Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Richard Sheridan. The Penguin Group, 2013.Browser History: Organizational Culture

This is a book about falling in love. Richard Sheridan, CEO of software design firm Menlo Innovations, fell in love with software as “the ultimate sculpting material” at age 13, and the love affair continued throughout his computer science and engineering classes at the University of Michigan. But after moving up the ranks in the workforce, his passion for software became strained.

The way things were done in the workplace was so soul-destroying that he decided he either had to change it or divorce his one true love. “The software industry, after all, defined the term ‘death march’ in a business context: programmers pulling all-nighters, bringing sleeping bags to work, jettisoning time with loved ones, canceling vacations,” Mr. Sheridan recalls in his book. “These death marches often lead to the saddest story of all: projects cancelled before they ever see the light of day.”

That is when Mr. Sheridan decided to start his personal and professional “journey to joy.” At Menlo Innovations, he has built an organizational culture that creates trust, accountability, and results through key tactics like removing “manufactured fear” from the workplace and implementing structure without bureaucracy.

“[T]hese get you to joy,” he writes. The love affair can live on.


The Circle by Dave Eggers. Knopf, 2013.The Circle Dave Eggers

The fictional company in Dave Eggers’ novel would make a perfect profile in a business magazine about building an outstanding corporate culture. If you work for the Circle—a tech company that has subsumed Facebook, Twitter, and all the other big tech companies around today, according to Mr. Eggers—you get fantastic benefits and perks far beyond a fully funded 401(k) and a parking spot. There is free education, creativity on steroids, and the chance to be one of the coolest of cool kids. Best of all, as far as the company is concerned, the employees work all the time. Literally, all the time.

The Circle’s goal is to know everything, and its corporate culture allows it to creep insidiously into every aspect of its employees’ and customers’ lives. The book proves that culture is not about perks, but about how people think and act Share on X. This company is creating the future and we are helping them do it. You OK with that?


Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives by Kip Tindell. Grand Central Publishing, 2014.Uncontainable

If you have ever shopped at U.S.-based retailer The Container Store, you may have asked yourself: Why is everyone who works here so darned happy to be selling organization materials and empty boxes? Kip Tindell, the retailer’s CEO, explains that the store’s contagiously positive culture starts with hiring.

He believes that when it comes to employee acquisition, 1=3: One great person equals the productivity of three good ones at a minimum. So, if the company can find those great people, it can afford to pay them 50 to 100 times the industry average.

The approach seems to be working: The Container Store has made Fortune’s list of top 100 companies to work for during the past 16 years, including 2015.

Mr. Tindell helps ensure the positive culture feeds into customer service by training employees on three principles—and you do not have to be in sales to use them:

1. I believe this customer needs and wants my help.

2. I know I am capable of helping them.

3. I want to do everything I can to help them today

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