“I do not tell candidates that companies have a great culture anymore,” said Ben Duncomb of Talent Hub to me this week at Dreamforce 2019. Why? “Because the definition of great culture changes based on what each person values.”

For me, culture is the expression of values in behavior. Because I add an experiential aspect to it, stating that specific characteristics are “company values” does not automatically make them descriptive of the company culture for me. Instead, I require that values be expressed in behavior. 

When Ben made that comment, it got me thinking about how, even with my own definition of company values, what I value in a company culture has changed over the years. When I started my professional career, my number one goal was to figure out what I wanted to do long term. I quickly discovered a love for technology and chose my next few jobs/companies based on the opportunity to develop my technical skills.  

As my family and my family expenses grew with first one, then two kids, I also started to value a culture of advancement, where there was a clear path towards promotions and raises based on factors I could influence, such as getting new certifications.  

In addition to my perspective changing as I grow, my wife’s business as an online quilting educator has become successful. For me, reaching a certain level of financial freedom has shifted the desire to pursue career advancement for its own sake into a desire to be able to enjoy the full experience of where I am at now. Over the past six months, what I value has shifted dramatically. 

So, while I was speaking with Ben at Dreamforce 2019 about what defines a great culture, I gave the example of Marketwake’s Christmas trip this year. As a company that values experiences, Marketwake is going to Iceland as a team for a few days right before the holidays. At one point in my career, it would’ve been very hard for either myself or my wife to travel because of our kids. But now, Marketwake’s culture of experience is such a blessing — and gifting my wife and me with our first vacation without kids EVER. 

Spending the week in Iceland.

Which gets me to my next point: Dreamforce 2019

Dreamforce 2019Spending the week in San Francisco with some of the smartest, most innovative people in our industry is one of those things that really matters not just to me but to my company. We went to Dreamforce 2019 as a crew — Brooke Beach, our CEO, Zack Gibson, Implementation Architect, Zach Shirah, Junior Implementation Architect, Devin MacLean, Project Manager, and I — to enjoy and explore everything the Salesforce ecosystem has to offer. Here were the highlights: 

Experience of Connection

One way the experience stood out was by connecting with people in person that I had developed relationships with over the past year online. By answering questions on the success community, being actively engaged on LinkedIn, and making an effort to take part in the Lightning Champions program, I have gotten to know many amazing Salesforce admins, devs, consultants, and business leaders. So, the opportunity to meet a number of these people from the Salesforce Ohana was especially exciting for me.

I also met so many new people, and I look forward to many handshakes and introductions to become long-lasting relationships.

Experience of Inspiration

Throughout the week — but especially during the Salesforce Lightning keynote — I was inspired by the vision and direction the platform is moving in. I got to sit up front with some of the other Salesforce Lighting Champions and share in the excitement as Salesforce announced so many requested features. I’m excited to see how all of these critical enhancements will add up to radically transform the way we can build a user experience in Salesforce.

Experience of Nature

Throughout the week, we enjoyed the nature theme of Dreamforce as well as some very peaceful spaces like this waterfall.  As a writer, I do not think I can do justice to the beauty of these scenes, but I was certainly glad to be able to capture some of it in these photos.

dreamforce 2019One of my favorite parts of the trip: Spontaneous plans. Not all of our team’s experiences were planned, and such was the case with visiting the most beautiful beach I have seen.  We planned to go to Muir Woods, but we didn’t realize that required reserving parking ahead of time, so we visited this nearby beach and reserved parking at Muir Woods for later that afternoon.

dreamforce 2019

When we finally did make it to Muir Woods later in the day, the view of the trees was overwhelming with their beauty and size!  


So, what does this all have to do with finding the right culture? 

Back to Ben’s statement: “I do not tell candidates that companies have a great culture anymore.” After my experience at Marketwake, I agree entirely; being a part of this team has shown me the value of seeing culture in action. There’s absolutely nothing like it. 

So, if you’re on the hunt for your next move and know that a good culture fit is a “make or break” for you, here’s what I’ve learned: 

Be careful if the first thing a recruiter tells you is that a company has a great culture.  The company probably does have an amazing culture in many ways, but it may or may not be the culture you are looking for depending on what you value and where you are at in your journey.  

Here are a few examples of how great culture might look differently at different times and for different people.  I know people that value each side of these cultural values, so these comparisons are not about which is better, but rather, which is a better fit.

  • Shared company experiences and activities vs. individual social life and experiences
  • Flexible work location vs. expectation to be in the office
  • Flexible work hours vs. consistent work hours
  • Encouraged to take PTO vs. rewarded for working extra
  • Clearly defined career progression vs. entrepreneurial/flexible career progression 

Have more questions about finding the right culture fit in your next job or want to gab more about what you learned at Dreamforce 2019? Let’s start a conversation on LinkedIn,  so add me!

John Knight

Author John Knight

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