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When I met Steve Baker in Shanghai, he struck me as a gregarious, jocular, somewhat imposing figure (imagine Gordon Ramsey meets Brian Urlacher). So it was amusing to hear Steve recount that as a child, he was mesmerized by cooking shows and proclaimed to his mother that he wanted to be a chef when he grew up. Steve didn't disappoint and pursued his dream with vigor by winning cooking competitions and by working as a celebrated chef around the world before opening his first restaurant, Mesa Manifesto, in Shanghai.
David Hajdu's first job was at 14, mowing lawns. His second job was at McDonald's. What he learned from these two experiences is that working for someone else "sucked." So at an early age, David knew that he'd likely be working for himself down the road.
John Park's first job was working at Mead Data Central in Dayton, Ohio, which is about as Midwest as it gets in the US. Having lived in Korea in his formative years, followed by Japan (junior high) and Australia (high school), John quickly noticed some of the differences between Korea and the US. He observed that the American work environment is much more open, flexible, and dynamic than the Korean work environment. This first impression would stay with him as he worked at other American blue chip companies like McKinsey and Goldman Sachs.
After conducting interviews with entrepreneurs based in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia, I was excited to talk to entrepreneurs with companies based in Asia to see their leadership style, people management methods, and company cultures. My first stop after Australia was Korea, where I met with Kwangsug Lee of Incruit.
This is Part II of the Unimail cultural series. In Part I, we learned how Unimail's culture had hit rock bottom and the hard steps Andrea Culligan had to take to rescue a culture that everyone admitted "sucked." In Part II, we'll be exploring other cultural best practices that Andrea has implemented to reinforce and turbocharge Unimail's resurgent culture.