The Van Dam Cultural Fundamentals


How will you know if you fit the bill?

The ideal crew member will:


Practice continuous improvement every day, all day. Be relentless about improvement. Always be thinking about how you can improve, whether it is a process, a skill, or an attitude. Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. “Because we’ve always done it that way” is not a reason. Keep getting better.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember what it feels like when you are treated badly and never do that to our customers, our co-workers, our friends, or our families.

Give a (Van) Damn. You are expected to care about what you do. If you don’t care about what you are doing, move on.

Own it. Take responsibility for your experience here. Your experience is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Only you have the power to control your experience here. Tell people when you have a need, a concern, or an issue. Small issues turn into big issues when left to fester.

Do the right thing, always. Do what is best for the customer. Demonstrate an unwavering commitment to doing the right thing in every action you take and in every decision you make, even when no one is looking. Always tell the truth. If you make a mistake, own up to it, apologize, and make it right. Be honest with everyone. Integrity and character are the foundations of our success. There is no better way to build a reputation than to steadfastly do what is right for others.

Make quality personal. Take pride in the quality of everything you touch and everything you do. Always ask yourself. “Is this my best work?” However, if you chose only quality without regard to a reasonable price or timely delivery, don’t pat yourself on the back, you’ve already blown it. Remember, “perfect” includes consideration of time.

Pay attention to the details. Do the little things right so the big things work out. From the spelling of a client’s name, to the colors on our logo, to the accuracy of a fit, details matter. Be fanatic about accuracy and precision. Double check your work. Get the details right.

Be a fanatic about response time. People expect us to respond to their questions and concerns quickly, whether it is in person, on the phone, or by email. This includes simply acknowledging that we received the question and we are “on it”, as well as keeping those involved continuously updated on the status of outstanding issues. Rapid response is one of the easiest and best ways to stand out from the crowd.

Create an atmosphere of friendliness and warmth. Every conversation, phone call, email, letter, and even a voicemail sets a tone and creates a feeling. Pay attention to every interaction and be sure you’re setting a tone of friendliness, warmth, and helpfulness.

Be curious about our customers. Ask them about their lives and experience. Encourage them to talk about their lives so we can better understand them and thereby enhance their entire experience with us.

Go above and beyond what is usual or expected. Deliver extraordinary customer service in all that we do. Create experiences that our clients will tell others about. Exceed the expectations of our customers, our team members, and our partners.

Go the extra mile. Be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the job…plus a little more. Take the next step to solve the problem, even if it means doing something that is not in your job description.  It’s the extra mile from everyone that separates the winning team from the “also rans”.

Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. Honor commitments. There is no better way to earn people’s trust than to be true to your word. This includes being on time for phone calls, meetings, appointments, and promises.

Follow up on everything. Record a follow-up date for every action and take responsibility to see that it gets completed. We get paid to complete things, not simply to put them in motion.

Keep things fun. Remember that the world has bigger problems than the daily challenges that make up our work. Stuff happens. Keep perspective. Don’t take things personally or take yourself too seriously. Laugh every day. Enjoy the Journey.

Place your family first in your life. Keep harmony in your personal life. Functional, happy families are what give our lives meaning.

Participate. Participate in finding solutions to challenges, brainstorming sessions, decision making, morning meetings, and BOAT Board meetings. Participation builds a stronger team that is fun to be a part of.

Check your ego at the door. Remember we are a team. We win and lose together. It’s not about you. Don’t let your ego or personal agenda get in the way of doing what is best for the team. Worrying about who gets credit or taking things personally is counterproductive. Make sure every decision is based solely on advancing the team.

Listen generously and fully. Listening is more than simply “not speaking”. Be present and engaged. Quiet the noise in your head and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Allow team members to express themselves without judgement. Listen to clients with full attention so that we give them what they are looking for, not what we are looking for. Truly listening is one of the greatest skills you can ever learn.

Speak straight. Speak honestly in a way that moves the action forward. Make clear and direct requests. Say what you mean, and be willing to ask questions, share ideas, or raise issue that may cause conflict when it is necessary for team success. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected. Speak clearly and confirm the person you are talking to understands what you are saying.

Share information. With appropriate respect for confidentiality, share information freely. Learn to ask yourself “who else needs to know this information”, and also ask for information that you need to know.

Communicate to be understood. Know your audience. Write and speak in a way that they can understand. Avoid using internal lingo, acronyms, and industry jargon unless appropriate for the audience. Use the simplest possible explanations.

Always ask why. Don’t accept anything at face value if it doesn’t make sense to you. Be curious and question what you don’t understand. Healthy, vigorous debate creates better solutions. There is no better question than “Why?” Never stop asking it.

Practice blameless problem solving. Apply your creativity, spirit, and enthusiasm to developing solutions, rather than pointing fingers and dwelling on problems. Identify lessons learned and use those lessons to improve our processes so we don’t make the same mistake again. Get smarter with every mistake. Learn from every experience.

Get the facts. Don’t make assumptions. There is always more to the story than it first appears. Gather the facts before jumping to conclusions or making judgements. Be curious about what other information might give you a more complete picture.

Create Win/Win solutions. It’s a two-way street. Learn to think from other’s perspectives. Discover what they need and find a way to help them meet those needs while also fulfilling your own. Win/Win solutions are always more effective and longer lasting than Win/Lose solutions.

Assume positive intent. Work from the assumption that people are good, fair, and honest, and that the intent behind their actions is positive. Set aside your own judgements and preconceived notions. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Practice the “Human Touch”. Listen for, and pay attention to, the things that make people unique. Use handwritten notes, personal cards, and timely phone calls to acknowledge their specialness. Show people you care about them as individuals, rather than as transactions. Genuine compassion can’t be faked.

Find a way. Take personal responsibility for making things happen. Respond to every situation by looking for how we can do it, rather than explaining why it can’t be done. Be resourceful and show initiative.

Get clear on expectations. Create clarity and avoid misunderstandings by discussing expectations up front. Establish mutually understood objectives and deadlines for all projects, issues and commitments.

Celebrate Success. Catching people doing things right is more effective than catching them doing things wrong. Regularly extend meaningful acknowledgment and appreciation – in all directions throughout our company.

Deliver Results. While effort is appreciated, we reward and celebrate results. Set high goals, use measurements to track your progress, and hold yourself accountable for achieving those results.

Be obsessive about organization. Maintain a clean and orderly work area. Use an effective task management system for managing multiple tasks, and for prioritizing and tracking outstanding issues and responsibilities.

Be process oriented. World class organizations are built on a foundation of highly effective, repeatable processes. Look to create processes for every aspect of your work, and then turn those processes into habits to achieve consistent results.

Plan ahead. Begin with the end in mind. Look ahead and anticipate. Solve problems before they happen by anticipating future needs and addressing them in advance. Preventing issues is always more effective than fixing them.

Protect the environment. It is both our playground and our livelihood.

Act with Integrity. Bigotry, misogyny, racism, and hate are not tolerated in our language, our music, our daily activities, or our culture. Be the example that lives this message.