Key Takeaways

  • LivePerson, led by CEO Robert LoCascio, is a technology company specializing in conversational commerce and AI software.
  • Cultivating a positive company culture is a continuous process for LivePerson, and they established core company values with input from the entire organization.
  • LivePerson’s culture focuses on connection and entrepreneurship, with values such as being an owner, helping others, creating meaningful connections, and dreaming big.
  • The company aligns its customer experience with its internal culture, aiming for meaningful connections in its software and workplace environment.
  • Authenticity is highly valued at LivePerson, and cultural fit is considered essential when hiring, prioritizing it over skills alone.
  • Robert emphasizes the struggle of balancing personal comfort with organizational alignment but stresses the importance of working with a team that cares for the business and fits the culture.
  • Growth in organizations requires shared belief and servant leadership, where everyone is dedicated to serving the customer and the company.

Executive Summary

Hey everyone, thank you for joining us as we embark on an incisive journey with Lou Carter on this episode of The Leader Show. Our guest today is Robert LoCascio, the CEO of LivePerson. Headquartered in New York City, LivePerson is an internationally recognized technology company specializing in the creation of conversational commerce and AI software. 

With that said, lets delve into the insights that Robert shares and what makes LivePerson a Most Loved Workplace®.

Robert Shares Strategies for Cultivating a Positive Company Culture

Lou commends Robert LoCascio’s successful tenure as CEO of LivePerson, expressing interest in learning about how he has created a positive company culture. Lou then asks Robert to share his experiences and strategies.

Robert responds by acknowledging that cultivating a positive company culture is a continuous process. He refers to his board members who are culture-focused CEOs, including Fred Mossler (previously with Zappos) and Jill Layfield (former CEO of Backcountry). 

He reveals that 11 years ago when the company had around 400 employees, he decided to establish core company values, a process that took nearly eight months and involved input from the entire company. This process culminated in a three-day retreat in Israel where the proposed values were scrutinized and ultimately voted on, with the requirement of 98% approval.

The values adopted included being an owner, helping others, and creating meaningful connections. To further these values, they also transformed their physical workspaces by removing walls and cubicles to foster connection, centered their meetings and events around connection before content, and incorporated training focused on these values.

On that note, Robert emphasizes the uniqueness of LivePerson’s culture, describing it as a blend of connection and entrepreneurship. He notes that those who thrive in the company are both connected and entrepreneurial. Over time, they’ve added another value, “Dream Big,” to further cultivate this culture.

Aligning Customer Experience with Internal Culture

Next, Lou observes that LivePerson, like many loved workplaces, aligns what it provides to its customers with its internal culture. Robert confirms this, noting that the company’s aim for meaningful connections mirrors what its software offers. He refers to this alignment between customers, products, and company culture as a “golden thread,” contributing to its status as a “Most Loved Workplace.”

Robert then goes on to share his inspiration for creating such a company culture, which he attributes to Tony Hsieh and Zappos. After watching a profile of Tony Hsieh on a morning show 11 years ago, when Zappos was rated the top company to work for, he decided to visit the company’s headquarters in Las Vegas. 

Witnessing their unique culture based on “delivering happiness” deeply impacted Robert, making him realize how different LivePerson was and setting a high bar for what he wanted his company to achieve. Despite the progress the company has made over the years, he admits that it is still far from reaching that high bar, underscoring his ongoing commitment to improving the company culture.

Navigating the Challenges: Balancing Growth, Remote Work, and Cultural Alignment at LivePerson

Moving on, Lou asks Mr. LoCascio about potential improvements to reach the high bar he has set for LivePerson. The latter identifies the company’s dynamism, due to its growth and transition from chat technology to messaging and AI, as a key challenge. Balancing the demands of business development with nurturing a positive company culture is a complex task.

Robert recognizes the difficulties in maintaining culture, especially with the influx of new employees and the shift to remote work. Typically, a lot of cultural understanding is transmitted through physical office settings, where employees can observe behavior, meeting styles, and office layouts. However, with the shift to remote work, it’s harder to instill these cultural elements.

He also mentions difficulties in assessing whether potential hires are a cultural fit during virtual interviews. As a solution, Robert is considering the creation of a cultural competency grid to better define and impart the essence of LivePerson’s culture to its employees. This new approach will be necessary as the company adapts to the remote work landscape.

LivePerson’s Collaboration with Equal AI for Culture and Hiring

After that, Lou questions Robert about the role of unconscious bias and its impact on hiring and maintaining culture, particularly in the current context of remote work. 

Robert highlights the work LivePerson is doing with Equal AI, an organization aimed at eliminating unconscious bias in machine learning and algorithms. It provides training and certification to companies, helping them identify and counteract unconscious bias within their systems and culture. 

Robert details the concept of unconscious bias, explaining it as a physiological mechanism rooted in human evolution. Bias is, in essence, the brain’s effort to conserve energy by making automatic decisions about individuals based on preconceived notions.

Acknowledging the expanding role of technology in daily life, Robert mentions the potential of this bias to be transposed into digital environments like the ‘metaverse.’ He argues that it’s critical to ensure that, as technology scales and becomes more integrated into everyday life, it doesn’t perpetuate or exacerbate harmful biases. Instead, the goal is to enhance the positive elements of AI while mitigating its potentially harmful effects.

Learning from Mistakes: Robert Approach to Hiring and Cultivating Internal Talent

Lou probes Rob on his biggest mistake as a leader and how he rectified it. Robert candidly admits that the biggest mistake he’s made as a leader is hiring the wrong people for senior roles, especially those who don’t fit the company’s culture.

Robert distinguishes between managers and leaders, highlighting that leaders bring about exponential change while managers maintain existing systems. He mentions that it’s essential for newcomers to understand the company culture before trying to implement their own structures or frameworks. Otherwise, they can pose a detrimental impact on the organization, especially if they do not respect or align with the existing culture.

Despite these setbacks, Robert remains optimistic, stating that his recent learning is to nurture internal talent rather than hiring senior leaders from outside the organization. He emphasizes the importance of developing a strong ‘farm team,’ fostering the growth of existing employees into leadership roles. 

Lastly, Robert acknowledges that at certain stages of growth, hiring from outside might be necessary, but at LivePerson’s current scale, internal leadership development is his focus.

Authenticity as a Cornerstone: Robert’s Emphasis on Cultural Fit and Individual Growth

Moving on, Robert shares his insights about the crucial role of authenticity in the workplace, stating that people come to work at LivePerson because they feel they can be themselves and grow. He expresses his concern for individuals who have to fake their personalities to survive in certain company cultures.

On that note, Robert recalls when he used to hold meetings with all new hires to discuss the culture and history of the company. During these meetings, he could usually identify individuals who didn’t fit with the company’s culture. He illustrates this with an anecdote about a new employee who physically distanced himself during a group session, which clashed with LivePerson’s culture of connection. 

This individual had come from a company known for its far from ideal culture, which further emphasized for Robert the importance of cultural fit over skills alone when hiring.

Striking a Balance Between Personal Comfort and Organizational Alignment

Continuing the discussion, Robert emphasizes the struggle of balancing personal comfort with organizational alignment. He shares his experience as a CEO, admitting that he has often felt uncomfortable with individuals who don’t align with the company’s culture, even though they are good people.

Despite being the founder and CEO, he sometimes tolerates this discomfort, hoping that the individuals will change or that he might be missing something about them. He mentions his podcast, “Over the Wall,” which delves into the psychology of being an entrepreneur and a leader.

He concludes that he’d rather work with a team that cares for the business and fits the culture, even if they don’t necessarily succeed. He suggests this approach eliminates the need for political maneuvering (“jiu-jitsu”) within the company. He concludes by acknowledging that he might not see the full impact of these cultural misalignments on the rest of the organization.

The Power of Shared Beliefs and Servant Leadership: Fostering Growth in Organizations

Lou posits that real growth in a company occurs when everyone within the organization is dedicated to serving the customer and the company. He critiques the philosophy of some founders who believe that no one will ever love the company as much as they do or work as hard as they do, which he views as destructive leadership. Lou argues that a company can’t grow significantly without a shared belief in a greater goal.

Robert supports this perspective with a story about a retiring CEO who left his company in a better state than when he assumed the role. He admired the CEO’s belief that you should always leave a place better than when you arrived and continue learning no matter where you are. He ties these principles back to the concept of servant leadership

According to Robert, being a servant leader involves making the “home” better, whether that refers to the customer experience, the team, or the company as a whole.

Lou and Rob go into much greater detail throughout this conversation.

Thank you for listening!


Lou Carter : It's great to be here today with Robert LoCascio. It's awesome. He's the CEO of LivePerson. He's also the longest-standing founding CEO, going on his 27th year. Welcome, Rob.

Robert LoCascio : Hey Louis. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

LC : It's great to have you here. I have some questions. There's so many questions and so much learning from you. You've been through the entire gamut, for 20 years of being, longest standing founding CEO and there's a lot to learn from you about how you created great cultures, how you've created a most loved workplace.

And that's really my first question for you. You know, you've created and currently lead a culture that employees love. Here's the first question. How'd you do it?

Cultivating A Culture Of Connection And Ownership: The Journey Of Values And Community [01:25]

RL : First of all, culture is an ongoing, work in progress. I can tell you. Like, and even on my board, I have, Fred Mossler who was running Zappos with Tony Hsieh and Jill Layfield, who was over at the CEO of Backcountry. And they're very culture, they were culture focused CEOs. I brought 'em on my board and another gentleman, Peter Blocker wrote about community. So like we really believe in it. And 11 years ago we actually, there were about 400 of us at the time, this 1500 now, but we decided to put our values in place, like our core values.

And we actually spent, like, I think six or eight months, we invited the whole company in to give ideas and then we collected them as a small group. And then we actually took off for the entire company, shut down for three days.

We went to Israel because we had an Israeli, this operation over there and we all worked through it. And then we voted on whether we would have the values put in place. And we said if the vote doesn't get 98% of the people, we wouldn't put the values in place. And we continued for, because you have to live 'em.

We talked about what it's like to be living them and, so we developed those, be an owner and help others and create meaningful connections. And these were the three that we had and we put 'em in place. And then we started to, like, we changed even how our physical workspace, we broke all the walls down of there's no cubicles, no offices for connection. We ran our events and our meetings around connection before content. We put people in circles instead of everyone in like a line looking at the back of each other's heads.

Everything we did, we started to build around connection and community and our values and we trained in on them and stuff like that. So that's how it got started. And I guess that really put in a framework so that as we evolve the values, we're able to kind of snap them into something that already exists. But I think the biggest part about what makes us unique is we're kind of one part connection and people want to feel like they're connected to each other and it's just natural to help each other, help others.

And then we're like one part entrepreneurial and the idea that, you know, be an owner and we have one called, Dream Big now we’ve added another one, Dream Big. And so we have this interesting combination. People who come here who do well are very connected people, but they're also very entrepreneurial people. And that's kind of, I think what makes our culture unique.

LC : What's really cool about that is I see so many most loved workplaces that combine what they provide to their customers with what they live inside of their company. And that's exactly what LivePerson does. We, you know, you provide this community, you provide a learning community, they are entrepreneurial. your customers are very much like the people who are inside your company.

The Golden Thread Of Meaningful Connections: Aligning Culture, Customers, And Products [04:09]

RL : Yes. And, the meaningful connections at the time. Although we just revamped the values again, interesting enough. But the meaningful connections was what our software does. It's what we believe in. So we created that as like the golden thread. And I think if, when you think about culture, if you can get the golden thread between your customers, your products, and you, it kind of makes it easy. Like, we know why we're all here. So I think this is what's given us, I think the, you know, the type of company that we can be a Most Loved Workplace.

But like I said, I definitely wake up in the morning and I talk to like Fred, like I said, Fred was at Zappos, which I started. This journey because I was watching a TV program CVS morning.

And at that time, 11 years ago, Tony Hsieh was being profiled and Zappos was, was the number one company to work for. And I flew out to Vegas and met with Tony and spent a day with him. And I walked around Zappos's headquarters and I was like, oh my God, we are just so far from this. Like people are living, and they were delivering happiness was their value. And they talked all the stories about delivering happiness to customers and the things they did. And I said, my God, we are just not even like this, but it set me on the path. Like the high bar Tony sent me on the high bar of this is what a real company with real [inaudible]. And every day I wake up and think, man, we are so far from that bar. We are so far from that bar.

LC : That's a great segue into the next kind of question or area, is what things could you do better to get to that bar that you're setting for yourself?

Balancing Business Growth and Cultural Adaptation in the Dynamic Landscape of AI [5:45]

RL : I think that the greatest challenge is that we're in a growth business and it's so dynamic. Like, we kind of moved from Chat seven years ago and I invented that technology to messaging and AI and we put all this effort into the product and there's a focus there. So it's like focus. I just think what makes it challenging is you've got a business you're running and then you've got this culture that's, you know, driving it and you've got to take care and feeding to all of it.

You know what I’m saying, culture in itself needs care and feeding. And the greatest challenge I see that we have even today is like we've added a lot of new people and training them and getting them to understand and now they're remote. The greatest challenge for all of us is that we normally onboard people into physical offices and there's a lot of information that's transferred without speaking. Like, you see the office, you see how we act, you see how meetings would take place and people pick that up. They don't even, you don't even need to write down like, here it is and this is what you do. They're like, oh, I'm in a meeting and this is kind of different. Oh, is this the way we run meetings? And they start to take mental notes. Oh, our office is, we don't have offices. We're in open spaces. Like we don't have that today.

So, you're, you're telling people about the culture, you're trying to onboard them. And I think this is a challenge and we're also interviewing people to be hired that we think are cultural fits, but you can't tell, like sometimes you're on a and they look like a culture fit, they feel like a cultural fit, they sound like a cultural fit and then they onboard and then they're not. They don't have that way. So I'm really, I'm focused right now on, I kind of really did another look at what makes a live person, a live person. And I've now, I want to develop like a competency grid on this for culture and then we'll work with our employees on it because it's different than when they were on boarded into offices.

LC : One of the things that stucco at me was your dedication to unconscious bias and what you do with equal AI and how does that fit in, especially now that we're moving to sort of the new covid new economy that you said, you can't understand if that person fits and you want to create a competency grid for your culture. How does that unconscious bias work perhaps help? How do some of your other things that you've learned from before help you to work within this challenging construct?

The Power And Pitfalls Of Bias In Technology [08:04]

RL : Yeah, I mean the stuff we're doing, we create an organization called Equal AI because we are one of the leading AI companies for conversational AI. We started to realize that and we've read all the horror stories about unconscious bias that gets put into machine learning and algorithms that are, you know, put in front of people. And so, you know, I started to think through what do we want to do about that as a company?

And then we formed this organization, one of the founding members of this organization called Equal AI and we're training large companies and mid-size companies, really a lot of large companies about it. And we have a whole program that these companies can take and put their people through and get certified that they're looking at the things on engineering, on a culture, you know, to really root out unconscious bias.

Marion Vogel, who runs the organization, she under Obama administration, was tasked with this in the federal law enforcement agency. So she built the whole curriculum around unconscious bias in federal law enforcement because they saw it there. So I think, you know, what is unconscious bias? Pretty straightforward. Brains take a lot of energy. I think they take a 25% of your body's energy, is consumed by your brain working during the day. It's a fair amount. And what's happening is your brain naturally doesn't want to use its brain.

Like your brain just wants to say like, I'm going to preserve energy. So it uses bias. It basically unconsciously tries to make decisions about people especially, based on stuff that we don't even understand. Like stuff that went back to the prehistoric days where we were on earth and we were part of communities, small communities, tribes, and back then somebody came into your group and they looked differently, they would maybe kill you.

So automatically we got, okay, that person's different than me, they're probably going to harm me. And that stayed in our brain. Color sounds, looks and feel, obviously race, all that stayed inside of us and we don't even know it's there. That's the unconscious part. But we all know it's there. If you really step back and you're walking down the street and someone is walking and you're just the two of you think about all the times you make decisions on them without even knowing who they are. I'm scared, I'm not, I've got to be cautious, I'm not. Why is that? So this is not our fault. It's how I look at it. We weren't raised like this, we were programmed like this. And so this shows up in technology, you know, and we want to make sure that at least people would be aware of that and be able to not bring that to AI.

LC : Mm-hmm [affirmative]. You know, I think of singularity and how we can get to that point where we're, we're releasing ourselves from those initial assumptions and this is the such an important step in doing so. So that it really averts disasters, it averts wars, averts, you know, conflict that may harm other people ourselves and others. And what a great step in, in learning, at singularity learning. It's really wonderful.

RL : Yeah, I mean it, we talk about metaverse now and all this stuff and you think how technology will play a greater role. It plays a greater role every day in our lives. But as we start to live more, we're living here in a metaverse. I mean people laugh, but this, we're living, this is some sort of altered reality. This is not reality, it's an altered reality that's here, but we're living in it. And this is also could do things for bias and unconscious bias. So once we start moving more and more of our lives into digital lives, transforming the digital lives, all of that will just be moved into another world. And that scales unfortunately that you can scale that and that creates harm at scale. And that's what algorithms do. You can, the beauty of AI is we can scale, like in our business we scale customer contact conversations.

So a bot can handle millions of conversations simultaneously. A human can't do that. So the destructive force or the beauty can be scaled and we just want to make sure we're scaling the beauty of it, not the destructive nature of it.

LC : The 80-20 has to go in the, in the beauty way [laugh] rather than the 20. Excellent. Well the other thing is too, you know, this is something that, you know, some CEOs like to answer, some don't to admit where, you know, where we've gone wrong, what we could do better, right? Let me just ask it straight out right like this, I know people want like to hear about they've had mistakes they've made before. And let's just ask it like that. What's the biggest mistake you made and, and this, and, and how did you correct it?

Cultivating Internal Leaders And Avoiding Cultural Mismatch [12:48]

RL : The biggest mistakes you can make as a leader is hiring the wrong people. And, I've even done that recently knowing that everyone is a good person. Like the majority of people are good people. Every now and then you come across someone who's a bad apple and they just have some personality disorders. But the majority of people, we run into our good people and you bring 'em in, they're not here to harm. But what happens is that they're not a cultural fit.

You find most people have the skill and they come in with skill, but ultimately they can't apply it to the company. And what they come in with is usually a framework. And this is the difference between managers and leaders. Managers are people who manage systems that exist kind of like homeostasis. Leaders are brought in to do, not incremental but exponential changes.

And so if you want to exponentially change a business, then you got to come in and understand first like what is this place about? Instead of what I find some people come in and they just try to impose their structure in, that they learned and then they get a lot of feedback that this doesn't work. And then they give up or they're like, you know, I don't understand or this place isn't as good as where I was. This is what I see. And but they’re impact they have on the org in a short period of time, especially if they span a lot of control, is massive. They're impacting people's lives who do the work, who maybe are not perfect. And I think the worst mistakes I've made is hiring people into senior leaders. And I just recently have done this, you know, I hired some people into senior leadership because we're growing, we're half a billion in revenue, growing in, you know, high 20%.

Like I need more people. So you go usually to hire people who come in from big companies and you want them to scale and what you see in the end, it's culturally they just don't fit. And what you find is a lot of people don't want to take the time from especially bigger companies to really learn the culture they come in with, Hey, where I was was great, we should just make that culture here. We've been around 27 years for better, for worse. We got here and we got here under some great ways and some ways that were hard. But you got to respect the culture. And that's the biggest mistake I've made as a leader. If I could dial back the people I've hired, luckily I don't, I haven't hired a lot of those, but you get one or two in at a time and it's just painful. It's a painful experience.

LC : There's so many ways of course to know if it's the right person. You could, you use tools, use instruments, use models, and you know, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, right? And the question is, you know, if, you know, if you could just sort of wave a magic wand, say, you know, I really would like this to happen, right? Instead, so that we don't get those as we call them bad apples who harm your culture and they can, they destroy, erode a culture, you know, so how do we help the people who really want to work at LivePerson to know is this the right place for me?

RL : So my lesson learned recently, and this is a recent lesson learned like within the few weeks, is that at our scale of 1,500 people, I don't think we need to hire a lot of people in those leadership roles from outside. I think this is our, this is the mistake is that we need to have a stronger farm team to make the managers the next set of leaders. Because when you have people come in lower-level jobs, mid-level jobs, their destructive force is minimal, right? It could be, yes, they could harm a customer, they can, maybe they're in a group where everyone pissed off about them, but they'll go out fast and it's no harm, no foul matter. You don't even hear about them. Like they come and they go, they're part of the attrition numbers, some of them and you know, nonregrettable, right?

And that's the best way to do it. And then, we have to have strong ways, which I don't, which once again this is a focal point of mine now is to build a better way to get the team to farm the team. Because I want the next set of leaders not to come from the outside anymore. I tried some stuff recently, it just doesn't work. So I want the next set of leaders to come from inside. That's my lesson learned. And now there are times you know, I, I've done this for 20 something years, so times where I need to hire people off the street because we are growing at a pace.

We don't have enough people to farm the team. You know, you don't have enough people. You got 10 people, you got 20 people, you got a 100 and I went through from me on a couch to 1500 people. So I've seen everything. But at our scale we can build farm teams like really strong ways to find the next set of leaders. And that's my goal right now is find the next set of leaders.

LC : So, really grow from within, have succession plans to the top and then grow in more of the entry to mid so that you can grow them up.

Recognizing Red Flags: Assessing Cultural Fit In Leadership Roles [17:28]

RL : And that's it. And so that's going to take work. We got to build the programs to do it. You know, we are moving. The thing is, like I said, we move very fast because we got a lot of growth. So you tend to, like, you're cutting corners on stuff like that. You, I may just say it's easy to hire someone externally who's got all the things, who has all the, you know, all the resume. You know, not only do they have skill, but they build big orgs. What you realize culturally, the part is culture and what I've realized lately through one or two examples recently experiences that the culture here is very strong [laugh]. Like when a leader comes in and they're not a cultural fit, the red flags go up. Now we're all, I find the company because we're about connection.

People are very patient. They're like, let me connect with this person, let me film out. They're individual, I want to. But within about three months, it's like the red flags just go up. Like, this person doesn't do this. They're that. They're, and then what now on your fifth month, what I see is they're good. People are like, I may not want to work here. Well they'll come and say, look, I can't do my job. And I love this place. I've had a conversation like this, say people cry, I love this place and I help build it, but this person is not aligned to our culture and it makes me think what type of company are we now? And that as a CEO you're like, God, we spent so much time building culture and now a person who's really a great cultural fit, who's shown they can deliver is feeling like maybe this is not the right place for them. That's a painful moment. That's a moment of learning.

LC : And that's, they call them growing pains, different types of ways of identifying that feeling that people have, especially when they have such love. And they have this realization that things have changed and we have those in relationships. Oh, things have changed, you've changed, we've grown or whatever it may be. And what I'm hearing you say is, you know, being the longest standing founding CEO you want to capture and enliven what really helps you succeed.

You want to enable it consistently like you did with Peter Block, with creating a community back in the beginning. And you went offsite, you went to Israel, you developed this wonderful culture that everybody agreed on, 95%. It's about doing that again right? In a different way. And the two things you said were wonderful, do this and do that. Isn't that cool? Because the do this and do that are the things that we know as a person. Feed our souls, feed the love for our company.

Fostering Authenticity and Connection in the Workplace [19:55]

RL : Yeah. And that's the thing, like why are people here? You know, like you can work anywhere, right? Why are people here? And they're here because they feel like this is a place that they can grow. They feel like this is a, I hate, I don't like to use the word family, but it has a familiar, a familiar thing. It's a thing that I feel like I can be me and I've always wanted to be me and most people work in companies, they can't be them. And that's what happens. They get then they start building these weird personalities to get through the jiu-jitsu of a company and they're working, I got to think that I'm going to fake it. And they fake it to make it. And when people come here and they fake it to make it, it's hard. Like I've seen it and it's like I pick it up and you're like, God, you're faking it to make it.

And so even times where it's interesting, well when we did physical, I would always do meetings with all the new recruits who have been hired and I'll do a meeting, talk about the culture and the company and the history. I can see in a room, I remember we put 15 or 20 people there. I could see in the room, I go around the room, ask people stuff, and I would see immediately this person shouldn't be in the company. And I started to make notes. I told the trainer, the person who's doing the onboard, I'm making a note. I don't think this person should be in the company, follow them and see if I'm right. And inevitably I was right. I had a guy once who was, we were all about connections. So we sit in a circle and he put a briefcase next to him, like his laptop so that no one was next to him.

Like it was like literally we're all next to each other except the one chair next to him. And his chair was off the circle, it wasn't even in the circle. And I went, everyone explained, and I was talking to him. I could see he just, I'm like, what is this guy doing here? How'd he even get in this company? And I found out what company came from, which is a bad cultured company. I knew this company had very bad culture. I said, how the hell did he get in here? Because he has a skill.

LC : It's the skill, not the will or the fit. Right? You can have the skill, but not the will and the fit and it won't work. And what I'm, what I'm hearing about the do this, do that, let's see, I'm going to test my assumption is that the do this and do that are really be yourself, be authentic, have psychological safety that you're not going to be harmed for being who you are. You're going to be celebrated for being yourself. And if you're something else and you're trying to put an air on or be someone that you're not, it's just not going to work.

The Struggle Of Balancing Personal Comfort With Organizational Alignment [22:05]

RL : Right? But it even happens to me like, and recently, it's good thing to have a talk about culture. Because recently I've had this example, I've seen once again, good, these are good people. I'm not making judgment on their character. They're not stealing, cheating and lying. You know what I'm saying? These are good people. But it even makes me feel uncomfortable. Imagine I'm in meetings with somebody and I'm like, I'm uncomfortable, but I'm dealing with it because as a human, even though I know deep down this doesn't feel right, I've been in this company long enough to know this doesn't feel right.

Like I'm the CEO, I'm the founder, but then I put up with it. You just put up with it and you're like, this person, they just, they say things the wrong way, they talk. And I'll give feedback. I will give feedback and say, look, that's not the way we do things. And, it goes on. And then I'm in meetings and I'm like, I feel bad. I'll walk out of a meeting. I'm like, I don't feel inspired. I don't, I feel like I'm scared like, is this person really going to do good for the company? But I'll put up with it. You, we always do it. Everyone always says, we never fire people quick enough. We never exit 'em quick enough. So we go on, maybe they're going to change, maybe I don't understand something I don't understand. Maybe, because they had this great, you know, success. Maybe I don't understand something. And this is the CEO, you know.

I have a podcast called Over the Wall. And we talk about the psychology of being an entrepreneur, being a leader. And it's like, then you get in, your brain starts working in these periods. The bottom line is this, I'd rather just like go at it and maybe we don't make it, but at least we don't make it with a team of people that want to make it. You understand? Like, I always felt like we're going to give it our best, but at least I know when I go to work, I know I'm working with people that care, have a heart for the business, and culturally I don't have to think through the jiu-jitsu.

And so then I think their impact below, like that was the impact on me. Now, the impact below, I don't see half of that. They're doing this stuff, they're doing their, their thing. Once again, these are good people, but there's something they're doing that's not right for us.

LC : It's a challenge, isn't it? You know, all, you know, literally the top and saying you have all this noise, right? A lot of noise that it happens and you have a singular focus of succeeding and achieving, right? And yet, you know, as we, as we grow as I'll say in our age, in our, in our title, whatever we might be doing for our own factors of success, you know, a lot happens beneath us and below us and around us and above us, right? And it's often hard to say, well who else can take that? Who can I trust with it, right? So that I no longer have to sort of be in constant care of sort of, you said familial, so I'll describe it of the, of children like in that sense. And so it's no longer familial, it's organizational, it's given away, right? And you can then focus on the love that you have for culture, customer, connection. So that, that just enlivens you every day so that you don't, you no longer have to be concerned or challenged with all the noise.

Shaping the Company's Destiny Through Stewardship and Community Building [25:14]

RL : Right? And I think the biggest part is being, well this term is used a lot, but the servant leader. And so like, even myself, I serve the company even though I'm the founder and I put a lot of my blood, sweat and tears in this company. I serve this company, not myself. And it turns out the company's aligned to me. Like other people that are here that are culturally aligned. The company gives me things. So it is selfish. Like I do get things out of it, you know, it's not material things I'm talking about. It's that I get a feedback loop during the day that I'm growing. But I'm a servant to the company. I've said this from day one, even when I was one person on a couch, I serve the company. The company, which means corpus by the way, you know, company comes from the Latin root, corpus, which means body.

And so we are a steward, we are stewards of the body of the whole. And the company itself has its own energy. This is what I've seen just because I've been doing it for so long. The company itself has its own destiny. I've known this and I'm just here to help it get there. And that's all I'm here. I'm not the, I can't do it on my own. It's not all about me. It's not my idea. The company itself just got put into the world. It got birthed and it's, it's growing and it's trying to be something.

And then it's asking for a community of people to come together to help it get to its goal. And when you think like that, you're a servant leader. I serve on behalf. And I've had like these leaders, they come in and they, you feel like you're serving them. They feel like they're doing you a favor. Like they're doing the company a favor showing up. It's not true. If you give, you get. Give and you shall receive. You've got to give to get. And so as a leader, you always have to think is this thing above us? Once you get into you, it's about me and what I can get out of this thing, not what I can give first. Then we got a problem.

LC : And I believe that's how true growth occurs, Rob. I really do. And you know, and I've seen other companies that are smaller and not growing that have this philosophy that no one will ever love the company as much as I do. Other people will never work as hard as I do. And I've heard a lot of founders who say that, I think you have too, right? They give, they say, well everyone, go have fun everybody, it's playground time. We, I can name some people I won't. I think you know who I'm talking about.

So, you know, I won't call him out on this. I think, by the way, that is a very destructive way of leading a company. I do, I believe that when we say, have fun, here's my yard and pool. I want you to have a big house party. When I go away and destroy the place, you're not going to grow to 1500 to 1 billion to 3 billion. It's just not going to happen. People have to believe that they're part of something greater and give of themselves enough that they serve the customer in a deep way and the company in a deep way have to, must.

Creating A Culture Of Continuous Improvement [28:16]

RL : That's right. And so I remember it was about seven or eight years ago, I was at a conference and there was a retiring CEO there, and I don't remember who it is. I really, I told the story a couple of, and he ran one of the biggest companies in the country. It was like one of the biggest, and he was there for 12, 13 years. And under him, the company did really amazing things. And I remember at this conference he announced he's retiring. Okay. He was like in his sixties, he was like 65 or something.

And so somebody asked him, what are you going to do next? So that was one question. The other one was like, what are you most proud of? And so the most proud of conversation was like, he goes, I was raised by my family, by my mom. He said specifically is that when you go into a person's home, like you're there as a guest, that the room should be cleaner and nicer than when you leave.

And I'm very proud to say, when I took over as CEO, this company had been around like 50, 60 years, it's in a better place and I'm very proud of that. The second thing he said is that, they asked him, what are you going to do next? He said, well, normally guys like me, they go into professorships, they go venture capital. He goes, I'm going back to undergrad. I'm going to undergrad because I need to learn so much. And, people are like blown away, you know, like he goes, I'm going to go back to underground.

And so it really, I so admire this person because of, I believe in these two things. You always can be learning no matter where you are. And you should always leave the house better. And you know, whether that's touching customers, that's your own teams. That's company. So even if you're here for a couple months, make the home better. If you're here for many, make the home better. And some people, they just don't have it in them. You know, for whatever reason they, once again it comes about they want their home better. You're here to make my home better. Why don't you come over my home? No, you're here to make our homes better here at this home. So, I think these two things go back to the servant leader. I think this is really what the servant leader is.

LC : And it's what your culture and why it is your culture has become a Most Loved Workplace. That's exactly why. Because we're leaving our home. We're leaving LivePerson a better place that is more loving and that people who love it continue to love it and grow it to a place that you want it to grow as well. Making it a better place. And you're continuously learning and developing. You've said it all, Rob, you just gave some, those were great, great ideologies and I love that. Come in my home. You leave it better. Yeah, leave it better than we have today. We have today.

RL : Thank You.

LC : Yeah. Rob, it's great meeting you, Rob. Same here. Great, great hearing from you and your philosophies, your incredible success. And it's clear that through your philosophies and through your learning and willingness to continually grow and grow your company that you're a Most Loved Workplace.

RL : Thanks. It's been a first, of an honor. You know, it's nice to get recognized, to be honest. Like I don't live for awards, but it's nice for us as a whole to see that someone puts a stamp on us and says, we recognize, because when you're inside of it, you're working hard all day. It's hard running businesses, especially in this environment to just get like a two second break and have someone put a, who you respect, you know, to put a stamp on it and say like, we recognize that you guys are one of the Most Loved Workplaces.

It just makes you think like, okay, we're doing something here that, you know, it just is right. You know, that will work and that people want to be a part of. And that's, I'm really proud of it and I'm proud of everyone in the company because once again, it's, we're part of the whole, and everyone here works hard at trying to make this place a place of loving, caring, and connection.

LC : Outstanding, outstanding. Rob, this is great stuff. Thank you so much for joining us today.

RL : Thanks Louis. Thank you very much.