, find out what aspects of your organizational culture are most important to your people, and think about performing a culture audit. Your goal is to discover what your people value most and support that. 

We’ve gathered some tips for you to consider as you develop, or improve, your company culture.

        • Learn from the past. 
          • Draw from past culture experiences that you’ve personally had. 
          • What worked and what didn’t?
        • Consider a culture audit.
          • Find out what aspects of your culture are most important to your people.
        • Ensure there’s alignment with your company mission, values, and goals.
          • Lead by example. 
        • Work as a team.
          • Eliminate any “us” versus “them” mentality. 
          • “We’re all players with different skills” working toward the same goals.
        • Communicate and listen.
          • Foster connections with your teams.
What to do within the next year:

Maintain and carefully evolve your culture. Culture takes a lot of work, so make sure you nurture it. But do make sure to continuously evaluate it so that it continues to evolve. Effectively developing your copmany culture will require difficult decisions that may include letting go of people who aren’t evolving with it.

Who should own this? 

All leadership. When aligned with strategy and leadership, a strong and thriving culture will, in turn, propel favorable outcomes leading to success.

Leaders have to model the behavior, expect and create the environment you want.


Watch the full episode


Coming up next week?

Next week Help Scout’s Nick Francis, talks to us about permeating shared values throughout a team.

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By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

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