It takes a team to build a business, and one bad egg can spoil the broth. If you have been in business for some time, like myself, this will ring true. While we read so many blogs and stories about how leadership determines culture, I beg to differ. In fact, I think leadership has little impact on culture, but people do.

Yesterday was a eye-opener for me. I saw an international team collaborated to make sure that their boss (aka me), knew how much they meant to each and every one of them. They went over and above, with every single person contributing in one way or another.
The 5 things I learned about culture that I didn't realise

They made it personal, purposeful and elaborate, because they are as a team 'Marketing Eye' and they stand proud and loud.

I am an avid reader of psychology books and anything to do with culture. Every time we think we have nailed the culture thing, someone tries to bring it down. It's devastating to watch, but in some weird way incredibly interesting. The way people's minds work, the families they come from and how their childhood affects their futures - is fascinating to say the least. Yesterday, a young woman, who has been in Australia for a short amount of time from India shared her story of doing an internship with a company for 6 months, and how horrified she was that they asked her to get coffee. In India, she has house help, so getting coffee is not something she believes she should ever have to do. 

While our interns at Marketing Eye don't get coffee, I explained that when I started I got coffee and I didn't have a problem with it. In fact, I did it for my first two jobs, and just took it as being part of the job description. 

The difference isn't a will to succeed but in fact culture. She knows no different because she comes from a family where servants do everything, and a driver takes her where she wants to go. I can imagine living in Australia is quite a shock, but each day I know deep down she learns something new that gets her closer to being the person she wants to be.

Sharing stories is part of our culture at Marketing Eye. We do stand-up meetings and share how we feel and one thing that no-one knows about you, with a team of people every day. It does get hard to come up with the latter but each day someone shares something really meaningful that helps us understand them better.

No matter how much I read, or how long I have been in business, it didn't prepare me for the lessons I learned yesterday. There were 5 things that distinctively stuck in my mind:

Leadership can come from anyone and everyone

The person you least expect to show leadership, will be the person who surprises you the most. There was one standout person who led the pack in putting together the surprise for me yesterday and they thought about every detail and everything that I have ever shared with them. It was so important to her that yesterday I knew how much I was loved by the team.

Everyone has to be on-board to be successful

Yesterday didn't happen because of one person, and if a single person wasn't on-board in the whole occasion, it would have stood out. They each wrote personal messages to me, and we all know that when someone isn't on the team, they give a generic and reluctant message. 

The one person that you feel you haven't connected with surprises you

There is one person who I have felt for quite some time was a bit complacent, and perhaps just didn't have as much chemistry with me. They didn't ever share what they were working on and I always felt as though I wanted that connection, and it made me try harder. What they wrote was so deeply personal and showed me that they not only saw me as an inspiring leader (which I am not sure that I am), but that I was fun and brought 'life' to the team.

Everyone matters

I noticed a person in the room that was a bit quiet and it made me realise that perhaps I hadn't spent enough time with them. They are struggling with understanding English, and have come from Italy to do an internship. She is beautiful inside and out, but I think the work side of things is a struggle due to the English barrier. I know there is more I can do to help her and I need to understand better what she is trying to achieve out of her internship so that we make sure she walks away knowing that it has taken her a step closer to her career goals.

Your team sees your struggles

I hate to admit this, but sometimes I struggle. I have to put on a brave face every time I am in the office and for me that is hard work. The last day before I headed to the US for business, I was beat. We had our accounts system hacked, I had missed some important deadlines for projects to do with other business interests, and I was exhausted due to weeks without a good nights sleep. I knew on the last day, that I couldn't smile no matter how hard I tried. The number of staff that came up to me and put their arms around me and gave me a hug brought me to tears. Just like yesterday, everyone is open with showing affection towards me, and somehow they realise that when you are working on so many different projects, something has to give. 

I want to be 'more' for my team. I want for them to realise all their dreams and to live happy and healthy lives. I cannot think them enough for creating their own affectionate culture, one that is all about caring and sharing. I love my team!

Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
Join us on social media
Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye


  • Melina

    This was an interesting blog post about culture. As much as I believe that the people you work with shape the work culture and environment, I have to say that leadership plays an important role in doing so. Because the leader will be able to set the tone in meetings and projects, and depending on the leader's work ethic, it could create a positive or negative energy. The reason behind my statement is that I have worked with leaders that are not inspirational or motivated enough to foster the team bonding spirit needed to create a positive work environment. This has led to many employees feeling 'obligated' to their job, resulting in a 'minimalist' work ethic in which they do the bare minimum, which is counterproductive for the company. Although it was said in the blog post that 'leadership can come from anyone and everyone' (and I agree), I think that it is definitely something that is shaped and developed by a good leader or mentor.

  • Maya Reine Gonzalez

    Culture is everything to employees. It either makes or breaks employee eagerness to strive harder for work or to leave in search of a company where they can find belongingness with the help of recruitment firms.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Contact Us

Marketing Eye
  • Our addresses:
    Marketing Eye Level 4, 134 William Street, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
    Level 4, 492 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC 3004AU
    Central Plaza, Level 21, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000
  • 1300 300 080
Contact Form

Connect with Us

Latest Marketing Eye Tweets