Corporate culture like a revolution starts from the bottom. 3 strong examples from EtanaInsurance


Share on LinkedIn

Is your culture a STRONG one?


Carel Nolte

I recently had the catch up with Carel Nolte. Carel is the Head of People and Brand at etana, an insurance company in South Africa. The company is a market leader with a very open and unstructured culture. During our conversation Carel stressed the need to manage expectations from the top, but that ultimately culture is what happens when you allow team members [etanans] to do things. It’s all about empowerment. etana knows that revolution (culture) starts from the bottom. Senior leadership at etana lets employees know that they don’t need buy in from the top. One sentence by Carel summed it up, “Don’t do what we say, do what is right.” The company works to empower etanans to take action and own the culture. Once they take initiative, Carel and the executive team step in with the necessary support.

Let’s look at a few etana Green Goldfish:

daREDevil run in Johannesburg

daREDevil run in Johannesburg

daREDevil run (#925): Etanans tend not take themselves seriously, but they take their business seriously. One of the team members lost a bet which required him to run in a speedo down a busy street. In the spirit of having fun, the company stepped in to raise the stakes. Employees were encouraged to join in for the run. Proceeds would go towards supporting a local men’s charity. The event is now an annual happening with over 2,000 speedo clad individuals running 4k (2.5 miles) to raise money for prostate and testicular cancer. Here’s a video of one of the recent events:


Head of the etana Academy: Fatima Maharaj

etana Academy (#926): etana has an in house training department called the etana Academy. The idea originated when Carel came across an etanan tutoring a group of fellow etanans on a Saturday. Soon the idea of starting an accREDited learning facility was sprung. etana now offers both online and offline courses serving etanans, their network members and even etana’s competitors.

etana REDwards (#927): The Etana REDwards applauded the efforts of those who have gone above and beyond in living the Etana values through their work. The event takes place during REDfast, a two day getaway for all etana staff. The awards are made by local artists and are given out to reinforce the core values at the company: Be Open, Know, Grow, Give and Make it Happen. Here was a little extra that really drove home the recognition. To coincide with the event, etana bought billboards near the home office. The billboards highlighted the different winners from the REDwards. A total surprise and delight for employees when they returned to work.

etana is a Swahili word for “strong one.” As it relates to their culture, I tend to agree.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Some workplaces have a foosball table, but very few have a custom branded foosball table. Check it out:

All of the examples in this post were taken from the Green Goldfish Projects The Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. They are the little signature extras given that help differentiate a company, reinforce culture, increase retention and drive positive WoM. The book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on March 29, 2013.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here