Learn As You Grow: The Culture Creates Itself

“A great culture provides the context for people to deliver their best work.”

I found this quote in the Hubspot Culture Code and chose it to start the article because it simply states one of the most important variables of any business. Company culture. However, while I love the point of the quote, I actually believe that you should read it backwards and implement it to achieve the result.

Let’s try it.

“Putting people in a position to deliver their best work creates a great culture.” There, that’s better.

It’s impossible to argue the impact that a great company culture will have on your business. Results are obvious in a variety of ways, from bottom line performance to personal satisfaction. The challenge is how do you build a great company culture? In short, you don’t. If things are done correctly then the culture will build itself.

At Sparq Designs, we get a lot of compliments about our company culture from the people that observe us, work with us and ultimately desire to join us. For a long time, we couldn’t pinpoint what we were doing that made people want to be a part of Sparq Designs and it wasn’t until recently that I was able to realize that we haven’t done anything to intentionally create the effect.

The effect was the result of a general company philosophy that we have, “We want you to be doing the kind of work that you are best at, enjoy, and most importantly, have a passion for.”

If you come into work everyday and are put in a position that you are passionate about and do the kind of work that you like most, it becomes impossible not to love your environment and what you do. The combination of those feelings being shared among everyone around you permeates through the office and results in a positive culture and maximum performance.

Every time we hire someone we tell him or her that we never want this to become a place that they aren’t excited to be at. It’s bad for them and it is bad for the people around them. It’s important to hire people that fit the need you are looking for but you should also be sure that the person wants to fit the need.

Putting your people in the best possible situation for them to succeed and achieve personal satisfaction at their workplace is the path to a great culture and a place that everyone is excited to get to on a daily basis. Operate this way and you won’t have to take any specific step to create a great company culture, it happens naturally.

Jim Blundo is the Vice President at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. He has been an integral part of Sparq’s growth since the start in 2013. “Learn As You Grow” is his testimony to what he has learned from the quick expansion of business from 2013 to today. Learn more about Jim here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the  Sparq team today.

Follow Jim on Twitter & LinkedIn!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2016 but we liked it so much, we edited it with more information and media, and published it again.


4 Keys to Building New Business Relationships

The success of any business depends largely on its ability to bring new business through the door but it isn’t easy to go out and create new relationships. Here are four keys to help you create new business and build the trust with a client that produces a long-lasting relationship.

Your target is your equal.
There are two sides to this point; It is easy to talk above a client and it is easy to talk beneath the client. Professional relationships thrive when both sides see each other as peers and it creates the foundation for a solid business relationship.


The first point is to not make the client feel inferior to you. Having confidence in who you are and what you are offering is a good trait, however, you can quickly turn off a potential relationship by presenting yourself as arrogant. There is a fine line between presenting your product confidently and presenting it pretentiously. You may end up making a sale by being this way but you won’t end up creating a relationship, and relationships are what lead to BIG deals.

On the other hand, don’t be intimidated by who you are meeting with. You can quickly present yourself or your product as inadequate or “lesser” by not being confident enough. Understand that you are in a meeting because someone believes that you will provide value and they want you to prove that.

Read the Newspaper.
“Read the newspaper” is something that was told to me at my very first sales position and it always stuck with me. The premise of the statement is that you should be up-to-date on current events and able to speak to a wide range of topics with any potential relationship.

Finding common ground is one of the easiest ways to create comfort with the person you are meeting with and you should be able to speak to a various range of topics with confidence. In other words… relate to them on a level beyond the focus of the meeting and you’ll be more likely to create a personal relationship and develop trust.

Always make a great LAST impression.
First impressions are overrated (within reason). Last impressions – the impression someone has of you after the meeting – are what matter because that is the taste that gets left when you are gone. It’s natural to have an instant reaction when you see someone or a situation for the first time but speaking with someone long enough will either remove all initial stereotypes or it will reinforce them. You should have plenty of time to present yourself and your product confidently and wash away any thoughts that were developed in the first instant of meeting someone.


I’m confident that I when a meeting ends with me, the client is comfortable with me personally and also trusts that I can provide and deliver exactly what they want.

Learn to say “No” to a sale.
Think back to the subject of this article… “Building New Relationships”. The reason we focus on building relationships is because relationship selling leads to larger, more significant business. Part of this is having the sales maturity to learn that you don’t have to leave a meeting with a deal in place. There are times that you’ll meet with someone and realize that what you offer and what they would like is not in their best interest at that time. Being honest and open about that will create trust and eventfully lead to more significant success in the future.

Example In Action:

I recently met with a business for the first time and went into the meeting anticipating a simple overhaul to the look of their website and some functionality improvements to the way it operates. By the end of the meeting, we learned that their website was tied into a separate program that contained their entire CRM process and directly linked it to client experience on their website.

In short, their website overhaul also meant that they would need a new program written to accompany the new website so everything continued to work the same way. This significantly changed the price (5x the anticipated cost).

Option 1 was to write a whole new program to accompany the website and give them the functionality necessary to allow them to make changes on their own and finally control their website. *This was their main desire for doing a new project.
Option 2 was to try to sell them on changing the look of their site but staying with the same systems that were currently in place.
It would have been easy to lose sight of the clients interest and try to convince them to go with Option 2 but it also would not have solved the main problem that they faced. Which is not how trust is developed and relationships are created.

Instead, we let them know that the only way to accomplish their goals was to go with Option 1 and the cost would be significantly greater than we all expected. We did not end up working together (for now) because the project exceededs their budget. However, they do plan to move forward with this project at the beginning of the year and will be working with us to complete it.

By saying “No”, we traded a low cost sale for a relationship that is going to result in a major project in 2016 and created a business relationship that will last.


Jim Blundo is the Vice President at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about him, here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the  Sparq team today.

Follow Jim on Twitter & LinkedIn!