What a 30 Year Career At Disney Taught Duncan Wardle about Innovation

Duncan Wardle Hero Image Disney Company Culture

Duncan Wardle

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Duncan Wardle, Former Head of Innovation & Creativity for Disney spent 30 years with the organization and is now invested in helping businesses like yours wildly improve their innovation capabilities. This episode is the right resource for you to understand how to begin transform your company culture into one where creativity can flourish. Today, innovation is no longer just a buzzword to throw in your investor deck. With the dizzying speed at which technology has progressed over the last decade, innovation has become a tangible difference maker. A tool that allows companies to create and execute incredible ideas faster than ever, leapfrogging the competition in the process.


Come join us in Calgary April 9th at Duncan’s All-Day Masterclass. Use promo code “CULTURE” at checkout for 20% off. 

Some questions I ask:

  • How did you get the job of being in charge of innovation at the most innovative company on the planet?
  • How do you manage having an innovation team and still having the whole company produce novel ideas?
  • How to go about changing to a creative-focused culture? Where does it start?
  • What can we do to build trust so that our creative ideas are well-received? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Crazy stories of Duncan working with Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and sending his son’s Buzz Lightyear into space in partnership with NASA
  • What it looks like to take culture from something you talk about, to something you take action on.
  • Building trust starts with doing crazy, big things without caring.
  • How to make creative meetings go well with “plussing” meetings 

Learn More

Connect with Neige & Pippa:
Grab your Masterclass Tickets at 20% off today at https://duncanwardle.com/disruptcalgary. Enter the promo code “CULTURE” to get your special offer pricing as a fan of the CultureING Podcast.


*I am a proud Instacart affiliate and will, therefore, make a commission for anyone who signs up using the link above!

How a Global Green Beauty Brand Thinks about Company Culture


Neige & Pippa Blair

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Co-Founders of Routine, Neige & Pippa Blair make a stellar team. As the innovator, Neige has always been bringing brilliant formulas for natural products to her friends. With the help of Pippa’s business mind, they brought Routine to life! At the heart of their success is a commitment to relationships & caring for one another, and the insights on building company culture are therefore quite compelling!

Some questions I ask:

  • What are the ways you’ve found best suit how you work together as a team?
  • How do you take ideas from R&D, bring them to the team and then decide if they go to market or not?
  • What are some of the myths surrounding natural products?
  • How did you begin to be taken seriously as a brand?
  • What have you found to be the bedrock of your company culture?
  • Is Routine Wine coming anytime soon?!

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The original story of Routine Deodorant
  • Why Niege & Pippa don’t often use the word entrepreneur
  • How to thrive within family (and best friend) business. How it became natural. Bottom line: it’s critical to find a role for everyone that suits their personality.
  • The whole idea of making a place where people want to be, the culture will take care of itself 
  • How most of the beauty & skincare industry is marketing… not necessity.
  • Culture: You can define it, or it can just happen. If you create the space, a place where people want to be, that’s the first step. Neige & Pippa believe that if everything’s fed for their employees (their soul, their bodies), then the culture holds itself together quite well.
  • Stay tuned for Routine Wine!!!

Learn More

Connect with Neige & Pippa:

Also mentioned on this show: 

Credo. Leader in clean, green beauty.


*I am a proud Instacart affiliate and will, therefore, make a commission for anyone who signs up using the link above!

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. 

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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.


Building Culture on a Startup Budget

Kaleah Baker

Kaleah Baker, COO and Co-founder of BridesMade – Canada’s only bridesmaid dress rental service! After growing up in small town Saskatchewan, Kaleah completed her BBA in Marketing & Management at Bishop’s University, and her MBA at Wilfrid Laurier. Both schools are known for their tight-knit communities, so it’s no wonder that a collaborative culture would be a must within her own business. From startup to standout success story, Kaleah loves telling her entrepreneurship story. 

Some questions I ask:

  • How do you build a team of millennials leading millennials? 
  • If everyone isn’t full time, how do you motivate them? 
  • Your team is a well-travelled startup having gone through multiple incubators & accelerators. How have these experiences changed your company and what elements of their cultures have you adopted into yours over time? 
  • As a female-only team, how do those dynamics affect your team and what is your plan for the future to grow your team? 
  • What are your tips, from experience, for navigating fast-growth?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Finding people who have previous experience with high-level performance such as in sport or music is an excellent way to build a team that can perform at the high level required in a fast-growth startup. 
  • Ensuring there are elements of fun in people’s lives is profoundly important to startup culture. 
  • In a monthly All Hands Meeting, allowing for people to ask the leaders ANYTHING can be incredibly helpful in preventing conflict or issues down the road 
  • Within the incubator setting, such as at Communitech, there’s a concept of “accessible help.” Kaleah’s advice comes with a caveat however, you can book time with her or anyone whenever it’s needed… but it’s your responsibility to know what you want to talk to about and clarify that the meeting is between the correct people. At Communitech, she mentions that when people ask for your time, you typically give it to them with undivided attention… as long as it is with the right person to be respectful! 
  • In a bridesmaid dress company, women TEND to be a bit more passionate… so that extra 5% of passion does go a long way to hiring females. It is complex in a female-focused brand to integrate that first man onto your team. The plan for now is to see at a point of exponential growth (~50 people), men will certainly be part of the hiring plan. 
  • Ask your people what they want and avoid assuming or telling them what they do. 

Learn More

How To Build a High-Performing Company of World-Changing Millennials

Victoria MacDonald

One Canadian organization that has made one of the greatest global impacts is WE. We have the honour of hearing from Victoria MacDonald, their Chief People Officer today for a brilliant discussion of millennials, translating values into actions & leading a team in a hyper-growth mode! 

Victoria is a 20-year veteran HR professional who is known for building cultures of alignment, accountability and high levels of engagement without pool tables, beer fridges or free food. 

Some questions I ask:

  • How do you come into a company as a new executive to bring change in a well-established, already world-class company culture? 
  • WE has an incredibly diverse set of roles in their 1000+ person organization. How do you hire so that across the organization, in the variety of roles & the types of people each require, to still hire aligned to your values?
  • How do leaders, many of whom are struggling with this, translate their values into behaviours people know how to demonstrate at school?
  • Are there tools & technology to help reinforce core values? 
  • What are some key learnings you’ve found that millennials need to thrive in the workplace? 
  • “Working with a purpose” is incredible, WE may even have it more easy than most, sometimes work still gets monotonous… how do you keep your workplace invigorated? 

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Heading into a major growth-period that involves maturing as a company is highly complex. Adding a more diverse workforce (in WE’s case, adding more tenured employees bringing the average age from 24 to 30 years old). Most elements of your people programs much change including your offer letters, performance management processes, the way you set goals, even your career development conversations. 
  • WE sets out to always continuously improve, Co-Founders Marc & Craig Kielburger never let themselves think they’re “done.” 
  • WE doesn’t see their quarterly employee engagement surveys as a way to figure out whether people are “happy at work.” Rather, they use their surveys to find out: 
    • what is working, so they can do better at those 
    • what needs to be tweaked or changed > create plans against these things 
  • When Victoria created her detailed HR Roadmap, every item on this plan is directly related to something that has come out of their surveys. 
  • Hiring for core values such as “we move for purpose & positivity,” guide their interviews. 3 Day Orientation is also integral to having people understanding how to display values at work, this achieves cultural cohesion. Because this occurs in all offices around the world, there’s a similar employee experience across-the-board. 
  • What’s rarely discussed is that millennials go to work everyday to create a sense of community and to be with their friends. Nurturing that and giving people the opportunity to work with their friends is really important. 

Learn More

Connect with Victoria:

More about WE.org:

WE is a family of organizations spanning from charities to social enterprises. One of their most famous events, WE Day is the greatest celebration of social good on earth. A multi-million dollar event where you can’t buy a ticket… you only get in through service & volunteering. World-leaders, celebrities & outstandingly brave people gather with and youth activists arena events to inspire the next generation.

Listening to Your People in a Fast-Growth Company


Tia Fomenoff has always loved helping others solve their problems—whether she’s placing people in their dream jobs, working with customers to make more money, guiding small businesses on the uses of social media or even recommending great restaurants to acquaintances. In today’s podcast, Tia shares in-detail how she and the leadership team have listened well to their employees, even adapted accordingly to the extent of giving a $2000 mental health spending limit for every employee! 
Her unconventional career-path began in northern British Columbia in the non-profit and tourism industries, then shifted to focus on digital marketing and customer success at high-growth tech companies Unbounce and Buffer. Tia is now the Director of People and Culture at Thinkific, where they build software that enables entrepreneurs to create, market, sell, and deliver their own online courses.
Some questions I ask:
  • What are company leaders today realizing is the most important thing for their businesses when it comes to culture?
  • Are you seeing a lot of mobility (people bouncing around) between startups in your city? How do you deal with that?
  • When a startup Founder & CEO decides to introduce a Director of People & Culture role, what are they thinking?
  • As a non-native People & Culture leader, what has been the most challenging part of stepping into your role & what have you learned about yourself?
  • How do you balance non-traditional experience with the need for the compliance that a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) brings? How do you split up these responsibilities on your team?
  • What is the difference between culture fit and culture add… and what does values fit seem to be something you look for when hiring?
  • How do we build cultures where people speak up?
  • How do we properly survey our employees? How do people at every level of the company bring forward ideas to leadership?
  • What mistakes have you made in your hiring over time?
In this episode, you will learn: 
  • Great recruitment becomes a primary competitive advantage in a high-paced, fast-growing tech cities
  • How to transition from a different area of business (e.g. in Tia’s case, she was in marketing) to People & Culture (P&C)
  • Having a non-strict-HR background can be an advantage for a leader in the P&C department, you can understand all the roles & their needs, how to help people grow & be happy opposed to having a key focus on compliance
  • Diversity is very challenging to obtain when looking for culture fit. When you look for a values fit however, you will be rewarded in the beautiful diversity you have in your organization.
  • Amazing to see that when people are encouraged to adopt the value of “We give a shit” how people will roll up their sleeves to pitch in when needed.
  • Set up a channel for communication of new ideas to leadership! Having a flat structure internally allows for people to bring ideas forward to their people leader, even one level above without much feeling they are stepping out of place.
  • Structuring your employee engagement surveys with (1) evidence-based questions, (2) net-promoter score (e.g. How likely are you to recommend working at Thinkific to a family or friend) and (3) free and open-ended questions (e.g. What’re your favourite things about working here? What are some things we can do better?).
  • How to act on your employee’s suggestions, group them into themes, and then make them fully transparent by sharing them with the whole company so people know of the progress towards change and understand what is happening!
Connect with Tia Fomenoff:
Also mentioned on this show:

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: 

How To Integrate Virtual Assistants Into Your Company Culture

Today’s episode is all about Virtual Assistants, Remote Workers & how all this fits within your current company cultures. We are proud to feature Virtual Gurus, once a little remote working agency with a team of 10 people, now a team of 150 people, considered the largest freelancing platform in Canada. Today we’re uncovering some of the secrets surrounding the mysterious world of remote work and virtual assistants, so tune in now! 

Connect with Bobbie Racette and her team: 

Some questions I ask: 

  • How can companies looking to hire a VA get over their hesitancy to this new way of building your team?  
  • Do we not all do more remote work than we think? 
  • How do you work with VAs to ensure they’re supported, especially since they work by the minute and not on salary? 
  • What does it look like for a virtual assistant to get up-to-speed to best perform the tasks required by the hiring company? 
  • How can a virtual assistant or team member actually integrate within someone’s company culture? 
  • What can a Virtual Assistant DO and NOT DO? 
  • What are some examples of how VAs have concretely built businesses & fostered growth? 
  • If I’m a client of a Virtual Assistant company and now my VA is doing a significant amount of work, what does it look like to incorporate your VA into your team and company culture? 
  • What does a company that organizes and leads a cohort of VAs look like? 
  • What is your vision for a company that works with one of your assistants?    

In this episode, you will learn:  

  • The need for your VA to be in a community of collaboration and accountability with other VAs. 
  • The importance of complete transparency with your assistant when you hire a virtual team member, time-based (to-the-minute) tracking and productivity, a major differentiator in today’s age of a distracted workforce 
  • Helpful tips on “showing up and staying productive” when working from home. The professionalism of VAs is paramount, not only to it being a worthwhile investment but also for the VAs to do quality work & enjoy the process. 
  • Virtual Assistants can support businesses in growth from managing emails and calendars, to website support, development and social media. 
  • What a typical process of working with a VA company looks like and how to slowly & patiently offload tasks that you’re not strong in or enjoy doing to your VA(s) and you can go back to running your business, doing what you’re best at. 
  • Virtual Assistant services 

Also mentioned on this show: