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Strategies for Cultivating a Winning Work Culture A Q+A with serial entrepreneur and ZeroBounce founder Liviu Tanase on how he's built a culture of success.
By Jason Fell, Director of the Entrepreneur Partner Studio
It's one thing to build a successful product or service. It's another to create a workplace environment that breeds employee happiness and a collective mindset toward achieving success. Liviu Tanase knows a thing or two about both.
A serial entrepreneur, Tanase launched his first business selling computers at age 18 in Romania. Eleven years and several successful companies later, Tanase moved to the U.S. to expand the market for his telecom, software, and email platform ideas. "The U.S. has a forward-thinking culture which adopts new technologies and creates leading platforms in email marketing," says Tanase, who is 33 years old. "I wanted to be a part of this."
In 2017, Tanase founded ZeroBounce, an online email validation system created to ensure that companies sending complex and high-volume email avoid deliverability issues. Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., ZeroBounce now has offices all over the world, including Romania, Ireland and India.
Here, Tanase talks about how he fosters a winning workplace culture and how he achieves happiness and balance as an entrepreneur.
How do you define company culture?
Tanase: Company culture is comprised of the unique, intangible attributes that allow the combination of human capital, resources, and process to create groundbreaking technologies.
Our culture is based on continuous innovation as we can always create better product offerings, improve the customer experience, and expand the profitability of our clients.
Describe the culture you've built at ZeroBounce.
Tanase: Of course, success in business is ultimately driven by the results of the company and the satisfaction of the client and at ZeroBounce, there is much more. We added an altruistic element to our goals and measures of success, where our happiness and success is derived from the happiness and success of our customers.
ZeroBounce was created to set the benchmark in email delivery and to create a novel, easy-to-use, and industry leading mechanism to deliver emails to the inbox. The entire team at ZeroBounce strives, each day, to deliver this value proposition to our clients.
Empathy is a common word mentioned at ZeroBounce, as we consistently put ourselves in the shoes of our customers to design services catered to their needs. Each day begins with reading reviews from clients and our clients are our best gauge of success.
How does employee happiness and wellbeing factor in?
Tanase: Goal alignment and incentive compatibility are constantly assessed and revised to match employee happiness with the annual goals of the company. There is always a balance of personal development and the greater need to create the best email validation service available.
This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. The compensation plans, opportunities for education, schedules, work domiciles, functional responsibilities, teams, and advancement opportunities for the individual employee are all balanced to address the needs of employees and the goals of the business.
What's something every business owner/manager needs to do when building a winning workplace culture?
Tanase: First, define the goals appropriately and make sure that individual goals are aligned with the company goals.
Second is performance. Everyone likes to win. It becomes almost addictive and it is one of the best sources of natural positive reinforcement. We make sure to celebrate the successes and as we do, set even higher targets.
What's a mistake that should be avoided?
Tanase: I spend a lot of time reading books about management and technology and have taken many courses on the topic. The biggest mistake I have made is taking the advice too literally. I have learned so many incredible tools and the research that top institutions provide is incredible, but it needs to be included in the culture of the company rather than implemented literally.
I had a phase where I was trying to literally follow the advice of many scholars and successful business leaders, and I found that it diluted the culture of the company and compromised the ability to reach goals. I still read every bestseller on management, but I am a bit more careful about how I implement the findings and processes.
Do you practice what you preach? How do you achieve work-life balance, personally?
Tanase: Yes. I definitely strike a balance. I love what I do and most times it doesn't feel like work for me.
I have the pleasure of embedding incredibly intelligent and motivated individuals in a unique culture and working toward a common goal. I admit, I do have to use reminders to make sure that I eat and exercise regularly, as I get incredibly involved in bringing ideas to fruition. I am also very lucky to have a family that supports me in my professional goals.
How do you keep employees inspired and passionate over the long haul?
Tanase: As employees grow, they are empowered to become their own entrepreneurs within the company. They have the freedom to create teams, accept functional roles, and even define mini-cultures within the teams.
Everyone understands the overarching goals of the company and has the freedom to achieve them using their own personalities and processes.
ZeroBounce: Make Email More Effective Today
What's the sense in sending an email blast if a large percentage of those messages aren't reaching the right person, or aren't reaching anyone at all? With email still the most important marketing and communication tool for businesses, ZeroBounce validates the information on your mailing list.
In other words, ZeroBounce reduces and eliminates invalid, abuse, complaint, inactive, and spam-trap email address that cause messages to bounce, get deleted or marked as Spam. Marketers who use email lists validated by ZeroBounce report an accuracy rate of 98 percent.
Make sure your messages are sent to someone who can act on it. For more information, visit ZeroBounce.