Read any survey on employee satisfaction and a positive culture will rank in the top three. Money, benefits, the actual work itself; these things are important. But most people want a great place to work and culture to go with it.

When it comes to being a great place to work, Rustici Software is awesome. For the past six years, The Nashville Business Journal has recognized us as one of the Best Places to Work and last night we were awarded Company of the Year by the Nashville Tech Council.

I first heard about Rustici Software from Andy, my longtime friend. After joining the team last Spring, I still wondered if Rustici could really be that awesome. Surely it can’t all be true? No place can be that great. Can it?

Fast-forward eight months, and I can report it’s all true. 100% legit. This is the coolest place to work. Period. We really do love coming to work on Monday morning.

As a former business owner, I was curious as to how and why the culture here is so awesome. Can a company exist where people work hard and love coming in on Monday? Can a culture be fun, fulfilling, and turn a profit?

I had so many questions… What makes people want to work so hard? Why don’t they abuse the open vacation policy or the freedom to play ping-pong whenever they want? How are meetings so effective? And is ‘being awesome’ really a thing?

All of my questions came with my own presumptions. And it all clicked after a recent Welcome Breakfast.

I was reading Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together And Some Don’t, by Simon Sinek. The premise of the book stems from Sinek questioning why some teams are able to stick together and pull through – even put their lives on the line for each other – while others are dysfunctional and doomed for failure. The answer lies with the Marines.

“Officers eat last.”

Leaders make sacrifices for their team. They sacrifice their status and comfort in the mess hall, and go as far as sacrificing their lives on the battlefield. They sacrifice personal interests and self-serving actions to support their team.

The good of those in their care is of the utmost importance. That’s what clicked at breakfast. As a new member of our Rustici Software family, you eat first. Mike and Tim (our leaders), eat last.

rustici welcome breakfast

When you see a leader of any group or organization making sacrifices for the good of others, it changes the way you perform. It changes the way you approach situations. It changes the way you view things, like work.

“If you have unlimited vacation why don’t you take a month off?”

“Why don’t you just play games all day?”

We get these types of questions from our friends and families. But there’s an important reason as to why none of us at Rustici Software would actually do that.

Because Mike and Tim wouldn’t.

Leaders who ‘eat last’ change organizations. They establish a positive culture that fosters great people. You might think culture is ping-pong, free snacks, and a company happy hour. But to me it’s trust, respect, and the desire to do more for my team. Because that’s what they’d do for me.