Hustle PHX helps individuals in disadvantaged urban communities discover their innate gifts, find purpose, and achieve self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship. Participants receive skills training and business education, gain access to capital, and make connections with knowledgeable mentors who can support them as they launch and grow their businesses. In this two part conversation, you’ll hear Crys Waddell (COO), Oye Waddell (Founder), and Ricky Winne (Director of Operations) reflect on their experience in the Catalyst Program and the process of developing clear guiding principles for their organization.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity and was facilitated by Grant Mankin, Partnership Development Manager.
Let’s start at the beginning: You come out of the Catalyst Program, you’re starting to identify things you can immediately do. What does that look like? How did you know what you immediately needed to shift and change?
Before we got selected for Cohort 9, we were experiencing a lot of trouble – a lot of frustration amongst our team, especially as it relates to operations. We had three staff members that were not the right fit. They did great at their jobs and they had a great work ethic, but they were not aligned with who we were as an organization. And they started to cause a lot of trouble, not only within our own team, but also within the communities that we were serving.
It was just really toxic. And so when we came to our first workshop, we were wide open. Like, “We need help.” We needed to figure out how to hone our operations and create more alignment in the work that we were doing in the community. Just to give you a little bit of background, our mission statement is to empower men and women in urban inner city communities, primarily in Phoenix, with intellectual, social, and financial capital to start businesses that glorify God and serve their neighbor.
So we’re really focused on urban, inner city communities and investing in the people, knowing that they already have skills and the talents. We come alongside with the training, development, and financing to really help their businesses flourish and grow. But then going into MBM, we were ready and willing to learn because we had a lot of work to do, especially around our culture.
And then once we came through the program, we started to see that we allowed the culture of our organization to go in a good direction, but it wasn’t really grounded in where we were going. We weren’t clear about who we are and what we stand for and what we believe and what we ask of our employees.
When we got into our guiding principles, we realized that we weren’t going to have a meeting and write down what we wanted and that was it. We actually realized it was a much bigger process.
Yeah, we wanted to be intentional about working on this consistently. And so we set up this ‘Work on Hustle’ time. It was an hour a week, every Tuesday morning, starting in September and we still do it to this day – almost two years later. That is our time to work on the MBM framework and the tools that have been given to us.
We started with our guiding operating principles in September and it wasn’t until February that we actually completed our guiding operating principles – so six months, give or take, is what it took for us to complete it.
And then we built that out. We wanted it to fit this HUSTLER acronym. So we took our guiding operating principles and found synonyms that would fit the H-U-S-T-L-E-R for us. So that took another week or two. And then we took it to our MBM coach and went back and forth with them on some things. It was this long process, totally worth it, but it really helped us develop what we still use today.
I think what’s really cool about this story is two main things: that you guys were able to have that lightbulb moment – going from, ‘man, we’ve got some people that really don’t seem aligned,’ and make the connection to, ‘it’s not just a culture issue, it’s a principles issue.’ Talk to me a little bit about what that lightbulb moment was like. What were those conversations like?
I can’t remember exactly, but it was a matrix. And I remember that matrix sitting there and thinking, “oh my gosh, that’s it” – just because somebody can get the work done doesn’t mean that they’re right for our organization.
The Virtue and Talents Matrix.
Oh, there it is.
The clarity came from struggling with it for a while up to that point, with a variety of employees, with some different situations. It was through that struggle and trying to understand what we can do, how we can better lead them, how we can improve our hiring processes, all of that. We had to go through that struggle to then come to the Catalyst program and start to gain clarity as to how we can address it.
I also feel like the process made us better aligned. It aligned us because we were clear and we were able to say what we knew, what we needed. And when you have so many other things going on in the organization, and you’re trying to hone in on this, you feel overwhelmed. But I felt like through that process, it aligned us better with who we were and what we needed.
I think the reason why we were so receptive is because we were literally going through pain with these employees. We were literally hemorrhaging and frustrated and asking, ‘how do we get out of this?’ And so I think MBM just came at the right time.
I keep reiterating how it really makes it clear who we are and what we desire as an organization and how we incorporate that with our employees. But at the same time, it also makes it very difficult in the hiring process for us. Because now that we have our guiding operating principles and we know what we want and who we are, it’s difficult in our hiring process when we’re adding to our team. Because we have a really awesome team now that we have our guiding principles in place.
Would you guys talk a little bit about what that process was like, rolling it out to the staff? Like, you’ve got these guiding principles, how do you start to have conversations with the staff about where they are impactful and how to implement them?
We used it right away with our hiring processes. We went over our guiding operating principles with every candidate, saying, “Hey, this is who we are and what we expect of you and how we are evaluating your work, how we want these principles to guide the work that you’re doing – part of that is being entrepreneurial, team focused, et cetera.”
We also started to incorporate it into our staff meetings. At some point last year, we started to go over our guiding operating principles each week in our staff meetings, either sharing examples of ways that we exemplify one of the guiding operating principles, or Oye will lead us through a message on one that’s important to reiterate to the group.
At every staff meeting at least for 15 minutes, we talk about how we are showing up in these different areas with regards to our guiding operating principles. So people know exactly what to expect and how they should be showing up in the communities that we serve. Because we serve urban, inner city communities, they deserve excellence. The people we serve deserve excellence. And so that’s how we want to show up.