Warby Parker Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal On Doubling Down On Culture

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in 2012?

“We had hired somebody that was smart, that was capable, but we were inundated with orders and his responses to customers were good but not great. It was difficult to get him to change his tone from nice to superfriendly, and we ended up having to let him go. At the end of the day it’s not something you can teach. In the past year we’ve grown to over 100 people. Dave and I can no longer build strong individual relationships with everyone in the organization. So we built a culture interview SWAT team that does 75% of the interviewing process, and we’ve doubled down on culture. We formed a fun committee, started bringing in guest speakers to our weekly happy hour. “

How do you think you’ll apply it in the year ahead?

“In 2013 we’re launching a culture blog, opening a brick-and-mortar store in Soho, and on every employee’s second anniversary, we’ll pay to send them to one of our nonprofit partners. So they can actually see how in Guatemala, they’re training local entrepreneurs to start their own businesses giving eye exams and selling glasses.”

More Lessons for 2013 from some of today’s most innovative business thought leaders here.AK