One of my first jobs was as a waiter at Applebees. In the small town where I grew up, Applebees was the height of fine dining–so being a waiter there was the big show. I didn’t know it at the time, but that Applebees had one of the strongest workplace cultures I’ve experienced in over 20 years (okay, 25, but who’s counting?). People showed up to work with a good attitude. We helped each other out and didn’t just focus on our own tables. We worked really hard and had consistently good feedback from customers. We were open about issues and got them resolved.

As with any workplace, there were a variety of factors that came together to produce a healthy and strong culture, but there’s one that stands out in my mind to this day. Encouragement.

I am in a group with six other business leaders. We meet once a month for 5-6 hours. The reason we meet regularly is that we all believe the opportunity to lean into each other, learn from each other, and have some dedicated space where we can discuss what’s working and what’s broken in our personal lives and our businesses is a net positive. It’s that simple and it’s great. Each month we invite a guest to join us. Usually, a gray hair who has been extraordinarily successful in business. We give this individual two hours of our time, half of which they use to tell us their story, and the other half we use to pepper them with questions. Nothing is off-limits. It is a gift.