Donte eats tacos. They are delicious.

Our friends over at the social discovery app Siren take a different approach to getting people to engage with one another, eschewing swiping in favor of fostering real conversations. As such, they ask questions of the day to get people started. They asked Donte, our VP of Culture, to provide them with a series of questions that they used to close out 2016. They interviewed him for their blog, asking him about the importance of company culture personal style, musicals, and getting him to wax poetic about a sweater.

Here’s an excerpt:

You’re the VP of Culture at Substantial. What is a VP of Culture, and why is it something a company should have?

The competition for good people in tech is very real. Employees know they could work anywhere they want and (smart) employers realize that too. So what do you do? You try to make your company the sort of place where the people you want want to work. And that’s what I do as VP of Culture; I work to make Substantial the best environment it can be for the people we have working for us. That means I engage with all parts of the company, working on everything from marketing to recruiting & retention to architecture & interior design. I also manage many of our relationships with outside organizations, whom we support in various ways with sponsorships, event hosting, speaking engagements and however else we can.

While not every company specifically needs a VP of Culture, every company needs someone that’s concerned with company culture matters at a high level. Culture is the only thing a company can compete with that is truly unique. Perks can be copied, salaries can be matched, creating software is creating software (to an extent), so what’s left is that glue that makes people want to work somewhere - company culture, that combination of values and how those are demonstrated. It helps you get the people you want and to keep them once you have them.

Recruiting people is expensive. Turnover and onboarding is expensive. Unmotivated employees are expensive. Focusing on culture helps to save money in the long run. On top of that having a team full of aligned individuals makes the workplace operate better as a whole.

That said, I’m actually fine with companies ignoring culture. It makes it that much easier to convince their employees they want to come to Substantial!

You can read the rest of his interview over on the Siren blog.