Topic: Company Culture


Giving Back Is Good Business With Guest Davis Smith

season 2, episode 5

Davis Smith speaking at O.C. Tanner's Influence Greatness in 2018

This episode, we talk with Davis Smith about capitalism, kayaking, and why giving back is just good business—and Andrew leans on his shovel while talking trail-maintenance.

Davis Smith is the founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, an innovative outdoor gear brand with the heart of a humanitarian. Cotopaxi is a certified b-corp (aka benefit corporation), but Davis is a certified badass. He’s on the Global Entrepreneurs Council for the United Nations Foundation, was named CEO of the Year by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and as his day job, is an angel investor.

Davis was interviewed by Katie Clifford, an all-around marketing expert and one of the most naturally talented interviewers ever to step in front of a microphone. Seriously, it’s annoying how comfortable she is talking to strangers.

Host: Andrew Scarcella
Guest: Davis Smith

Topics covered:

  • Corporate responsibility
  • Building a successful B-corp
  • Getting intentional about workplace culture
  • Connecting people to purpose
  • Kayaking with Olympians
  • The benefits of a mission-driven culture
  • How to scale culture
  • Attracting talent
  • Infusing corporate cultures with love

Tangible Takeaways:

The first is that doing good is good for business. Big name b-corps like Patagonia, Allbirds, Leesa, and Warby Parker are living proof that b-corps can turn a profit, then turn around and use that profit to improve people’s lives. Sure, they’re still businesses, but they’re a new breed of business. One that recognizes their role in society, respects their privilege, and embraces the power they have to effect change. And while we can’t all follow in their footsteps, we can at least follow their example. Most companies give back in some way or another, but how can we integrate it into our workplace cultures? Food for thought.

The second is that strong workplace cultures embrace rituals and traditions as opportunities to deepen the connection to their core values. Cotopaxi’s is their “10% wild time”—which employees can use for whatever they want, as long as it’s spent volunteering or giving back to the community. Which is notable not just for its generosity, but its clear connection to their company values. Take a look around, you likely already have rituals and traditions. Sometimes all it takes is being a little more vocal about them to get people engaged, participating, and giving back.

The third is that if this episode inspires you to do some good, consider volunteering to do some local trail maintenance. Trails connect us to the natural world and taking care of them is a great way to give back to your community in a tangible, meaningful way. Plus, you get to wear one of those big, floppy brimmed hats and wipe your brow with a jaunty bandana while saying things like, “hew-wee, I’m plum tuckered!”

That’s it for this episode of The Work Place. If you liked it, or even if you didn’t, please rate, review, and, of course, subscribe to The Work Place on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This episode was written and produced by yours truly, with editing and original music by Daniel Foster Smith, who also composed our theme song.

If you have a burning question about workplace culture, or a story about why YOUR workplace culture is the best (or worst) send it to

The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud️ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.

If you want your organization to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to

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