FireSeeds Spreading the Gospel of Corporate Culture
Written by Jen Barnett
If you’ve got a startup, small business, or corporate team, you know which roles you need to fill. Whether it’s marketing analyst IV or CFO, you probably know what responsibilities this position will have, how much experience successful candidates will need, and what skills are must-haves. But how do you decide who’s a good fit for your organization? How much can you tell about a person in one or two hours of interviews? We’ve all had the ideal candidate turn into the nightmare employee or coworker.
Finding candidates who fit within your corporate culture is no small feat. You’ll need to identify what your culture is, or what you’d like it to be, you’ll need to quantify each trait that makes up your culture, and you’ll need to find a way to score prospective employees on those qualities. All this after making sure they’ve got the right skills and experience.
Cultural fit has become a hot topic in business as companies try to grow more efficient and improve communication and productivity. One University of Iowa meta-study showed that employees in the right roles identified more with their company, were less likely to leave, were more committed to company goals, and showed superior job performance, while a recent Harvard study showed that an overzealous commitment to culture can result in a loss of diversity and its accompanying trap: groupthink.
This is where FireSeeds comes in. FireSeeds is a recruiting and development firm that matches employees with corporate cultures. It also develops these employees using WildSparq, a development system and leadership platform. Its leaders have tapped especially well into one common local culture—evangelism.
President and CEO Cord Sachs spent seven years with Campus Outreach, a ministry that serves on college campuses, and those best practices for building teams of like-minded
devotees show in his work. He’s adapted many of the methods for creating a unified body of followers and applied those tactics to building a company, using the language of modern evangelical churches. He speaks of purpose-driven companies, intentional culture, and multiplying leaders.
WildSparq functions much like a small group or Bible study. Team leaders teach one lesson each month, created to “emotionally engage the heart and the hands” and to “create principle and language that we can all use.” Employees are encouraged to engage with the lesson by talking about it with colleagues, and they earn points by answering questions about the lesson online or completing additional reading.
FireSeeds’s own core values are transparency, motivation, and community, and their own focus on culture has made them a nearly instant success. It’s easy to see why they’d be behind some of the most successful new companies in Birmingham, such as IronTribe, Appleseed Workshop, and South Cypress—companies that Cord calls the for-purpose marketplace. Read on to learn more about Cord’s philosophies on corporate culture and his goals for FireSeeds.
1. What’s your elevator pitch?
We help companies grow by focusing on enhancing their cultures in two ways:
• Helping them find high-integrity leaders who have drive and an intrinsic desire to invest their lives in developing other people. We call this a multiplying leader.
• Helping organizations grow these leaders with an intentional leader development strategy using WildSparq.
We want to grow a multiplying movement of multiplying leaders.
2. What’s your value proposition?
We find leaders who match our values and culture and who will excel in the position we need them to fill. We maximize the productivity of these leaders while reproducing and scaling our culture through our leader development strategy.
3. Tell me about your founders and their experience.
Both founders have lived the business model in various not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. We’ve experienced the impact of culture mismatches firsthand and see the vast need for a service to vet out culture in high-quality candidates.
4. How did you get the idea to launch FireSeeds?
I worked with various organizations that focused on hiring people who shared our vision, mission, and values and saw how effective that could be in growing a company. For example, I saw it in ministry right out of college while on staff with Campus Outreach. I witnessed this in my own company, Booster Enterprises, that started with two guys in a basement and grew to 200 team members in 17 cities in seven years.
While partnering with Chick-fil-A, I saw the same principles being played out. As I heard company after company say they wanted to be the Chick-fil-A of “fill-in-the-blank,” I realized there was a need for a business model that could help others run a profitable company by focusing on genuinely caring for and developing their people.
5. Why now? Why Birmingham?
Life is way too short to just make money—I want to make an impact. If I wait until I make enough money to slow down to have an impact, it will be too late. I chose Birmingham because I wouldn’t want to raise my family anywhere else.
6. What are your competitive advantages?
There are more CEOs than I ever dreamed who are willing to invest in leaving their legacy through the people they employ and the families those workers represent.
7. Where do you want the company to be in five years?
I want to launch teams in Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Dallas, and somewhere in Florida. I want to have partnered globally with at least one to three entities to strategically launch and grow leaders overseas.
8. What kind of connections are you looking for right now?
We want more purpose-driven companies or partners who want to be a part of multiplying movements of multiplying leaders.
9. If you’re not already, when do you expect to be profitable?
We should be profitable with both business units by Q4 of 2016.
Jen Barnett is an entrepreneur and marketing consultant at Redhawk Consulting, redhawkresults.com.