Shawn Mandel’s work as the vice-president of TELUS Digital and as a leader of both small and large teams in the telecom industry over the last decade has led him to uncover the patterns needed to build a strong culture of achievement and excellence. Many of the lessons he shared with us at last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture were learned through the process of scaling a small team of a dozen to a team of over 180 people at TELUS Digital.

How to get started building your culture

To unlock the full potential of your team—and thereby achieve business success—you must combine the right mindset (resilience) with a north star (problem to solve) and a value system (mission) that everyone believes in.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” —Peter Drucker

While strategies are certainly important, it’s your company’s culture that will ultimately help your business overcome challenging situations. Building a startup is a journey filled with many twists and turns—but it’s your startup’s culture that will fuel the resiliency and perseverance required to see projects through to success, explained Shawn.

Culture as a mindset

Shawn’s approach to creating culture involves building an environment (and mindset) of opportunity and discovery. Seeking creative input from the team and frequently sharing ideas and communicating insights will encourage everyone involved to start thinking about how to create impact and true value for the customer.

Shawn recommended starting off by communicating to your team the larger purpose or problem that you’re attempting to solve and empower them to find solutions to that problem through prototyping and experimentation. While the challenges of the organization evolve, your team’s continuous learning cycle will help you make breakthroughs faster and to envision new possibilities for your business and model.

Check out the video of Shawn’s talk

Start by crafting your startup’s core values and mission statement, and mapping the connections between your business strategies and activities. Our Entrepreneur’s Toolkit article on building a mission statement outlines everything you need to know, including what to avoid.


Aislinn Malszecki

Aislinn is a strategist, designer and education producer for entrepreneurs that seek practical lessons to grow their startup companies.See more…