My Favorite Mistake — 244: Rokrbox’s Journey Towards Five-Star Company Culture: Lessons in Resilience & Growth Josh Cunningham

My guest for Episode #244 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Josh Cunningham, the CEO and Founder of rokrbox – an inside sales assistant company based in College Station, Texas.

Episode page with transcript and more

After starting rokrbox in 2013, Josh’s real estate company has worked over 3,000,000 internet leads for teams all across the country including Lars Hedenborg, Jeff Cohn, & Spring Bengtzen. Having hired and trained over 400 ISAs, Josh is a sought-after speaker for his invaluable knowledge on 

He’s focused on developing a company culture that attracts the best millennial talent and drives success.

Josh has learned how to scale and optimize business portfolios through building amazing teams with his take on company culture. His expertise was showcased through rokrbox’s award winning culture, which inspired him to become the founder & CEO of Five Star Company Culture. 

Host of a podcast by that name — thanks for having me as a guest and thanks for being my guest here today!

Josh’s mission is to help businesses maximize their potential and learn how to implement a winning culture that retains employees, increase team productivity, and allows business owners to regain their personal freedom.

Stepping back, Josh explains the wakeup call they faced during an organic period of growth, as their student workforce started to shrink with the onset of school schedules. Instead of panicking, they pivoted, embracing the lesson as an opportunity to refine communication and clarify their mission. Transforming this hitch into a turning point, they instated a daily huddle, which not only served to align team focus, but also sparked a cultural shift by nurturing an environment of support, connectivity, and collective growth.

Questions and Topics:

  • When did you realize it was YOU that “failed”?
  • What did they do to fix it? 
  • Tell us more about the huddles – how long? Standard agenda?
  • What was the effect in fall 2016?
  • Appealing to millennials vs. Gen Z? Have you had to adjust?
  • Where did you learn these mindsets and management styles from?
  • Defining core values and types of people to work with?
  • What do you do as a CEO that helps make it safe for others to do the same?
  • Tell us about the “Five Star Company Culture” podcast
  • My episode with our mutual connection, Kevin Harrington

The Power of a Champion Mindset in Business Culture
Embracing a Culture of Learning from Mistakes

In the competitive landscape of business, a culture that fosters growth and development through learning from missteps is crucial. Rokrbox, an inside sales assistant company, has epitomized this philosophy by embedding the mindset of a champion into their core values. This doesn’t imply a streak of unblemished victories; rather, it means recognizing that both wins and lessons emerge from each outcome. A true champion is defined not by a flawless record, but by resilience and the willingness to stand back up after falling down, transforming setbacks into stepping stones for growth.

Overcoming Challenges: Reflecting and Implementing Change

Rokrbox faced a notable challenge during a period of rapid growth. In the summer of 2015, as the company soared to new heights, a significant portion of their part-time workforce, primarily made up of students, dissipated with the start of the fall semester. This unexpected shift presented a stark realization that the meaning and importance of their work weren’t being effectively communicated by leadership. It was a crucial moment that shifted the company’s focus inward, igniting a reflection on the mechanisms essential for transparent communication and employee retention.

The Magic of Daily Huddles: A Key to Cultural Success

The transformative solution that Rokrbox discovered was the implementation of a daily huddle. A practice that now anchors their workday, these huddles serve as a time for team members to connect, recognize each other’s achievements, set collective goals, and align on the mission for the day ahead. This ritual not only eradicated previous communication inefficiencies but also played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s award-winning culture. It created an environment where each employee could see the bigger picture, comprehend how their contributions mattered, and envision a path for professional growth within the company. This daily routine of recognition, education, connection, and motivation ensures that all team members feel valued and part of a larger goal.

Creating a Vision and Communicating It Effectively

The lesson here extends far beyond the boundaries of a single company’s experience. The leader’s role is not only to create a vision but to effectively communicate it throughout the organization. Rokrbox exemplifies that having a clear and vivid vision isn’t sufficient unless it is shared and understood by the entire team. Issues in business often stem from communication breakdowns, and a leader’s capacity to articulate goals and expectations to their team members is paramount. Through the huddle process, Rokrbox was able to transform communication within the workplace, demonstrating that intentionality and structure in daily interactions could forge more profound employee engagement and drive stronger business outcomes.

The Importance of Core Values in Recognition and Growth

Highlighting the successes and efforts related to core values within the huddle reinforces their importance in the company culture. Rokrbox has shown that core values are not just platitudes; they are the standards by which team achievements are measured and celebrated. Acknowledging team members who live by these values each day keeps them active and exemplifies the behaviors that lead to success.

Concluding Insights: The Role of Leadership in Navigating Mistakes

Ultimately, the story of Rokrbox provides an insightful examination of the role of leadership when navigating through mistakes. Instead of assigning blame externally, it takes a leader to look inward and take responsibility for the team’s direction. Identifying gaps in communication and rectifying them through strategic actions, like daily huddles, not only salvages a challenging situation but also propels the business forward with renewed strength and cohesiveness. This approach is a testament to the statement that victories in business are not only about winning but also about learning to rise after setbacks and emerge stronger.

Cultivating Skill Development and Proactive Communication Strategies

Rokrbox’s adaptations to their business in response to generational shifts and student workforce dynamics underscore the importance of flexibility and foresight in personnel management. By examining resumes with greater scrutiny and asking more probing questions during interviews, they ensure that employment expectations align with both the company’s needs and the students’ academic schedules. This targeted approach not only aids in the selection of dedicated team members but also fortifies the retention of valuable talent.

Furthermore, maintaining a proactive dialogue with employees about their outside commitments allows for preemptive scheduling adjustments. This adaptability preserves the employment relationship, preventing abrupt departures and promoting employee well-being.

Implementing Regular One-on-Ones for Holistic Employee Engagement

One significant practice adopted by Rokrbox is the holding of regular one-on-one meetings that follow a strategic cadence of evaluation and engagement. These meetings are structured to review work-related skills and pinpoint areas needing improvement. Importantly, they conclude with inquiries into the personal lives of employees, thus embodying a holistic approach to employee engagement. Recognizing that personal circumstances can heavily impact work performance, this approach fosters an environment of support and understanding within the company.

Leveraging Masterminds to Foster Collective Growth

Taking inspiration from traditional masterminds made popular by thought leaders like Napoleon Hill, Rokrbox has instituted monthly mastermind sessions to cultivate collaborative problem-solving and empower their employees. These sessions, promoted with incentives like free food, encourage voluntary participation from team members eager to discuss strategies for improvement. By facilitating this shared environment, Rokrbox reinforces its commitment to collective growth and allows for the integration of diverse perspectives into the company’s operational framework.

Adapting to Generational Differences without Stereotyping

The evolution of Rokrbox workforce from millennials to Generation Z has entailed an understanding of each generation’s idiosyncrasies while avoiding overgeneralizations that hinder relationship building. Recognizing that individuals bring unique values and behaviors to the table facilitates a more nuanced approach to team building. Josh Cunningham of Rokrbox also emphasizes the necessity of adapting management techniques, such as content and competition structuring, to match evolving attention spans and engagement styles without succumbing to the pitfalls of confirmation bias.

Implementing Strong Values Across Generations

Ultimately, Rokrbox’s approach emphasizes the timeless nature of certain management principles, regardless of generational divides. Strong company values that resonate on a fundamental human level will consistently attract employees who align with the company’s mission. The implementation of practices such as huddles and masterminds transcends age brackets, connecting employees to a shared vision of success and growth within the organization.

Learning from External Experiences and Insights

The trajectory of Rokrbox’s culture is not merely an introspective journey; it has been informed by various external sources of insight. Josh Cunningham’s exposure to .com era influences and his father’s career provided the early inspiration for entrepreneurship and adapting to technological paradigms. As the business world continues to evolve, learning from both internal experiences and external wisdom remains a critical component in cultivating a resilient and impactful company culture.

Harnessing the Power of Teamwork in System and Process Design

Reflecting on Rokrbox’s adoption of standard operating procedures (SOPs), similar to those which propelled Best Buy’s consistent in-store experiences, underscores the critical role of systems and processes in achieving a harmonious business environment. When each team member comprehends their responsibilities and the expected outcomes, efficiency and productivity thrive within the organization. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize the vitality of establishing and continuously refining SOPs to adapt to the inevitable changes within any dynamic market.

Inculcating Ownership and Agility in Small Business Environments

Working with small business owners, as Josh Cunningham did, offers the unique advantage of seeing real-time impacts of one’s contributions on company performance. This immediacy catalyzes a sense of ownership and responsibility among employees, encouraging them to step up as key contributors to the organization’s success. To incorporate this level of agility into any business model, companies must imbue their culture with an openness to employee feedback, quick implementation of viable suggestions, and an empowering environment, where actions directly correlate to tangible outcomes.

Learning from the Spectrum of Job Experiences

Every job, from the most menial to the most prestigious, imparts valuable lessons that can transform business practices. Acknowledging even the “crappy jobs” fosters an appreciation for what not to replicate, while simultaneously refining the vision for one’s own business environment. The takeaway for any business is profound: understanding the breadth of employee experiences can inform and inspire better workplace design, improving morale and productivity in kind.

The Significance of Defining Company Values Early On

Defining Rokrbox’s core values long before the hiring process began served as a testament to the foresightfulness of its leadership. Clear and resonant values not only attract like-minded individuals to the team but also serve as a constant beacon, guiding decisions and behaviors. As a business grows and evolves, these values remain its pillars, ensuring a consistent and supportive culture that can withstand and adapt to market fluctuations and internal challenges.

Building a Strong Cultural Foundation for Sustainable Growth

Drawing an analogy from construction, every great skyscraper begins with a robust foundation. Rokrbox’s philosophy that culture is akin to this foundation illustrates the belief that a company’s resilience is deeply anchored in its core values and collective ethos. Amidst marketplace shakeups and economic turns, a steadfast cultural base allows a business to pivot effectively and maintain its core identity, even as services and problem-solving approaches may evolve.

Creating a Coachable Atmosphere and Celebrating Vulnerability

Josh Cunningham’s approach to leadership takes root in serving rather than dictating, encouraging personal empowerment, and fostering a culture wherein mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth rather than failures. By promoting a coachable atmosphere and leading by example in vulnerability, employees are permitted to navigate their responsibilities with confidence and ownership, contributing to the overall resiliency and strength of the business.

The Five Star Company Culture Initiative

As a leader with a vision to serve beyond his own company, Cunningham’s Five Star Company Culture initiative extends his philosophy to a wider audience, seeking to assist other business owners and C-suite executives in crafting environments where values are lived out loud. By sharing insights and practical strategies, this platform aims to assist businesses in laying down robust foundations for their culture, ensuring their operations are primed for success and sustainability in a relentless and ever-changing market landscape.

Embracing Vulnerability and Authenticity in Leadership

The candid sharing of personal stories and mistakes by influential figures such as Kevin Harrington sets the stage for a new paradigm in leadership. When leaders like Harrington demonstrate vulnerability, they signal to their teams that it’s acceptable to make and admit to mistakes. This behavior, in turn, fosters a culture of authenticity and trust within the workplace. When employees see their higher-ups own up to their errors, they are more likely to feel secure in expressing their own challenges and learning from them.

The Impact of Authentic Stories in Building Trust

  • Fosters Relatability: Sharing personal mistakes makes leaders appear more relatable and human, bridging the gap between management and staff.
  • Encourages Openness: When leaders are open about their failures, it cultivates an environment where employees are also comfortable sharing their experiences and ideas.
  • Builds Resilience: Recognizing and learning from errors paves the way for a resilient mindset, where challenges are seen as opportunities for growth.

The Role of Cross-Promotion in Amplifying Influence

Josh Cunningham’s Five Star Company Culture initiative heavily relies on the sharing of experiences and resources to enrich other businesses. By engaging in cross-promotion through podcasts and other media outlets, leaders can extend their reach, sharing valuable lessons and knowledge. Engaging with host Mark Graban illustrates how forming strategic connections can enhance visibility and impact across different platforms, benefiting an ever-wider audience.

Strategies for Effective Cross-Promotion

  • Leverage Platforms: Utilize various channels, including podcasts and social media, to share insights and expand your influence.
  • Collaborative Ventures: Forge partnerships with industry peers to share resources and co-create content that provides mutual value.
  • Community Engagement: Actively participate in community discussions and events to bolster your presence and credibility within your field.

The Significance of Accessible Brand Identity

Josh Cunningham’s mention of Rokrbox’s distinctive spelling highlights the importance of a memorable and searchable brand identity. In a digital age where web presence is crucial, creating a unique brand that stands out in search engine results is vital to attracting and retaining customers. A brand’s accessibility online directly influences its market performance and the ease with which potential clients can find and engage with a company’s services.

Key Elements of Crafting an Accessible Brand Identity

  • Consistency: Establish a consistent look and feel across all platforms to make your brand easily recognizable.
  • SEO Strategies: Focus on search engine optimization to ensure your brand ranks well in relevant search results.
  • Distinct Brand Elements: Develop unique aspects of your brand, such as a logo or tagline, that set you apart and make you easily identifiable.

Nurturing Leadership and Cultivating Success

Leaders like Cunningham, who are ready to share their wisdom and experiences openly, play a pivotal role in shaping the future of business culture. By embodying the principles of vulnerability, authenticity, and accessible branding, they pave the way for a new generation of businesses defined by connection, learning, and genuine engagement with both employees and customers. This holistic approach to leadership, culture, and branding stands as a formidable blueprint for success in the ever-evolving business landscape.