June 25, 2015

The Difference Between Culture and Values

The Difference Between Culture and Values This topic has been bugging me for a while, so I am going to use the writing of this post as a means of working through it. We have a great set of core values here at Return Path. And we also have a great corporate culture, as evidenced by our winning multiple employer of choice awards, including being Fortune Magazine’s #2 best medium-sized workplace in America. But the two things are different, and they’re often confused. I hear statements all the time, both here and at other companies, like “you can’t do that — it’s not part of our culture,” “I like working there, because the culture is so great,” and “I hope our culture never changes.”  And those statements reveal the disconnect. Here’s my stab at a definition.  Values guide decision-making and a sense of what’s important and what’s right.  Culture is the collection of business practices, processes, and interactions that make up the work environment. A company’s values should never really change. They are the bedrock underneath the surface that will be there 10 or 100 years from now.  They are the uncompromising core principles that the company is willing to […]


December 6, 2012

Book Short: Culture is King

Book Short:  Culture is King Tony Hsieh’s story, Delivering Happiness (book, Kindle), is more than just the story of his life or the story of Zappos. It’s a great window into the soul of a very successful company and one that in many ways has become a model for great culture and a great customer service model.  It’s a relatively quick and breezy read, and it contains a handful of legendary anecdotes from Zappos’ history to demonstrate those two things — culture and customer service — in action. As Hsieh himself says in the book, you can’t copy this stuff […]


August 2, 2012

The Best Place to Work, Part 2: Create an environment of trust

Last week, I wrote about surrounding yourself with the best and brightest.  Next in this series of posts  is all about Creating an environment of trust.  This is closely related to the blog post I wrote a while back in my series on Return Path’s Core Values on Transparency.  At the end of the day, transparency, authenticity, and caring create an environment of trust. Some examples of that? Go over the real board slides after every board meeting – let everyone in the company know what was discussed (no matter how large you are, but of course within reason) Give bad […]


October 5, 2011

Building the Company vs. Building the Business

Building the Company vs. Building the Business I was being interviewed recently for a book someone is writing on entrepreneurship, which focused on identifying the elements of my “playbook” for entrepreneurial success at Return Path.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had a full playbook, though I’ve certainly documented pieces of it in this blog over the years.  One of the conversations we had in the interview was around the topic of building the company vs. building the business. The classic entrepreneur builds the business — quite frankly, he or she probably just builds the product for a long time first, […]