Creating a strong business brand through a strong internal culture

10 min read

Dustin Tysick

We have featured Dustin Tysick on our Limitless Podcast episode-4 and Dustin had some really interesting insights on how to create a strong business brand through a strong internal culture. The converted salesperson, and currently the VP, Marketing & Growth for Jostle and co-host of the People at Work podcast, Dustin’s career definitely hasn’t been a straight line. With time spent in marketing, sales, and business analysis across healthcare, edtech, HR tech and ecommerce it’s been an interesting journey so far.

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In this episode, Dustin Tysick, VP Marketing at Jostle has poured his insights on the following:

  • Comprehensive understanding of creating a strong internal culture
  • When, how and what type of companies can leverage internal culture for creating a strong business brand

Topic: Creating a strong business brand through a strong internal culture

Host: Sanjana

Speaker: Dustin

Sanjana: Welcome to another weekly episode of Limitless Podcast, a place where we bring together global leaders in sales and marketing. My name is Sanjana and I’m the host of Limitless Podcast. Today, we’re speaking with Dustin Tysick, currently the V.P Marketing and Growth Jostle. He’s the co-host of People at Work podcast and also a member of the Revenue Collective.

Hello, Destine. Welcome!

Dustin: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to this.

Sanjana: Thank you so much for joining in today. I’m really excited about the conversation that we’re going to have for sure.

Dustin: Yeah, me too.

Sanjana: Yeah. I’m really interested in, you know, digging into some of your background and what led you to be in the position that you are today. Maybe we’ll get started with just a brief introduction about your career journey.

Dustin: Sure. Yeah, that sounds good. So I actually, sometimes, say I’m a converted salesman. So my background was initially sales. So I worked in educational technology, managing a team that sold homework solutions and things like that to universities across Canada. So that’s how I kind of got started. I quickly realized I was doing marketing things in a sales role. So this was like 10 years ago. I was doing email blast through Outlook and Mail Merge and before the marketing automation stuff got a bit more common, and realized I preferred that that was really what I like to do.

So at that point, I realized I needed to figure out how to do marketing in a general sense. So I took two parts – I went back into my MBA to get the theory side and I started my own little tiny e-commerce business just to get my feet wet and make the mistakes early. And that’s kind of how I kind of learned the practical side. And from there, post MBA actually went right into Jostle. And I’ve been here about five years since the company’s grown.

Sanjana: All right. That’s interesting. So let’s move on to our topic today, which is, you know, “Creating a strong personal brand with a strong internal culture”.

So culture is the guiding principle right? Like a great culture will get all employees working on the same company mission. And in some sense, it’s the glue that keeps the company together. Right. So, we as employees make a number of decisions on our own every day. And a great internal culture is what will guide us and tell us what to do in critical situations.

So, Dustin, tell me, why do you think internal culture is important? Why do you emphasize that?

Dustin: Yeah, for sure. So I think part of it you really touched on quite well there. It’s that overarching kind of mission and vision that keeps people together. There’s also the really practical asset, right, like it influences retention and it influences who you can actually hire and the talent you can attract so there’s that very practical aspect as well.

And I’m a pretty firm believer that if people are happy in their job, they feel safe like they have psychological safety, they know they can make mistakes and they care about the product, the company, the the senior leadership, they’re going to work harder. So it kind of ties all that together and ultimately results in happier people, more productive work and better results. So it does kind of flow all the way through and tied to that bottom line.

Sanjana: OK, so interesting views on culture. So how does a company go about creating a great internal culture? You know how to get started there?

Dustin: Yeah, I mean, if you’re like 100 people and you’re just thinking about it, it’s probably too late. So it’s one of those things that starts really early often with the founder or the founders. They kind of set the ground and the framework. And you have to be intentional about it. Like when you have 10 people, 15 people, 20 people, and you’ve all kind of started and went through the fire together, it’s a bit of a family and culture kind of comes naturally.

As you start hiring people with outside experience and new people come in, the old people leave, if you aren’t intentional, your culture is going to vanish right away and then you’re left starting from scratch. So I think it’s the initial job of the senior leadership and the CEO. But as you grow, it’s every team-leader’s responsibility to help grow that culture and manage their team so that everyone’s working together and on the same wavelength.

Sanjana: Exactly. So, you know, at Hippo Video, we call culture as, you know, the DNA of the company. Like you say.

Dustin: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely is.

Sanjana: And you have the most important draw a leader has is creating a positive Internet culture. So building a unique positive culture as a company is one of the best and simplest ways to grow a company’s external brand as well. So, as you said, almost anyone else in the company was responsible for owning and driving internal culture apart from CEOs and founders?

Dustin: Yeah. So internally we have someone who I work closely with who part of her role is really internal culture champion, essentially. So she’s the one who works very, very hard on the things we need to do to be transparent and keep our culture going. So all of the events, all of the change for knowledge sharing, all of the lunch and learns, Christmas party, all those general things that help the culture as well as the more foundational things like here is how our vision and mission has changed over time and grown.

And every new employee actually goes through an orientation program where they speak to someone from every department. And one of those people they speak to is Benda, who I’m speaking about. And she takes them through the whole journey in a very transparent approach on how we got to this point. Why? This is what we care about and here’s what our values are. And I think that really helps people kind of understand and buy in very early. So there’s always that one person who’s kind of that culture driver.

But that being said, every single team lead owns their own team’s culture. It’s very easy in a large company to have one team who is kind of maybe a little toxic. And there they just feel misaligned, they feel angry, they feel underappreciated and you can pretty quickly spoil a culture from the ground up there. So really, any team leader, it’s their job and their goal to help with that.

Sanjana: All right. So as companies get bigger, they tend to limit employee freedom. The employees are less and less involved in key decisions and their impact on the business is drowned out. So it also becomes a part of the culture. Employees go to work, do what they’re doing and just help someone else achieve their dream.

But this is not what the best employees want right? They want to have a voice and a meaningful impact on the company and its direction. They know that anyone can win a debate, and you know, you don’t have to be the most senior person in that company.
So maintaining a strong internal culture is easy when you are small but as and when you scale, let’s say from 0 to 100, 500, 5000 employees, how can a company maintain its internal culture throughout?

Dustin: Yes. So, I mean, I’ve worked in that scenario at large companies where it really is you have your tiny little job to do. You go and do it and that’s it. You don’t really feel a connection. You don’t honestly don’t care as much as maybe you should about the results of the company and the impact you’re having. And for me personally, that was incredibly discouraging. So I totally get that. And it is an unfortunate thing that comes with growing for sure.

So I think one of the ways to counteract that is for the leadership to be incredibly transparent and open about all things in the company as they grow.

So if you have a CEO who kind of sits up in this like Ivory Tower up there, locks themselves in their office, doesn’t talk to anyone, doesn’t share what’s going on, how the last board meeting was with the financial results were. If all those things are hidden, you really feel like you’re not connected to the overall ship that the company is on.

So I think that’s one part is you need the leadership to really be open about. And I know that’s harder in some industries and some regulatory bodies. But in general, I think that’s something you should really strive for.

And the other one is it all goes back to keeping your culture consistent as you grow. So if you were intentional and you hired the right people not for cultural fit, but kind of a cultural add where they bring something new, you have the right people in place that your culture should sustain throughout.

You still have to put in the hard work, you still have to always be thinking about it. But if you have a rotten foundation and it’s you hired the wrong people and they’re not connected and they don’t care, you’re going to quickly fall apart as you grow.

Sanjana: So tying the Internet culture thing to our topic. So what impact can internet culture have on your company’s external branding?

Dustin: Sure, so, I mean, I think we’ve all seen this on social, specifically, but just in general, like when was the last time you noticed or cared about a company’s update on LinkedIn?

It’s super work rare. They don’t show up in the feed too much. And there’s just a lack of trust for brands a lot of the time. And what you’re talking about, because inherently you think, okay, they planned this out, trying to sell me a product. There’s just a lot of skepticism.

So increasingly, it’s become important for like the individual employees and people at a company to get their voice out there, share what they’re learned, and often that’s the first positive impression.

I’m sure we’ve all seen that like you discovered a company because someone was sharing excellent content that you related with and you’re like, I wonder what they do and then you discover their company. That person probably isn’t doing that because they’re explicitly mandated to, although in some cases maybe. But often it’s just they’re passionate and they care about what they’re doing, the company they work at.

So the more of those kinds of brand advocates you can have internally, it actually results in legitimate opportunity and revenue and new connections and new networking opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

So yeah, having people have a stake and really care about the company will help them advocate for it. And the results, they’re just kind of keep rolling in. I think.

Sanjna: Got it. So as you as you rightly said, you know, individuals at a company who build their personal brand is what will, you know, create a strong company brand as well.

And also the power of external brands, especially in B2B, is fading and the brands that are succeeding are those individuals at that company who have developed their business. Right. Yeah. How can you enable your people to be strong brand advocates?

Dustin: Yeah. I think part of it is making them feel comfortable and confident that they have knowledge worth sharing. I think that’s what holds people back is like almost every single person has something of quality that they could share that would help other people.

But we all think it’s kinda like that imposter syndrome, right? We all think, oh, there’s a million people doing marketing. Who cares what I have to say? So getting people to overcome that, it kind of goes back to that psychological safety in the company.

They have to feel like they’re actually contributing, they actually have a voice and they’re actually making an impact. And then you can encourage them to share that on social media or at events or on podcasts or wherever that is.

And the other part of that is, you can’t tie it directly to our life. Right. Like, it’s not like I spend two grand on a Google ad and I know I’m gonna get three grand in revenue. It doesn’t work like that.

So you need management and leadership who recognizes that and grants you the time to go on LinkedIn and make the post go reach out to someone to see if you can be on their podcast, go talk to someone about being at a conference. These things that don’t really have dollar signs attached to it from a senior leadership perspective. I think you need a leader who understands that and gives you that time and space.

Sanjana: All right. Oh, yes. Could you know, spot us some examples, some examples of companies that are nailing, you know, internet culture or, you know, building personal brand.

Dustin: Yes, a one. One that maybe not as many people have heard of and it’s kind of more in my space. They’re actually a recruiting company called something new. So I kind of stumbled across three or four of them just because they were posting really good internal comms, H.R. content on LinkedIn. And very quickly realized that there were six, seven, eight of them who were actively contributing and posting great content and that’s how I discovered them and became aware of them. And then I think the prime example, maybe the ones who kind of kicked this all off was actually Drift.

So they had their main marketing person and they had their product managers, they had their salesperson. So then whenever they had a product launch, like my LinkedIn feed was just flooded with Drift people. And that’s kind of all I saw in it. They got the word out. So I think they were the ones who maybe not started it, but really kind of got the ball rolling there.

Sanjana: Exactly. So Dustin, just curious about this one before we end and I ask this question in every podcast. Do you and your team use videos in your marketing activities? What role does it play?

Dustin: Yeah, for sure, we definitely do. We use it all throughout the funnel. So from the top end, when we’re doing kind of prospecting or really any outreach, it’s pretty common to do personalized video. It’s a bit of a warmer introduction than just like a cold text email. So we do that. And then all the way through product videos, ads, tutorials, customer spotlights, we try to do most of those things in both video and text.

Different people prefer different mediums. And I think it’s up to us to provide both so that they can have what they want.

Sanjana: All right. Thanks a lot for this lovely conversation. Dustin, you should have given us a lot to think about. I’m looking forward to learning more from you. Yes.

Dustin: Thank you. I really appreciate it. It was a lot of fun. And yeah, hopefully you get to chat again soon.

Sanjana: Thank you so much for spending your time with me today. See you. See you later. Bye bye.

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