Would you sack your biggest client if they were making your team unhappy? Create a BIG hole in your revenue and profit? Actually put some of your team at risk due to the financial hit?
“We want our team to be happy”.
Pretty much every company says this at some level. And in the inimitable words of Greta Thurnberg, “blah blah blah”. It usually is as real as the staged photos of smiling employees (or occasionally, as we don’t have any real smiling employees, a stock photo of smiling white people).
But not for Secret Source.
Richard Clarke always wanted a happy company. But the reality is that at the outset, when the “not entirely happy” sh!t hit the “grow and make more profit” fan…
… the fan did sometimes do its work. The normal expectation of what a business should be, i.e. revenue growth and profitability above all else, just kind of ran its course.
Until he was backed up against the wall by one of his team. Either our happiness counts and this client goes… or we keep the client, but we stop talking about happiness as THE thing.
Ballsy? Yes. Direct? Yes. The right thing to ask?
Richard chose happiness.
And ironically (or not) the company has grown by 50% a year since.
This has to be one of my favourite Karmic Capitalist episodes. If there were a case study in putting team happiness front and centre, Secret Source have got to be it.
In this episode, Richard talks openly about the transformation from wanting a happy company to making one. About how they made it happen – psychological safety was a foundational principle.
He talks about how when you place happiness at the heart of what you do, it leads you in certain directions for your commercial, your sales and your people strategies. It drives not only client selection, but the model for engagement.
We talk about hard customer decisions and the actual customer conversations to deal with them.
We talk about the hard conversations with your team (which don’t go away) and how to deal with them.
We talk about succession while maintaining your values.
And a whole lot more.
I genuinely loved this episode. Richard is so humble with what he’s built and how, and paints a blueprint which many companies could learn from.
Enjoy. I did.
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