The Importance of Culture w/ Chris Saizan

Today, I wanted to talk about something that’s difficult to define but permeates just about every aspect of our lives: culture.

Iconic author Paulo Coelho points out that “Culture makes people understand each other better,” while Marcus Garvey compared a society’s culture to the roots of a big tree.

But I like the simple definition by former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who said, “Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”

In terms of business, Chris Saizan of the Saizan Group at Keller Williams Realty puts a lot of thought into the business culture he creates and cultivates.

Chris was featured on a national real estate podcast recently, speaking on the topic of culture as it applies to his real estate team.

You can listen to the whole podcast interview here.

Here are a few notable takeaways from Chris’ podcast interview:

Chris got a great start in the business working under Sacramento mortgage broker Neil Smith, who instilled not only systems, structure, and accountability, but a culture of learning and continuous personal growth.

Chris got to apply those lessons when he transitioned into his career as a Realtor, including opening up his own business.

“EVERYTHING rises and falls on culture,” Chris said in the podcast interview. “But I see very few real estate teams functioning at a high level inside and out, and the reason behind that has to do with culture.”

Of course, a great work culture means happy employees who feel part of something bigger than themselves, and the benefit to the clients they serve is huge.

“In order to get the most out of the people in your company, they need to see how much you care about them,” said Chris. “We’ve all shown up for each other here in a major way.”

To do that means getting really personal – the opposite of what you may think when talking about a business environment.

“Have you heard from different business leaders and CEOs that it’s not a good idea to mix personal with business?” Chris asks on the podcast. “Well, I’m the complete opposite. These are people we’re spending half of our lives with. Because of that, I think it’s vitally important to know how we’re doing in our personal lives.”

So, when it comes to health, family, relationships, and all of the important things in life, Chris and his team are always working to strengthen their bonds.

“Culture is about setting things up to make sure those boxes are getting checked but that we’re NOT just here to do business,” said Chris. “I want my people to know how much I care about them.”

Chris shared some of the things that he and his team do to establish and protect their culture, including:

  • Yoga as a team every week
  • Eating lunch with his team at least twice a week where they talk about anything but work
  • Sharing one or two self-help or inspirational books each month (see below)
  • In-depth, one-on-one meetings with each employee every Friday, where they can share feelings and vent in a safe forum.

“We’re all flawed – we’re all human beings,” said Chris. “But what we do have control over is being able to sit down and open up, open up our hearts, and know that we’re not going to get judged.”

  • They’ve also completed three Spartan races together as a group
  • Right now, they’ve undertaken a 100-day challenge where they have to cycle 20 miles or run 5 miles every single day!

Aside from the health benefits, it sets the tone for culture as they get out of their comfort zones together, break through barriers, and becoming stronger human beings because of it.

“There’s something really beautiful and beneficial about putting yourself through a little torture and pain,” said Chris. “It’s crazy what comes from that when you do it with people you work with.”

Chris notes that he’s seen growth in all of his team members, allowing them to function at an optimal level because of the trust and love they feel.

“When you get to experience and DO LIFE with people on that intimate of a level?!” said Chris. “To me, that’s the secret sauce.”

I can’t think of a better definition of culture than that!

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If you have any thoughts, ideas, or feedback on the subject of culture, Chris would love to hear from you.

Of course, if you need to buy or sell a home, you can reach Chris here.