Michael Gleason, an entrepreneur and technology expert, is founder and CEO of InMyArea.com and Consumer Brands LLC, innovative technology and publishing companies based in Newport Beach, California. Michael worked in Washington, D.C. for former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and advised President Bill Clinton. He holds degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Los Angeles.
What interview question do you always ask potential hires and why?
“If you could do or be anything in the world, what would it be?”
I frame this interview question without limits to learn where a candidate’s passion truly lies. After learning about his or her passion, I’m able to better look for roles in my company that align with it.
What makes your company culture unique?
A few years ago, I met Tony Hsieh of Zappos at a conference hosted by Harvard Business School. He gave me an advanced copy of his book “Delivering Happiness,” and after I read it, my team and I did a deep dive on company culture and values. In the end, our company culture is simple and inspired by the work of John Nash: We strive to do what’s best for both the group and individuals.
How can you make sure team outings or activities appeal as best they can to all employees?
My company’s last outing was a week snowboarding in Mammoth, California, where we all stayed together in a big house on the slopes. As a tech company, it’s a little difficult to find activities that appeal to all. We have our fair share of introverted coders as well as an “always on” content team, but snowboarding proved to be a good fit. There’s something about bed head and breakfast in the mountains with co-workers that really brought us together.
What’s your best tip for keeping a personal touch to onboarding and training as you grow?
When I onboard or train, I try to think of employees’ spouses and families. So far this year, three team members have had babies, with two more on the way. My wife and I had our first child when I was a graduate student 3,000 miles away from family, so I empathize with employees who are starting their families.
What’s one quick, easy way any company at any stage can invest in their company culture?
By creating an environment where everyone on the team is free to change seats on the bus, we align employees’ passions with business functions and bring unexpected skill sets to company roles. In the short term, it may cost the company more in training, but I see it paying off in the long run.