Creating a Healthy (and Fun) Culture, Part One

by Trent Dunham, President

Creating a vibrant culture within your organization is absolutely critical. And in my opinion, no one does a better job than Brian Mountjoy, our Chief Culture Officer here at Dunham+Company.

When Brian entered the scene in the D+C offices, the culture began to change for the better. I recently interviewed him on an episode of The Dunham Podcast.

I think you’ll enjoy hearing his vision and passion for creating a healthy culture within the workplace. Here is the first part of our interview…

Let’s talk about those early days and what you saw happen within our culture.

Trent: At that time, our company mirrored the personality that Rick and I have, which is driven and focused. But the negative aspect was that it was so driven and focused that we were leaving out some very important parts of a work culture, including things like having fun and taking interest in people’s lives.

And those things, I know now, are critical. During the first six to eight months as you spent time with our team, the culture of D+C began to change. We didn’t have a master plan that said, “We’re going to hire Brian to create a healthy culture.” That was never even discussed.

Brian: I remember the first time I came into the office and it just felt different than anything I was used to. I remember it being very quiet but I would come in pretty loudly (perhaps some might say obnoxiously).

Although it was not purposeful, the dynamic began to change. It was taking on a new vibe.

Interestingly enough, the culture I like to create traces back to compassion. I had so many people pour into me at a young age and it grew in me a compassion for people. I truly want to know what people’s lives are like, their background, and what interests them. If people feel cared for and important in their workplace, it makes all the difference.

Let’s talk about the culture of D+C today. As the Chief Culture Officer, what does a typical day look like for you and what’s your ultimate objective when you come to work?

Brian: I often have specific things in my mind before I come to work of what I’d like to see happen that day. Sometimes it pans out and sometimes it doesn’t, but the main objective is to set the tone.

If you want a positive healthy culture, the leaders of your organization are ultimately responsible for setting that tone. So I’m usually thinking about ways to do that.

There was a season in my life where things were rough at work. I was working for a church and I would come home every night worn out and tired. My kids were in high school at the time and they knew I was having a hard time.

One night, I came home and my son and daughter said, “Dad, we need to talk. Sit down.”

They said, “Dad, we want you to listen to us. We don’t want you to talk. We don’t want you to interrupt. And when we’re done, we’ll say we’re done and then you can talk if you want to. Dad, you need to set the tone. We’re waiting for you to lead us by setting the tone.”

And I realized at that moment, regardless of how good or bad the day is, I have the ability to set the tone for my family. The same goes in the workplace.

Here at D+C, setting the tone has become a team effort. I can take the lead, but others follow and I love to see that.

You and Rick asked me to set the tone in our company, and very few leaders of organizations ever think to do that.

Trent: Dunham+Company has made building a healthy culture a big enough priority that we actually have a paid, full time position. We think it’s important enough to have someone focused on this full time. And it’s not manufactured! You don’t walk in and find us doing trust falls on Tuesdays.

Brian: We can try if you want to. Let’s do it.

Trent: It’s genuine. I’m not wired to do what you do naturally, but I see the need and the value for our organization. And if as a leader of an organization you’re wondering if you need this, I would strongly suggest that you do. I believe it has everything to do with the overall productivity of an organization.

People are far more productive when they are motivated to be involved, engaged, and focused on the mission. We don’t create a silly culture. That’s not our DNA. It’s not the Dunham ay. It’s not silliness. But there is levity, and an appropriate level of fun.

To hear more about how to create a vibrant culture within your organization, check out The Dunham Podcast episodeCreating a Healthy (and Fun) Culture with Brian Mountjoy.


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