Be sure to hire people that align with the company’s mission and vision. Employees perform better when they understand why and how they are connected to the company.
As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Weisberg, founder and CEO, Snapsheet. Brad co-founded Snapsheet in 2011 and has led the company through multiple hyper growth stages. He is passionate about developing creative solutions for today’s complex problems, using powerful technology platforms to deliver great user experiences. He is a champion for the Chicago tech community and regularly mentors leaders at emerging tech companies. His work with Snapsheet has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company. Brad has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising from Indiana University Bloomington. He is a guest lecturer at Northwestern University.
Thank you for joining us Brad! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Years ago, I got into a car wreck. I took my car to three body shops, which resulted in three different estimates for the same damage. During this process, it dawned on me that submitting a photo of the damage to the body shops through the use of technology would save time, cost and frustration. The result would be the same — an estimate of cost to fix the car. This was the moment that Snapsheet was created. I knew then that a picture was worth a thousand words.
I also credit my leap to becoming an entrepreneur to one of my jobs years ago in Chicago. In that role, I was surrounded by CEOs in a tech incubator — all were working towards raising capital for their tech ideas. One of their secrets to success was that they had the determination and comfort with the risk to go for their idea. This gave me the confidence to put my idea into action.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
For years, we were being asked, and pushed, to license our software. We consistently declined these requests until a few years ago. We were meeting with a CEO of a large insurance company that made a very strong business case for us to license our software with the promise that he wouldn’t dilute it, lean in on it or change it in any way. We shared a similar vision about claims and improving the claims process. After a series of meetings with this CEO in Switzerland, Austria, and Italy, we came close to partnering. While at the boardroom table and just about to sign the agreement, we learned that the CEO was stepping down and taking a new role at a larger insurance company. We didn’t let this stop us! We joined the CEO at the new company and launched the program. This opened the door for Snapsheet to officially expand internationally in Nov. 2018.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now, one of our focuses at Snapsheet is on our strategic partnership with Zurich Insurance Group. This is not only bringing our innovation in claims processing to new businesses, but it’s taken Snapsheet international. Recently, we revealed this announcement to the world, and I can’t be more excited about the opportunities that are ahead.
Zurich recognized the tremendous value to be gained from the Snapsheet suite of software across multiple lines of their P&C business, and this collaboration is changing the claims journey for so many people and so many organizations. Our ability to capture claims information from any medium, coupled with pro-active workflows, will ultimately provide a higher level of service for customers.
Ok, let’s jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
It is likely that the number is high because employees are not feeling valued in their roles and on what they do on a day-to-day basis. I truly believe that happiness is who you are surrounded by and how valued you feel. When someone first joins a company, many employees do not have a true vision of the impact they are having on the company. They are not aware of how their efforts are driving the bottom line of a company or pushing the goals and objectives of their company forward. When onboarding new employees and growing your current employees, it is important to set a clear path. Be sure to recognize the achievements of your workforce on a daily basis as well as on an annual basis, helping them see the clear line from their role to the organization’s success.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?
The culture of a company is extremely important for the success of a company. Reports have shown that unhappy employees cost companies billions of dollars per year in lost revenues, settlements and various other damages. Employee negligence due to dissatisfaction with their employer leads to much of the financial losses suffered by major brands and companies of all sizes.
I wanted to build a company where I was surrounded by passionate and motivated team members that enjoyed coming to work each day, and as I look around my at Snapsheet today — I’m doing just that. Our workforce is motivated to go above and beyond their role as they solve the challenges of our industry through new technologies and groundbreaking solutions.
Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?
My top five list:
1. Recognition of your employees throughout the year, including in front of their peers, when they aren’t expecting recognition as well as during their annual reviews.
2. An open-door policy is incredibly important. This signals to the employees that you are interested in talking with them, looking for their feedback and invested in their ideas and propositions for change.
3. Be sure to hire people that align with the company’s mission and vision. Employees perform better when they understand why and how they are connected to the company.
4. For executives, spend more time on the floor getting to know all employees in the company, especially those outside of your direct reports. This will provide you with a broader perspective of what is going on in the company.
5. Have a formal review process in place. This will help employees have a clear understanding of their roles and goals, leaving no surprises in the year ahead.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture.” What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?
Much of the change we need in the U.S. workforce culture is around how we treat and respect others. Diversity and inclusion is a fantastic movement that is making real change in organizations big and small across the country. One small way to create change is as simple as your words. Instead of thinking about your workforce as employees, consider them family and friends. How would you treat your family and friends on a daily basis? The same respect and dignity that you would treat your inner circle should be the same respect and dignity you use for your workforce. The words work/life balance are often used. It’s important to create a culture that doesn’t view work and life as separate, but more so, combining these for your workforce and encouraging them to take the flexibility they may need along with accomplishing their corporate goals.
How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?
At Snapsheet, work-life balance is important to my employees so therefore it is important to me. Nearly 50 percent of Snapsheet employees work remotely. To keep the team engaged, we work hard at building a culture that makes them feel motivated and appreciated. For example, being transparent is one of my biggest priorities as a business leader. Snapsheet’s entire executive team ensures that our colleagues understand what we are doing, why we are doing it and where we are going. Each person understands why they are important to our team and helping to achieve the company goals. We also make sure to add in a bit of fun for both the employees in the office and that work remotely. On top of the lunches and happy hours, we send monthly themed gift baskets that keep up the humor and excitement about being a part of Snapsheet. We have seen this effort translate into employees that are happy and excited to come to work.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In addition to the entrepreneurs that encouraged me to take the plunge on bringing my business idea to life, my family and my wife are my biggest supporters and my biggest motivators. Having a group of supportive people around you lets your fears melt away. In business, the highs are very high and the lows are quite low. The amount of weight and burden you carry when you have the success of hundreds of colleagues and team members as your responsibility is intense. It’s helpful to come to the home to my wife each day and work with business partners each day that understand your emotions, fears, and happiness.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Success to me is defined by many things. One of the most important aspects is my Snapsheet team. Success is bringing my team happiness and fulfillment when they come to work every day. I feel proud of creating more than 500 jobs for people in our economy, as we work together for one common mission and dream. I’m also proud of the connection to our community me and my colleagues at Snapsheet have established. We host and participate in an annual community service day. Snapsheet pays for our workforce to take the day off and give back to their communities. Additionally, we stay closely connected to our industry and young talent by donating money and time to many of our local, industry and tech education — some of which fund tools for schools.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
In previous jobs, people that I worked with never pushed the envelope. They stuck to the same processes that turned into the same results, never pushing the envelope. At Snapsheet, our motto is “there has got to be a better way.” We encourage innovation and challenge the status quo. I believe that there has to be a better way to do everything in life, and we should always be exploring other opportunities to do just that. The cornerstone of accomplishing this innovation is technology.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Do one nice thing for someone every single day. Open a door, let someone into traffic in front of you, give someone a dollar who is in need or pay for someone’s coffee. One random act of kindness inspires others to be kind. If everyone set their minds to do just that, the world be a better place.