CN: How to build a more creative corporate culture

Creative Corporate Culture follow-up to S4E5 with Serene Yew

This week in the Dojo, we chatted with Serene Yew of Pixeltree Inc.

In the week since, we’ve spent some time contemplating all the great things she’s doing with her team to create #Intentionality. From the creative culture of the team to enabling “Training Day” (apparently not with Denzel Washington, unfortunately).

Corporate culture can be tricky to navigate, and creating something unique and fresh can be a particularly difficult obstacle as organizations struggle to see the true value of giving up time and space to the intangible.

And of course, we ask the question – how do you create intentionality for yourself…. AND for others? 

So, what did you take from the show this week? Connect with us on our social channels and let us know!
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Transcription Below

S4E5a – Coaches’ Notes – Serene Yew

Tue, 6/21 1:20AM • 13:48


training, book, thought, learning, team, physical copy, denzel, carving, intentionality, audiobook, listen, hours, sat, investment, players, facilitated, audio, similar, metaverse, interesting


JP Gaston, Seth Anderson

Seth Anderson  00:10

So I learned something about myself this week a

JP Gaston  00:13

shock, or, you know, if you’re weak, you’re like, hey, I learned something about myself

Seth Anderson  00:19

this. Yeah, it’s true. I’ve I don’t know how to totally articulate it. But I think consuming information is an interesting topic. And I really enjoyed serines perspective on that. And specifically, the whole piece around the audio book and the physical book. Because at first, like, even in the conversation, I remember thinking, like, oh, that’s like a waste of money. Like, that’s just unless you got some sort of a book deal with Audible or something, or they like, give you both like a, I don’t know, like, there’s a part of me that’s like, I don’t want to pay for both those things. But as she articulated her rationale for why it was like, oh, like, I’m very similar. Like, I love the convenience of an audio book, being able to, you know, go for a morning walk, listen to it. But then I do also love having that hard copy, and like drawing in it and underlining stuff and having like, a, something to go back on. So yeah, like I never would have pieced together, you know, intentionally doing that, like, I wouldn’t have thought, hey, I’m going to buy two copies of this one audio, one physical. But now I think I’m going to relook at my book, purchasing strategies going forward,

JP Gaston  01:45

or at least try it on a couple of books and see, see what happens for you. By the way, Audible, not a sponsor, but we are open to we’re open. We’re not always doing business. But we’re always,

Seth Anderson  01:57

I mean, maybe the simplest thing to do would be to take something I already have a physical copy of and get the audio book up and see if that actually translates. But it makes sense. And I think it just opened my mind more broadly to just how many different ways there are to consume information. And even though the messaging might be the same, you know, in a different medium, it can hit differently. And it just, I’ve been reflecting on that a little bit.

JP Gaston  02:21

It’s actually one of the one of the reasons why I purchased Terrio Riley’s book as an audiobook. I actually sat and thought about it, and I couldn’t determine what I wanted. But knowing that he reads it, and it’s a storytelling type situation, I thought I’m gonna get more out of the audiobook. So I purchased the audiobook. And there’s other situations where I’m like, Well, I’m gonna get more out of actually having the physical copy and reading this. So I’m going to do that. But prior to our conversation was free. And I don’t think I ever sat down and thought, I’m going to maximize what I can get out of a book by doubling up and doing both,

Seth Anderson  02:53

which is interesting, because it’s just, it’s interesting to see like the parallel lines that emerge as we go through this exploration of creativity because you actually do the same thing. And it was the baseball watching baseball example. You watch it, but you listen to the radio, although I’ve come to find out that they’ve actually replaced the radio feed with the TV feed for the Blue Jays. So I don’t think that’ll be as fruitful as it once was for you. But anyway, it’s just interesting that how similar those things are, but yet still, you wouldn’t have thought of this in this way.

JP Gaston  03:27

I use it for hockey more than baseball by the way, do you? Oh, yes. Okay, have you? Have you ever listened to a hockey? Oh, man, listen, the

Seth Anderson  03:34

last time I listened to a hockey game on the radio, I was probably 12 You’re 12 years old. You know what I remember listening to Pavel berets, final game on the Vancouver Canucks.

JP Gaston  03:44

It’s been a day.

Seth Anderson  03:47

It was, if I’m not mistaken, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And I remember listening to that on the radio, but I’ve never really listened to a lot of hockey on the radio.

JP Gaston  03:56

Try it. Try it, try listening. I mean, that’s not the ideal, I guess you could watch one of the Stanley Cup games. But try it. It’s very similar to what we’re talking about here. And if you think back to when you were in school, you would often have your book open, highlighting the things that the teacher is saying. So it’s kind of like having the book and the hardcopy, and it’s kind of like I’m used to learning in that manner. So I don’t know why it never translated to any of the learning that I’ve done since college, but here we are.

Seth Anderson  04:25

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think about how I apply that even in like a business sense. If I’m prepping for a presentation. I’m not big on like rehearsing. Although I am doing a little more of that, like, I want to be like in the moment, I don’t want to have a script. But what I will do is I will write down like a few paragraphs or pages of like what I want to get across and then bits and pieces that will stick I know even like with the storytelling we’ve been doing this season. That approach is we had a conversation the other day where I was pretty frustrated. It was trying to put together and you’re like, just write it down. And I’m like, Okay, I don’t want to, but I did. And I think, you know, it didn’t get all the way where I wanted it to, but it made it a lot

JP Gaston  05:09

better when, you know, kudos to Bill Baker for that, because that’s, that’s a Bill Baker shared hack after, after being an escort I was recently in his car. So I was very reminded of the fact that, you know, sitting and writing it out and walking through your story a couple times is particularly useful. So, I will give I will give bill a shout out there.

Seth Anderson  05:29

Bill. Much, much appreciated. What what did you take away from this episode?

JP Gaston  05:34

What I was really thinking about, she was talking about how on the one day a month they would dedicate to learning training day with training. Yeah, with a Washington shows up, teaches them all about the hood.

Seth Anderson  05:51

starts in a cafe early in the morning, that that’s that’s what I’m

JP Gaston  05:57

that was with like, Ethan Hawke or something. Right? It was? Yeah.

Seth Anderson  06:01

But there was like a meme on this of like, all the movies that Denzel has been in that like, have him sitting in a diner grass greens training,

JP Gaston  06:14

yes. So back to back to serene and Denzel Washington, when you say it out loud. And when you have the conversation about it doesn’t seem like a lot. But there are so many organizations out there that struggle, and leaders who struggle to see or create the space to see the value of it. And actually implement something like that with their teams. And at the end of the year, if you’re thinking, how much time have I invested in training, you think, one day a month, that eight hours, just 96 hours in like a 2000 hour work year, you’ve invested less than 5% of your total time and training, which has probably helped you and countless ways to get better at what you do and continue to advance your team and your culture and your skill sets. And it just, when you think of it from that lens, it doesn’t think like a lot. But in the moment, I feel like a lot of people struggle to see the value of pulling someone away from their desk. And I err quoted, but this is a podcast, so you can’t see it, pull someone away from their desk, or Coronavirus. I did is you can’t see my be under death. Yes, the below desk but in the air. I think we just struggled to see what taking someone away from their typical duties for eight hours, how that will manifest as more than eight hours worth of production over the course of time.

Seth Anderson  07:47

100% 100% and I think I’d love the intentionality instead of word. It is now is now the intentionality of it, you know, like that 100 hours, give or take, I guarantee you, there’s a few people on that team that would find a way to make that investment in themselves, because that’s what it is, right? Like any learning that you undertake as an individual is an investment in yourself, how you consume that information, when you make time for it, etc, generally falls on you. But if you have a leadership structure in place, or a leadership, you know, CEO, like Serena, in this case, who’s intentionally carving off that space for you, and you take advantage of it, like I think that pays off tenfold especially. I think one of the interesting things that I know you and I experience on a day to day basis is you end up in situations where you’re in a company, there’s a lot of people, a lot of smart people, a lot of people working towards similar goals, but nobody speaks the same language or not know what do you but you have a lot of different dialects and a lot of different acronyms and things. And I feel like by carving out that time to be with your team and do you know alignment of training, you would you would grow. Even just your communication between each other because you’re kind of learning. You’re understanding some of the same models. It’s not everyone for themselves just trying to figure stuff out. So I think it’s there’s a couple of really interesting benefits that come from that approach. But to your point, like 100 hours of development of self training, but facilitated in a group setting is really interesting.

JP Gaston  09:23

Well, and like it’s creating intentional space, right? Like intentionality, yes, it’s creating intentionality. But like, even if I put it in terms of sports, which you and I have a tendency to default to. I think a lot of people feel, or a lot of leaders in particular feel like their teams should be performing based on their top performer. But in actuality, your team isn’t a bunch of top liners. It’s not a bunch of eight plus players you’re you’ve probably got a good mix of A B and C players on your team. And you need to find the right way Ready to move all of them along? Because your A players are probably going to do that training regardless, they’re probably going to take care of themselves.

Seth Anderson  10:09

Yeah. And if you think about it, like, from a practice perspective, which is, you know, video and practice tends to be where most of the training happens in that environment. Is it just the best players that are showing up there? Absolutely not. It’s everybody. Right? Yeah. And I think we’ve, we’ve both been exposed to at times, you know, training for high performers, right? Like, oh, you’re a high performer, let’s get you into this training. But like, how do you make an inclusive environment for everybody who wants to get better, to have an opportunity to do so and and to get better in their way? Right, using tools and and

JP Gaston  10:46

telling a third liner to score 50 goals a season is probably not the best way to motivate them to score a handful more goals that would actually be useful by the end of the year.

Seth Anderson  10:55

Right? Now, I really go deep on the on the on the weak. Point is like if you can create an environment that is, you know, supports everybody’s learning and development. And I don’t know, like, I don’t know if training day actually facilitates that. But the theory of it, and it sounded like the practical application of it, at least in in pixel three was serene, is creating that environment where Hey, like, I want to make this investment in myself. And I want to do it as a team. And I just think that’s a really interesting approach. And it’s simple. But I don’t know that it’s necessarily easy or like a foregone conclusion that that method would work. So I’m curious to see if we keep in touch with Siri and how that evolves over the next few years.

JP Gaston  11:42

Yeah, I mean, it’s not. I’m sure there were some things to overcome there as well. And that probably wasn’t an easy implementation. But it’s new for everybody. It’s something different. They can explore it. And like you said, well, we’ll keep checking in because I’m very interested in it. Because I do believe like, there’s lots of studies that show the value of doing something like that. I know, different people need to your different organizations implemented in different ways. So it’s, it’s interesting to see people trying to taking that

Seth Anderson  12:13

to iterate and keep it fresh, right? Like, I’m sure that the approach today is not necessarily going to work five years from now. But it’s a place to start. And I think, five

JP Gaston  12:21

years from now, everything’s going to be a tick tock training video. You have 14 seconds to get all all of your training.

Seth Anderson  12:26

While we’re all working in the metaverse. Yes, exactly. But I digress. I mean, the one thing that I default to or that I think about a lot, not that there’s not enough things that I think about a lot but you know, LeBron James, he talks at length, or he’s talked at length about how much he invests in his body. And I think that probably applies just across the board, just invest in himself, I think he spends over a million dollars a year on keeping his body in the best shape that he possibly can. And I think that applies to your mind and your education. And that’s all rolled into one, like what investment Are you prepared to make in yourself and in some cases, that’s going to be monetary. But I think the other piece of that is, is hours, right? Like mastery, improving on something learning about something, all of that isn’t an investment in yourself, that’s gonna pay dividends in your career and your life, etc. And it starts by becoming aware of that and then intentionality.

JP Gaston  13:18

And I guess the last piece, maybe we’ll carve it off here but like the last piece will be how do you enable intentionality for other people? Because I really think that that’s what serine is doing with with her organization as well. Like how do you create it for yourself? And then what are you doing to help other people find that space?

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