Bethany: Welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at purpose led brands and their strategies. I’m Bethany Andell, President of Savage Brands, and I’m excited today to welcome my friend Curtis Hite, CEO of Improving. Improving is an IT services company focused on technology management and consulting services, but what really makes me excited to have you here today is your commitment to Conscious Capitalism and to leading a company on purpose. So, thanks for coming.
Curtis: Thanks Bethany, very happy to be here and excited to discuss this with you.
Bethany: I hope that some of our listeners have heard of or are involved with Conscious Capitalism, but just to kind of level set and give us some context for the conversation today why don’t you give us a brief overview of their core tenants.
Curtis: There are four pillars of Conscious Capitalism. The first and maybe the most difficult is a purpose beyond just making profit. A lot of companies focus on profit, and while it’s very necessary, I think it’s becoming more necessary that purpose is one of the leading factors in a company. The second tenant, the stakeholder model. Again, many companies focus on a shareholder, they might focus on their customers or employees, but the ecosystem of stakeholders in a company goes well beyond that; into the community, into the industry, your suppliers, even the families of employees. Third pillar is commitment to culture, creating a good workplace culture, one that represents the company and is aligned with the purpose and stakeholders. Finally, conscious leadership, that’s the tenant that pulls everything together.
Bethany: So, at Improving, your purpose is all about trust, and I’ll let you explain a little bit about that. Just give us some more background about Improving and your values and what that purpose is.
Curtis: I was actually at the Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit watching a keynote speaker. Internally we call this a six-hand story, but it was a very impactful day. I learned about the perception of the IT professional then. Outside of business development and sales, IT has the worst perception amongst CEOs out there. When I heard that for the first time it sunk in. Part of it, that we deserved that, and as a community we have earned it in some ways. In other ways we haven’t, but regardless, it’s ours to own. It was very impactful that day. I really wanted to change it, I’ve discussed that inside our company, and because technology is so pervasive in almost every business, it really shouldn’t be that way.
Curtis: A little bit later one while going through a seminar with Stephen Covey on The Speed of Trust, I realized what really was happening was that technology groups were breaking trust with their stakeholders. Trust became a fundamental aspect of our business, where it’s something we look at every day. We consider it our first job every day to establish trust with all of our stakeholders. Not to build software, not to consult, but to built trust.
Bethany: So, what you do really is down the line from where you start, which is trust.
Curtis: Absolutely. It’s more important how we do it and how we relate to people prior to what we do.
Bethany: I think the world thanks you for bringing trust into IT. I can relate.
Curtis: I hope. It’s a big challenge. It’s a promise you can never keep all of the time, and that’s the burden because it’s scary. You will break it, we have broken it, and then that’s actually an opportunity, not one we like to experience very often but to get better, to right the wrongs, and to deliver new results, which hopefully rebuild trust.
Bethany: So, how does that play into your value system? What are your values?
Curtis: We have three core values. We consider identity outside of the aspirational value of establishing trust. The first is a commitment to excellence, rising above, and knowing that excellence is not an occasional act but is a consistent habit. That’s very, very important because if you can operate at a very high level and then you return to some other level, all you’ve done is show the gap between where you can be and where you can’t. Excellence is one of those core values. Another is involvement, probably the most important core value of the three, and that’s going beyond your daily responsibilities.
Curtis: Our success as a company, and we’ve enjoyed quite a bit of it for an extended period of time, is a consequence of our collective involvement. It’s not me, it’s not the other leaders, it’s everybody in the company. And then finally, dedication. We define that as thinking of others a little bit more without thinking less of ourselves. I think that’s an important symbiotic relationship. We do need to be thinking of ourselves, but we should also think about that only in the context of others that are surrounding us; our stakeholders, our people, our colleagues, or our friends.
Bethany: That’s great. Curtis, I can feel how much this means to you and I look forward to our next episode where we can actually get into the trenches and talk about how these values come to life inside the organization. Thank you so much for being here today.
Curtis: Thank you very much.
Bethany: That concludes this episode of Brandonomics, and we’ll see you next time.
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