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Inspiring Improvement: Our Guiding Values at KaiNexus -- Greg Jacobson and Jeff Roussel Discuss [Video]

Posted by Mark Graban

Mar 21, 2024 12:12:21 PM

I recently watched a video on our KaiNexus YouTube channel with our co-founder and CEO, Greg Jacobson, and our Chief Revenue Officer, Jeff Roussel. I loved it so much that I wanted to share it here with some highlights and thoughts. You can also watch "Shorts" video clips via this playlist and share them with your team and fellow leaders!

You can read about us and our Values -- and our Traits

KaiNexus Values:


KaiNexus Traits for Success:

We have also identified personal traits that drive success at KaiNexus:

  • Practice continuous improvement (9:31)
  • Growth mindset (12:11)
  • Be organized (14:34)
  • Work hard and smart (7:41)
  • Take the initiative (16:43)


The Video:

Here is the full video:


Documenting and Living Core Values in the Workplace

"To me, one of the more underappreciated things about being at a company was how important it was to actually write down our values, the values that we hold dear. What was really amazing to me is that we didn't write down the values and then go about trying to get people to adopt those values. These were years in the making... the people at KaiNexus behaving a certain way and us recognizing that behavior and then coming up with the list of values that we thought were most important to our people. And I got to tell you, I feel like we nailed it." - Jeff

The journey of internalizing and embodying corporate values is a transformative process for many organizations. KaiNexus didn't just stumble upon ours on a shiny poster or through a boardroom decree but recognized them through consistent behaviors exhibited over the years. Employees and leaders manifested a set of principles that were subsequently adopted as our corporate ethos.

"At the beginning, we were just trying to survive from day to day. There was no time to reflect on these things. We got to this critical point, this critical mass, where we weren't, as the core people that started the company, we weren't interacting with people every day like we were. And it became really evident that it was time to reflect on, wait, what got us to this point? What are the values that we believe in that's led to our success? " - Greg

Understanding lived values, rather than imposing them from the top down, ensured that the essence of KaiNexus culture was authentically reflected. This organic approach cultivated an environment where values are not mere words but a vivid depiction of everyday action. KaiNexus prides itself on a culture where every policy, decision, and interaction is a testament to its deeply held beliefs, significantly contributing to its progress and successes.

"I think what amazes me is how often we actually use these values and these traits in just our everyday interactions at KaiNexus. I mean, we quite literally manage to these values and traits every day, which is amazing to me." - Jeff

The Power of Teamwork and Collaboration

Teamwork is not just a buzzword at KaiNexus but the very lifeline of our operations. As an organization that has evolved from the frantic days of trying to survive to a structured entity with robust strategies, KaiNexus understands that its success is a result of cumulative effort. Recognizing that individual efforts, while significant, become extraordinary when synthesized into a collective endeavor is a testament to our value: "We are a team."

KaiNexus demonstrates that when people set aside personal gain for the success of the whole, remarkable things happen. Whether it's organizing our renowned KaiNexicon user conference or tackling daily challenges, the collaborative spirit is a driving force. This principle is embedded so deeply that it is said to outshine individual contributors who prefer silos, making KaiNexus a haven for those who thrive in cohesive and cooperative environments.

"When you value that we're a team, all of a sudden, you know what to do when someone's struggling. There's our user conference, KaiNexicon, we do it once a year. There's just no way one person can do that. We all come together as a team to contribute, to make that successful." - Greg

Kindness as a Strength

Another central tenet that KaiNexus holds dear is kindness. In a cutthroat business landscape where kindness can mistakenly be interpreted as a weakness, KaiNexus boldly dispels this myth. For us, being kind is an integral part of our identity, extending to all interactions—be it among colleagues, customers, competitors, supporters, or detractors. This value does not imply a surrender to being a pushover but a commitment to graciousness in all circumstances. By embedding kindness into our core, KaiNexus ensures a nurturing and respectful work atmosphere for all.

"It's important to me that being kind is one of our values." - Jeff

Customer Focus: A Guiding Principle

KaiNexus has ingrained customer-centricity as a foundational value and recognizes that putting customers at the heart of the conversation is paramount. This principle dictates the development of new features, the resolution of issues, and even the planning of events. When the focus is firmly fixed on the customer's needs and experiences, the path forward often becomes clear and evident.

This customer-focused value serves as a beacon during times of uncertainty, guiding KaiNexus to sometimes choose the harder path if it means delivering superior service to our customers. It is this unwavering dedication to our customers' success that differentiates KaiNexus in our quest to spread continuous improvement.

"If we're constantly realizing we're here for our customers to help them spread continuous improvement, oftentimes, the answer of what needs to be done, it just appears." - Greg

Trust as the Cornerstone of Relationships

In any organization, but more so in one as collaborative as KaiNexus, trust is the cornerstone of relational dynamics. Trust is not earned in a day but cultivated through a consistent commitment to being trustworthy in all dealings. Recognizing that business at its core consists of human connections, KaiNexus has embedded a culture of trust as a central theme in its framework.

"I think it's been something that has helped guide many of the most difficult questions and difficult conversations that we've done where we think, okay, well, what's the way we would want to act if we were acting in the most trustworthy way?" - Greg

This value of trust permeates every conversation and decision made at KaiNexus, reinforcing the notion that businesses flourish not just on transactions but on the reliability and integrity of the relationships formed. It's this trust that binds the team together, giving life to the entity that is KaiNexus.

Through the candid acknowledgment and implementation of its core values, KaiNexus not only highlights the critical role such principles play in corporate success but also demonstrates a remarkable blueprint for others to emulate.

Embracing Trust and Transparency

At KaiNexus, understanding the significance of trust and transparency is not just given lip service—it is a behavioral standard woven into the fabric of the company. Trustworthiness is a currency highly valued, exchanged between employees, and nurtured in customer relationships. Jeff and Greg's conversation acknowledges the importance of trust in delegating decisions and empowering staff, making it an indispensable component of a harmonious work environment.

The emphasis on being a trustworthy colleague and a reliable partner reverberates throughout KaiNexus. By promoting a culture that gives trust and operates transparently, the organization sets a standard for its team members and clients alike, fostering an environment where everyone feels valued, and confidence runs high.

"I love that we put both words here, trust and be trustworthy. I think that most people desire to act in a trustworthy manner, but it is harder to say that I am going to give trust to other people. I'm going to give them that trust, maybe even before they earn that trust. And it is a value for us that we trust our customers, that we trust each other, that we develop an honest and a transparent way of operating here so that our people trust us, and then it's easier for them to act in a trustworthy manner." - Jeff

Working Hard and Smart

KaiNexus' leadership does not merely extol the virtue of hard work; they advocate for a nuanced approach that combines effort with intelligence—working hard and working smart. This ideology encourages employees to be not just industrious but also efficient, prioritizing tasks that deliver the highest value.

Jeff and Greg stress that hard work alone is not the goal; rather, the aim is productivity that doesn't compromise well-being. It's about hitting the sweet spot where peak performance meets strategic action. This balance is essential to avoid burnout and achieve a sustainable and fulfilling work-life equilibrium.

"If you're working hard and you're working smart, I think it all of a sudden opens up that opportunity to have a really good work life balance." - Greg

Continuous Improvement as a Lifestyle

KaiNexus isn't just about spreading the concept of continuous improvement; it commits to living by this principle. Leaders like Jeff and Greg understand that for their team to be high performers, they must not only work within a framework that supports improvement but also personally adopt this practice.

Developing a personal practice of continuous improvement is seen as a key trait of KaiNexians. Reflecting on one's work, seeking efficiency, and embracing process enhancements contribute to both personal growth and the company's evolution. By fostering an environment where employees regularly assess and refine our approach, KaiNexus maintains its edge in innovation and service excellence.

"Our mission is to spread continuous improvement, but it is easy to fall into the habit of not practicing it yourself. And the people that are the most successful here develop the mindset and the habit of practicing their own continuous improvement." - Jeff

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset is central to the culture at KaiNexus. This philosophy not only applies to overcoming day-to-day challenges but also influences long-term career trajectories. KaiNexus leaders acknowledge that a fixed mindset can stifle progress, whereas embracing growth enables individuals to view hurdles as opportunities to ascend to new levels of understanding and ability.

  • Belief in Potential: Recognizing that skills and intelligence can be developed greatly contributes to the ethos within KaiNexus.

  • Continuous Learners: Employees are encouraged to maintain the perspective of being perpetual students, always ready to expand their knowledge base.

  • Flexible Thinking: The freedom to pivot from a fixed to a growth-oriented point of view is a nuanced skill that leaders at KaiNexus highlight as a determinant of success.

Organizational Skills as a Keystone

Organization is not simply a desirable quality at KaiNexus; it's considered a driver of success. In high-performing teams like those at KaiNexus, orderliness and the ability to continuously enhance how one organizes their work are fundamental traits.

  • Efficiency and Effectiveness: Systems of organization are crucial to ensuring that hard work is channeled effectively, maximizing output with the resources at hand.

  • Evolving Systems: Employees are expected to regularly refine their organizational strategies to stay ahead of the curve and handle the complexities of an innovative work environment.

Fostering Empathy and Connection

Empathy is deeply valued at KaiNexus; it is essential for building connections and understanding between team members and clients. By demonstrating genuine empathy, KaiNexus team members show respect and concern for others' experiences and perspectives, which leads to more collaborative and effective relationships -- and better results.

  • Respectful Communication: Listening actively and acknowledging others' feelings creates a foundation for meaningful dialogue.

  • Positive Outcomes: KaiNexus finds that by prioritizing empathy, conversations tend to lead to more favorable results for all parties involved.

"Creating empathy in a conversation is about the most respectful thing that you can do. It signals to the other person that you care about and respect how they feel about a certain situation. And I think that when our people are able to display empathy to each other, when they're able to display empathy to a customer, we end up in a better situation. So the end result of displaying empathy is that we have better outcomes." - Jeff

Initiative as a Defining Trait

For KaiNexus, initiative is not simply an add-on but rather a defining characteristic of its successful team members. In an evolving and dynamic market, the ability to proactively address challenges and adapt to changes is not only encouraged but expected.

"The success of our team is based on the trait of taking the initiative and figuring out a way to solve a problem or asking for help and getting people to help you to solve that problem. Without that initiative, there's just no way that we're able to achieve what we do for our customers." - Jeff

  • Action-Oriented: KaiNexus seeks individuals who show a propensity for action and are able to navigate through uncharted or complex scenarios with confidence.

  • Customer-Centric Solutions: A proactive stance is crucial to rapidly responding to customer needs and delivering tailored solutions without delay.

KaiNexus cultivates these traits among its team members to sustain a culture of growth, integrity, and success. The synergy between a growth mindset, organizational skills, empathy, and initiative ensures KaiNexus maintains its position at the forefront of its industry with a team that is both high-performing and harmoniously aligned with the company's values and objectives.

"Quite frankly, if you don't have a predilection to take action, to take initiative, a startup kind of culture, figuring, doing something that hasn't really been done before, that's probably not an organization that you're going to be successful in." - Greg

Nurturing Innovation Through Collaboration

At the heart of KaiNexus lies a dedication to innovation — a commitment to breaking new ground and devising novel solutions to knotty problems. This dedication naturally draws individuals who are both willing and excited to take the initiative, particularly when confronted with the prospect of trailblazing.

  • Cultivating Originality: Employees at KaiNexus are not only expected but encouraged to think outside the box and bring unique perspectives to the table (and we cultivate a culture of Psychological Safety so they can feel safe doing so).

  • Team Synergy: By aligning collective goals, the staff finds inventive ways to collectively pursue a set direction, ensuring that everyone moves together as a cohesive unit.

Creating an Engaging Work Environment

The excitement and joy derived from working at KaiNexus stem from more than just the work itself; it's the vibrant atmosphere of collaboration and mutual support that enhances the experience. Stakeholders strive to create a workspace where individuals feel both valued and challenged.

  • Supportive Culture: Offering support, answering questions, and facilitating team interactions are embedded practices that KaiNexus fosters to ensure a nurturing environment.

  • Shared Growth: When employees work together towards common objectives and share their journey of learning and development, the workplace becomes more than just a site of labor; it transforms into a community of shared passion.

Championing a Dynamic Team

KaiNexus recognizes that the strength of its team is not merely in individual skills but in its ability to adapt and flourish in a dynamic environment. The company culture is designed to encourage such flexibility among its members.

  • Being Proactive: The ideal KaiNexus team member is someone who seizes the initiative, harnessing their curiosity and drive to tackle challenges head-on.

  • Adaptive Problem-Solving: The company values those who can pivot quickly in response to new information or unexpected situations, turning potential obstacles into springboards for innovation.

The principles of collective ingenuity, collaborative engagement, and dynamic teamwork are central to KaiNexus. By fostering an atmosphere where initiative is championed, and innovation is pursued hand in hand, KaiNexus not only secures its competitive edge but also ensures that its workplace remains a dynamic and exciting environment for all.

Thanks to Greg and Jeff for articulating so much in that great video!

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