Cultivating an emotionally secure work environment at Brand Fuel is non-negotiable. This is something I have come to respect over 20 years of co-owning and co-running this company. Admittedly, I have not always made the best decisions about investing in employees, but I have learned many lessons along the way—and I am still learning. For what it is worth, here are some tips that may help you:

  • Lesson 1: Inspire and empower your employees versus trying to command and control them.
  • Lesson 2: Help your team prune the intake of information, meetings, projects, etc. or they might end up with scarcities in more important areas like their well-being, financial security, self-esteem and optimism.
  • Lesson 3: Small things really matter. In particular, recognize deserving staffers publicly (use promotional products).
  • Lesson 4: Ensure your decisions are both fair and consistent for everyone.

  • Lesson 5: Having coworkers say, “I love you” and giving hugs in the workplace are deeply connected to productivity and fulfillment (aka retention).

  • Lesson 6: I have always been told that you shouldn’t/can’t be friends with your staff. I disagree.

  • Lesson 7: Hold employees accountable. However, this fails if you can’t hold yourself accountable.

  • Lesson 8: Hire “people developers,” not managers.

  • Lesson 9: Always ask for a trusted second and third opinion from your staff

  • Lesson 10: Kindness is a foundation for everything. It rewards the giver too.
  • Lesson 11: If laughter is missing in your workplace, hire a comedian.

  • Lesson 12: Listen. Really listen.

  • Lesson 13: Do what you say you are going to do.
  • Lesson 14: Hire people who either have an existing friend at work or are those you are pretty sure will make friends with others.

  • Lessons 15: Give employees the benefit of the doubt.

  • Lesson 16: Don’t react in a heated situation. Put your thoughts on paper and let them simmer for 24 hours. The outcome will be better if you pause and think versus react immediately.

  • Lesson 17: Honesty with no filter might feel risky but employees will respect and trust you more.

  • Lesson 18: Criticism is hard to give and take. Criticize anyway, in the right spirit, for growth.

  • Lesson 19: Familiar is forgettable. Some things unique to Brand Fuel include these “perks”: Valentine’s Day off. Full album Fridays. Four hours of silence. White elephant costumes. Hair chairs for tardiness. Bands in the showroom. Dogs at work. Air horns. Guinness World Records. Freshly squeezed water. Outrageous office pranks. Kindness containers. Rocket days. Compliment Circles. Waffle House Halloweens.

  • Lesson 20: Do less barking and more wagging. 


Danny Rosin, CAS, is co-owner of distributor Brand Fuel in Morrisville, North Carolina.