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Going “All In” on Conscious Culture

Jun 15, 2021 | Business

Many companies treat culture as something they’ll get to eventually. This is not a good idea.

Why? The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

Each day that goes by, the neglected culture, and all the bad behaviors that come with it get further entrenched in your team.

Each day that culture gets pushed to the side it takes tenfold as long to make up for it down the line. By the time culture becomes a priority, the company is met with a culture they haven’t created (an unconscious culture) and likely wouldn’t have chosen—and their employees wouldn’t have chosen either.

Company culture has to graduate from unconscious to conscious. It has to be a priority that’s worked on perpetually as a core business objective.

This is really hard to do well, especially with all the other competing priorities in an organization. That’s why we launched It enables us all to start small. Leaders can find playbook components on the site that resonate and slowly start to rebuild.

This isn’t about awkward company off-sites or trust falls. In building a Conscious Culture, we took the best thinking and wisdom that’s out there, codified it, and then weaved it into how we do our work and how we find balance outside of the office.

Here’s a simple example: We don’t have new hires begin their work with us until their actual start date. Too many people have been put in that awkward position of being hired by a company—and then starting to work before they’re officially a member of the team. Many people unconsciously dive in and keep quiet about the frustration, even if that annoyance is real. Working with two-feet-in is critical, and we never want someone one foot in one foot out… this even applies to start dates!

We made a conscious commitment to let people live their lives and transition into the company on their actual start date. That’s also a way of making sure we don’t share sensitive information or company documents with someone who isn’t yet part of the team.

That may seem small, but it’s an easy, unconscious thing to miss when you’re in the crush of building a start-up. Those little decisions—how a company structures meetings, how (and how often) performance reviews are done, approach to interviews and hiring—add up to a company culture.

Being deliberate about that cultural soil is so important: everything else you do grows out of it. In our playbooks, we’ve written down—sometimes in exacting detail!—how our team uses laptops mid-interview or how we use Asana to stay organized or how we give specific, useful feedback (and regularly!). Making these habits something to pause and get right is what creates a Conscious Culture. Playbooks provide clarity, consistency, and connection to the team. They also help create a balanced, kind work environment—while delivering impact.

In order to fully embrace and live a Conscious Culture, these ideas must extend beyond the organization. To go “all in” on this concept, you have to look in the mirror and make individual conscious changes, too.

For me, this has meant spending more time focusing, prioritizing, and simplifying. Right now, my schedule is barebones. It consists of healthy eating, healthy habits, minimal distractions, compressing meeting time, and being fully present when I do take meetings.

That daily routine helps me stay focused, inspired and conscious. And, I’ve also learned something important: I can’t work 24/7. I can really only take six 100% present meetings per day (I used to do 10-15!). I don’t try to do more these days, and I don’t think you should either. It’s not healthy for anyone. A Conscious Culture is incompatible with a burnout culture.

The things I do outside of Bolt help create the space to be better at everything I do inside of Bolt. In sports, there’s cross-training. Practicing yoga, for instance, can improve your soccer skills. The same principle applies in business. Getting a good night of sleep can help us at work, maybe we’re more patient with our teammates and customers, or finally able to dream up a breakthrough idea.

My life outside of Bolt helps Bolt grow. I come up with business ideas from conversations with friends; I pull concepts from our efforts like that help me build our core business. I take the time away from work seriously because of how seriously I take work. My best self inside the office is possible because I make sure I’m my best self outside the office.

I’m all in on Conscious Culture. I’m fired up every morning because I think our business is changing commerce and because our culture is changing business.

We’re building something at Bolt that keeps our team excited, inspired, and able to cultivate the elements of their life that give them energy and meaning. I’m even more excited that we can take some of that and export it. Bolt is becoming a laboratory for successful Conscious Culture experiments, and we look forward to sharing more stories and learnings in the weeks and months to come.

Most importantly, we need more companies to join us. If you’re interested in getting involved in, please reach out!

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