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Culture as a Guide

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Matt Webb gets it.

If you’re reading this letter, hopefully you’re fully aware that Matt is our cover subject this month in NOLN. Matt runs a heck of an operation—Premier Oil Change, which has six locations across California. But it’s not just the growth and success that makes Matt’s story so important for NOLN to share. It’s the way Matt went about it.

Our main feature this month, “The Culture Code," looks into the foundational core value systems that three operations (including Matt’s) have put in place to create a culture of success. Each of the operators (Mark Bochnowski of Lube N’ Go and Jason Smith of Minit Man Oil Change are the others) has great thoughts to share on this, and this piece is a must-read.

One of the highlights of this story— and hopefully one of the key takeaways from it—is that this long-term vision of building something that lasts is the true key to persevering through difficult times. Timely, right? All of this makes me think of Simon Sinek’s book, "The Infinite Game." If you haven’t read it (or heard of it), I can’t recommend it highly enough. The profoundness of this book (to me, at least) isn’t in the illuminating of some brand-new concept, but rather in Sinek’s ability to state clearly the ideas and visions many of us have, ideas that are often difficult to put into words. Here’s the overall premise: There are two different types of “games,” finite games and infinite games. Finite games have a known set of rules, clearly defined players, and a tangible distinction between winning and losing. Infinite games, like operating a business or leading people, do not have a true endpoint.

Succeeding in an infinite game means focusing on an ultimate vision, a “just cause,” as Sinek puts it, and making decisions based on the long-term quest to push closer and closer to that cause. It’s the difference between pushing for a monthly goal of doing 500 oil changes (a finite game) or pursuing the quest to ensure safe, reliable transportation for those in your community (an infinite game).

Yes, those finite games are important, ultimately, in pursuing that infinite goal, but it’s the infinite mindset that allows you to stay motivated, focused and making decisions that allow you and your team to adapt and stay relevant as industry landscapes and the overall economy shift. Those operators in our cover story— Matt, Mark and Jason—all follow this mindset. They get it. They have a vision that crafted their cultures, and it’s why their cultures help make them successful. Hopefully this story can help affirm your own vision—or get you on a path to crafting it.

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