Let Go & Lead
Eric Ryan Co-founder
Method

Creating Corporate Values (4:38)

MARIL MACDONALD:
Hi, welcome to Let Go and Lead.  Today, we’re here at the San Francisco headquarters of Method with co-founder, Eric Ryan.  Hi, Eric, thanks for having us.

ERIC RYAN:
Thank you for having me.

MARIL MACDONALD:
So, can you tell us a little bit about Method?

ERIC RYAN:
Yeah, Method’s a line of eco-friendly home cleaners.  Ah, we essentially make three types of products, hand wash, homecare products and ah, fabric care which is laundry.

MARIL MACDONALD:
Well, talk to me a little bit about your culture because that’s one of the things that I’ve heard you discuss a lot is being a real differentiator for Method.

ERIC RYAN:
Yeah, culture is immensely important to us –for a couple of reasons.  Ah, first of all I started my career in advertising and in advertising you’re only asset is your people.  And therefore, you cultivate and create a culture that allows for great work and to be able to retain and, and recruit great talent.  And when we started off the company as well, you know we didn’t have a lot of assets and we fundamentally believe we would never out process other companies, we would, we would you know essentially have to be a more talented organization, therefore, recruit great talent. But in the early years we didn’t give culture a, a lot of thought, it just came you know kind of naturally to us.  It — you know we hired people we’d want to go to work with.  People who inspired us.  People who we thought were smarter than ourselves.  And over the years we got to a point where we realized that we needed to take a little bit more, put more thought in to the culture to continue on the path that ah, the type of company we always wanted.

MARIL MACDONALD:
What happened that gave you that insight?

ERIC RYAN:
You know I think it’s crossing the 50 person – mark, I think human beings, we have a habit, once we get to about groups of 50 we go from being a collective whole and people tend to break in to, to smaller groups, more —- you know more cliques.  And, we thought it was more important to make sure that we continue to create a universally understood, and accepted culture to scale the business.

INTERVIEWER:
So, there you were, a successful company, 50 or so people and you realized we need to really stop and rethink how we’re doing things.  I guess it’s the old you know what got us here won’t get you there, right?

ERIC RYAN:
Exactly.

INTERVIEWER:
So, how did you go about that?  Because you, you must have had a culture?

ERIC RYAN:
Yeah, we very — well –I would argue a very well defined culture. But again, it came out of the things that we believed in, the type of people we hired.  And at this point we have multiple offices so, we’re no longer all in the same room where you could just shout and everybody would hear you.

And so, the way we did it is, as a leadership team, we selected what we consider to be buckets of things that were really important to us.  And then we recruited from across the company a small group of individuals who you know different levels, different functions who we thought really upheld, and represented the type of people and type of values that we wanted and we gave it to them.  And we asked them, we — essentially they had you know two assignments, assignment number one was really define these values.  And then assignment number two was , really get in to the bloodstream of the organization.

And we felt that was very important that the values came not from the top down but from the bottom up for it to really be bought in, accepted and for people to, to live on.

INTERVIEWER:
 And did anything surprise you with what they came up with?

ERIC RYAN:
 Um, the way we define the values, there was some really you know — they, — they brought a lot of fun to it.  And I think that’s really important –if you mix up stuff too serious, it’s hard for people to accept it.  So, for example, you know one of the things we thought was very important as a value was resourcefulness.

You know as a small business you’re always trying to do more than what you have available.  And they came back with what would MacGyver do?  And MacGyver being the ultimate you know icon of, of resourcefulness of what he could do with a paperclip and bubble gum.

And then what they did is they, they laid out um, how everybody should live those values and what is an example of being MacGyver like?  And knocking on the big door and taking and seeking out risk.

So, um, I think it surprised of, of how well they articulated that, inspired all of us.

INTERVIEWER:
You must have laughed when you heard that, I mean it’s just so fabulous.

ERIC RYAN:
It is, you know they — we always talked about —- keeping weirdness in the culture and that way —- you know really leading in to it, keeping Method weird.  I think it was probably the ultimate example of letting go and lead, of trusting the team – with the values and knowing that you’ve hired the right people and set the right example up to that point.