The Fuller Cut Barbershop Embraces Kids And Literacy To Be For Purpose

Walk into The Fuller Cut barber shop and you’ll find something interesting happening in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Kids are reading as they are getting their haircut. It’s good business for both the child and The Fuller Cut. Kids who read receive $2 off their haircut.

Photo Credit: The Fuller Cut

Photo Credit: The Fuller Cut

The shop is owned and operated by, Alex Fuller, a lifelong resident of Ypsilanti.  In 1994 Alex opened his first barber shop, a small, three chair establishment. Years later he purchased a building, did some renovations and brought in some great barbers.

According to a report in the Huffington Post, this idea is taking place in other barber shops across the country in places like Dubuque, Houston, and Columbus. Credit Alex Fuller for adopting a great idea. To quote Pablo Picasso, “Talent borrows, genius steals.”

More Than Literacy

Promoting literacy is only one aim of the discount offer. The purpose is to promote confidence and culture. According to Alex Fuller, “All our books have positive images of African-Americans — whether it’s astronauts, athletes or writers.”

Photo Credit: The Fuller Cut

Photo Credit: The Fuller Cut

Red Goldfish

The Fuller Cut is a great example of a Red Goldfish. A company that embraces purpose before profit. It’s learned that by being for purpose, you can create prophets.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – here’s a video about The Fuller Cut from MLIVE:

The Foolproof Method to Uncover Corporate Purpose and Ignite Your Team's Passion

It brought me to tears often.

It was only one simple word: significance. Yes, our new business had made our “corporate purpose” revolve around just one word, and yet almost none of the 107 employees could recite this one word without being prompted.

I thought that we had checked every box off of our operational checklists, and done everything right as we started our new venture. Not only did we have the tangible tasks completed, but we had also taken the time to intentionally develop a culture that served both our customers and our team.

Every single day, I would ask the team members the same question, “Why do we exist? What is our purpose as a business?” The answers were varied, but again, virtually no one could succinctly answer the question.

At first I foolishly blamed the team. I often thought to myself in a childish manner, “What kind of dope can’t remember a one word answer?” My initial gut reaction, of course, was not correct nor fair to the team.

I knew that frustration would not get us closer to our goal, and I began to take the disconnect to heart…

I felt like a total failure for developing the culture that did not understand what it stood for.

It wasn’t until I made the revelation that although the culture’s purpose was simple and strictly defined; it was the team that was missing purpose in their work.

It didn’t matter what our leadership had written on a piece of paper, and was preaching to the company. Without the employees having conviction and feeling meaning in their work, there was no way that they were going to buy into the purpose that was constructed in a corporate boardroom.

You might be thinking that a lot of companies have a “corporate purpose” though…

I would tend to agree, but what percentage of employees actually know what this statement means? More importantly, how many employees actually live these words with all of their heart, spirit, mind, and action?

I would venture to say that corporate purposes fail to work for two predominant reasons, which are as follows:

  1. They’re too complicated.
  2. Employees don’t feel purpose in their contributions, and don’t align with the company.

Let’s start with that first point. Oftentimes, corporate boardrooms form these statements and “purpose-driven” cultures because “it’s the right thing to do” or “it’s good for business.”

The problem is that they turn their corporate purpose into more of a slogan, a contrived attempt at garnering employee buy-in, jam pack the statement with every buzzword, and/or all of the above.

The repercussions of not having a clear, easy to understand purpose in business is just as bad, if not worse, than not having one at all.

If the team doesn’t understand why the entity exists, then how can the people that you serve possibly know? On top of that, how can your customers excitedly share your business’ story with their network? 

How does one uncover corporate purpose?

I believe that you only have to answer one question: how do you improve the lives of the people that you serve? There are other questions that you can ask. However, it all starts and ends there. Once you have an exact statement that answers that question, the rest becomes much easier to develop.

The other reason for lackluster results with corporate purpose are employees that don’t have personal purpose in their work that aligns with the company. Call it purpose, meaning, or whatever else but it’s the fuel for all of the other positive qualitative factors.

Without purpose, a career quickly becomes the dreaded “job.” The position becomes all about the individual, and the employee demands to know how their employer can service their needs in the form of education, compensation, and stature.

If you think about it, solely profit-driven companies are only looking to leverage its employees for its shareholder returns, and the employee treats the company in the exact same way.

…How do we do help our people uncover more purpose?

I’ve read just about book, listened to every podcast, and watched every video on this topic. I’ve disseminated all of this information, and applied these principles using my life as the guinea pig. This is how I discovered the BASIC framework which is as follows:

Baseline– Notate what is providing and taking energy, and formulate a system for measurement and awareness. (I recommend physically writing everything down in a pocket-sized notebook, and translating it to Evernote).

Assessment Proactively become more self-aware by asking everyone in your network hard questions about your work, and identifying trends in your vocation. 

Strengthen Steward over your relationships, thoughts, behaviors, and actions to identify and focus on positives.

Intentionality Envision the perfect work day, and strategically add little positive behaviors to make daily progress toward that vision. 

Commitment Go “all in” with your current job, lose yourself in service to others, and assume or align with the corporate purpose.

Ultimately, when your people uncover more purpose that was divinely created for them in their work, they’ll either align with the larger corporate purpose, or strengthen the corporate purpose with their own.

This is all good and well, but you’re about tangible results on your P&L, right?

The fact is that purpose-driven businesses are more productive, generate higher sales, keep employees longer, and are more profitable. Entities such as Deloitte, Gallup, and Millward Brown have provided copious amounts of data that state “for purpose” businesses are beating the pants off of strictly profit driven companies. 

Millward Brown summarized this concept best when they said, “Our 10-year growth study that reviewed over 50,000 brands showed that companies who put improving people’s lives at the center of all they do have growth rates that are triple that of their competitors, and they outperform the market by 383 percent.”

Did you get that? You have the opportunity right now to outperform the market by 383 percent by just doing right by your people. Or you can choose to get tears in your eyes when people can’t remember one word.

Speaking from experience, a system of purpose a lot more fun and profitable.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Check out this brief clip from Advisory Board which shows how their deeper purpose applies to their people, and the communities that they serve.

Learning From Google: 15 Ways To Drive Employee Engagement

Portions of this post were taken from two Forbes articles on Cracking Google and Beyond Perks:

With more than two million applicants a year, it seems like everyone wants to work at Google. Perhaps it’s because the search giant has been crowned the “Happiest Company in America.”  In past years, has ranked Google No. 1 after more than 100,000 worker-generated reviews from more than 10,000 companies. Scores were based on such factors as work-life balance, relationships with bosses and co-workers, compensation, growth opportunities, a company’s culture and the opportunity for employees to exert control over the daily work flow.

Getting a job at Google is equivalent to running the gauntlet. It is nearly ten times harder to get a job at Google than it is to get into Harvard. Interested in navigating the application process and landing a job at Google? Here’s an inside look courtesy of


15 Ways Google Drives Employee Engagement

You don’t become the happiest company by chance. It’s a product of thoughtful design and ultimately culture. Let’s explore 15 reasons why:

1. Dollars and Sense – With billions of dollars in revenue every year, Google pays some some the highest average salaries in the tech industry. Takeaway: If you don’t want monkeys, don’t pay peanuts.

2. For-Purpose – Google has always pursued a noble cause. The company conducts business with a simple motto,”Don’t be evil.” Its mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.  Here is Founder Larry Page talking about both purpose and the theory of abundance, “We have somewhat of a social mission, and most other companies do not. I think that’s why people like working for us, and using our services…Companies’ goals should be to make their employees so wealthy that they do not need to work, but choose to because they believe in the company … Hopefully, I believe in a world of abundance, and in that world, many of our employees don’t have to work, they’re pretty wealthy, they could probably go years without working. Why are they working? They’re working because they like doing something, they believe in what they’re doing.” Takeaway: Purpose is becoming a main differentiator in business. By 2020, there will be little or no distinction between for-profit and non-profit businesses. Companies will only be seen as for-purpose or not-for-purpose.

3. Caring – No stone is left unturned in their quest to provide a welcoming work environment for employees. Actions speak louder than mere words. Why is caring so important to the company? According to Google’s Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock, “It turns out that the reason we’re doing these things for employees is not because it’s important to the business, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. When it comes down to it, it’s better to work for a company who cares about you than a company who doesn’t.  And from a company standpoint, that makes it better to care than not to care.” Takeaway: People in life don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. To paraphrase the founder of SAS’ Dr. Jim Goodnight, “If you care and treat people like they matter, they will.”

4. Creative Outlet – Google allows its employees the option to use up to 20% of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs (i.e. Gmail) started out as pet projects in the 20% time program. Last year Quartz reported that 20% time had been abolished, but Google responded saying it’s very much alive and kicking. Takeaway: Autonomy and ownership are powerful drivers of engagement.

5. A Voice – The Google-O-Meter gives all employees a voice on employee suggestions and potential cultural changes . According to a post by Diana Ransom: “Google’s Chief Culture Officer Stacy Sullivan implemented the company’s charting tool, the Google-O-Meter, to gauge the popularity of employee suggestions, such as housing more doctors on site or bringing overseas employees to headquarters for a visit. ‘It wasn’t something that we would just go and implement for them,’ she says. ‘Their suggestions had to be reflective of things about the culture that [many] people wanted to change.” Takeaway: Be transparent and give your employees a voice.

6. Benefits Beyond the Grave. There is a Google Perk that extends into the afterlife. Should a U.S. Googler pass away while working for Google, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. Even more surprising, a Google spokesperson confirms that there’s “no tenure requirement” for this benefit, meaning most of their nearly 40,000 employees qualify. Takeaway: Smart companies are invested into their employees and their lives beyond the workplace.

7. Modern Family – Google gives employees in same-sex relationships extra cash to cover their partners’ health benefits. Currently, when receiving partner health care coverage, same-sex domestic partners are subject to an extra tax that straight, married couples don’t have to pay. Google is shouldering the burden of paying this tax by compensating partnered LGBT employees for the amount of the tax, which comes to a bit more than $1,000 each year. This benefit will also cover any dependents of the partner in the same-sex couple. Takeaway: Be ready to adapt to today’s modern family. You need to be proactive with your policies for issues such as eldercare, paternal leave, infertility, and adoption.

8. Bathrooms – Googlers have access to some of the most high-tech toilets around. These Japanese imports offer washing and drying of your nether regions as well as the mysterious “wand cleaning.” Both the wash water and the seat itself can be warmed or cooled depending on your preference. Takeaway: Find ways to make your workplace stand out from a sea of sameness.

Here’s Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter at Google talking about the toilets:

9. Kingpin – Google has a bowling alley for employees. Takeaway: The company knows how to roll.
10. Training & Development – Google’s “CareerGuru” program matches Google executives with Google employees to provide confidential, one-on-one career coaching  and guidance around the subjects of work-life balance, personal and professional development, communication styles and conflict resolution, among others. Takeaway: Invest in your people and develop a culture of mentoring.

11. Wellness – The Googleplex has some interesting lap pools. The outdoor mini-pools are like water treadmills: a strong current allows the Googler to swim and swim and go nowhere. Luckily, lifeguards are always on duty in case someone gets in over their head. Takeaway: Without health, we have nothing. A healthy employee is a basic starting point for a happy one.

12. Team Building – Google’s Conference Bike is used as a team-building exercise for new employees. It has four wheels and five riders who work together to move it around. Takeaway: Find interesting ways to bring teams together. A team that plays together, stays together.

13. Collaborative Space – According to Jonathan Strickland, “Google’s corridors are designed and set up for impromptu information sharing. Offices don’t resemble a typical corporate environment. Google arranges the workstations so that groups of three to four employees who work together sit in the same area. During the design phase, architect Clive Wilkinson faced a challenging problem: how do you group people together and still give them an environment in which they can concentrate on work without distractions? And how do you do it without turning Google into a labyrinth of cubicles? Wilkinson decided to use glass walls to divide the space into clusters. This design cuts down on much of the ambient noise inside the office. It also allows sunlight to filter in through the entire office. Each glass enclosure has a tent-like roof made of acrylic-coated polyester which contains the room’s lighting and sprinkler systems. Google executives want employees to be able to bounce ideas off each other. It’s the c­ompany’s hope that by encouraging interaction, workers will have greater job satisfaction and may even create the next big Google product.” Takeaway: Space Matters. You physical space should reinforce the culture in your company, not dictate it by default.

Google Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

14. Food & Beverage – One of the most oft-cited perks of working at Google is the food. Google feeds its employees well. If you work at the Googleplex, you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge. There are several cafés located throughout the campus, and employees can eat at any of them. The main café is Charlie’s Place, which takes its name from Google’s first lead chef, Charlie Ayers. Before creating meals for Googlers, Ayers was the chef for the Grateful Dead. Although Ayers left Google in 2005, the café still bears his name. The café has several stations, each offering different kinds of cuisine. Options range from vegetarian dishes to sushi to ethnic foods from around the world. Google’s culture promotes the use of fresh, organic foods and healthy meals. But when everything is free and you can eat whenever you want, it’s easy to go overboard. That’s where the Google 15 comes in. It refers to the 15 pounds many new Google employees put on once they start taking advantage of all the meals and snacks. Takeaway: Food is a communal activity. Perhaps the way to an employee’s heart through their stomach.

15. Openness and Transparency – One of things shaping culture at the search leader are “TGIF” meetings. They tend to happen most Fridays, said Craig Silverstein, who joined the founders as Google’s first employee in 1998. TGIF, where any Googler is free to ask the founders any company-related question, became a fixture of the culture. Takeaway: Be open by default. In the words of Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

More Than Just Perks

Anthology has been tracking the most admired companies by passive job-seekers in 2015-16, and every month Google has maintained its no. 1 spot. They recently asked 200 of their users the top three reasons for admiring Google. Out of five choices, perks were the least important. Here are the top four responses from passive job seekers at companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Snapchat, Amazon, Apple, and many others:

1. 71% said Positive Culture

2. 62.5 said Smart People

3. 58.5% said Cool Product

4. 57% said Success In The Market

5. 36.5% cited the generous benefits and perks employees

Words like meritocracy, inclusiveness, transparency, diversity, and empowerment are more than buzzwords at Google. They are part of the fabric that creates a positive culture. An environment of caring where your employer gives more than expected and allows you to do your best work toward a noble purpose. That’s a positive culture.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Many of these 15 ways to drive employee engagement were featured in the book, Green Goldfish. Here’s a slideshare on the concept: