Ranging from news articles to recent CEO interviews.
CEO of Payscout and UCLA alumni, Cleveland Brown, spoke to UCLA business students and future entrepreneurs on the importance of building a strong company culture.
(Los Angeles, CA) May 12, 2016— In January, Payscout’s Chief Executive Officer Cleveland Brown had the privilege of speaking with students enrolled in the UCLA Economics of Entrepreneurship program, which provides a practical emphasis on the creation of new ventures. Brown presented on the topics of becoming an entrepreneur and building a successful culture.
Per Brown, four basic components are needed for an entrepreneurial venture to flourish: a vision for the company; a mission statement; a set of cultural attributes that undergird the mission; and an emotionally inspiring, shared and articulated belief.
“The vision,” said Brown, “is a goal, and over time it can change.” The mission statement, on the other hand, is what a company does and this does not change.
Payscout, a global payment processing provider, has as its mission, “supporting the entrepreneurial dream one transaction at a time.” This ambition is carried out by offering a variety of services that include a turnkey approach to assisting merchants with globalizing and selling wares to consumers in other countries online—the quintessence of 21st-century entrepreneurialism.
Brown explained how the decision-making process at Payscout follows on the company’s eight cultural attributes: Integrity/Trust, Reliability, Innovation, Fun, Best Idea Wins, Feedback Welcomed, Customer Happiness, and Always Learning. He clarified that while these expressions might appear to be abstractions, each of them ties directly to a concrete aspect of how the company does business. “Integrity,” “Reliability” and “Innovation,” for example, reflect the fact that Payscout handles other people’s money, and that it handles transactions both on time and efficiently.
“Fun,” “Best Idea Wins” and “Feedback Welcomed” refer to the way in which Payscout expects their staff to interact with one another. They celebrate wins, such as taking pleasure in moving the mission ahead, they collaborate and analyze ideas as they received, and they evaluate those ideas based on their validity.
“Customer Happiness” and “Always Learning” refer to the company’s vision of itself as a thought leader. For customers to be happy, they need to understand what the company is doing for them, meaning education is important. According to Brown, “to be always learning,” means that the job of understanding one’s business—and the world—is never finished.
“In business, people need to make decisions,” Brown said, noting that the most cautious decision—“what can I do that won’t get me into trouble”—is not usually the best choice. “What I want to know from anybody is not what did you decide, but how did you go about it? How did the vision, mission, cultural attributes, and belief drive that decision? If you can articulate that, the results will speak for themselves.”
Finally, Brown told the students not to be afraid of making mistakes. What one should be afraid of is making the same mistake over, and over again. “You should ask yourself and other people, ‘Where would you be today if you never made the same mistake twice?’” If you keep asking, he suggested, you find that most people realize repeated mistakes are ways they limit themselves—holding them back from achieving goals and dreams. Brown urged the class to have a vision, have a mission, have a belief, and make mistakes—but make new mistakes.
In follow-up, Brown invited the students to visit the Payscout global headquarters office in Sherman Oaks, take part in an interactive “learning lunch” and tour the facility to witness the company’s culture in action. Students were encouraged to share details and questions about the venture projects they were cultivating as part of their class curriculum, while Brown and his colleagues provided veteran guidance and input. Later, Brown also participated in the student’s group presentations to a panel of venture capital professionals as they pitched entrepreneurial ideas. This presentation was one of several past and upcoming events that is designed to further the relationship between the two organizations.
Annalee Shelton of UCLA Alumni Affairs said, “I was struck by the thoughtful questions posed by the students and the ‘light in their eyes’ moments. Cleveland gave them insight into the real world that they just wouldn’t have received anywhere else.”
UCLA is California’s largest university, with an enrollment of more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College and the university’s 12 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Seven alumni and six faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.