How my refusal to wear shoes and get a haircut shaped my entrepreneurial path and company's culture.
Flip flops or any other item or attitude may inspire your company culture.
I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to wear flip-flop sandals to work and not worry about getting haircuts when my bangs grew too long. I was not quite sure what I wanted to do exactly, but I knew that whatever I did it would include the values I hold close: integrity, hustle and individuality over antiquated cultural norms.
There was no question that if I had at least agreed to wear sneakers, I would've had a chance at getting a well-paying office gig, but my refusal and lack of experience made me pretty much unhirable out of college. So I went where many other naive young souls go to get their start–the music industry.
I weaved around the industry for a few years, producing events and consulting for music based non-profits before joining the Prodege founding team and learned that for all its substantial faults, the music industry as a whole does an excellent job of encouraging hard work and individuality among its people (integrity, that’s another issue…). Record labels notoriously pay poorly, yet label gigs are some of the most sought after jobs in the industry. Despite the flak the industry continually gets, the great independent labels have managed to make the grunt work of releasing a record still feel like it’s the most important task in the world. People are not staying in the record industry because of the tremendous opportunity; they are staying because of the unique company culture's.
As companies grow and challenges become more complex, it’s important to never lose sight that its culture is a reflection of the personalities within the organization. It’s also important to let these personalities flourish and bring their natural talents to the table because at the end of the day your company is only as good as the team behind it.
One of the most fulfilling parts of my five year Prodege experience has been growing the team and getting to know each team member individually. Its been equally exciting to work with some of my closest friends and watch our team forge relationships with each other outside the office; It reminds you that work is supposed to be fun, not stuffy. And although I no longer own a pair of flip-flop sandals, any of our 45 employees are welcome to wear theirs anytime.
SCOTT DUDELSON is a founding partner and the Chief Operating Officer of Prodégé, which offers "virtual currency" to its users, in exchange for their registration, every time they search, purchase, play games, and share opinions online. Prior, Scott founded Music for Charity Productions, a non-profit consulting firm that specialized in linking entertainment brands with charitable causes. @SwagBucks