Nate Greenlee is a lifelong entrepreneur who has helped launch tech & big data startups as well as pioneer the new space market. Throughout his journey he’s discovered that WHO is more important than WHAT and that culture matters (culture is the foundation stone and oxygen to great companies). He’s currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Team & Culture.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?
In the developing world, people are happy to have a job. This is an old world view that still permeates the developed world. “You’re lucky to have this job so grin and bear it!” I believe in servant leadership and that there is an implicit social contract between fellow humans that we are our brother/sister’s keeper. When viewing everyone we come in contact with through this lens, I believe work and the world would be a better place. I see too much bullying and bad behavior in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be this way. I am an entrepreneur and I have learned hard lessons about the importance of needing a work revolution first hand. Starting a company you have the opportunity for a fresh start and to build the company on a solid foundation. This has always appealed to me.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
When we started our company in Denver I really took to heart Jim Collins’ WHO is more important than WHAT. That sounds great but try telling people, “I’m not sure what we do, but I know with whom I’m doing it.” It’s strange, but it is so important that we said whatever our name is it had to focus on the team and the culture. Boom, teamandculture.com is available, done!
This is not a reinvention, but more of a focus issue—focus on the team and the culture. It’s not easy. I have to constantly apologize, measure and check myself against my / the company’s values. If I don’t, I will rightfully be called out by my partner and my co-workers.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
More focus on building teams and relationships. Whatever this means to you as a manager and how you build this is up to you. With me, it’s about getting together outside of work. Happy hours and becoming friends. At the minimum, my team knows I’ll do nearly anything for them and will do everything in my power to protect them. This is what I expect of leaders and I expect the same from myself. (Recommendation: watch Simon Sinek’s “Why Leaders Eat Last“)
Provide a quote (either yours or someone else’s) that you live by and/or that represents why you do what you do. Also tell us: why did you choose it?
It is tough to narrow this to one quote but this is close: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” ― Marcus Aurelius
I choose this quote because I am a fan of the Stoics. They believe, very simply:
a. The only thing you possess is virtue.
b. The only thing you control is your attitude.
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick personally/professionally/creatively?
John Doerr does a terrific job highlighting where I’ve clashed being in the wrong culture for me—I’m on Missionary side of this table (Mercenaries vs. Missionaries).
What’s one surprising thing we should know about you?
When I was 18 years old I worked at McMurdo Station, Antarctica as part of “Operation Deep Freeze” for the National Science Foundation. I then traveled the world by myself for a year!
What does your preferred work environment look like?
No cubicles. No florescent lighting, lots of natural light, operable windows and or patios. Near a stream, in the mountains…
Where in the world are you?