Good Humans: The Foundation of a Great Company
Every year for over a decade, we wait for the results of Outside’s “Best Places to Work” award, which recognizes companies nationwide working to create a strong culture focusing on a healthy work-life balance. It’s a bit nerve-wracking because the results are formed and rankings are assigned based on a confidential employee-satisfaction survey. When I woke up on the day of the announcement, I read that we were named No. 3 on Outside’s Best Places to Work in 2023 – maintaining our record for most consecutive years in Outside’s Top 10 list.
The news felt different this time.
When I started GroundFloor Media (now known as GFM|CenterTable) 22 years ago in my unfinished basement in Boulder, I didn’t have a business plan (unless you count a few bullet points on the back of a napkin from Moe’s Bagels). I couldn’t define what business success looked like to save my life. If someone asked me about our finances – phrases like KPIs, risk exposure, market share, net profit margins, or burn rate – all seemed lost on me. However, ask me about our people and I could talk until you wanted to make a quick exit. I knew very little about starting a business, but I knew – without a doubt – the kind of people I wanted to do business with.
I wanted to surround myself with good humans who did the right thing – even when no one was watching, who passionately gave back to the community, who weren’t afraid to blend their work life and their personal life, and who made us all better people just by being in their orbit.
And when you build a company with a team of leaders who also believe in a similar North Star, the rest of building that company from the ground up seems like small details.
Yes, we offer sabbatical programs, quarterly mental health days off, a monthly Happiness Allowance, a resiliency coach, and Trusted Time Off (unlimited PTO) – to name a few. We have Zero Entry Mondays and Friday Focus Time, allowing team members to have that work/life blend and let people get out and take advantage of all Colorado offers. But we also believe in our community. We have established the Get Grounded Foundation, a private 501(c)(3) that has provided more than $450,000 in cash grants to nonprofits that focus on improving the lives of youth in the Denver metro and Boulder areas. We also have the Get Grounded volunteer program that lets team members volunteer with nonprofits on company time and make cash contributions to nonprofits with whom team members volunteer.
But what we really have is a group of humans who are doing life together as good people. Who care passionately about one another and want to leave this world a little better than how they found it.
The news felt different this year because I knew — without a doubt — that no matter how many times we have received this amazing award, it was never about the recognition. It is simply a gentle reminder for us and all other leaders to keep showing up and doing the right things, even when the right thing feels hard.
And that is worth building a company for.