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Institute for Inspired Business Cultures

ROLE MODELS is a monthly publication featuring people and organizations that emphasize whole person organizational cultures, i.e., humanistic cultures.

Organizational Wellbeing and Happiness©The Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures©

Role Models

Whole Person Organizational Cultures©

Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.

August, 2015

Welcome back. I hope you are pleased with ROLE MODELS. Any and all suggestions for changes are always most welcome. I am proud of this months “Jerry’s Corner”. Its at the end so don’t forget it.

ROLE MODELS© quickly became a leading source for insights on the topic of exceptional organizational cultures. These monthly publications include actual business cases about the most important change to hit the business world in over 100 years. For evidence of the importance of company culture, take a look at the Deloitte 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report. The report gathered surveys and interviews taken by 3,300 HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world, and guess what? Culture and engagement were number one ranked as the major trend.


We have an incredible group of speakers for anything from a company meeting to a keynote address for a national conference. You can actually see them in action in our videos at Teachers and Topics. Myself, I love to speak to audiences on the diversity of organizations that have whole person organizational cultures. Contact me at

For Happy Sake

Happy Bank

Thanks to Jamie Notter and Maggie Grant the authors of “When Millennials Take Over” for making me aware of the Happy State Bank in Happy, Texas. The Happy State Bank and Trust Co. is headquartered (on paper anyway) out of Happy, Texas. With a population of 700 or so, the town is in northwest Texas and often called “The Town Without a Frown”.

Welcome Happy

Currently celebrating 107 years in operation, The Happy State Bank & Trust Co. is a local, independent, community bank serving the financial needs of friends and neighbors in 33 locations in 22 different communities including Happy, Abilene, Amarillo, Borger, Canadian, Canyon, Dalhart, DFW Metroplex, Dumas, Floydada, Hereford, Higgins, Lockney, Lubbock, Olton, Pampa, Panhandle, Plainview, Silverton, Sunray, Stratford and Texline. With over $2.6 Billion in total assets, Happy State Bank is the 27th largest bank in Texas. Happy State Bank also owns a non-depository branch – GoldStar Trust Company, with over $2 billion under trust management and is the largest servicer/custodian for Precious Metal Self-Directed IRAs in the nation. Today they have 610 employees.

Happy Bank Office — Branch office today in Happy Texas

When employees come to work at Happy State Bank, they’re not just joining one of the Best Companies to Work for (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013); they’re joining the “Happy” family. The day an employee starts, they’re immediately inducted into a work family that’s all about supporting each other.

One way employees are able to show support is through “For Happy Sake,” a program funded by employees, for employees. Contributions to the fund can be made by payroll deduction and include a dollar-for-dollar bank match. In 2014, total employee contributions exceeded $35,000. A board of employees prayerfully discusses submissions and how to best help alleviate financial burden for those employees who are in need. Most companies ask that employees leave their issues at the door; Happy has created an open forum for employees to share their burdens so that they can be prayed over and uplifted.

Words of encouragement are another way employees can support one another. Through the “Pat on the Back” program, named after Happy’s CEO, Pat Hickman, Officers can nominate employees who they feel have done something exceptional and deserve praise. An e-mail is sent out to let everyone know how that particular employee is exceptional, and the employee is literally given a “Pat on the Back” from the nominator. See the photos of employees with pat on the back patches.

However, there’s more to joining the Happy family than just supporting one another; more than anything, Happy supports putting family first - all the time, every time. Employees are not just allowed to take time off to be with family, they’re expected to. In fact, “Family First” is one of the twenty core values that guide employees on how to be present and active in building the “Happy” culture. Any employee will gladly report that these core values are more than words on paper – they’re the Happy way.

Nick's Pizza & Pub

Nick's Pizza & Pub

Nick’s Pizza and Pub is a chain of restaurants located in Crystal Lake and Elgin, Illinois.

The brand prides itself on “The Nick’s Experience,” creating a unique and unforgettable spot where customers and employees alike can connect with family and friends, have fun and feel at home.

Accountability plays a major role at Nick’s, with each team member being accountable to his or her peers and to the business itself. There’s not just one boss – there’s a team of people to collaborate with and a leader to support each member. The backbone of the business is a purpose-driven culture, and all participants have the ability and accountability to make changes as needed.

Another crucial element at Nick’s is trust. When trust is established on a team, you can work together more efficiently towards shared goals. Being able to rely on a team for support, ideas, and collaboration is essential for innovation, and decisions, communication, and that’s the foundation at Nick’s.

What is Nick's Pizza & Pub? Take a look. You can also watch “Creating a Culture of Trust” that Nick presented at TEDxNaperille.

This is a graphic created by a visual recording artist during a presentation by Nick. It clearly shows his passion for culture and he knows what he is talking about.

Culture is not static—it lives and breathes within each member of a team, and at Nick’s, they believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the culture strong. Being a coach and mentor plays a large part in this—instead of complaining about another team member’s performance, they must address it and deal with group accountability.

At Nick’s, they believe that in an environment that’s based around learning, there’s no need for a corporate ladder with multiple steps to address performance. Instead, leaders coach their way through issues, and always stick together as a team.

See what separates Nicks from competition.

Watch how the culture works at Nicks.

To teach this type of coaching-based leadership, Nick’s University was created nearly 10 years ago as an internal process for helping employees become trainers and managers.

The company recently began sharing the life-changing ideas and methods with the public. Now, they have such an abundance of material that they’ve had to split the class has into three separate courses with hands-on, experiential learning that challenges participants physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. You won’t find any school desks here – They dive in and dig deep.

The Coolest Small Company In America

Once called “The Coolest Small Company in America,” Zingerman’s is unique. Started as a small corner deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the food purveyor has earned international accolades for its remarkable company culture. Today, Zingerman’s represents a community of nine businesses, each focused on its own specialty, from baked goods to mail order items to coffee.

Founded in 1982 by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, the company now has a staff of 700 with annual sales of $55,000,000. Growth has come through the organization’s own unusual model that prizes employees’ wellbeing and opportunities for advancement over rapid expansion.

Paul and Ari in 1982
Paul and Ari in 1982
Paul and Ari in 2015
Paul and Ari in 2015

Take a look at this short video about Zingermans. Their story will surely inspire you.

In addition to making incredible food (as any employee will tell you), the organization lives, breathes and teaches progressive practices including servant leadership, open book management, consensus decision-making, open meetings, stewardship and much more.

Mail Order Packaging
Mail Order Packaging
Bake House Staff
Bake House Staff

Team members are encouraged to share ideas and work together towards the collective success of the organization. As many people as practical are involved in the operation of the business, and each employee’s abilities, creativity, experience and intelligence are identified and utilized. The result is a growing team of happy, healthy and motivated employees—and equally happy customers.

Open book management, which Zingerman’s practices, is not a spectator sport—it’s not just about showing people the numbers. Transparency is important, but open book management involves everyone participating in running the business. It’s about people understanding how the whole organization works and their roles within it; it’s about accountability, collaboration, and taking initiative; it’s about looking forward and working together to win. An open book organization is more fun, more interesting, and, bottom line: it just plain works.

Zingermans also shares their knowledge with the outside world with a variety of different training programs.

Weinzweig has published a series of books called the Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, and the company even has its own publishing arm, Zingerman’s Press! With nine businesses, healthy profits, happy staffers and a superlative international reputation, Zingerman’s is a true model of success.


That is the title of a special program on CBS news, Sunday Morning, August 31, 2014. Here is a 7 minute video of that broadcast that you will want to watch.


Karin Volo

Say Hi to Karin Volo in Sweden. Karin is one of our great IOC teachers. You can watch her video called “Creating an Amazing Company through Engagement and Purpose”. Karin believes that a whole-person organization culture is one that takes a more holistic approach to business by treating their employees as people rather than assets or resources. The leaders understand the value of tapping into the passions of their employees. The employees, the company, and its customers, will benefit long term, which in turn will benefit the investors and stakeholders. We are seeing a big shift in how we do business, from solely profit driven to purpose driven companies, and the ones that will do well going into the future are embracing this new mindset and are working actively on their organizational culture.

Positive Business Project

The Research of + Center For Positive Organizations

Do you come to work each day feeling like you positively affect the people around you? Do you feel inspired by the extraordinary leadership style of your management team or a specific leader within your organization? Do you have an exemplary corporate culture that promotes personal and organizational thriving?

Those are questions asked by the Michigan Ross Center for Positive Organizations when extending invitations to participate in their Positive Business Project. The project aimed to identify, profile, and showcase exceptional change agents who make a positive difference in their organizations. Compassion, employee engagement, gratitude, thriving – you name it, they want it!

The competition is composed of two rounds. The first was to submit a one-page Executive Summary highlighting a positive business practice or change agent in your workplace. The top fifteen semi-finalists were invited to create a 2 to 3 minute video demonstrating the positive business practice discussed in their Executive Summary.

Then an independent panel of judges with experience in the academic pursuit of Positive Organizational Scholarship selected the finalists based upon the following criteria:

On May 15, 2015, the Center announced Newmind Group, Inc. and Team Detroit as the grand prize winners of the Positive Business Project. Newmind Group, Inc. is an award-winning, IT-managed service provider specializing in cloud computing solutions. Team Detroit is an advertising agency recognized by Advertising Age as one of the 10 best agencies in 2011.

You can watch all short videos for the 2015 winners. You can also watch the videos for the 2014 winners.

Maybe you will want to submit your best initiatives to the Positive Business Project in 2016! For more information about the Center for Positive Organizations, e-mail


I watched a webinar on “How to Be a Culture Architect” by Dr. Laura Hamill the Chief People Officer at Limeade. It is really good and I wanted to pass it along for you. Below is an example of data included in the presentation.

You can put this on your list of videos to watch...


Empatheia, Empathy, EmpatíaInternational Empathy Project

Initiative for International Cooperation

Compiled and edited by
Pepín Hernández Laos

July, 2012
Editorial Metadesignium Press

Two of the important people in my life are Jo Ellen Jorde and Pepin Hernandez Laos. When I met them, Jo Ellen lived in Dallas, Pepin in Guadalajara, Mexico, and I was in Austin. That was in 1984. Soon thereafter, was created an organization called the World Empathy Organization.

Gatherings were held in Guadalajara with participants from around the world. This was the era of the original “new age”. Back then I thought Guadalajara should be the world hub for “new age” research.

Words like love and empathy were natural among this group of people. Today these words are rapidly becoming commonplace in the business world as companies are rapidly becomes more humanistic.

Jo Ellen Jorde
Jo Ellen Jorde
Pepín Hernández Laos
Pepín Hernández Laos, Center
Jerry Wagner
Jerry Wagner, Center

The following were the themes of the gatherings:

The International Empathy Gatherings emphasized the essential unity of human beings via their emotional intuition, expressed with art; their rational quests, researched by science; and their meaningful reflections, developed by philosophy.

As a structured formulation for this new mentality, the gatherings adopted several axioms for new methods designed to research the way that humans are and how they coexist in the world. Among them stand out:

...all elements that provide the essential structure to envision, design and implement the International Empathy Project as a platform whose final goal is a renewed form of being and coexisting in the world.

There are 294 pages that document the history of the organization; it truly is equivalent to a PhD. Dissertation and Pepin Hernandez Laos should indeed have been awarded a PhD. Copies are available to all those who ask.

I have chosen a few inserts that directly relate to ROLE MODELS. Keep in mind that these presentations were given about 25 years ago. From this perspective these men were prophetic considering what has occurred in just the past 5 years.

Presentation by Herman B. Maynard Jr., Ph.D.

Herman Maynard, PhD.

“Recognize the value of work as a form of self-expression. Today’s workers don’t look for purely material rewards. Incentives such as pay increases, a nicer office, and an increasing array of prerequisites are giving way to more intangible rewards: the esteem of one’s peers, a greater challenge, more fun, and opportunities to learn and grow.

Integration of home and work will continue. We’d learned that the traditional duality in which so many people live their lives, with home and office totally separated and often at odds with each other, will gradually dissolve. In the next decade, corporations will grapple with issues affecting employees’ private lives, issues that have seldom before come within the purview of employer. Family priorities will be more closely integrated into work life and vice versa and the needs of loved ones will not have to be sacrificed in the pursuit of success.”

Presentation by Willis Harman, PhD.

Willis Harmon, PhD.

“Corporations and other organizations are increasingly viewed, not as hierarchical structures fitting an organization chart, but as adaptable organisms, made up of more or less autonomous smaller organisms, and existing in and interacting with a larger whole. In this organic-system view, organizational purpose is not chosen arbitrarily by the members of the organization, but is in large part ‘given’ by the larger system. When the organization plays its part, it receives support and nurturing from the greater whole, somewhat as the organ in a healthy body receives the nourishment it needs without having to work especially hard to survive. The critical strategic question is not how to gain advantage, but how to discern purpose and meaning.

Management was once defined as the direction of resources (including human) to accomplish a predetermined task; it is coming to have more to do with enabling individuals to respond creatively to a changing situation. Management was the wielding of power; it is more and more the giving away of power. Intuition is increasingly honored in management around a shared vision and purpose is a recognized characteristic of the creative organization.”

Presentation by Larry Dossey, M.D.

Larry Dossey, M.D.

“There is evidence that the meaning of one’s work, job, and occupation may be involved in these strange statistics. In 1972 a study found that the best predictor of heart attack was NONE of the major risk factors but JOB SATISFACTION. And the second overall best predictor was “overall happiness”.

In a study of over 32,000 employees, the Boeing Company in Seattle-Tacoma examined the cause of days lost from work due to back pain or injury. They found that it made no difference if one worked in the high corporate offices or on the loading docks doing manual labor. The best predictor to back pain and injury was – once again – job satisfaction.”

Design Your Own Destiny

At the beginning of my participation in the gatherings I had a software company, Execucom Systems, in Austin, Texas. Pepin did art work for ads including the one shown here titled “Design our Own Destiny”.

Execucom created planning software where non-technical managers could design, model and visualize their own views for the future of their business. In other words, they could design their own destinies.

I am lucky to have had the influence of Jo Ellen and Pepin in my life. Much of their influence has now surfaced in ROLE MODELS. ROLE MODELS features leaders who proudly practice core values of love and empathy in their businesses.

Please Let Us Know Who you Suggest as Role Models

At the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures recognizing individuals and organizations that support the advancement of Whole Person Organizational Cultures. This is a community project so please help. We want to especially feature businesses who are not already in the high profile limelight.

Please send Jerry a note about individuals or organizations that you think might be good candidates to include. His email address is

Click here to watch videos of our curriculum faculty. Our complete curriculum with videos and suggested reading materials are free for all email addresses ending in .edu and also for faith based and/or charitable non-profit organizations with .org email. For others the fee is only $79 per year.

Gerald R. Wagner, PhD.

Director, The Institute of Inspired Organizational Cultures.

© 2015 The Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures, Inc. All rights

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