Episode 6: A Company Built for Generations: Building Company Culture Remotely with Valerie Liberty
Play • 47 min
Valerie Liberty is the Head Chef in the Wow Division at Balsamiq, a remote-first company. As employee #2, Valerie has seen and helped cultivate a fantastic working culture and has done all of this remotely! With nearly 12 years Balsamiq, a bootstrapped startup, she emphasizes that fun in the workplace is the least-valued commodity, but the most critical. In this episode, Valerie shares how leadership thinks differently about work, how to create culture, and how to develop a work environment you truly love to work for.
Key Takeaways
Valerie shares a little bit about Balsamiq’s backstory and her background.
Despite having offices in Bologna, Italy, Balsamiq is a remote-first company.
When Valerie started at Balsamiq, it was just the three of them. It’s since grown to 30-plus employees. Through the 12 years of working at Balsamiq, Valerie was also able to create a job that she loves. This scale and growth were intentional.
How do you scale yourself as a leader?
How does a younger person get to the point of discovering the things they love to do vs. hate to do?
Balsamiq has a very clearly-defined culture. How did they create this culture?
Anna has seen a wide variety of company cultures and shares when she knows she’s entered a good one.
Enthusiasm is the most undervalued emotion on the planet. If you can tap into the enthusiasm of your colleagues, they just light up and it makes the work environment so much better.
How can an employee, or someone with limited power, change their company culture?
Valerie has worked terrible jobs in the past. Your attitude is critical in whatever job you’re in. Set goals, set priorities, and focus.
If you can find the humanity in working with one another, by looking someone in the eye, by knowing their brother, life is just better and more fun too when everyone cares about each other!
What are the tell-tale signs that the job you’re about to say yes to has good company culture vs. a toxic work environment?
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has said that he wished he started working on company culture since day one.
Culture permeates everything. How you work with each other, how you communicate to customers, how you hire, etc. People are watching who gets rewarded.
Trip shares his experience with Amazon’s culture.
An observation from Balsamiq’s founder, Peldi Guilizzoni, was that American companies measure their success in quarters, but in Italy, they measure their success in generations.
Good leaders listen more than they dictate.
Valerie shares what Balsamiq did when COVID-19 hit Italy.
Valerie offers two takeaways for leadership and for the employee on how they can better take ownership of their company culture. Fun at work is underrated.
Larry and Anna also offer their advice on how leadership and employees can develop better culture.
Resources
Thebraveworkforce.com (http://thebraveworkforce.com/)
Bravenewcompanies.com (Bravenewcompanies.com)
Balsamiq.com (https://balsamiq.com/)
Valerie on Twitter (https://twitter.com/balsamiqval?lang=en)
Valerie on LinkedIn (Valerie on LinkedIn) Special Guest: Valerie Liberty.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit bravenewworkforce.substack.com
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