After AirBnB closed out their Series C raising $200 million in a round led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, the AirBnB team invited Thiel to the office.
They took him into a conference room and had pulled up various metrics on the screen to show him how the company was doing.
Midway through the conversation, AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky asked Thiel what was the single most important piece of advice he had for us?
You’d think maybe it would be something about gross margins or network effects that you’d hear about in an MBA program. It wasn’t.
He replied, “Don’t fuck up the culture.”
This wasn’t what you might expect from someone who just wrote a $150M check. When asked to elaborate on this. He said one of the main reasons he invested in AirBnB was their culture.
Culture is a hard thing to value because it’s mostly invisible or illegible. It doesn’t show up on a balance sheet or exist in the physical world. As a result, many people tend to discount it or downplay it. The most successful investors and companies of all time beg to differ.
What is culture? Why does it matter? And how do you create a culture worth $150 million dollars?
Why is Company Culture Important
The Four Levels of Organization Framework is a way to think about what culture is and why it matters. Organizations exist at each of these levels: there are machines (or software) that performs “work,” humans aided by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), humans aided by expertise, and humans aided by culture.
Culture is at the bottom of the Four Levels because it is the foundation, the bedrock on which everything else is built. It is what is guiding every decision someone in the company makes when there is no defined process.
It is important because today’s one-off decisions ultimately determine the direction that the company is moving in and what processes become established.
Culture becomes Expertise which becomes Standard Operating Procedures and Automation. The decision to start a newsletter is, at first, a one-off decision. You have to decide what time to send out the newsletter, what sections to include, and the tone to write in to make sure it’s well received. Over time, this one-off decision develops inertia and becomes a SOP, a process that is done over and over.
So too with everything else in a business. The future trajectory of a business is merely the sum of all one-off decisions. While any single decision may not be particularly important, in aggregate, they are everything.
Your culture is a leading indicator of your business’s overall health. One-off decisions made for the first time today may not seem that important. But, they put a company onto a particular trajectory that compounds over time. As anyone that has worked at or with a large company knows, institutional inertia is very real and very hard to change.
Getting on the right trajectory initially won’t really make that much of a difference 10 weeks down the line. However, it will be by far the most important thing 10 years down the line.
The (likely apocryphal) Einstein quote applies as much to culture as anything else:
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”
If you have a culture of ownership where everyone gets 1% better at their job every week, it won’t really make a difference in the short run. But, if you have an organization that has been around for a decade where everyone is always getting better at their job, it is likely to be a category leader.
Culture can also compound in the wrong direction. Enron didn’t go from perfectly operated, squeaky clean accounting to massive fraud. It played out gradually over 5 years, the result of many seemingly small compromises.
In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse. It doesn’t impact you very much today. But, as time goes on, these compounds and you suddenly find a very big gap.
If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.
While fraud at Enron is an extreme example, all cultural habits in a business compound. Do people talk to customers regularly to understand their needs? Do people take ownership of their mistakes and propose solutions or push it off on someone else? Do people complete their work on time or communicate when they can’t? These are all cultural attributes of different cultures.
This is why culture is the foundation of the pyramid, it’s where everything starts and compounds up the pyramid.
What is Company Culture?
Culture is an emergent characteristic of a group determined by their behavior (or norms) for acting in their environments. We copy what we see others around us do and get rewarded for. We avoid copying what people around us do and get punished for.1
Groups of friends have a culture, families have a culture, and cities have a culture.
Cultural norms are rules of thumb for behaving in a social environment. Norms are typically “should” or “ought” statements about what is considered the right, appropriate, or the expected thing to do in a given situation.
If you walk around Tokyo or any city in Japan, everything is clean. There is little to no trash on the ground. Why? Because if anyone throws trash on the ground, they get sideways glances and bad stares. Humans are sensitive to this, it’s no fun to be socially ostracized and so we generally try to follow the norms of groups we are a part of.2
The same is true in groups of friends. In any given social group, certain things are “cool” and rewarded with higher status. Others are “not cool” and doing them results in lower status.3
In the context of a company, it’s the same mechanism. Culture is established by what gets rewarded and what gets punished. As people join the company, they observe how others behave and start to integrate with it.
There are many definitions of what constitutes a company culture. I think the best and simplest definition is this:
People that work here do things like this.
If something goes wrong, does the person that notices it take responsibility and propose a solution? Or do they try to deflect blame onto someone else and say “that’s not my job”?
If you want to know what the culture of a company is, you could have everyone on the team anonymously complete this fill-in-the-blank exercise.
People who do__________ here get raises, praise and promotions. People who do not do __________ get ignored, chastised, fired, or quit.
Many things become the culture of an organization even without leadership realizing it.
At Enron, I suspect most people would have filled out that statement with something like:
People who make huge sales even if they don’t follow on delivering what they promised get raises, praise and promotions. People who push back on sales for overpromising what was operationally feasible get ignored, chastised, fired, or quit.
Guess what happened to Enron? Over the course of a decade or so, it made a ton of huge sales that it recognized as top line revenue, failed to deliver on their commitments because they were unrealistic, and ultimately resorted to history’s largest fraud to cover it up.
This is how organisational culture works. Something underneath the surface (not explicit or visible to individual actors) quietly amplifies conformity and dampens outliers:pic.twitter.com/3AnW0DSjGY
— ɐnɥsoſ (@joshuajames) December 15, 2020
An extremely common failure pattern in organizations I’ve seen is people will fill out the exercise like this:
People who play politics and spend a lot of time making it look like they are working hard here get raises, praise and promotions. People who keep their head down and work hard but don’t make much noise about it get ignored or quit.
This failure pattern is particularly dangerous because it is a default pattern. No leader of a company sits down and says “I want to reward people who play politics and punish those who keep their head down and work hard.” However, if you don’t have clear processes and principles for hiring, performance reviews, and promotions, it is likely that this is the path your company will go down.
You’ll be busy dealing with everything else in the business. When someone who you think is doing good work comes and asks for a raise, you’ll give it to them. In your judgment, it seems like they’ve earned it, right? And, whatever, it’s a one-off decision, right? You can figure it out later.
The person keeping their head down and doing hard work won’t ever seem like an urgent problem. They’re not complaining and they seem to be doing good work. You’ll be occupied making the next sale, or building the next product, or raising the next round. And then that workhorse person will see that they are being ignored while the more political people are getting raises. They’ll become more and more demotivated and their work quality will deteriorate until you fire them or they’ll come in one day and hand in their resignation.
This is a culture that, over time, will slowly push all the hardworking and quiet people out and you’ll end up with a political organization where people spend a lot more time squabbling than working.
Culture is particularly challenging because people joining an organization will tend to bring in the culture attitudes that they’ve had at other companies. Unfortunately, most organizations (upwards of 99%) have dysfunctional company cultures. A meaningful subset of those is actively toxic cultures. That means that if you’re not very careful about who you hire and how they behave then you’re likely to end up with a dysfunctional culture.
Because culture compounds, it’s really important to think about these things early. Once you have an organization with dozens or hundreds of people that are very political, it’s hard (albeit possible) to change. Even if you hire someone great who keeps their head down and does good work, they’re likely to get ostracized and pushed out by everyone else.
This works the other way as well though. If you have a really strong culture and someone comes in with a bunch of toxic habits then that person will tend to get pushed out and ostracized.
After all, people who work here do things like this, and they won’t fit in.
What makes a good and functional (company) culture?
To say that a culture is functional is to say that it contributes to the reproduction of the environment in which it exists. A culture which leads to a self-implosion is not functional.
At the societal level, institutions are structured by the collective action problems that must be overcome. In order for society to produce sufficient food, provide security, and educate the young, people need to work together.
We have institutions that facilitate this – public schools, police forces, and regulatory agencies. These institutions are produced through socialization which shape individuals to be disposed to the roles specified by these institutions (i.e. to be a soldier, a laborer, a teacher, etc.). The term “culture” is used to refer to the symbolic elements of these institutions. 4
Culture compounds because it becomes institutionalized. A society in which teachers are held in high regard is likely to be one that develops strong institutions around education. Early decisions create a positive feedback loop: once a society has stronger educational institutions, those institutions will shape culture in a way that is likely to cause more people to want to be teachers. This creates stronger educational institutions in an ongoing way.
Institutions within an organization have a clear adaptive value: if people did not have a biological disposition to conform to rules and patterns of behavior, the rules would have to be constantly renegotiated at enormous cost to the stability of the company in question.
For a company, your organizational structure, SOPs, and who you hire all grow out of your culture. Managed well, this sets you on a good course indefinitely.
Managed poorly, you end up producing maladaptive institutions that impact the long-term health of the business and become incredibly hard to change.
A functional company culture is one where the culture creates institutional structure (e.g. reporting lines, SOPs, general principles) that cause team members to autonomously make decisions in a way that maximizes the long-term survival and value of the company.
Without someone looking over their shoulder, anyone on the team can make a decision that no one has ever made before in a way that is best for the company.
What are these cultural attributes? As Tolstoy famously said, “All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” a handful of traits seem to crop up with regularity in studies of the cultures of high-performing and adaptive companies. In his book Origin of Wealth, Eric Beinhocker surveyed the academic literature to identify 10 cultural attributes that seem to be associated with the best companies.
- Performance Orientation – Always do your best, go the extra mile, take initiative, and continuously improve yourself.
- Honesty – Be honest with others, be honest with yourself, be transparent and face reality.
- Meritocracy – Reward people on the basis of merit.
- Mutual Trust – Trust your colleagues’ motivation, and trust in their skills to get the job done.
- Reciprocity – Live the golden rule; do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Shared Purpose – Put the organization’s interests ahead of your own, and behave as if everyone is in it together.
- Nonhierarchical – Junior people are expected to challenge senior people, and what matters is the quality of an idea, not the title of the person saying it.
- Openness. Be curious, open to outside thinking, and willing to experiment; seek the best, wherever it is.
- Fact-based – Find out the facts; it is facts, not opinions, that ultimately count.
- Challenge – Feel a sense of competitive urgency; it is a race without a finish line.
This is not a perfect or a definitive list, but if your company has even a handful of these attributes, it is likely to be very successful.
Most companies fail to have any of these cultural attributes and getting these in place would be transformative.
I’ll talk a bit more below about how to ensure these foundational cultural attributes exist below. But it also gets to the next question: how can a company that already has these things in place differentiate and outcompete?
Which widely-held “Best Practices” does a company do the opposite of?
If you look at historical societies, you notice that a “fit” exists between the culture of a society and the demands that its institutional structures make.
A society that is under constant military threat is likely to develop a culture that celebrates martial virtues. If they don’t, they’re likely to be conquered and replaced by a society that does. That’s just what is required to survive in their environment. An egalitarian society will treat people that always play high status to others as a major personality flaw. An industrial society with highly regimented work schedules will prize punctuality and productivity, and so on.5
The same is true of company cultures. Beyond the table stakes level, a good culture is one that is optimized to the business model and competitive environment of the company. Amazon’s culture is famously “customer-centric.” This isn’t because they are particularly nice. It is because Amazon’s business model has a strong, positive feedback loop for making customers happy.
More customers mean lower fixed costs per unit sold for Amazon and more new third-party sellers. This in turn drives a bigger selection at lower prices which brings in more customers and starts the whole virtuous cycle over again.
The nature of the business means losing a little bit of money upfront to make it a good experience is worth it for Amazon’s long-term value. So having a culture where people at all levels err on the side of providing a good customer experience was not done out of generosity, but a strategic business choice.
A business in a declining industry with small margins and a low number of repeat customers will require a different culture of dealing with customers to survive. A customer service representative there might have to be polite but firm about enforcing their stricter return policy.
Businesses and business ecosystems are not wildly different from biological ones. Like the ten traits listed above, there are essential things that pretty much all plants need: carbon dioxide, water, nutrients, and energy from sunlight to grow and reproduce. Every plant must have these basics in place to survive.
But then there are specific adaptations of plants to their environment.
Some plants thrive in a rainy climate with lots of shade, like moss. Others thrive in dry climates with lots of sun, like a cactus. Both have the same basic processes in place, but they’ve also evolved specific structures that make them better adapted to their environment.
There is no meaningful way in which we can say moss is “superior” to cactuses or vice versa. Each has attributes that are optimized to its specific environment.
No plant can survive in all environments because it will ultimately be outcompeted by another plant that is more effectively adapted to a specific environment.
Like a plant, a culture must be willing to make tradeoffs to survive and thrive. There is no such thing as a universally good company culture. A culture is functional only in relation to the business landscape in which it operates.
Peter Thiel said it this way:
A robust company culture is one in which people have something in common that distinguishes them quite sharply from the rest of the world. If everybody likes ice cream, that probably doesn’t matter. If the core people share a relevant and unique philosophy about something important, you’re onto something.
Picture a 1-dimensional axis from consultant-nihilism to cultish dogmatism. You want to be somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.6
A good company culture should have beliefs that seem normal inside that company, but weird almost everywhere else.
A good rule of thumb around what makes a cultural principle effective is that it has an antithesis that could also be valid in another company. You could state the opposite of each principle, and it could be argued that it’s a valid principle used for a different company.
Enron’s stated cultural values were “Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence.” These are effectively meaningless because no company could plausibly hold the opposite values.
One of Facebook’s principles for a long time was “move fast and break things.” This has the potential to be a good principle, because there are many businesses where the opposite is true. A nuclear power plant company’s motto would probably be the opposite. More like “move as slow as you need to quadruple check that nothing is going to break and then still check it one more time just in case.”
These phrases reflect the tradeoffs they would need to make to adapt to their different business models and industry environments. Facebook was racing to build a network effect of a social media application. Moving quickly to ship new features that made their network effect stronger made the business much more durable in the long run and the cost was relatively low. If your Facebook crashed for an hour, that’s annoying but not devastating.
A nuclear power plant on the other hand isn’t racing to build a network effect and the cost of the nuclear power plant having a “bug” is potentially catastrophic.
These two cultural principles are diametrically opposed to one another, but each is optimized to its specific environment.
Facebook’s move fast and break things approach was repeated and copied by many other startups. However, what makes it useful is that it isn’t a universally helpful good principle. What is missed is the context dependence of this phrase and how it was specifically optimized for Facebook’s business model and market positioning at the time.
These cultural principles or norms will, over time, develop into internal structures or institutions. A company that prioritizes safety like a nuclear power plant is likely to evolve institutional structures like a safety review board that meets every month to evaluate and ensure safety standards are being followed and robust checklists for everyone at the factory.
A company that really prioritizes having fun might develop an internal party planning committee, but that’s not necessarily useful for another company.
A good way to come up with cultural principles is to think about hard decisions that you or other people have made in the company, and ask why they were made that way then codify that.
Wherever you are in your company’s lifecycle, it’s worth writing these down. Writing it down forces you to be clear about what you are doing and what is actually going on. It forces you to think through the trajectory that the organization is on early and make changes.7
Writing them down is great, but what matters most is whether the day-to-day behavior of people actually reflects those cultural principles.
How to improve company culture
Culture is created through visible costly actions, not Powerpoint slides or culture documents.8
Enron’s cultural document said “Respect and Integrity.” At the same time, ne of their most prominent executives, Lou Pai, was notorious for going out and spending tons of money at strip clubs in Houston.
Do you think the type of people that ended up working at Enron were people that liked to go to strip clubs or people that had high levels of respect and integrity?
It doesn’t matter what you say your culture is, it matters what visible and costly signals people at the company are making.
At the time it used “move fast and break things” as a cultural principle, Facebook was also known to have their engineering hires push code live on their very first day. This was a risky and costly thing to do. They weren’t very familiar with the software and so the chance of something going wrong was pretty high. However, doing this and rewarding them for it even if there was a bug clearly signaled to them that it really was ok to break things as long as you were moving quickly and getting things done.
Bad managers use primarily words to communicate cultural values. Words are cheap, and their effect is limited. Good managers use words but back them up with actions. The costlier the action, the stronger its effect towards getting those values internalized.
Interestingly, there seems to be a correlation between company success and the CEO’s ability and willingness to do individual contributor-level work well past the point at which it makes economic sense.
Bill Gates said in 1997 that he’d last written code that shipped in 1989 when Microsoft was doing $800m in annual revenue. There’s no way that whatever code he was writing couldn’t have been written by someone else when the company was valued at billions of dollars. However, the fact that he was still shipping code at that stage sends a strong cultural message about the importance of developers and software at Microsoft.
Microsoft really wanted to incentive developers as part of their culture. As with Amazon’s customer service, this wasn’t a benevolent impulse. Microsoft built platforms like Windows that needed Third-party developers to build apps on top of them to make them more valuable. Encouraging developers was a very strategic choice for Microsoft.
Three years later in 2000, then CEO Steve Balmer nearly gave himself an aneurysm yelling “developers, developers, developers.”
In 2020, Jeff Bezos said he still read customer complaints sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and forwarded them to the appropriate parties. This was, in opportunity cost terms, a massive waste of Bezos’s time. But given that Amazon’s entire model is strongly influenced by being customer-centric, it’s a visible and costly signal to everyone else in the company that being responsive to customers really is important.9
If the CEO visits the factory every week for 20 years and every time they “waste” 30 minutes putting on safety gear then the cost is ultimately very high. This sends a strong message to everyone in the company that wearing safety equipment is important.
Bezos’ signal of responding to customer emails is particularly impactful because he has been doing it ever since Amazon started (or at least claims he has).
Bad leaders think “other people in the company should have to do this, but I shouldn’t because it’s a waste of my time.” They say “Yes, it’s important to follow safety procedures, but it isn’t the best use of my time.”
This is a framing problem. Like Bezos responding to customer emails, the value is not in the actual work output, it’s that it is a visible costly signal of company priorities. The value of the leader’s time is not just writing the code, responding to the email or making an SOP – it is that doing those things and being transparent about them helps to create a culture and set of norms so that other people will do those things. If it helps to create that cultural value, then these sorts of seemingly useless actions are not a waste, they are one of the most valuable things a leader does.
In non-business cultures, this gets called “rituals.” Though we don’t think of businesses as having rituals, they absolutely do.
The time Bezos spent responding to email or the CEO spends putting on the safety equipment is effectively a “ritual sacrifice” – akin to buying a diamond ring for the person you are proposing to. It’s believable precisely because it’s extremely costly.
These visible costly actions from a company’s leadership are important because most effective cultural principles typically represent short-term costs but long-term gains.
“Move fast and break things” means more bugs get shipped live into production and create bad experiences for users. “Safety” means that workers must spend time putting on their Personal Protective Equipment and respecting safety procedures which means less time on the production line.
Employees will often hesitate to embrace cultural values because they are worried about being punished for generating costs before the returns arrive. “Sure, they say to ‘move fast and break things’ but if I push this code live with a bug in it then won’t my manager yell at me?”
Where the costs of practicing cultural values take place in the short term, its returns only materialize in the long term. Amazon’s focus on being customer-centric made it look like a low-margin business for a long time. It was only over the longer term that the value of this focus became obvious to most people outside Amazon.
This is why cultural change typically starts at the top of the organization and trickles down. When management starts visibly spending more time and resources on something then the individuals that report to them will see that visible, costly signal and imitate it.
Reed Hastings of Netflix started taking vacations not because he wanted to necessarily but he realized that everyone was trying to keep up with him, burning out and leaving the company. Even though his preference was to keep working, taking time off was a costly signal to the rest of the company that it’s ok to take a vacation every now and then and recharge.
So while it probably negatively impacted Reed’s productivity, it positively impacted the productivity of the organization as a whole.
Good managers know that one of the reasons employees do not adhere to cultural principles is because they are fearful of potential punishments for not having been productive in the short term. Therefore, good managers personally take visible actions incurring these costs, to show that they are truly worth paying and that everyone is expected to do so.
Some other examples of things companies have done to establish culture:
- Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) charges its employees $10 per minute if they’re late at meetings with entrepreneurs (their “customers”).
- During the first months of life of the retail giant, when cash was a constraint, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the employees used to work on desks made of a wooden door horizontally placed over two stands.The practice of using doors as desks continued for several years, even as cash became more available. Why? So that, when a new employee would join the company and ask why he is supposed to work at a desk made with a door, his manager could reply something along the lines of, “Here at Amazon we look for every possible way to keep costs low and offer our customers the best price.”
- Industrial conglomerate DuPont banned its employees from using their phone while driving. This is another costly signal: these employees, especially sales managers, could have used the phone to call customers or colleagues during long time-wasting journeys. Instead, the company would rather have them doing nothing rather than risk their safety.10
How to Change or Shape a Company Culture
Making cultural changes takes time. So how exactly do you emphasize cultural principles?
The biggest thing is making them visible somewhere and then constantly behaving in accordance with them. There’s no clear to-do manual for this, it’s something that any leader or manager needs to be constantly aware of.
Here are some specific ideas to get you started:
- Have a section in weekly meetings to call out things that are cultural values to make them visible. For a team at Amazon, this might mean giving team members a time to call out anyone else on the team that went over their way to provide customer service. By recognizing this person in front of everyone else, you are effectively raising their status and indicating to others to emulate them.
- Use performance reviews to clearly communicate standards and give raises and promotions as appropriate. When you tell someone they got a promotion and a raise because they took extra care dealing with customers, then they are likely to do more of it and to tell colleagues that is what got them a raise.
- Use performance reviews to solicit feedback about the company and your performance as a manager. Some question I like to ask:
- Please describe in detail (at least a paragraph) what you believe your job/role is.
- What should we at the head of this organization know about your work?
- What do you want to tell me regarding this organization?
- Where do you see opportunities we do not exploit?
- Where do you see dangers to which we are still blind?
- All together, what do you want to know from me about the organization?
There’s no clear to-do manual for this, it’s something that any leader or manager needs to be constantly aware of and looking for opportunities to demonstrate through visible, costly actions.
Start Small, Go Big
Changing a culture is hard. Norms already exist and going against those norms is awkward for people.
This is why it is usually best to start with a small portion of the company and let it slowly spread to the rest of the company.
If you are trying to instill the cultural value of documenting processes, don’t make a big company wide announcement and then expect everyone to do it. Start with one department of a few people and spend a few months getting everything there up to the standard you expect from the rest of the company.
They will see how it is valuable and helps them do their jobs better. Other people in the organization will start to see the same and it will be easier to get them on board. The people in the first department will interact with other people and start to demand those same standards and institutions be put in place in other departments.
Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
Perhaps the best line on the importance of culture is Peter Drucker’s famous line “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
It encapsulates the idea that what matters is the visible costly actions and how those are viewed. It doesn’t matter what you say your strategy or cultural principles are on a whiteboard or presentation. What matters is how that strategy is realized through cultural norms that are lived day to day.
When these cultural norms create an institutional structure and cause team members to autonomously make decisions in a way that maximizes the long-term value of the company, you will create a self-reinforcing and positive company trajectory.
Last Updated on May 23, 2022 by Taylor Pearson
- See Rene Girard’s mimetic theory.
- There’s a clear evolutionary rationale for this: if you are part of a small group and depend on other members for survival as homo sapiens and their ape-like ancestors did for millions of years, then an unwillingness to follow shared norms ultimately meant ostracism and death. Because this norm is hardwired, it matters.
- Many people like to think that they don’t play status games with their friends. But, every movement, every inflection of the voice implies a status. When your friend compliments you and you make a self-deprecating comment in response, that’s a status game. They’ve raised your status. By making a self-deprecating remark, you’re showing you don’t think you are better than them by making a comment that lowers your status. Indeed, acquaintances become friends when they agree to play status games together with the goal of each being the same status. For more, see Keith Johnstone’s wonderful book Impro.
- This book review of sci-fi author Iain Banks is an insightful look at the nature of culture.
- Francis Fukuyama is probably the pre-eminent researcher on this at the societal level. See his book The Origins of Political Order.
- Real culture is not to be confused with what I call ”culture theater” where you do all the things that externally look like culture but are meaningless. Having a foosball table in the break room and comfy couches does not really say anything about your culture one way or another. Company culture is whatever you reward people for doing in practice.
- H/t to Luca Dellana’s excellent book Best Practices for Operational Excellence for this framing. If you liked this post, you should probably read it.
- See Byrne Hobart’s post Just One Thing or Every Single Thing?
- Most of these are from Luca Dellana’s book Best Practices for Operational Excellence as are various other ideas in this section. I highly recommend it.