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Culture Manifesto: Working at a Place that Doesn’t Suck

By Loftwall

How we arrived at the Loftwall Core Values and why they matter

Loftwall is an 11 year old business that had a chance to be reborn a couple years ago. Our founder Steve Kinder took a huge risk in deciding to step away from the day-to-day of the business. He’s a trained and award-winning designer (from RISD) by background, so stepping into a strategic and product role opened the door for new faces to join the business. Steve made that choice knowing we would challenge almost everything Loftwall had done for the previous nine years. Some of it was great. Lots of things needed to change. In that two year period, we’ve grown exponentially and increased our headcount almost 5x. 

It hasn’t all been rosy. Growing that fast exposed all kinds of vulnerabilities and truths about our business. There were absolutely periods that our hiring strategy was “we need warm bodies” to get the job done. But over time, like so many companies before us, we began to appreciate the potential of the culture we were building. When you’re smaller, you can manage the culture more easily and hire people you like or know. But when you’re hiring people daily, a company without a strong culture quickly began to feel like sailing a boat without a rudder. 

We arrived at the company with a list of seven fairly generic “core values.” This wasn’t a bad list (they were admirable traits like respect, collaboration, integrity, etc), but it wasn’t unique to us. Of course people want to work at a place with accountability, humility, and customer service as focuses. But those weren’t unique to us, and they certainly weren’t rooted in the language that we use with our team members and customers. 

So as we kick off 2021, consider this piece a formal attempt to establish that “rudder” for our business. A document that will help us steer in the uncharted waters. After all, we’ll get where we’re going faster if we’re all rowing in the same direction, right?

 

CORE VALUE #1 – Do Whatever it Takes 

The most offensive thing you could say at Loftwall is “that’s not my job.” One of the many things that ties our team members together is an intense desire to win. Winning isn’t just about closing a big sale, but about doing the little things to blow our customers away. A common phrase at Loftwall is that we want it to be STUPID easy to work with us. Not just kind of easy, but stupid easy. That means the way we answer the phone, how engaging we are in emails, how personable our accounting team is, and the relationships we build with vendors all matter. 

When you live life with a “whatever it takes” attitude, you never have to roll up your sleeves because they are perpetually in that state. 

 

CORE VALUE #2 – Never Stop Growing

Our team members are willing to admit we aren’t perfect and don’t have all the answers. That means we don’t tolerate people who make Loftwall a difficult place to work – life’s too short to work with assholes.

This is an internal struggle for all of us, so this core value also comes with permission to call each other out when this is in jeopardy. 

When you don’t have all the answers, that means you’re willing to do something about it. Loftwall team members are committed to learning, growing, and pushing themselves outside their comfort zones. That means finding a mentor outside your department, asking the company if they’ll help get you a book about a topic you’ve been dying to learn, and generally pushing each other to places where “remaining the same” isn’t an option. 

CORE VALUE #3 – Win Together, Lose Together

We built this company together, which often makes Loftwall feel more like family than work. In our house, doing what you say you’re going to do is crucial for us all to achieve our goals. In fact, delivering on your promises is the ultimate form of respect. Our team takes responsibility for our actions, our goals, our attitudes, and our outcomes.

We aim to be 100% grit with 0% ego. 

 

CORE VALUE #4 – Be Boldly You

It’s important that our team members feel comfortable in their own skin. After all, what’s the point of working at Loftwall if we can’t embrace the weird and have fun while chasing our goals? We firmly believe that if our team fits our core values, we can confidently be ourselves and chase our goals. When we lock arms and do this together, it enables our team to enjoy the ride and appreciate the little things that you can’t experience at other companies. 

In addition, unique ideas are how we will grow. If all of our ideas come from people who are from the same place, went to the same school, look the same, act the same, and talk the same – will we truly stand a chance of being different!? That’s why we strive to build a culture of open doors and wild ideas.