Dec 20, 2021 | Culture, Leadership

The best organizations today understand that culture is their strongest asset and can be the glue to retaining top talent. Whether you nurture it or not, you have a culture. It may be empowering or toxic. Either way, the results are showing up in your bottom line.

Here are the 12 companies we featured in CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.


1. Tentree, “We’re planting 1 billion trees by 2030.”

Tentree is a lifestyle apparel company that essentially thinks of itself as a forestry program that sells clothes. For every product purchased, the company plants ten trees through thoughtful programs that not only reforest the earth but also help rebuild communities around sustainable local economies. Since its inception in 2012, Tentree has planted over 35 million new trees around the globe. By 2030, the company’s goal is 1 billion. [Read More



2. Uncle Nearest, “First known African-American master distiller.”

Uncle Nearest Logo

When entrepreneur and author Fawn Weaver saw a 2016 New York Times article about Nathan “Nearest” Green, who while enslaved, taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, she moved to Tennessee from California to see if she could turn the story into a book or movie. Shortly after arriving, Weaver found that the site of Green’s distillery was for sale. She made an offer and quickly set about to give the godfather of Tennessee whiskey his due. If you’re curious about the quality, you may be interested to learn that Uncle Nearest was the most-awarded American whiskey or bourbon of 2019 and 2020. [Read More



3. H-E-B, “We’ve grown from a store, to so much more.”

As Texas faced record-low temperatures in February and snow and ice made roads impassable, the state’s electric grid operator lost control of the power supply, leaving millions without access to electricity. As the blackouts extended from hours to days, top state lawmakers called for investigations into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and Texans demanded accountability for the disaster. But when the power went out on February 16th at a crowded H-E-B in the Austin suburb of Leander, Texas, employees told shoppers that they could walk through the checkout aisles and take their groceries out of the store without paying. [Read More


4. Articulate, “We make the world’s most popular apps for online training.”

Articulate LogoAdam Schwartz started Articulate in 2002 out of his one-bedroom apartment in New York City. He had just enough money to hire two experts – one who lived in Missouri and the other in India. Together, they built the backbone of an online learning product that would revolutionize the training industry. Today, over 112 million learners in 161 countries have taken advantage of career-boosting training from online courses created with Articulate applications. That model of hiring the best and giving them the freedom and trust to thrive is part of Articulate’s secret sauce and culture of empowerment. [Read More



5. Ringcentral, “Our biggest strength is that we’re not all the same.”

RingCentral logoOf the nearly 600,000 immigrants from former Soviet countries who settled in the United States between 1975 and 2003, Vlad Shmunis’ family was among the first. His family left Odessa in 1975 to escape the restrictions of the Iron Curtain. Shmunis’ story is just one example of the impact that the Soviet diaspora to the U.S. had on Silicon Valley and America’s innovation economy writ large. Freeing people to connect and do their best work is the foundation of the inclusive culture at RingCentral, where Shmunis serves as CEO to 6,000+ team members. [Read More


6. Tuft & Needle, “We believe everyone deserves a good education, a clean community, and a great night’s sleep.”

Tuft & Needle logoIn 2012, Silicon Valley software engineer JT Marino stumbled across a problem—buying a mattress totally sucked.

Between confusing buzzwords, pushy salespeople, and backwards policies, JT knew there was an opportunity to take an archaic industry and flip it upside down. Enter Daehee Park, his long-time friend and colleague. They launched a simple test site to see if anyone out there would actually be interested in buying a mattress online. Within just 15 minutes, Bingo! They had their first buyer.

After returning the money, they set out to learn everything they could about the industry. Tuft & Needle soon grew from two Silicon Valley software engineers to a team of over 150 people headquartered in Phoenix, AZ. They work each day to deliver a universally comfortable mattress, with no middlemen, and change the way mattresses are sold and delivered. [Read More


7. Elastic, “Our story begins with a recipe.”

Elastic LogoAs humans, we are insatiably curious. Prior to the inception of the Internet and the rise of the search engine, we had a limited array of solutions when a question arose. But, as the Internet grew, organizing, sorting, securing and mining vast amounts of data quickly became a challenge.

That’s the problem Elastic Founder and CEO Shay Banon found when he started building a search engine for his wife’s recipes. While she attended cooking school at Le Cordon Bleu, Banon worked from their flat in London to building a search engine to manage her growing collection. [Read More


8. Nehemiah Manufacturing Company, “Building brands, creating jobs, changing lives”

Nehemiah Manufacturing Company logoBefore the pandemic, 38% of manufacturers had trouble finding candidates with the right skills, and today that number is 54%, according to a report by The Workforce Institute at UKG thinktank. Yet, despite this labor crisis, Cincinnati-based Nehemiah Manufacturing has more applicants than it can handle, even as it navigates a pandemic-driven business boon[Read More



9. Chili Piper, “Reinventing the meeting lifecycle.”

Chili Piper Logo


Alina Vandenberghe traces her entrepreneurship roots to communist and post communist Romania. Both of Alina’s parents were factory workers with limited income. So, instead of relying on them to pay for her textbooks and other school expenses, Alina started a series of ventures at the tender age of nine. [Read More



10. Stance, “We exist to celebrate human originality.”

Stance logoWhen seasoned tech investor Jeff Kearl met with John Wilson for a pitch meeting over breakfast in 2009, Kearl thought Wilson would be talking up a new product in the consumer electronics space. After all, Wilson had previously been an executive of Oakley and was working at Skullcandy on the morning that they sat down. Instead of pitching a cool new consumer device, however, Wilson threw out one of the lowest tech products imaginable – socks. [Read More


11. ReCharge Payments, “We turn transactions into relationships.”

recharge logoIn 2014, under the name Bootstrap Heros, Oisin O’Connor and his two roommates were determined to solve one of the biggest problems facing Shopify merchants: recurring payments. In October, after many months of takeout and trial and error, ReCharge Payments was launched. By 2015, O’Connor’s team became the preferred partner of Shopify Plus, so they upgraded from their whiteboard-lined apartment to an office in Santa Monica, CA.

Today, the company has grown from a handful of employees to 250+ fully remote team members. Working remotely enables Recharge team members to have more control, gain autonomy, and achieve balance in their lives. The company made Forbes Top 100 for remote jobs by going the extra mile to make team members feel that they’re an integral part of the company’s success regardless of where they’re logging in from. [Read More


12. NatureSweet Tomatoes, “to transform the lives of its employees while providing consumers with great tasting tomatoes year-round.”

Nature Sweet TomatoesNatureSweet Tomatoes has a vision: to transform the lives of its employees while providing consumers with great tasting tomatoes year-round. It’s a bold ambition for a company in the agricultural industry where employees historically work for low pay, have little stability and rarely see opportunities for growth.

For the company’s 8,000 employees, that vision means working full-time, year-round for a living wage that comfortably supports a family of four with opportunities for bonuses and professional development. This approach helped the company expand its operations from a single small farm in Texas in 1990 to a $2 billion corporation with more than 1000 acres of greenhouses. The company’s commitment to producing flavorful vine grown tomatoes and delivering them to market in its signature clamshell container with a peel-off lid has also helped to create a “snacking tomato” market, which now represents more than one-quarter of all tomatoes sold in the U.S.

Kudos to all 12 of these amazing companies who understand the value of culture as a competitive advantage! 

Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!



Related Posts

5 TED Talks for Leaders Who are Lifelong Learners

5 TED Talks for Leaders Who are Lifelong Learners

I’m kicking off August a two-week vacation in Amsterdam, a city that effortlessly merges history with innovation, art with technology, and tradition with progress. As I wander through picturesque canals and vibrant streets, I find myself reflecting on the importance of lifelong learning, especially for leaders.

read more



Preferred method of contact:

*Required fields. By submitting this form you agree to receive emails from Center for Executive Excellence and can unsubscribe at any time.

Share This