Gift Card

We talk a lot about culture.

We’ve distilled our Core Purposes down to our “5 Be’s.” We aspire to have every interaction we have with each other, a vendor, or our customer be an opportunity to share our 5 Be’s. In an effort to “measure what matters,” we recently had a contest focusing on our 5 Be’s. Here’s the email I sent:


A little contest to satisfy your overwhelming desire to win a prize.

THE PRIZE: $500 gift card to Best Buy

The contest:

Any time you see someone just crushing one of our 5 Be’s, send an email to me with 5 Be’s in the subject line of the email and tell me:  who it is, which of the 5 Be’s it was and what exactly they did to impress you.  The person who is the most well rounded (all 5 Be’s) and has the most 5 Be’s nominations will win the card.


Now until November 9th.  The card will be awarded November 16th.

Be Fun

Be Experts

Be Servants

Be Disruptive

Be Knowledge Givers


In a few short days, we received dozens of responses, team members nominating team members on how they represented the 5 Be’s. Among those submissions, came this one from one of our newest team members who has been an amazing addition to our team. Here is what he had to say…

Hey Norm,

I know up front that this is not what you’re looking for. I understand that it will likely not qualify anyone for the prize. I understand that my perspective is limited. Forgive me.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I went down my mental list of everyone in the department and stopped to reflect on each person. I started with Cloris. No reason. Just because.

I asked myself:

When specifically was Cloris fun? Well, she makes me laugh every day. So, check.

When specifically was Cloris an expert? Well, as far as I can tell, she is a linchpin in the building with formidable experience. Check.

When specifically was Cloris a servant? Well, she is literally on the front page of the new website wearing a volunteer shirt for a recent event. Check.

When specifically was Cloris Disruptive? Well, she challenges the status quo in every conversation, every day. Check.

When specifically was Cloris a knowledge giver? Well, she answers every dang question that a thousand people ask her every day (have you ever seen the line of people at her desk?). Check.

It was easy for me to conclude that if I was going to nominate any one, I needed to nominate Cloris. But then I ran into two problems:

  1. See, after I performed this exercise for Cloris, I mentally shifted to the next person on my list: Stacie. Then Tim and Sheri and Marcus and Chris. Here’s the problem. I came up with the same list of answers to the same list of questions for everyone in the department. They all perform this way.

They each do these things every day. It’s who they are. They are the fabric of the department, woven together, one’s strength complementing another’s. This department is greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, each person in his or her way exemplifies some aspect of each of the Five Bs. Yes, each person has lesser or greater degrees of strength in each of the areas, but no one person can win without the other. It’s the very definition of team.

The fact of the matter is this: they live the “all in the same boat” mantra. Their gifts and skills and experiences complement each other’s. What I lack, the others make up for, and they are happy to do it. And they’re not interested in credit; they’re interested in results. They’re interested in modeling the behaviors that make Quantum the thing you desire it to be. The thing that makes a difference in the community and in people’s lives. They’re true believers in the mission, your vision.

  1. The trap of identifying something specific is that it relies on contrast. One must contrast that specific moment or event against everyday behaviors. But what if those behaviors are par for the course? What if it wasn’t that the person did something specifically amazing, but rather worked to be amazing every day? There’s no contrast so you can’t see it as easily. Conversely, it’s easy to spot when someone who, out of character and atypically, does something notable.

As you well know, every person in this department is presently challenged with every manner of personal challenges. But you know what? If they hadn’t shared those things with me, I would never know it. They refuse to be defined by those challenges. They arrive at the building and they kill it. Every. Single. Day. And they do it with a smile and with passion and with delicate care for others. Regardless of what is going on in their lives, they lead by example. They make me a better person—the true hallmark of servant leadership.

I marvel at it.

If I had to guess, I would bet that every person in the department would deflect this acknowledgment, even be embarrassed by it. But that’s because, perhaps most importantly, together they embody the unspoken 6th Be: Be Humble.

With all that said, please consider this proposal: with the contest concluding so close to Christmas, let this department use the gift card to buy gifts for a local kids’ organization to distribute. I am confident that, as a group, the team would enjoy that much more than spending it on themselves, because that’s who they are: fun, generous, humble, intelligent servants.

Thank you for reading; I appreciate you taking the time. I hope you find this email disruptive.


I’ve read this letter many times since receiving it in my inbox. Each time I’m moved by the words, but more importantly, by the idea of what is being said.

I’m so grateful for a team that gets what we’re trying to do in terms of culture. How they understand how these things impact the work we do. The service we provide. The role we play.

We’ve dropped the ball at times, but with a team of high character people like this, we’ll continue to improve. We’ll continue to be servants…to be fun…to be experts…to be knowledge givers…to be disruptive to the industry and the community we serve.

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