Proven Tips on Managing Culture for Desired Organizational Results: Lessons Learned from the Firing Line, Where Failure was not an Option.


Paul Herrerias recently interviewed Josh Fryday, President of Golden State Opportunity, on the topic of managing culture.  Josh has created three organizations, and recently added a local town mayoral role to his credentials.  His work experience managing culture has been greenfield, where he created organizations from scratch and thus was free to create the culture he desired and envisioned.  Conversely, as mayor, he inherited a culture, which is very different.  Noteworthy, his leadership experience spans state, regional, and nationwide organizations.

PAUL:  Let’s start by defining culture…it is like air in its intangibility. Good air is needed by us all, and yet we don’t’ see it, and often don’t notice it until it gets stale.  How do you, as the leader, define culture?

JOSH: “I define culture as the environment within which individual behaviors act.”

PAUL: Before I ask for your advice on building cultures to support successful organizations, first tell me a little about where your learned about various cultures and their impact on teammates and organizational success?

JOSH: “I took my cues on culture from my communities growing up (my family moved 17 times by the time I went to college), from my schools, including college and law school, from my experience with the NAVY Judge Advocate General’s corps (JAG), and from studying other successful leaders in government and business.  I then led NextGen Climate on a national level, created a state-wide organization called Golden State Opportunity, and also serve as Town Councilmember and recently as mayor for municipality”

PAUL: “There are few global, definitive answers to culture, though when asked everyone has an opinion about what works and doesn’t work. Josh, looking back at the organizations you built from scratch, what were the important principals you followed to build the most effective culture?”

JOSH: Here are my learnings on how to lead culture:

  1. Have a clear vision.  In the Navy we were very clear within our JAG department what we were trying to accomplish: Prosecute or Defend members of the Navy.  We were very effective, except when personnel were not fully engaged in the mission, such as during off-duty time.  At NextGen Climate, we started with a clear mission, including time-bound quantifiable goals for new legislation or desired outcomes of elections.  The challenge came after we achieved those short-term goals on election day and had to reset goals without the benefit of a new specific election date.  Without that sense of urgency, we had to learn a new way to set goals that focused us on our mission.  Operating without goals allows for internal turmoil, distractions, and conflict. When you have all this top talent and energy, we must keep it directed in a productive direction.  Thus, we had to reset goals to maintain focus, support positive relations internally, emphasize purpose, and maintain momentum toward our mission. Governments are challenged now with question:  What is the role of government?  Change the economy? world? culture? This lack of mission and vision focus is causing a lot of the turmoil we are experiencing at all levels of government.  Businesses have the same challenge to stay focused on organizational mission and vision.
  2. Make sure everyone in the organization feels valued and needed.   Dali Lama wrote an article before Trump was elected: Why are the two most financially successful governments in the history of the world (USA and England) experiencing so much anxiety?  He believes that people want to be needed, respected, and valued, yet many individuals are feeling superfluous, which leads to negative feelings, and then bad behavior.  Conversely, in the Navy every person knows their role and its impact on the mission.  Are you chipping paint on the carrier?  Then you are critical to keeping the ship afloat.  Are you a cook in kitchen? Then you are feeding the General, so he can help us win the war.   Everyone is needed and valued.
  3. Recognize collective accomplishments. A goal is not accomplished through one individual’s effort.  Instead, goals are achieved through the collective work of the team and the organization. Set team goals, hold the team accountable, support the team, and celebrate team successes.  Again, in the military, unit-wide or team awards are prized higher by the enlisted men than individual recognition or medals.  Teamwork dedicated to pursuing the mission drives away many bad habits and individual behaviors that weaken the culture and the organization.
  4. Set up mechanisms for sharing information…quickly.  To win as an organization, and a team, information must be shared efficiently, effectively, and on a timely basis.  Access to needed information builds trust, supports better quality decision making, saves resources, increases learning, and increases the chances for success.  So, what are the alternatives?  Siloed organizations.

 PAUL: When everyone knows the mission, the team and individual goals, and feels empowered and critical in their roles, the next thing to happen is disappointment when the boss doesn’t listen to them or let them try something new.  How do you deal with this human-systems disconnect?

JOSH: Yes, this brings up a couple extra points about building culture, which I’ve learned along the way:

1.Support and encourage risk taking. In healthy environments risk taking is tolerated…and even encouraged.  Learning together yields stronger cultures and organizations.  Conversely, Intolerance disincentives taking risks.  Fear of a boss’ negative reaction can become a clearer focus than the team mission.  The Military does everything it can to mitigate this risk.  For example, we had to write an AAR- After Action Report, after EVERY outing.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What did I learn from it. We had a monthly award for those who took the biggest risk to be adaptive, creative, or take initiative…yet didn’t endanger the mission.  Leaders must manage the RISK.  In the office we commonly manage risk through the budgeting process, empowering to the extent each person can be successful given their experience, scope, information, and role.

2.Be willing to change and adapt.  Keep the Mission within the context of the Vision and the Values of the organization, which means sometimes we have to be willing to change with the times, events, and circumstance.  A mission lives because of the overarching Vision that brought us together and is pursued in alignment with the Values of the organization.  Keep the Vision alive and adjust the Mission as needed.  Lead the culture in such a way that members of the organization are clear on the Values and are living them.  Model the way and showcase the right values being exercised by teammates, highlight them as examples, as reinforcement.


Thank you, Josh Fryday, for sharing you experience and learnings from the battlefields of life and organizational leadership!

Sonoma & Napa County Wildfires: Stanton Chase Raises $10,000 for Victims

While Napa and Sonoma Counties have gained notoriety around the globe for their outstanding wines, they recently were in the news for their destructive wildfires.  High winds and dry vegetation and hilly terrain all combined to create a fire storm that raced overnight through parks, vineyards, homes, businesses, hotels, and stores.  Tens of thousands were evacuated in the dead of night in the nicest of neighborhoods.

Wildfires came perilously close to Sonoma’s Scribe Winery, but CalFire crews held the flames back and the winery is still standing.

The fires burned over 5,000 homes, 210,000 acres, hundreds of businesses, and took over 40 lives.  Thick smoke and ashes blocked sunlight around the Bay Area for many days.  Thousands remain displaced today, and face the grim reality of having lost all their possessions and in need of rebuilding their homes.

Stanton Chase – San Francisco came together as a team to respond to this tragedy.  In addition to the many volunteers who served the evacuees in make-shift shelters, money needed to be raised to immediately get people back on their feet.  Our team wanted to help, so we set a goal to raise $10,000 for fire victims.  Within a few days we donated our first check for $8,500 to Brett Martinez, CEO of the Redwood Credit Union and spokesperson for the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.  We recently donated the balance of our $10,000 goal.

Brett Martinez, CEO of Redwood Credit Union (RCU) receiving check from Paul Herrerias.

We are proud to report due our underwriting of all fund-raising fees, selection of the best online tools, and generous donation distribution partners, that 100% of the funds from our donors went to the victims of these fires.  With our research team’s skills, our network in the community, and everyone’s caring and generosity, we came together as ordinary people but were able to accomplish an extraordinary act of support.

The slogans ”Sonoma Strong” and ”Love is Thicker than Smoke” will remain in our minds and hearts for many years to come.

Judy James, Chair of Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and Board Member- RCU, receiving latest check from Stanton Chase for North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

Side note: Just days before the fires broke out our team was selected to conduct the search for CEO for the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce.  This new leader will have the opportunity to help Santa Rosa and Sonoma County to rebuild from the worst natural disaster since the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

To contribute to our ongoing fund-raising efforts:

For photos and a chronicle of our efforts to keep our network informed of the fires, see my personal Facebook page. 

To read details of fire unfolding from Chamber Board Chair, Judy James:

Fountaingrove Golf Clubhouse devastated by fire.

Charred statues all that remain of destroyed business.








Stanton Chase – San Francisco meets Brett Martinez and Judy James. Our team pledged to raise $10,000.

Active Searches – December 2017

To learn more: 

please reach out us with any questions, referrals, or a formal Position Description.
Chief Executive Officer
Prominent San Francisco North Bay Chamber of Commerce. Lead members, staff, business community, and the metro region through economic development, policy setting (housing, transportation, education, workforce, etc.), disaster recovery, and rebuilding efforts. Be the voice of business in the metro area. Executive experience in business, non-profits, or chambers preferred.
National Sales Manager
National Category leader in processed food/feed ingredients. Solely responsible for a $100M product line.  Develop existing clients and creatively expand through product and business development. Strong Base + bonus.  Team environment. Either Marin County or remote.
COO/Sr. Operations Director
Specialty Law Firm
San Francisco-based specialty law firm, national subject-matter experts in distribution of wine/beer/spirits, looking for their next “COO” to guide them to be the “law firm of the future!”
Outdoor Hospitality
PE-sponsored consumer outdoor adventure experience company.  Build them from $10M to $100M as they add location across the USA.  Attractive compensation, including equity.  Located in the Rocky Mountains.
General Manager – USA
Global Outdoor Sports Brand
$1B privately-held, global outdoor action-sports and lifestyle brand, integrated marketplace, omni-channel GTM strategy, consumer-driven, technology-first industry powerhouse.
HR Leader – LATAM
Global Outdoor Sports Brand
Global Outdoor Sports Brand. Lead People & Culture, and Talent Acquisition for Central and South America. Outdoor enthusiast preferred, and Spanish language skills helpful.  Familiarity with sports culture.
Head of Communications
Global Outdoor Sports Brand
Global Outdoor Sports Brand. PR, internal and external communications manager. Interface with senior executive team. Lead Comm team. Familiarity with outdoor sports community and culture.
Director of Enterprise Applications
Global Outdoor Sports Brand
Global Outdoor Sports Brand. Coordinate multiple projects in IT. Can you translate business possibility into technical reality? Liaise between CIO and business system users to transform, deliver, and experience best practices in IT.  Support a $1B global growing business and outdoor sports culture.


Report from Seoul, Korea

Stanton Chase is now recognized as one of the Top Ten Global retained executive search firms.  To keep us there, and better able to serve our clients, we have two global partner meetings annually. We meet in teams to discuss industry trends, practice-group market dynamics, meet other search consultants in our fields. We invite expert speakers, and learn best practices from each other.

Our office team in Seoul, South Korea, put in much preparation over the last 6 months to get ready for partners from over 30 countries to visit, meet, and learn. We worked on industry and functional practice areas by day, and socialized and experienced Seoul by night. Our local office introduced us to many restaurants, theaters, and venues.

My wife and I added a day on each side of the 4-day meeting, and visited Seoul’s many, hilly, yet manicured parks. I enjoyed morning runs along the Han River, and through their beautifully maintained city. We also were fortunate enough to tour the DMZ, and the new 123-story Seoul Sky office tower, the 4th tallest building in the world. We navigated their efficient train/bus/subway system, and sample many kimchis.

Teamwork, comradery, learning, and building trust. It was a busy, productive, and enjoyable trip to Seoul, one of the most modern cities of the world.

Leading Groups to Become Teams

Ever feel like everyone at work is on a different agenda?  Too much politics?   Are you having a hard time leading everyone forward to achieve the organization’s goals?  Or you are dragging everyone into the future?

Well, you are not alone, and this feeling is curable!


The secret is to get everyone behaving more like a team and less like a group of talented and spirited individuals.  Said another way, businesses are built by TEAMS, not by a group of individuals.  Even well-meaning individuals are ineffective if not working as part of a team.  In fact, most challenges to a positive and productive work environment come from strong individuals thinking they are adding much value…yet not working in coordination with other team members.

So, how do you get everyone acting more like a team?

First, be courageous!  Be willing to interrupt the status quo.  Visualize the team environment your organization deserves.  Then start taking action.


The first step is to remind yourself what a business team looks like.  What are the qualities and characteristics?  Then assess where your group is today, and lead them to more team behavior.  You will like the results.  Here is my take on defining a team in the business setting, based on research with leaders and my observations:

  • PURPOSE: Teams have a common Vision of the world, share Values, are united in a Mission.  Leaders hold team members responsible for achieving the Strategic Objectives that lead to accomplishing the mission and team success.
  • STRUCTURE: Teams have roles and responsibilities, known communication structures and patterns, and authority delineation. Teams have the resources and competencies necessary to achieve the mission.  Teams interact with their environments in an open manner.  Leaders build open communications and trusting relationships.
  • OPERATIONS: Teams work together to produce the desired outcomes.  Teams direct their own work, and measure output for both effectiveness and efficiency, and constantly strive for improvements.
  • FEEDBACK: Teams ask for, provide, and use feedback.  They create systems to support the gathering of and processing feedback.  Feedback keeps them on track to achieve their goals while living their values.  Feedback allows teams to navigate, learn, and adapt, and thus grow and be successful.  Feedback is the fountain of youth for organizations and teams.

I learned an expression years ago from one of my mentors: “It is easier to run with a hundred, than to drag one.”  Teams are going in the same direction.  They share a sense of mission, values, and are clear on their objectives, goals, and where they will invest their energy.  You trust them to do the right things, at the right time.  If you fall, they pick you up.   Like a charging herd of buffalo, you are swept up in the momentum of the team and are easily carried along.

Groups of individuals that just happen to belong to your company won’t carry others along.


To “run with a hundred” focus your leadership actions on strengthening team behavior.

  1. Reinforce the team identity and culture, broadcast clearly the goals and strategic objectives, clarify roles and structures.
  2. Communicate and live your company’s Brand.
  3. Create and maintain a learning culture.
  4. Respect one another.
  5. Find what your team is best at, and build Esprit de Corps.
  6. Reinforce a sense of belonging and ownership on the team.

Wishing you a productive journey turning your “group” into a TEAM!

Top Ten Technology Predictions for 2017

From G.P. Bullhound, Dealmakers in Technology.

If you are like me, you enjoy reading predictions from prognosticators.  Recently I was impressed with a presentation of such predictions by Alec Dafferner, Partner, and his team at GP Bullhound, global technology investment bankers.

G.P. Bullhound should know, as they do more investment banking deals in the technology space than any other banker in the world.  They also are research intensive, so they are constantly doing their homework on the marketplace.  Their 2016 predictions fared well, so I was keen on hearing their predictions for 2017. 

Here are the headlines from their top predictions.  (Click here to view the report)  How strongly do you agree? Are you willing to invest in these trends? Is your business benefiting from one of these emerging trends today?

Here you go:

1.  The next generation of Artificial Intelligence. Heavy investment in 2016…here to stay.  Both consumers and businesses begin to adopt cutting-edge AI for real-world applications. Disruptive AI developers raised $500m last year. More to come in 2017. AI-Powered Virtual Personal Assistants (“VPA”) will increase in sophistication (think Siri, Cortana, and Alexa).


2.  Cordless Content: Anywhere and Everywhere. Millennials move away from cable networks…TV industry disruption continues.  Networks will respond with new services for mobile consumers. Mobile continues to dominate headlines and investments.  Over-the-Top (OTT) services include fast broadband, large premium content, multiple device access, all at attractive pricing.  Scramble for content, delivery, and consumers.


3.  E-Sport Takes Center Stage. E-Sports is the fastest growing component of the entertainment industry, will hit $1B in revenue in 2017, with over 250 million fans.  More viewers for 2015 League of Legends Final than for game 7 of the 2016 NBA Final. 50% growth rate of industry.


4.  The Dawn of VR/AR content. VR/AR hardware has outpaced content.  Software will become available for the newest platform.  Head mounted gear taking off…sold 16.5 mm headsets in 2016. Wireless headsets next push.  Content to catch up due to heavy investments by media giants.  Augment reality boasts Pokemon Go’s 500 million downloads…peaks at 50mm users in one day.


5.  Driverless Cars…still require Human Direction. Heavy investment recently in this dream, creating more customized cars thanks to Google, Baidu, Apple, and Uber.  Samsung paid $8B for Harman, testament to interest by electronics firms to be part of future “connected” automobile.   More investment this year. Fully autonomous cars have a long way to go before widespread adoption.


6.  Fintech: Shifting Tectonic Plates. Traditional Financial Institutions will fight back this year, as “Banks 2.0” continue to steal their business. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending platforms intend to create an optimal lending process.  Widespread adoption of blockchain technology is unlikely to happen in 2017


7.  Social Media Transformation. Though Western players dominate in technical innovation, Asian players excel at user retention and monetization.  Executive recruitment and M&A transactions will focus on the converging of these two forces in Social Media in 2017.


8.  SaaS Software Reigning Supreme. With $61B worth of M&A in the rear view mirror, both PE firms and Tech giants are looking to buy more SaaS companies in 2017.  EU companies may present the best economics and valuations for purchasers.


9.  TECH IPOs are set for take off. As Asian markets heat up, particularly in China, and U.S. Unicorns looking to IPO in 2017, combined with modest increases in IPOs in Europe, 2017 should be a strong year for TECH IPOs.   China wants to bring in more foreign capital, and increase valuations for their tech companies.


10.  Year of the European Decacorn. With U.S. Unicorns all the buzz, keep your eyes on the European behemoths, the E.U. Decacorns.  These private firms are more capital efficient, have more rational valuations, enjoy greater financial stability, and are most likely to see a significant increase in value in 2017.


Note: Alec Dafferner has made the full report available on his web site:

More on Alec:



Steve Caliger | North America Technology Practice Leader

SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Caliger, a Director with the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices of Stanton Chase, has been named North America Regional Practice Leader for the Technology Industry Practice Group.

The announcement was made by Paul Herrerias, Managing Director of the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices.  Stanton Chase is a global, retained executive search firm with more than 70 offices in 45 countries.

“Steve has distinguished himself as a leader in our growing technology practice,” said Herrerias. “Our technology practice is one of the most well regarded in the area, and much of that recognition is the result of his work with companies in this sector. In addition to Steve’s work in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, he has also developed strong relationships with our worldwide offices, assisting them with identifying top-tier technology candidates.”

Caliger has a large network and understanding of career and business success, leadership, sales, marketing, development, operations, and finance.  He   has held leadership positions with technology leaders, including AT&T, Cisco Systems, and IBM, as well as startups and early stage companies.

“I look forward to working with our worldwide offices in this capacity,” said Caliger. “The technology sector is growing at a rapid pace, and with this growth comes the need for strong leaders who will guide our client companies.”

Caliger also works in the Stanton Chase Industrial and Supply Chain/Logistics/Transportation Practice Groups.