LFP175 – The Ever-Increasing Importance of Creating a Company Culture w/Keith Smith CEO Payability

Back in the day when business was more monocultural in many dimensions, and indeed today in more monocultural societies, “culture” was implicit and did not need explicitly defining. However in the modern, ever-more globalised, ever-more multicultural world binding together a group of people, possibly in different countries into one coherent entity is an ever-increasing challenge.

Keith Smith is a serial Founder who created a Fintech first in 1992 (this sounds like the earliest the LFP has ever heard about…), followed by four businesses in other industries until returning to Fintech co-founding Payability.

Keith thus has considerable experience of what works and what does not and a long track record in experimenting and finding ways to bind people together both within a company and at the same time “being able to think like your clients do”.

Naturally the challenge of corporate culture has only increased with governments reactions to covid – onboarding people into a culture for example being far more of a challenge when people don’t meet in the flesh.

Topics discussed include:

  • the top LFPs for entrepreneurs re entrepreneurial skills
  • Keith ate in a restaurant in New York – how novel and how nice…
  • the importance of the small things in life – maybe we will appreciate them more going forwards…
  • introverts as Founders along with the more obvious extrovert Founders
  • the importance of meeting up to bond a group of people in all circs, business included
  • building trust is much harder when business is “work from home/online”
  • lessons learned from watching Monkey World
  • “social glue”
  • Keith’s career journey as a serial Founder –  now on his 6th startup
  • first startup was in 1992 – a Fintech (!) – Cyber Mortgage – long before Fintechs existed
  • timing is everything – being too far-seeing and ahead of time is not such a blessing
  • is one one’s own toughest possible boss when one goes indie/founds a company?
  • the role of a harsh inner voice in entrepreneurs
  • compare and contrast being a parent and founding a company
  • the hierarchical structure of society and the need for asabiyyah, centripetal force, to bind it together
  • what is the common attribute for a given corporate culture
  • the greater importance in more multicultural/global societies/companies compared to more monocultural societies of creating a given corporate culture to bind together everyone – in the latter case culture can be implicit and implicitly learned
  • globalisation vs localisation challenges – being able to have a central culture yet also be able to “think like your customers”
  • how one enculturates new joiners to a company – especially in working from home times
  • Keith’s three principles:
    1. be purposeful about the type of culture you are trying to create
    2. the culture of a company should be led by the CEO but not owned by the CEO – it’s a shared responsibility of every employee
    3. two important tests – “the best friend” test and the “Sunday night” test as barometers of success in creating an appealing culture
  • handling corporate subcultures – whatever your core culture then eg tech team will have a different subculture from a sales team
  • cultures as a prioritisation of virtues/values – eg “success” or “teamwork” as a prima mota will deliver very different outcomes
  • ” good culture provides an effective operating system for your company”
  • Payability are ~100 employees about one-third of whom have joined in the last year during with work form home period
  • deliberate techniques to improve onboarding in these circs – pairing, shadowing, buddying approaches/techniques
  • international dimension
  • Payability provides specialised Financial products to help ecommerce sellers  selling into the US (eg Amazon/Walmart/etc sellers):
    1. daily working capital
    2. help to buy advertising
    3. help to buy inventory
  • they have invested over $3bn into this are to date
  • shoutout for what Payability needs more of and their big mission
  • Payability have offices in the US and Poland

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!