• SEAchange

Navigating the War for Talent

Twenty years ago, Brett Hoogeveen's father, Kim Hoogeveen, founded MindSet with a mission to provide companies with trusted techniques to help them thrive through elevating company culture and leadership practices. Two years ago, Brett and Blake took MindSet digital through a new platform called BetterCulture. SEAchange co-founders, Kyle Cartwright and Graham Pansing-Brooks, talk with Brett to discuss BetterCulture’s impact on the world and where that impact is heading in the future.


Brett announced on the podcast that BetterCulture released "20 Tenets" - a new app that empowers team members to perform self-assessments for soft skills and recognize what they do well and opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Check out 20 Tenets as well as The Stream of Conscience Podcast’s newest episode!


Listen to this episode here!


Scroll down for this episode's transcript:

If you haven't noticed the world is changing. Consumer and talent demands are evolving and businesses are being held accountable to a broader purpose. This is The Stream of Conscience Podcast, where we celebrate the businesses that are prioritizing purpose to achieve both financial returns and greater impact.


These stories, highlight business as a force for good and good as a force for business.

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[Kyle] Welcome back to our listeners. And thank you for choosing The Stream of Conscience Podcast. I'm Kyle Cartwright, and I'm joined by my partner in purpose Graham Pansing-Brooks. Hey Graham.


[Graham] Hey there, Kyle.


[Kyle] Together, we're co founders of SEAchange, a purpose driven business consulting and best practice research company located in the heart of the.


On this episode of The Stream of Conscience Podcast, we're speaking with MindSet's co-founder Brett Hoogeveen. Brett and his brother Blake, along with their father, Kim, who is a legendary leader in Omaha founded MindSet 20 years ago to provide companies with trusted techniques to help them thrive through elevating company culture and leadership practices. MindSet located in Bellevue, Nebraska focuses on building strong and healthy practices into the foundation of a company through its leaders and people.


And again, if you've been following along with The Stream of Conscience Podcast, you know, we're all about it. Two years ago, MindSet went digital through a new brand, BetterCulture. Now they're on a mission to make the world a better place to work. Brett, we're thrilled to have you today. Thanks for taking the time.


Would you start off by just giving our listeners a little bit of background on MindSet and BetterCulture and maybe some insights on the values, the core of your business.


[Brett] Yeah, sure. Kyle, our organization was started, as you mentioned in the intro by my father, Dr. Kim Hoogeveen, who was a 24 year CEO in Omaha, and ran an organization that became recognized, over and over again.


The organization was called Q Ally Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Company as the number one best place to work in the community. And so when he, after 24 years, I thought he was going to head off into a fairly quiet retirement. He had a lot of people, all of a sudden started knocking on his door saying, Hey, we'd like to talk about what it was you were doing from a leadership perspective and a culture perspective.


When year after year, after year, that best places to work competition in the area. And so he started doing some work on the side, answering those questions and working with a few clients and a momentum quickly picked up to the point where both my brother and myself were knocking on his door saying, Hey, this is pretty cool and fun and exciting what you're up to. What would we have to do to be able to help you on that journey? And over the course of a couple of years, we earned enough of his confidence that he let us, stuff envelopes and, you know, do a few things like that.


[Kyle] Start at the bottom right.


[Brett] Yeah. And then over the additional decade from there we really built a nice business together.


[Kyle] I love it. I actually, as you know, I got a chance to participate in the, propel program that MindSet offers. And that was in 2020. And I was just stricken by how passionate you all are about leadership. And, and more importantly, helping leaders help their people.


And which also has the economic value for the company, but there's also the, the cultural value in a, in a company. And then the community. I still find myself often coming back to the seven principles of leadership, which I think are just brilliantly crafted. Would you share those with the audience?


[Brett] Yeah, sure, absolutely.


Yeah. You know, that is at the heart of everything that we do with MindSet and with our other organization, BetterCulture and the seven principles. When we shared them, we used to say something along the lines of, you know, in order to build a dominantly successful workplace culture, you have to have clarity of thought of what it means to be a leader.


And we don't force companies to adopt our seven principles. We just know it's important that you have clarity of thought across levels of leadership. What are we trying to do as leaders in our organization? And so in our first couple of years of mindset, We didn't have the confidence to say, just take our seven principles of leadership.


We just said, you need to come up with some for you. And we even did some consulting work, which I wish I could take back, trying to help organizations craft their own leadership principles. We quickly fast forward and figured out, you know, everybody really likes the ones we wrote. They have a really impressive track record.


And on top of that, we have a whole bunch of curriculum tied to them. Over the preceding decade, we've become a lot more comfortable. A full, full heartedly endorsed fact that if you want to build a better, stronger culture, teach your leaders to adopt these seven simple principles. And I can even boil them down to seven words.


The words are culture, pride, growth, duds, decisions, conflict and fun. Now I can, I can give some additional context around those seven words but that's about as much as I can remember. Right? So seven sentences was a little rough,


[Kyle] Makes it a lot easier.


[Brett] But in general, it, when a leader shows up to work, if they want to build a stronger culture, help their people grow, be the type of organization that is a magnet for talent.


When you show up, you've got to be thinking with every interaction that you conduct throughout your day. What am I doing to improve the culture, to push the organization toward excellence, to help employees feel more proud of where they work, and to know that the organization is also proud of them, that they are appreciated and recognized, what am I doing to help people grow and develop?


What am I doing? The fourth one in which I said was the duds is all about protecting the right of good employees to work with other good employees. And that's a big one. It's a big one that organizations struggle with. We put up with either sub-par talent or more often people that are draining and negative and cynical in the work environment, and that's most disheartening to your, to your best people.


So if we don't protect your people's right to work with other good staff, then you're doing a disservice, not just to your culture, but to your company. The fifth one is all about, decision-making making sure that people are bought into your decision-making processes. Feel involved, feel like they have input, feel like they understand not just the why, but, the what and the, how, the sixth one is about conflict and making sure that people understand conflict is inevitable in the workplace.


And so making sure that we have a healthy view of conflict. Which spins into topics like innovation and other things. And the very last one, the seventh principle is all about having fun. That's the simplest one to understand, but the most often one missed is a, there's just no reason that we can't have fun in the workplace.


[Graham] You know, those values I think are, are, really exciting and wonderful to hear because it is so aligned with a lot of the work that we talk about and try to encourage organizations to pursue. And, clearly, those values are something that are, very personal to you and the work that you're doing at BetterCulture and MindSet.


And you, you alluded to, I think a little bit of the, implication of what those values mean for an organization, but can you tell us a little bit about how you've seen those, those values and purpose really help your organization grow or help other organizations grow? And I think you know, where does the rubber hit the road on this?


[Brett] Yeah, it's a great question, Graham. Unequivocally, there is a war for talent happening in not just the U S workforce, but around the, around the planet. There are organizations that are struggling to fill positions. There are organizations that have every resource or asset that they need to grow and fulfill their mission, except personnel.


Except people. We've been making this case for, as you guys mentioned almost two decades, that if you want to be the type of organization that can attract, build, motivate, and keep talent. You've got to be focused on your culture. Now that was true. Two, two and a half years ago, pre COVID pre everything else.


That was absolutely a business case that you could make. But we ran into a few more skeptics then, than we do today where workforce issues are even more heightened. Right? So the way that we connect that to where the rubber meets the road, you know, we, we are a purpose-driven organization. We like to walk the same path that we preach.


But ultimately one of the big goals of most of our clients is to run a financially successful business. And we have to be able to make that case that, yeah, that's where we're going to help you. And it's through investments in leadership and in culture, that's going to help you get where you want to get.


[Graham] Hmm, that's powerful. And again, I think I love hearing you talk about it's sort of that flywheel that starts spinning of a purpose of culture, really helping lead an organization towards success. And then in turn, being able to use that success as a way to, to reinvest back into your team, your people, your values, your mission, and continue that flywheel to start this cycle moving forward and propelling the organization forward.


And on that note then too, you know, we, we tend to lean a lot on data in presenting our business case. We, we certainly like to, to make sure that, a lot of what we talk about, can be perceived as being the bleeding hearts of the world unite. But I think that there's, there's really solid business cases to be made to this.


I'm curious to know what data you and MindSet and BetterCulture really lean on in terms of, the culture, performance, productivity, profitability, engagement, those types of things that I think when it is really distilled down to a lot of the very, pro-business and economically minded individuals want to see, that that's still being taken into consideration.


[Brett] Yeah, I have three points I want to make to that Graham. And we'll see if I can remember all three. Okay. Number one is I was an engineer by background, a civil engineer, and I like data. And I liked being able to scientifically explain and justify any position that I take. I try to be very rational in my outlook on the world.


And then I stepped into the leadership and culture space, which, which can be perceived to be a little bit squishy. So. I spent my first couple of years back when I was, when I was trying to figure out how to, how to contribute to this company alongside my father, I spent probably more time than I'd like to admit.


Trying to find research based evidence for everything that we were doing. You know, this stuff that my father had been widely recognized for, that he had put a career. He has a PhD in psychology, did a PhD thesis on stuff that relates to this, 24 years as a CEO validated, you know, five time, best place to work, all kinds of blue sky and metrics he could point to and here his son comes in and goes, yeah, but how do we prove that? Or what's the, what's the source for that? I know I frustrated him quite a bit by, by the point where, after a few months, I think he very politely leaned over and said, you can keep going at this as much as you want, but if you can't see that.


If we want to work with a client or an organization, and they can't see that having employees that are excited about being a part of the organization, benefits the company. Or if they can't see that employees are aligned with management or with the mission or the purpose of the organization and how that could help, or if they can't see how having stronger improved relationships among a team contributes to the functioning of that organization.


If they can't see having people who are engaged or excited about what they're doing contributes to productivity and to financial upside, et cetera. Brett, no amount of research you're going to do or numbers that you're going to find for them are going to convince them. You're going to find people that naturally understand this as an obvious truth that, well, of course, if you can build a stronger and better culture that contributes to the health of the company and the financial outcomes and the people that don't believe that.


It's kind of like Warren Buffet always said, I can't talk somebody into investing the way that I want to invest. They either get it immediately or I could talk to them all day long and they're still going to want to see the world differently. And so that's how we've chosen to chosen to see the world with what we do with MindSet and BetterCulture.


We want to help the rich get richer. We want to help the organizations that already know and understand that there's a tremendous value and business case to be made for a terrific culture. Those are the clients we will. We do want to make the world a better place to work, but we have enough experience knowing that if an organization doesn't get that already, we're not going to be the ones to convince them.


[Kyle] I think, that's sage advice for any business, right. Is kind of stick to your values and those that share them, you'll, you'll find each other. Right. Come to a realization on that point as well, ourselves.


[Brett] I'm sure that's going to be the case as you continue to grow in your, in your business as well.


[Kyle] Absolutely.


Well, for those who are new to MindSet or are just learning about MindSet, Blake, Brett Blake and Kim coordinate a number of different programs, trainings, different resources again for, for leadership development. I'm curious though about BetterCulture. I'm not as familiar with BetterCulture.


And so I am really excited to hear about how the business model has evolved, what's different, what's changed, what's the same. Maybe talk a little bit about the evolution of the business model.


[Brett] Yeah.


Thank you, Kyle. This is funny. I think it's only me that cares, but I want credit for this pivot happening before COVID cause it did, they started before COVID. Okay. But toward the end of 2019, we had realized that the growth of our business was really capped at the time of our principles, you know, of, of Blake, myself and Kim. We are pretty particular about the way our message gets conveyed and the way that we teach our content.


And we have a massive curriculum. And so the prospect of bringing on additional coaches, trainers, consultants, et cetera, was a steep, uphill climb, just to get people onboard to where we were comfortable with them operating with our stuff. And we realized we were very limited on, how we could grow, and the impact that we could make.


And so we had decided that we were going to take our business digital. What we had done historically was very much, in-person leadership training events, like the event that you came to Kyle,


[Kyle] Which was partially virtual as well,


[Brett] That went into COVID. And we had to swap that, into a hybrid model.


[Kyle] I'll take a little credit too.


[Brett] Take away. Yes. So we had realized that we wanted to build something that could scale and scale through technology. So we said, what would it take if we truly wanted to make the world a better place to work? How would that work? How could we take our approach, our proven processes, our knowledge, our technologies, our skills, and, and build them in a way that would scale. And what we really realized is in order to do it really effectively and really well, we need to build a platform that can build culture from two directions, both from the top down and from the bottom up simultaneously. And we want to make that process easy for our prospective clients. So we want to be able to go to somebody in an organization that's in Boise or Boston or Nashville, or, you know, you pick the spot, and say, great, you as an individual, you want to be the champion for culture in your organization.


You've got the title or the passion. You understand what it, you know, what, what it could give you as an upside. Let us give you the tools and the technology to make that job relatively straightforward and easy for you. So here's our processes and tools on what we can do to help you build leaders through an on demand leadership development program that we built, which I can talk more about if you're interested.


And also through a really exciting new technology that we're just finishing up, over the next couple of weeks here, which is a platform and a product for every employee in your organization that we call 20 Tenets, the 20 Tenets of Culture and that's a whole new direction for our business.


We've never built custom software before. That's been a really fun process and we're really excited to unleash sort of our most powerful tool yet that doesn't just go at leaders. It goes at every employer in an organization and enables them to become more successful themselves, to build stronger teams and ultimately to contribute to the health and success of the organization's culture.


[Graham] Brett that's really exciting to know that that is on the horizon and coming down the pipeline. And, and really that was going to be one of the next questions that we were going to ask was around, what is coming down? What's, what's the future of MindSet and BetterCulture looking like.


So, so maybe for our listeners to you could unpack those 20 Tenets or talking a little bit more about, the application of this online process and on-demand process. And, and how the software is going to be able to, how it's going to work and how it's going to be able to provide that, that impact to organizations, top to bottom and bottom to top.


[Brett] Oh, I love that.


Yes. So, it's going to be really cool. We're, we're launching our first pilots right now. And the feedback has just been really fun to hear from clients. What we've essentially developed through about a year and a half of really hard work is a listing of 20 employee attitudes and behaviors that that's, uh, that's, uh, not the, maybe the best way to describe it, but there are 20 things that if employees will get these ideas into their head and these behaviors into their personal repertoire, it'll help them be more successful in life. You can call them soft skills, life skills, professional skills, whatever that is. But they're the types of things that not only will make you more successful at work.


They'll make you better neighbor, they'll make you a better spouse or family member, right? They're not rocket science, but they're the type of things that if you can do these 20 things, you will become more successful because of it. And the cool thing is we spent a lot of work building out these 20 things that are a hundred percent in the interest of employees to work on, but they're also 20 things that are 100% in the interest of the organization for their employees to do.


And so we see this as a huge win-win. In fact, we struggled with the title. Is it the 20 Tenets of Success? For the individuals? Or is it 20 Tenets of Culture for the organization? Because you can make a really good case that it's both. The model not to give you the long answer here, Graham, but the model is, employees start by taking a self assessment on the 20 tenets.


They rate themselves. How well do I do on these 20 things. At the end of that assessment, they're going to be asked to select just two of them that they want to work on, personally, over the next year. Which two of these things as I went through the assessment, did you think? Yeah. You know what?


I would like to get better at that. Okay. And trust me, everybody we've talked to so far, doesn't have a problem finding two things that they personally want to work on. The more common reaction is just two? So fine, two things. Then we build an automated, system that delivers coaching videos to all of the employees inside an organization after they take that assessment over the course of a full calendar year.


And so they're going to get three or four or five emails about the two that they pick that they want to work on, or that are going to prompt them to work on that. And they're going to get one email on all other of the 20 tenets and the whole company gets those emails at the same time. And the idea there is to promote company-wide conversation around that value, that behavior, that tenet.


So again, making it easier for your HR department or your chief culture officer or head of people to push something that's going to help your culture because an outside third, third party vendor, like BetterCulture just sent that message to your whole company. And now all you need to do is say, Hey, let's talk about that, how are we doing on that, et cetera.


Then the software also surfaces company-wide data. It'll be it's anonymized, but company-wide data to the administrator from the company so they can see how their employees answered questions in general. What they've decided to work on, how people are engaging with the platform.


Are they watching the coaching videos that are built around these tenets, et cetera, et cetera. It's a great way to also get through that we collect some data that also works as sort of a very simple sort of pulse culture survey that provides some comparative data for how does, how do your employees think others are doing in the company, et cetera?


So it's a really powerful, cool tool, that we're excited to have the chance to roll out.


[Graham] Yeah, that's fantastic to be able to find a way and a process to help not only streamline, but create the space for those conversations and help spur them on and create a new opportunity to, to dive at some of these, these challenges.


Because, I think that, to your point, these are, these are challenges that nearly every business is facing today. And so how do we find ways to really be able to, to approach them in the most effective and, streamlined process and empowering process. And so I love hearing how this really does put the tools into the hands of, of the team members, and allows not only engagement by the leadership to be able to see how the team is adopting and, and engaging with it.


But also making sure that the team members feel that, the decision-making opportunities are there, that the, that the resources are there, that the education components are there. It's, it's really amazing.


[Brett] Thanks. Yeah. One of the pieces of feedback that we've gotten over the years is actually, I wouldn't even call it feedback, it's what we've learned from working with clients over the years is, in our old business model, with MindSet, we gave a lot of advice and we think it was good advice. But when you give advice, the clients that you're giving it to, take on an obligation and a workload to go execute that, right? So we can give great ideas, but the people we're giving those ideas to still have to have the capacity and the desire to take the time and energy into their schedule to go execute those things. One of the things we're excited about with BetterCulture is we're trying to make that lift lighter and easier for our clients and say, no, no, no, just enroll your employees in our platform. We'll do all the work. When we push it out on a biweekly basis or throughout the year, when we push content through your system, you guys just grab the stuff you like and talk about it, you know?


It makes it so much easier when we look at it from that perspective than us training leaders and then saying, okay, now you guys go take all these ideas and put them into action. We think this is going to be, uh, a, uh, there's going to be a lot less sort of energy loss along the way, with our BetterCulture products, then with our MindSet products, no matter how good they were, this is still going to be more streamlined.


[Kyle] Absolutely. Yeah. Hitting it from two angles there. And you know, frankly, not every community has a Hoogeveen family like, you know, group, right, that can kind of provide some of this. And so I'm, I'm most excited because I've really enjoyed learning from you, your brother and your, and your father, Brett. I'm excited to know that your energy, your expertise, your leadership is now going to be able to touch more communities.


So that said, as we kind of take us home, do you want to share a little bit about, or I guess share where people can find more information, you know, when the software launches or the service launches, how will they find out how to leverage what you're offering.


[Brett] Yeah. So BetterCulture.com is the place to go.


I will tell you that website is in a process of evolution. And so if you're specifically interested in that 20 tenets product, you really should go to BetterCulture.com/20TENETS. 20 Tenets. We'll get you directly to that product. Just in this last couple of weeks, we're going to have all the bugs worked out.


We're going to have the actual product out and ready to roll. And so we'll be adding some demos to the website, where you can actually see the product, et cetera. So we're excited about that. So you can go to BetterCulture.com or GoMindSet.com is our other website or other organization.


[Kyle] That's great.


Well, we're super excited for you and look forward to continuing this conversation. Thanks a lot for your time, Brett.


[Brett] Thank you for the amazing work you guys keep doing. Keep doing it.


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