The Art of Film by Matthew Darienzo
by Matthew Darienzo
June 5th, 2024

Culture or Profits

June 5th, 2024 by Casey Flores

In the never-ending challenge of running a profitable and growing company, there’s a fine line between culture and profits. You can have both, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes there are sacrifices that are made that could affect one or the other.

Questions may arise on how hard to drive your employees. Think “Wolf of Wall Street” or a sales culture where the bottom 10% automatically get let go every quarter. This can work and drive revenue but embodies the kill-or-be-killed mentality. More profits are great, but it also means cut-throat environment and business culture that accepts nothing but excellence. On the surface, this makes perfect sense. We all want to be excellent at what we do while performing at the highest level.

The flip side of this would be to harbor a super fun environment where the culture is more laid back and fun. While also great in some ways, it may hinder your business’s ability to scale.

Take the cultures of Apple, Amazon or Tesla, three very successful companies. Steve Jobs was always famous for being a tyrant. I have spoken to some who have worked at Amazon, and they make it clear they have an intense environment. Everything is measured down to the second, and if you don’t meet your numbers, you’re out. I guess that’s why we can order something from Amazon at 8:00 a.m. and it’s at your door by 5:00 p.m.! While we, as customers, love the service, hardcore sacrifice is what it takes to get that done.

Tesla is famous for driving engineers non-stop and if they falter, waiver or can’t complete a task, they just get replaced. There is no “We can’t do that!” at Tesla. This is why Teslas are among the most technologically advanced on earth—just get in, hit a button, and it’ll take you wherever you want to go. Now it’s true that these companies have changed the world, but there are many wildly successful companies without this type of culture. It’s a little harder to build these types of organizations as it takes more work to understand people and what they respond to positively—not just look at numbers and spreadsheets.

Ideally, there’s a balance between driving the business at the highest level while at the same time establishing a positive culture that promotes accountability. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s really a choice of the leader to determine what type of company they want to build and usually that sets the tone for the future personality of the company.

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