Jason Kilar is the former CEO of Hulu and Vessel, and an early executive at Amazon. He joined us at The Scaleup Offsite to talk about establishing and scaling a company’s culture.

Key takeaways:

  • Culture starts with what you do when nobody is looking.

  • How a trip Disney World as a kid made Jason obsessed with companies and cultures that, at scale, stand above others. After he landed his first job at Disney, he came to observe the following cultural best practices:

    1. Be explicit about what you want the culture of your company to be.
    2. Walk the talk. Not only should you talk about the cultural values of a company, you should back it up every day when people are looking and when they aren’t looking. Example: Walt Disney would stop to pick up the smallest piece of litter at the theme park, which reinforced the cultural value that attention to detail was super important.
    3. Embrace mechanisms Invent or use good processes that can be repeated and delivered at scale.
  • In Jason’s time at Amazon, the company had a “just do it” award, which served as mechanism for reinforcing great behaviors from employees. Everything from saving on electrical bills to pushing back on bureaucracy.

  • When you think about your culture, think of it as a repellent as much as a magnet. You want some people to feel like it’s not for you.

  • A challenge with great cultures is that you have to live up to them every day. You will be tested often, and you need to fight for things that are important to your value and principles.

Recommended reading:

This talk took place at The Scaleup Offsite, a private CEO gathering hosted by Y Combinator Continuity and Greylock Partners in April 2017.