You’ve Gotta Have Their Back

Terence Mazon explains the power of supportive teamwork, and why it’s not about the name on the back but the logo on the front.

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Terence Mazon is a musician by trade, but he’s always loved people. Even in a music and audio director role for a social mobile gaming company, Terence found himself gravitating towards the people and culture side of the business, from throwing next-level parties to giving tips on upping their swag game.

One consistent pattern he’s noticed in HR roles is an emphasis on onboarding and exits—but Terence is more interested in how to get the most out of existing employees, either individually or as a group. He’s endlessly fascinated by leveraging strengths and shoring up weaknesses, but his true love is helping people to find strengths they didn’t even know existed.

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His preferred method for discovering new talents amongst teammates? Donut dates that could only be described as epic. Terence is legendary for planning thoughtful adventures for each and every Donut pairing that range from building a custom Earthbound pen stand to devouring three different kinds of fried chicken by candlelight. His dates have become so notorious that “one girl said that she was looking to make an offer to my next Donut date to see if she could switch. Another guy tried to hack the algorithm so he could match with me the next month.”

Besides creating a YouTube-friendly viral hit and helping coworkers find woodworking and competitive eating talents that they didn’t know they possessed, what’s the endgame behind putting together such crazy fun Donut dates? In a word: teamwork. “In a company where everyone knows each other, if resources are scarce because the going gets tough, you know people will have your back.”

Terence Mazon
“There's a benefit to knowing coworkers: Everyone shows up when the going gets tough.”
Terence Mazon
Big T Style

Terence used to run a company hockey team where the motto was “it’s not about the name on the back but the logo on the front.” In other words, it’s not about “I,” but “We.” Terence played goalie, and like all players, he had some good days and some bad days. “There’s a trust I built with the defense team. They can take more of a risk if I’m having a good day, and if I’m having a bad day, they don’t leave me out to dry. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t be playing as a team.”

He’s discovered that teamwork in hockey isn’t all that different from teamwork in a particular department or company. Both require solid communication skills, implicit trust, and the willingness of teammates to put the common good above individual needs. This kind of nurturing often falls by the wayside in favor of initiatives that directly impact the bottom line, but Terence thinks he can make a revenue case for investing in company culture.

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He’s particularly inspired by Simon Sinek and his TedEx talk that compares finite players (“we gotta make these numbers by next year”) with infinite players (those with long-term vision), as well as The Speed of Trust which connects trust within a company to a better bottom line using math. As Terence rightfully observes, in order for a company to be truly impactful long-term, companies need to care about their people, have good leadership, and communicate a clear vision.

This sounds both simple and instinctive, but it’s surprisingly rare to find all three. Companies that do them well are poised to win. For proof of concept, Terence looks no further than a programmer friend: “He can get a job anywhere tomorrow. It’s so hard to keep good programmers and good talent in general—all of them are going to places that have good culture. It’s not necessarily the companies with the most money, but the ones with the best vision and leadership.”

When it comes to fostering team spirit and a sense of clear and competent leadership, Terence thinks it starts with the basics. “My vision for my next company is for everyone to know everyone.” We suspect that meet-and-greet strategy will involve a signature Big T Donut date (or two).

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