What’s Your Book’s Big Idea? Building A Culture Of Good With Scott Moorehead

Scott Moorehead posing for the camera
Scott Moorehead

Not every author writes a book to earn more money. Some authors have a message they want to share with the world.

Scott Moorehead is one such writer.

He is the  co-author of Build A Culture of Good: Unleash Results by Letting Your Employees Bring Their Soul to Work.

In this book, Moorehead and his co-authors Ryan McCarty and Marshall Goldsmith make a case for promoting philanthropy in the workplace.

In this interview Moorehead explains

  • Why he choose to write a book about philanthropy in the first place
  • How he came up with the big idea behind this book
  • His take on most business books today
  • The reason why he cut the last six chapters from his book

I started by asking Scott to give some background information about his business before getting into his reasons for writing Build a Culture of Good.

And lots more.

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Transcript Below

Bryan Collins:                     Okay, Scott. So it’s nice to talk to you. I was wondering if you can start by giving me a bit of background information about Round Room.

Scott Moorehead:           Oh, geez. Well, I can go for about an hour on this, so I’ll try and keep it short. But Round Room is a really just the product of really a third generation family owned business. So my grandfather started a business. Sold his business to my father. My father morphed it into something completely different. He sold that business to me, and then I morphed it into something completely different. Really, at the end of the day, it had been called Moorehead Electric, Moorehead Technologies, Moorehead Communications. For many, many years, it was the Moorehead family owned business.

Scott Moorehead:           And we created Round Room as we started to diversify and had multiple holdings, where Round Room really meant everybody was at the table. Everybody was at a circular table, if you will, similar to the old times with the Knights of the Round Table. And everybody had an equal voice at the table, so that was the symbolism. And Round Room in and of itself is a name of a Phish song, which is a band, which is kind of an obsession of mine. But Round Room is a holding company which owns several entities, and it represents something special to me.

Bryan Collins:                     And do have many people working for your company?

Scott Moorehead:           Say that one more time please.

Bryan Collins:                     Do you have many employees?

Scott Moorehead:           Oh, yeah. We have about 2,300 employees right now, give or take a few. And they’re spread out all throughout the United States with a heavy density here in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bryan Collins:                     So why I wanted to talk to you today was about your concept of the Culture of Good. And I was wondering if you could start by explaining what this concept is and how you came about it.

Scott Moorehead:           Culture of Good really came about before we ever called it Culture of Good, right? What happened was as a owner, as a president and CEO of a company that was growing quite quickly, I was becoming frustrated with the level of engagement of our employees. I was frustrated with our ability to keep them. We were experiencing high turnover. The further away you got from where we started, which was in Indiana, you’d seem to have people that were slightly less bought in to the core philosophies and the core morals of our company, and it felt a little less family. So I was on a venture to try and figure out how to rein them in, get them more engaged, give them some more passion, and really put together some glue that would really hold us all together. Since we weren’t all under the same roof, we were under hundreds and hundreds of different roofs, how could I really do that?

Scott Moorehead:           And then it just happened that my parents talked me into trying a new church, and the new church had a pastor that was just a little bit different, lots of earrings and tattoos and a mohawk and used a swear word every now and then. And they said, “Really, it’s just kind of a party of all different kinds of people from different socioeconomic conditions, different races, different whatever it is. Everybody was under the same roof, and it was fun.” And I went, and I tried the church.

Scott Moorehead:           And the first time I tried the church, I heard a message from him about your what equaling your why. And to me, this was a really a profound moment. And for him, it was the first time of being a pastor over 20 something years that he had actually delivered the same message for the second time. So it was a little odd on his end and a little odd on my end. It was exactly what I was looking for. And for some reason, he had delivered that message twice on that one fateful day.

Scott Moorehead:           And it became very obvious to me that what employees show up for is a paycheck. But why? Why do they? And so I proceeded to ask him out to lunch, and over a nice basket of chips with some salsa, we ended up deciding that we were going to work together. And so he convinced me to hire him. And from then on, we worked very hard from an organic standpoint to try and prove to our employees that there was more to our business, which is running wireless retail stores. There was more to our business than just selling phones and that we were better than that and that we were going to be an integral part of our community. And we were going to drive connection and purpose and meaning through philanthropy and giving back. And it took a long time for our employees to believe that.

Bryan Collins:                     So does that type of philanthropy involve your employees spending time working in the community, or does it involve giving a portion of your revenue to charitable causes?

Scott Moorehead:           That’s a great question. So every Culture of Good is probably a little different depending on what your company is, right? But I would say that our Culture of Good is probably more the former, where our employees get involved in their communities than the latter. But however, as it’s evolved over time, it definitely includes both. So our employees are given the permission to take paid time off and go get involved in their community under whatever pretense that they feel like they fit best, whatever their passion is. So what do they care about? What moves them? What really tugs at their heart? Go get involved in that.

Scott Moorehead:           However, as you go deeper into the company, we have driven philanthropy and giving back into tribes or groups, small groups. And then we’ve done it on an enterprise level as well. But those are all highly curated events that happen on a single day where we all participate, that we all participate wherever we are, so it’s driven to the outer edges of the company.

Scott Moorehead:           And the biggest differentiator is that everybody must and will get involved. And so once you actionably participate in something, it makes it very much more real and gives you the permission to be proud of yourself rather than for one single person to hold up a big check and say “Here, on behalf of all 2,300 of us, here’s a giant check that I’m standing behind.”

Bryan Collins:                     Do you have an example of the types of activities that your employees are getting involved with?

Scott Moorehead:           Yeah. So are you talking about the curated events that our business does all in the same day?

Bryan Collins:                     Sure. Yeah. Yeah.

Scott Moorehead:           We just got done with one that’s probably our signature event of the year, and that was just a couple of weekends ago where over right here, right now, it’s back to school time. So kids are ready to go back to school. And so in each and every community where we have a store and even in our corporate office and even in some of our partners, we have a Sunday where all at the same time, our stores give away free backpacks filled with school supplies. And so we do a build-up to that where we send press releases, and we call fire stations and police stations, and we call the school system, and we call all the different folks that need to know in our local communities just to spread the word.

Scott Moorehead:           And then on that day, kids come, and we throw a carnival in the parking lot. And there’s dunk tanks, and there’s face painting, and there’s balloons, and we try and make it fun. And the only thing that we have the kids promise is that they’re going to rock school out this year, and then we hand them a free backpack. They don’t owe us anything. There’s no coupons inside the bag. There’s no purchase necessary. And it’s just a really great day filled with feeling good about helping our communities. So that’s one example of one event.

Scott Moorehead:           We do about four of those events a year as a company, and then it obviously gets a little bit more acute and driven more towards what that employee’s personal passion is. Their only requirement is that if they’re going to get involved in something, I would really prefer to have it revolve around them making their community better in any way, in any way.

Bryan Collins:                     That stuff’s pretty impressive. Do you think the Culture of Good has to come from the top, from the leaders down?

Scott Moorehead:           That’s also an interesting question, and so my partner of crime in Culture of Good, who still remains to be that same pastor from a long time ago, what we have found is that if the leadership isn’t bought in, and they just want to buy a Culture of Good, and they want somebody else to implement it for them, then it’s not going to work. So we truly at our core believe that the leadership must be bought in. The leadership must believe that it’s not only the right thing to do for any business, that it’s a strategic advantage, and that it will not only make your employees more satisfied and engaged, but it will also bring you new customers and more business. So that has to be a hard belief throughout the entire organization. And we’ve created a process to try and roll that out in whatever company, that really focuses around buy in as much as anything else.

Bryan Collins:                     And how long does it take a company to roll out that process?

Scott Moorehead:           Well, the product we created is, it’s a digital solution, and it’s step by step, and it’s sort of, you can do it on your own. We’ve seen companies do it in as little as six to seven months, or some take a year to a year and three months. The key focus is that you don’t give it way too much effort. And we’ve tried to say that throughout our entire process is that you should never overemphasize this and break anything else. Don’t give it too much focus so that something else doesn’t get the proper amount of attention. Give this just enough, and it’ll happen just right.

Bryan Collins:                     Do companies have to be, or do leaders have to be in charge of a company of a particular size before they can do something like this?

Scott Moorehead:           No. It’s interesting. We’ve had partners implement that have been just a division of a larger company. Or they’ve been as small as four or five people, and they’ve called us and said, “Hey, we’re thinking about implementing a Culture of Good. What would that look like? We’ve only got five people.” And we say, “It doesn’t matter.” Most of the companies we started with were $1 billion plus in revenue, and that’s a big venture to try and move that ship and change anything inside of your culture and allow people time to breathe and be proud of what they’ve done. You can do it fairly quickly with a company of five that’s much, much smaller because you can just get together over breakfast or dinner and have a few beers and knock a lot of this stuff out. When you’ve only got five folks, the buy in comes fairly quickly.

Bryan Collins:                     Yeah, I can imagine. And what are the benefits to the act to the company itself because you spoke there at the start about employee leaving your company years ago?

Scott Moorehead:           So from what we have put out there, and we’ve quoted some of this in the book that we wrote, our, even today, this year in 2019, where we’re tracking against our peers that do the exact same thing that we do, our turnover is about half of what theirs is. And so in retail environment, your turnover can go north of 100% annually, and that’s quite usual. And this year has been particularly challenging as the jobs market gets tighter, and folks are starting to pay more in wages, but our turnover hasn’t crept up a bit, and we track at about half of what our peers do.

Scott Moorehead:           And that has been a huge, huge advantage to us. In our business, the longer folks stay, the more they know and the better they produce, which ends up making them more money. So the longer they can stay, the more money they make. And the longer they stay, the more they get bought into the Culture of Good, the more they get ingrained into their community, the more connections they make.

Bryan Collins:                     Yeah. I like that. So the Culture of Good strikes me as a big concept. I get why you would implement it in your company’s [inaudible 00:14:35] Well, why did you decide to write a book about the topic?

Scott Moorehead:           Oh, man. Well, it was really starting to figure out that we had something fairly special on our hands and say, “You know what? Our story is intriguing.” We never thought it was all that exciting. But the more and more we started to tell other people about what we were doing, they were like, “Help us do that.” And I was just wracking my head as to why anybody would need us to help them do the right thing because it seems so logical. And folks just didn’t know where to start.

Scott Moorehead:           So the book was really a way to show people this is not something that you need us for. If you want to try it on your own, you’re going to step in a lot of landmines. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to feel like you want to quit. Your employees are going to think you’re a little bit crazy for a little while. And we go over all these things in the book.

Scott Moorehead:           But the book and its intentions was really several things. One, credibility, let’s tell our story, and let’s put it out there so people can see that this is very real. Share some of our results. Share some of our particulars. But then secondly, motivation and impact, let’s see if anybody else gets motivated to do the same thing. And if all companies gave back in the way we did, it would feel like capitalism would be changing the world for the better.

Bryan Collins:                     And I see that you wrote the book along with Ryan. Is Ryan the pastor that you mentioned?

Scott Moorehead:           That’s correct. That’s exactly who Ryan is.

Bryan Collins:                     Did you and Ryan find it difficult to write the book together, or had you experience with this kind of project before?

Scott Moorehead:           Ryan and I have this very weird relationship where we’re pretty sure that in another life, we were brothers. We hit it off from the very beginning and been as close as possible. And we argue like brothers and love each other like brothers. And it came with its challenges. The easy part about it is, is that Ryan and I come from very different perspectives when it comes from Culture of Good. And that started with our intentions. So Ryan’s intentions with Culture of Good was always, “Wow, I have this church, and I have this a population of a couple hundred people that I can have a huge impact on. But what if I went and helped Scott in this business and helped thousands of people and all of their families and all the people they touch?” And it was more, “How can I fill more people’s hearts? How can I make more people have joy in their life?” And that that was a good way for him to lean in and have that mission.

Scott Moorehead:           And my intentions came with, “I just want have a company where people want to come to work, and they enjoy themselves, and they want to stay here. And if I can create that type of an environment, then our company will thrive.” So his was more individual and filling their hearts. Mine was more about the business.

Scott Moorehead:           And so we came at the book with those two different unique perspectives, and where they collide is where really the magic happened. And I think truly it took both of us to make Culture of Good work. I don’t think a lot of employees feel like the owner or the CEO or the president has the purest of intentions, but when you bring somebody in from Ryan’s background, they rarely doubt him and his intentions. So Ryan and I both used each other and the assets that we had to get what we wanted.

Bryan Collins:                     And has the book helped you spread the message of the Culture of Good?

Scott Moorehead:           I think it has. We get a lot of folks that call us that said, “Just read your book. It was such an easy read. I couldn’t put it down. And you know what? I just want to have a conversation with you guys, A, because you sound rather interesting, and then B, I really want to figure out how to do this for myself.” And in many cases, they’ll either buy our product and do it on their own, they’ll hire Ryan to come speak at one of their events, or we’ll just have an hour long conversation, and they’ll find inspiration, and they’ll go give it a shot. And to us, it doesn’t matter. I mean, I hate to say that because I want Culture of Good as a business to thrive, but I’d rather Culture of Good as a philosophy thrive first.

Bryan Collins:                     I like that. You mentioned about not spending too much time on the Culture of Good. You’re running a business, so did you have to spend a lot of time working on the book back in 2016 or 17?

Scott Moorehead:           Yeah, well, I gave it enough. We’ll say that. It took too long. Writing a book is a huge undertaking, and we had about six more chapters that we just whacked off right at the end because I find most business books in the middle quite boring. So we just cut the entire middle part of it out. I didn’t give it too much.

Scott Moorehead:           What we have done in the past, if I can expand on your question, there has been parts of time where Culture of Good has taken way too much of my time, and we over-corrected. And that’s where some of the lessons were learned. And we went in hard with the posture of philanthropy first in this company and that it was going to be a huge part of who we are and our identity. And there were many folks that got behind that.

Scott Moorehead:           And what they forgot is that we’re also a sales organization, and once sales started to suffer, I said, “Wow. No matter how much philanthropy we do, we can’t outpace sales. So how do we balance that?” And that was an important part of the learning that we went through was, just exactly how much of a dosage of Culture of Good can any one company take at one time before it breaks something else? And that became an art.

Bryan Collins:                     I can imagine. So just so I understand the timelines, when did you come up with the idea of the Culture of Good versus, but the book was released… Because looking at Amazon is, the book was some time 2017. So what I’m getting at is, did you spend long refining the idea before you turned it into a book?

Scott Moorehead:           Oh, certainly. So Ryan and I, I believe, started right around 2012, 2013 with many of our ideas. And so it was probably three to four years in the making before we ever launched the book. We considered it probably a year, a year and a half in like, “Boy, we should really tell some people about this. This is amazing.”

Scott Moorehead:           And then things started to break, and I said, “Well, let’s not write a book around something that sucks.” And so we went in and fixed a lot of things and said, “Okay, let’s balance this. Let’s gather some data that says that empirically, this is positive for our business and the bottom line and that strategically, it places us where it needs to be. I really don’t want to write a book about how everybody feels better. It needs to be better for the business and better for the people. And if we can accomplish that, then let’s share this story.” And I think we waited until the right time, that it’s proved out on all those fronts.

Bryan Collins:                     And finally, Scott, as somebody who’s a busy CEO and also spreading a message in your book, do you have an ideal early morning routine?

Scott Moorehead:           Well, the one thing that I’m positive about in my life is that I have to have variety. So I am not a creature of habit. My daily routine, I’ll change it up, and if it feels good, I’ll do that for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll change it up. And if it feels good, I’ll do it for a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t, I’ll change it up. But right now, I have a new puppy in my house, so the morning starts about 5:30 when the puppy needs to go outside. And so that and a cup of coffee is starting my morning right now.

Bryan Collins:                     I can imagine. So where can people find more information about you, Scott, or the book?

Scott Moorehead:           I think they can go to a couple of different places. The first place I think people should go to is to just www.cultureofgood.com. You’ll find a lot of information about me, a lot of the information about Ryan, and moreso the philosophy of the Culture of Good and figure out how to take some ideas and engage.

Scott Moorehead:           Secondly, you can always go to roundroom.com. We’ve got some bios there. We’ve got some links to all of our companies, and you can see their different instance and engagement of Culture of Good, which are all very different.

Bryan Collins:                     It was lovely to talk to you today, Scott.

Scott Moorehead:           Yeah, thank you so much, Brian, for your time today. I appreciate the chat.

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