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This business coaching course explains effective ways to establish a formidable and ethical company culture.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Did You Know? Carver Academy became a public, charter school in 2012.
  • Lesson Nugget: To effectively build a culture, your leaders must be in tune with your message.
  • Did You Know? Carver Academy teaches three languages: Spanish, German, and Japanese.
  • Did You Know? The Carver Academy was established as a non-profit, private school in 2001 in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Ask Yourself: Is my business meeting a need in society?

[MUSIC PLAYING] coursera like human resources training, management training

CLAY CLARK: So you played in the NBA for all those years, you come back and you start a school called the Carver Academy to help inner city kids. Why did you do that?

DAVID ROBINSON: Because there's a need. Looking at all the kids that I had visited who grew up in Virginia. I went to school in Annapolis, Maryland, near DC. And when I was graduating, I went into DC, played in the summer leagues there, got a chance to visit a ton of high schools with the Police Athletic League. We went from high school to high school-- probably 15-20 high schools there in the Maryland/Northern Virginia area, DC area.

And what I saw there was a lot of minority kids who didn't have the motivation, didn't have the focus to utilize their talents. And there was a big drug culture at the time in DC. I don't know if you followed that time, But it was a big issue, not only throughout the high schools, but throughout the city.

But my focus was telling them, say no to drugs, get your education, stay focused. It's a great way to get yourself in a position where you can succeed. But it interesting, the feedback that I got when I talked to these kids on a one-to-one basis, that it was easy to sell drugs. The opportunity was there. All the people that they admired where the guys that had money, cars, and all the things that they got from selling the drugs.

CLAY CLARK: They were entrepreneurs almost.

DAVID ROBINSON: They were. They were using their talents in a destructive way for our society. But with these kids, the only thing at the time I could tell them was, I'd just respect you more if you do the right things that aren't hurting other people.

But that was the impetus to start Carver Academy. To go in to get these kids at an early age-- at the four and five-year-old age-- to understand, hey, work ethic, man. If you start working now-- you start getting the right habits, you study, you're self-motivated-- by the time you get to high school, you'll have a thousand options that are amazing options, as opposed to getting stuck having to do something illegal.

CLAY CLARK: So it sounds like instead of treating the fruit, you try to treat the root. You went back and said we're going to try at the very root system here.

DAVID ROBINSON: Well I only have a limited amount of resources, personally, and I didn't know how much money I could raise doing it. So when I said, if I have a limited amount of resources, do I start with middle schoolers who might be two grades behind already? Or do I go to kindergartners who I can make a jump start and then create leaders who will go out and perpetuate the message?

CLAY CLARK: It seemed like the kids in San Antonio-- is it east San Antonio that has sort of a rough area there? Where is the rough area?

DAVID ROBINSON: All over. East-- west. But actually traditionally the east side has been known as an area where we have higher need families. But they're all over the city. They really are spread out. But I focus largely on the east area of San Antonio.

CLAY CLARK: When you brought these kids into the school-- I have five kids, I know you have the boys and they're maybe at home hearing something different. And they show up their first day of school and they want to be there.

You know, David, that the kids want to learn. They want to be impacted. They're excited to see you sometimes. They're excited, they love the environment. Maybe some of these kids, this is the only place they have that's clean-- the expectation levels there, some of the kids. I

Know my wife had a friend-- she was tell me this story about a girl who just didn't have a toothbrush at home, and just those sorts of things. And these kids come in with some of these behavioral issues, because they saw their dad do it last night or their mom and--


CLAY CLARK: And so, they come in there-- how did you, because I know there's lots of success stories of kids who've now worked their way through the program and their lives have changed. How did you implement a progressive disciplinary structure or system while also wanting to love on the kids? How did you find that balance?

DAVID ROBINSON: The key was really, like you said, loving on them. I took the family situation-- the family organization-- because if we go way back in and-- I always look at the Bible, I always look at scripture-- but if we go way back in scripture, God created the family before He created the church, so I think that whole idea of the family is a very strong institution.

And so we built the school in a way where it was a family. And we wanted the older kids to mentor the younger kids. So just like in an organization, you get your leaders to be in tune with your message, and then they would, in turn, spread that message throughout your organization.

And so that was the mentality that we used at Carver. We tried to take the older kids, get them up to speed with what our expectations were, get them excited about the education. We created an environment that was fun-- that was, where they were rewarded constantly for all of their achievements. We love to have them get up and tell what they knew-- if they were learning Japanese, get up, to show us your Japanese. And we'd have visitors come in often, to let them see what we're doing. So we just try to create that culture of fun and enthusiasm, and it spreads down into all the kids coming in, and that's how we tried to create that atmosphere as quickly as we


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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: Reinforce the positive rather than focusing on the negative.
  • Lesson Nugget: Have a system in place that specifically outlines your progressive disciplinary procedures.
  • Lesson Nugget: Walk people through the right way of doing things when they first start.
  • Ask Yourself: Have I effectively communicated to my employees what I want our company culture to be like?


-As a specific example, if a kid, let's say, said foul language during a class setting. Do you have a system in place of this is what the next step is? This is the next step. This is the next step. Do you have those progressive disciplinary procedures?

-We did. We were very specific about the things that we did. And my head of school was phenomenal at that. That was really her role. But we didn't focus on the punishments. But we did have-- kids knew what step one, step two, step three, step four was.

And for me in college, I remember in one particular class there was a sequence of events that you would go through. I was growing at the time. I grew 6 inches in college, So I fell asleep quite often. And I fell asleep in this one class. And I remember there were stages that I went through. And like, stage six, I think, was getting an F in the class for the semester. So I think I got to about stage four.

-Oh, really? You were at stage four?

-Well, I was growing at the time, and I had no choice. I fell asleep standing up, I think, one time. But I think, yeah, it's very important that people understand that you have one chance, two chance-- but this is an action that's not tolerated in this environment. And if you're constantly, positively reinforcing them. Then you generally tend to not focus on the spankings as much as the encouragement.

-So let's say I own a bakery, OK? Let's say I own a bakery, and I hire somebody. And let's say that I hired you to come work for the bakery. Would I then just tell you, hey, here's our handbook. Here's our mission. And in here is our disciplinary policy as well as a bunch of things that you're reading.

Or how do you recommend that you tell somebody about this discipline. If I'm a small business owner watching this, how do you recommend that we bring up the conversation so that people know what it is. Because we don't want to focus on it. How do you do that?

-Well, you make it clear. I think you always go back to culture. You talk about culture. In any organization, mentorship, leadership is always key.

And so the best way to do it is to put them with someone who can walk them through the process. Someone who knows the culture. Someone who does it right, so they can see what right looks like. And then when they do wrong, they can be corrected immediately by the mentor.

So I think that, that's a real key-- is to walk people through a process. And get them to understand this what right looks like. When we see wrong, we'll deal with wrong. But this is what it looks like when it's done the correct way. So I think you just have to focus on the positive.

That's why it's so important to define roles. Because you have to know what it looks like, because it's hard when you don't know what it looks like. You don't know what wrong is. You don't know when you're stepping out of bounds. You don't know when something is not acceptable. So if you have the picture clearly painted for them, then I think you spend a lot less time focusing on the negative.

I would use my children as an example. When they were smaller I would spank them when they did something wrong. But I always focused on the loving part. So even after I had to spank them, I would hug them. I would never spank them when I was angry, because I didn't want them to think I was just mad at them-- that was a consequence of your action. But then I would spend a lot of time hugging them and talking to them about-- this is why you can't do that. It's not a good thing for you in the long term. I can't have you doing that.

And so, what ends up happening is, after a short period of time you never spank them again. Because they understand the discipline. They understand the structure. That hey, there's a consequence to when I do things wrong, but I get such great reinforcement when I do things right that there's not really a reason for me to step out of bounds any more. So it happens in a family. And you can make it so that it happens in an organization the same way.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Lesson Nugget: Employees who corrupt the culture of the company need to leave.
  • Lesson Nugget: Failure is often necessary for growth.
  • Ask Yourself: Is there someone in my organization who is hurting the culture and should be fired?
  • Lesson Nugget: People need to know something is wrong if we expect them to fix it.


-Now the next-- principle number three, is we do have to occasionally fire employees who corrupt the culture.

DAVID ROBINSON: Oh, absolutely.

-So let's take it to the NBA for a second.


-Eventually you're going to have a guy on the team who just says, hey, I appreciate that you've laid out specifically your mission here. I appreciate that you have disciplinary policies in play.


-But I am just going to continue to be crazy.



-You know, I'm going to just be as crazy as-- at a certain point--


-David, you know, business people, they're going to have to fire somebody.


-And I see this all the time. I talked to a guy the other day who's late 30s, who had said I've never fired an employee. And his business hasn't grown ever, though, OK? And he was wanting to bring me in as a consultant. And I just did an assessment, and I talked to some of the key employees. And I said, hey, we have a culture issue here.


-You have people that are in the back when customers are in the front. Nobody's even in the building on lunch. Calls aren't getting a return. It's just a cultural issue.


-You're the head. You're going have to get serious about it. I want to know what steps you've taken. And he said, well, this person just has refused to do anything. I've warned them, I've warned them, I've warned them. So when we get to that point where we have to fire, nobody wants to do it.


-But I want to know, how do you know when it's time to fire somebody?

-That's-- clearly it depends on situation and person. I like to try to give people as much of the benefit of the doubt as possible.


-And that's a personal thing.


-Some people are no-nonsense. They don't even want to deal with it. First sign of trouble, they get rid of people. And that's fine. It really has to do with your personality. If you are a patient person, that's fantastic. Give people the benefit of the doubt. But understand also that we go back to mission. We go back to, what are we trying to accomplish? Is this working for our organization?

And that's why all of this structure is so important. People rarely want to sit around and take the time out to write all of these things out, and make sure that there's expectations, and make sure that there's consequences, and make sure that there's steps, but these things help you make these decisions. When we reach step three, it's time to let somebody go.


-And so I think it's really key here to have the leadership team in place, which equates to culture, making sure that they understand what the expectations are, and then the steps, and then it's easy to say, OK, it's time. And we can make it very clear to the person, because you don't fit our culture. You don't fit what's happening here. Our experiment has not been successful.

-Well, you-- I think with everybody watching this, we're unanimous that we want to win.


-You won on the court, which a lot of players don't do. You won two championships. You won gold medals. I mean, you see-- you won. And then we say, well, you know-- and I'm just going pretend, if you're the sawed-off version, you're the smaller version. If it's the six-foot-one version of David Robinson, I would argue that you would be successful in any field, because of some of the principles that you live by.

But then you went and you started a school, with really no experience having started a school.


-And the school has done well. So you've been blessed, and you're winning in those areas. And so I just want to know, did it break your heart when you had to fire the first employee over there at Carver? Did you ever have to fire somebody? Was it hard for you? Because you're a guy who cares about people.

-Yes, we've had to fire people several times.


-And it does, a little bit, it breaks my heart a little bit. But I think that when I make it clear what I'm expecting, then it's not a personal issue. And I let people know that, hey, you just don't work here. That doesn't mean you don't work. You might work somewhere else, you just don't work here. And so I've always tried to focus on the positive things, about even-- even when I had to let someone go.

Failure is something we all experience.


-And sometimes we need that failure, that's the only way you're going to grow, right? Trials and tribulations. Without those things, you have no opportunity to grow whatsoever. And so I'd look at those times as more of a positive time and say, hey, this is my opportunity to let them know this is something you need to learn from.


-So this didn't work. I'll tell you why it didn't work here. Now you can take that and listen and learn and move on. Or you can fight it and deny it and say, you know, it's your fault, it's your fault, it's your fault. OK, I'll accept that. It's my fault.

But it didn't work. I have the ability to move you on, and I'm moving you on. So I think if we can understand that even for the person that's being fired, it can be a really positive experience, that they need to know something's wrong or else they can't fix it.

-So you just don't work here.

-You just don't work here. You're a great worker, just not here. [LAUGHTER]


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