Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company: How To Build a Better Culture

Caroline Schein

Caroline Schein recently joined Article, the company that has grown over 24,182% during the past 5 years as the VP People & Culture. As Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company, the executive team has its work cut out from them. Specifically, Caroline is responsible for building Article’s people and culture practices across North America. With more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in the hospitality and retail industry with brands such as Best Buy, a multinational consumer electronics retailer, and Boston Pizza, a North American restaurant chain, Caroline has an MBA specializing in leadership from Royal Roads University, and a MA & PhD in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. She shares wonderful insights about the future of work & how to build a better company culture.

Some questions I ask:

  • 4:30 What is it going to look like for Article to be taken to the next level?
  • 6:00 As a new executive, how do you approach your first season at the company (e.g. your first 100 days)?
  • 7:18 How do you ensure the culture stays consistent as you onboard so many people?
  • 9:27 What is Article’s onboarding process?
  • 11:30 What does it look like to “own” the culture internally? Is it the role of the VP People & Culture or is it a shared responsibility across the entire executive team?
  • 14:30 How do we ensure we live & breathe our culture moonshot & values? Many leaders shout from the rooftops about having a great place to work, yet it doesn’t look like that internally.
  • 19:00 How do we ensure our organizations have two-way feedback, not just the lower-level employees receiving feedback, but also for managers from those they lead.
  • 26:15 What do you believe the future of HR is? What are you expecting from the HR professionals you will be hiring in the future? What is the HR skillset of the future?
  • 28:38 How do ensure there is a harmonious culture between the office environment of Article as well as your manufacturing facilities?
  • 31:55 What is your advice to job seekers? Beyond the online application, what should qualified candidates be doing differently to get a job at Article, or just to any organization? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • 4:55 The culture now is not broken, it truly has been remarkable what the team has accomplished. Article’s has 5 core values – be good, be direct, be better, be adventurous, & be genuine – which ground everything Article does from their strategy to their operations. When addressing culture, in their case, it was more a matter of how to build from where Article is at now, and then becoming open and honest about what is it going to take, where do we need to be and how do we get there. 
  • 6:24 When joining a new organization as an executive, how can you make the transition as successful as possible & learn from the organization about what needs to happen. Here’s a hint, it’s all about starting from a place of listening and learning, while beginning to understand the business well.
  • 7:50 The best people & culture systems that can be put in place to ensure that culture stays strong during intense periods of scale.
  • 9:05 What success looks like when it comes to building a killer workplace environment where people (or Particles!) thrive.
  • 9:50 How onboard makes a big deal out of a new Particle joining the team. Onboarding is very serious to them and they do it well!
  • 12:30 The key to being customer obsessed, and sharing that heart for customers across the entire company, especially the executive team.
  • 19:30 How Article is still refining its performance management processes and figuring out a way to provide feedback to leaders, not just the other way around.
  • 22:37 The fact that accolades and awards are always a secondary priority to employees being happy with where they work.
  • 26:40 Caroline’s charge to any new employee, the great new hire, is someone who’s focused on knowing the business. HR professionals specifically need to truly be a partner, making sure that you understand what problems the business is trying to solve, and how to do that through the people & the culture.
  • 28:18 How the future is looking both at employee engagement, but even further to the employee’s health & wellbeing
  • 33:00 A look at Article’s recruitment process and candidate screening. 

Learn More

Connect with Caroline:

More about Article:

Article is the easiest way to make your space look beautiful.

Right now, Article is all about no fuss entertaining. From lounge-able poufs and sectionals to stackable chairs in the event of extra guests, Article is here to help you make this entertaining season stress free and beautiful.

Furniture shopping is famously terrible. Overeager sales people, poor quality pieces, interminable shipping periods… the works. That’s why Article decided to change the way that people shop for furniture. Instead of schlepping to a warehouse to shop for particle board, Article’s online catalogue features high quality pieces that you can browse right at home. Article’s team of designers have an eye to today’s trends, but focus on timeless design and great quality. Plus: in-stock items ship in two-weeks or less.

How to Be Fearless at Work

Julian Rosen

As Founder of The Fearless Life Project, Julian Rosen is an unstoppable force dedicated to serving others & seeing them rise to their full potential.

Some questions Tynan asks:

  • How can we avoid living life on autopilot? 
  • If someone isn’t happy with how they’re showing up at work, how do they build their self-awareness and fulfill their potential? 
  • What can we do to avoid & conquer distractions in the crazy? 
  • How can people advocate for their own personal health & needs at work? How do we stand up for ourselves in a way that allows us to thrive? 
  • How do we avoid letting fear sabotage us from asking for what we want at work (e.g. a promotion)? 
  • How do we understand how to be lead by our hearts? 
  • Is it normal to have mental health challenges? What can we do to get a handle on our mental health? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • At some level, we aren’t happy when we sell ourselves short. When we let the internal negative dialogue win, we know we can be better. 
  • The crystal of BS = our worries about the future, what we think people think of us, what our boss might be thinking when we say something, etc. We need to take a breath and take inventory on where we are selling ourselves short. 
  • Its incredible how we can’t take 25 minutes at the beginning of our day for ourselves… to get to know ourselves better. Avoid, at all costs, reacting and using your phone. 
  • Take stock of your time. How are you truly spending your time all day? Taking stock of your time is crucial to know where it is being wasted, and where you can rearrange to ensure you are more present and free. 
  • It’s rare that the “Hollywood drama” comes true that we’ve played out in our minds when it comes to having a “difficult” conversation about something like a side-hustle, or outside passion. Often, your manager will be more supportive than you could ever imagine. 
  • If you can begin to understand that certain conversations have the potential to change your life (e.g. asking your boss for a promotion), you will begin to make bolder moves… but you also must become self-aware enough that will enable you to recognize the natural stressors & feelings that will come up. 
  • If the reactive part of us is constantly in the driver’s seat (e.g. always checking your email… always!), then we will burn our selves out. Duh, take a break folks, set boundaries and be stern with your boss if you’ve allowed them to believe you are available 24/7. You deserve better! 

Learn More

The Future of Leadership Development & Creating Psychological Safety

Some questions I ask:

  • It’s almost taboo to encroach on people’s “personal lives,” so how do leaders go about knowing what their needs are without crossing a boundary? 
  • What’s the psychological effect of somebody not being understood at their company? 
  • What does the future of leadership development look like? 
  • What is a “conscious culture”? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • We are hardwired for connection. If we can learn how to motivate, inspire and drive people from an intrinsic level, then we can release untapped potential in our people. 
  • We need a secure attachment with our leaders. This means providing emotional availability and responsivity to our people. Unlike what we often think, people bring their full selves to work; they don’t just turn off their human side when they walk in the front doors to our offices. 
  • We have a responsibility to set the emotional tone of our companies. 
  • At the foundation of a high-trust culture are people being heard, seen and valued. 
  • When we provide flexibility to our employees, they in-turn provide our companies with high-performance of their own choice, even going above-and-beyond during non-work-hours because they care. 
  • Relationship challenges at work are a direct reflection of a need not being met by the other person in the workplace. Enquiring of that need is crucial in resolving conflicts & maintaining healthy workplace relationships. 
  • Leaders have a responsibility to their own cleanup work. You can start by doing the following:
    • Recognizing the clean up emotional roadblocks 
    • Recognizing the pain & loss that is getting in the way of us truly showing up for others in an authentic way 
    • This is the future of leadership development
  • If we want others to do the work on themselves to improve & grow, we have to do do the work ourselves as leaders 
  • A conscious culture is a high-performance culture grounded in trust, psychological safety, and belonging. At the center of a conscious culture are secure attachments;  the leader creating a space for people to take healthy risks, to speak up, to make mistakes, to put their best foot forward, to go the extra mile for their teammates, and to know that they belong and that they matter. 
  • Leaders can benefit greatly by considering how they show up for their teams, how they light up for them and the energy they bring to space/work environment. 
  • When leaders step back and think, “what is the most generous assumption I can make about my employees,” the workplace environment totally shifts. 

Learn More

As Founder and Director of People and Culture at The Grief and Trauma Healing Centre Inc., Ashley has nearly a decade of clinical experience as a practicing psychologist, and it is this scientific background that forms the foundation of her signature training program—Conscious Culture Bootcamp.

Featuring in national publications and appearing on global news channels, Ashley is a frequent media contributor and renowned public speaker.

Ashley found her own ‘Why’ early in life following a difficult childhood punctuated by her father’s substance abuse and eventual suicide. From this, the darkest and most painful period of her life, she uncovered a deep and passionate desire to serve others and a natural ability to create a safe space in which to explore life’s most challenging questions—a skill that has been immeasurably valuable in her career both as a psychologist and trainer.

Outside of work, Ashley likes to keep active both on the basketball court and by running regularly, rewarding herself for all this hard work with coffee and poutine. Ashley is very active in her Christian faith community and enjoys volunteering when she can through her church. She also loves to travel with her husband and young son, particularly favouring Hawaii and Arizona, and seeks out quality time with close friends and family whenever she can.


Spirituality at Work

In today’s workplace where diversity and inclusion are paramount to a business’ success, we must consider all the ways to make an inclusive environment possible for our employees. What is often missed is their spirituality, a notoriously taboo subject at work, yet incredibly important to billions of people worldwide. But why? If we all agree that we are body, soul AND spirit, shouldn’t we explore a bit of what it could look like to start to include the 33% of our employees that we faithfully ignore?  

Our guest today is Mike Maeshiro, an expert in spiritual intelligence, an entrepreneur, business leader, and a pastor. Most likely you’ll listen and be taken aback at the way Mike approaches certain leadership situations, how he motivates his team and how he assesses the environment at his workplace and how you can too! 

Some questions I ask: 

  • How can we define spiritual intelligence? 
  • How can leaders ensure that their employees feel safe during difficult 
  • What is the cost of NOT beginning to incorporate elements of spirituality into your day-to-day at work? 
  • What should our posture be towards are employees… are they human “resources” or our greatest “asset”? Is there a better way to look at our team members? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • How agreeing with things brings them into our environments. When our employees agree with shame, they leak that into the work environment and it affects our productivity and the company atmosphere.  
  • Ways to discern the spiritual climate at your workplace. > 1) Looking at your team and what each member’s “normal” is, and adjusting your environment so they can truly show up their best at work. 2) Paying attention to your physical body and emotions, checking-in regarding what might be “off.” 
  • The primary way to deal with difficult or “hard-to-have” conversations is to approach it with love at the center… come in very proposing, invitational and asking a lot of questions 
  • How to stay consistently kind and helpful as a leader and build an impressive level of trust. 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Connect with Mike Maeshiro: 

A Day-in-the-Life of a Culture Specialist

From varsity swimmer to one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, Talia Benson knows what it’s like to thrive in the fast lane. As the People & Culture Specialist at Inliv & Wello, two companies dedicated to pioneering a new frontier of healthcare & workplace wellbeing, Talia has a lot to share with us about building a strong workplace culture. We take an inside look at the day-in-the-life of a person whose sole job is to focus on the culture of an organization… you may be surprised how much is on her plate and how pivotal her role is in the growth of her companies! 

Some questions I ask: 

  • Contentious issue… should there be a difference between HR and the People/Culture function within your organization? 
  • What does the day-in-the-life of a culture specialist look like? 
  • How would you measure the success of a launch to a new performance management/development system? 
  • How can you bring innovative culture technology & ideas to the table with limited resources & budget? 
  • Why should employees and companies place a focus on healthy living? 
  • How do we effectively navigate transformation to our employee wellness programs? 
  • What are the major differences you’ve seen in your experience working in an established business versus a startup? 

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • There is a difference between HR and People/Culture. We see the administrative role being critical and necessary from HR, but with People/Culture, there is a dynamic that is also needed, projects focused on culture-specific elements of the business. 
  • Tips for how to begin building out your People & Culture team. 
  • What it looks like to redesign your internal performance development programs. 
  • An industry “secret” predictor of high-potential hires. 
  • How to connect vision, mission & values to truly enhance your wellness program. 
  • The way to ensure your employees are living out the values of your company besides just putting them up on the wall. 

Also mentioned on this show: 

Connect with Talia Benson: