Ken BatorThe nature of business continues to change rapidly. One of the most exciting components of that change is potential customers, team members, and investors increasingly demand that companies rip off the veil of old cloak and dagger techniques. The quickest solution to this growing trend is to establish trust through bold moves in transparency. Ken Bator of joins Justin Recla to discuss how to build a transparent culture in business and the necessity of incorporating this strategy for business success. Listen in to hear ways to leverage transparency in your business today.

Welcome to the In the Clear Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Recla. Today, folks, we’re going to have some fun. I met this gentleman that we’re going to bring on the show here in just a second. I met him at an event in San Diego, Steve Olsher’s event on podcasting. There was a connection there. There was an automatic I knew I needed to have him on the show because of what he’s doing in the world and just our short conversation prior to us getting going. It just clicked. I’m so excited to bring him on.

Today we’re going to be talking about how to build a transparent culture in business with Ken Bator. He’s just an all-around great guy. He’s helping businesses really build up their brand, their culture and their strategy, so they can connect and have more success with their clients. With that, please help me welcome Ken to the show. Ken, thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me, Justin. It’s a pleasure.

First off, can you tell our listeners, what is the name of your business?

I’m the founder of Bator Training and Consulting. I started that in 2001. Originally it was for the purpose of doing sales and marketing training for financial institutions, but in the short story, grew to help businesses that are service-based organizations align their brand, culture and strategy.

Awesome. You’ve written a book on that, right?

I have. I even wrote it myself. I’ll tell you about the time I lost an entire chapter of it to the cloud, but that’s another story. Yes, I did write a book on that very subject. It’s titled “The Formula for Business Success Equals B+ …” Obviously the BCS is Brand, Culture, Strategy.

That’s awesome. That’s so awesome. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was excited to talk to you about it is that over here at the Clear Directory and the consulting that we do, that is such an important role in the success of businesses today. If you don’t have the right formula, B+C+S, that it just fails. Some of the stuff that we’re seeing in the world, the old methodologies of business, no longer work. Those formulas no longer work because they don’t involve. They don’t have the right resources. They don’t have the right tools. A lot of them focus on profit rather than culture. I think that’s so, so important. In your experience, how does transparency play into a business culture as somebody is getting up and growing?

Well I think it’s all part of engagement. Whether you’re two days old or 20 years old or 200 years old, it’s all about engagement and creating experiences today. In fact, I was at a program just a few days ago where the speaker was from Zappos. I don’t remember the gentleman’s name, but he was talking about the growth of that organization and how they develop and earn such a large profit margin, but they say it all starts with the experience and engagement with their employees. That in and of itself requires transparency or what I would call being genuine and sincere.

As we talked about in our very nice conversation before the show, some things … Yeah, maybe you do need to hold that close to the vest. If you’re planning a great expansion, exactly what’s happening, maybe you do need to wait before you get your employees and or your customers involved and in the know of that. Here’s a case in point. One organization I dealt with, the CFO was cheating on his wife with a couple of exotic dancers. True story. You can’t make this stuff up. Maybe that’s something you just fire that person quietly and then move on. You don’t need to be transparent about everything, but you do need in a culture in order to get buy-in, in order to get people to come along, they have to be able to understand what the game is. That only comes from transparency or what I call being genuine and sincere because when you’re genuine and sincere, it’s really hard to be upset with somebody.

It is. That employee engagement is huge. In our experience in the world, especially when dealing with employees, it’s a matter of setting those expectations upfront and demonstrating that through leadership. It’s doing it through lead by example situations. I know a lot of times we have our clients that we come along and we help set up employment screening for them. They might have some initial resistance on it because they’re like, “Well I don’t want to be digging into my people’s … I don’t want them to think that I don’t trust them.” It’s not that you don’t trust them. It’s just that one, you’ve got to protect your business and know who you’re getting involved with, but two, it really raises the bar because you’re telling your employees – your potential employees – that we have a transparent culture.

Just because you have something in your background doesn’t mean it’s a deal breaker, right? In order for us to all contribute to the success of this business and ultimately your success financially as an employee, then we have to maintain that transparent culture because our clients, the customers that you service, are expecting it. Long gone are the days of people just doing what we tell them. More and more people are looking for transparency. They’re wanting to know who they’re getting involved with and if you don’t have that in your business, then you’re going to just be struggling. You’re going to have trouble keeping up. With that, how do you work … A better question: can you go a little bit more into your formula? B+C+S.

Sure, sure. Exactly. It in essence answers three very critical questions important to any business. One, what’s the image we want to portray out in the public? Two, what’s the experience we need to create both for and through our employees? Three, how do we drive more of the right business to our business? I’m going to go back to number two. How do we create an experience for our employees first and then have that experience trickle over to our customers, members or clients? I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have happy employees, it’s almost … Not completely impossible, but almost impossible to create a positive experience for clients and customers. If we have time, I’ll tell you about the exception, but my whole approach is creating an environment where employees actually want to come to work and customers want to keep coming back.

From an employee standpoint, you hit upon it a few minutes ago when you talked about transparency and the need for employees to be a part of a team and understand where everybody stands. I think that as long as management is willing to do that, if management is able to say, “Hey, we screwed up on this one. We’re not perfect. We messed up on this. We did a merger we shouldn’t have done or we opened up a new market that seemed like it made a lot of sense at the time. Hey, you know what? It just didn’t.” That in essence creates a culture of genuineness and sincerity and creates the environment where employees are more comfortable to do that. Then the real key, and this is the … We talk about the B+C+S formula, but a lot of people ask me, “I don’t have time to go through a whole formula. I don’t even read books, so I’m not going to read your book. Can you give me a nugget? Can you throw me a bone?”

I always think, “You know what? If you do this one thing …” There’s more to it, but if you do this one thing, you’ll be ahead of the game of every business that doesn’t do it. That little bone is create service standards, but create them from the ground up. What I mean by that is have all of your front lines begin working on an exercise to create what service looks like in your business, not only to the customer, but to each other. The golden nugget that I give people freely is to create service standards, but to start with your frontline staff in that creation. Give them an exercise of what does service look like here in our business? Have them create it.

By front lines, I don’t just mean the serving staff, like the waitresses or the tellers in a bank or the insurance agents upfront. I’m talking about all the people on that main level of the org chart that are doing the IT and doing the accounting and doing the back office because their customer are your internal customers, anyway.

Yeah. I like that piece.

If you start with the front lines, then right from the start, you get buy-in. You get involvement. There’s transparency in that, right, in and of itself because everybody is in essence forced to work with each other, but in a good way.


When you do that, some real positive things happen.

Yeah. I can speak to that firsthand because in full transparency, when we left the government back in 2011, my wife and I were working for a contracted company and we were teaching new agents the skillset. Well the company that we were working for was just … Employee engagement was way down and management just could have cared less. Most days, most of the contractors that were at this job out of an eight-hour workday were maybe engaged with some sort of activity for about two hours of the day. Really it just became a place of you’d go sit and thank god that you were collecting your paycheck. You could hardly wait ’til the bell rang for you to go home. It was just ugly. The culture that it created was very top-heavy and it just caused all sorts of havoc. Leadership having integrity issues because they weren’t operating transparency. Transparently, they were putting people into positions because of favors and friendships that had no right in being in those slots and yada, yada, and all that kind of stuff.

It was just ugly. That’s when we chose to leave and do our own thing and start our own business and so forth and that’s why we’re here today and that’s one of the reasons why I love having you on the show because it is so, so important. If you are just tuning in, we are talking to Ken Bader about how to build a transparent culture in business. Ken, where can our listeners go find information about you?

You know, the best way is right on our website, which is simply There’s a bunch of complimentary content in there and a lot about my background, whether you like it or not.

Awesome. I’ll tell you what. If you are just joining us, go take a look at that website and see … Get that information that Ken’s talking about. When I get back, we’re going to talk to you even further about how you can build a transparent culture in your business right after this break.

To listen to the entire show click on the player above or go to the In the Clear podcast on iTunes.