S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group.
After a 15-year executive career leading and managing successful business teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies.
Over the years Chris has presented to clients in industries including automotive, banking and financial services, government, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, non-profit, pharmaceutical, retail, sales, software, and technology.
Under Chris’ guidance, culture clients have consistently boosted their customer satisfaction and employee engagement rates by 40 percent or more and their profits by 35 percent or more.
Chris has delivered over 5,000 presentations to rave reviews. He’s one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference.
He received his master’s degree from the University of San Francisco in Human Resource and Organizational Development, and is an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Business.
Chris is an accomplished musician and performer. He provides guitars, banjo, mandolin and vocals for Graystone Records recording artist, the Jones & Raine band. Two singles from the band’s 2009 debut album made the Billboard country charts.
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Chris’ Story In His Own Words
“Let me tell you a little about myself and why you should listen to me regarding organizational culture.
“Forty years ago I joined the workforce. I’ve had a lot of jobs – many in the YMCA. I’ve had some good bosses, but a lot of lousy bosses, too.
“One of my lousy bosses made grand promises – to staff members, to volunteers, to customers; yet he kept few of his commitments. I learned his word was not trustworthy.
“Another lousy boss was skilled at pointing out my mistakes and failures; yet he was quiet when I exceeded expectations and moved the organization forward. I learned to insulate myself from his presence because all I heard from him was disappointment.
“My worst boss asked me to lie. My YMCA branch team and I worked our butts off to raise $25,000, which was double what they had ever raised before. But at the campaign’s closing dinner, with 300 people in attendance, my boss told me to get up in front of everyone and tell them we had raised, not $25,000, but $30,000. I refused, and announced the real total. He wasn’t happy. I didn’t care – and left that job as quickly as I could.
“Again, I’ve had a handful of good bosses – but it took one GREAT boss to really open my eyes to the power of organizational culture.
“I met Jerry Nutter early in my YMCA management experience while he was facilitating a week-long career development session.
“During that week, he held us to high standards, praised progress, and called us on ￼our crap. He set up clear ground rules for how we’d work together and he held us accountable. I felt supported and couldn’t wait to get to each morning’s session.
“At the end of that week I told Jerry, ‘I am going to work for you someday.’ He replied, ‘Thanks for the warning, kid!’
“It took me a couple of years to find a job working for him, but it was worth the wait. Being on Jerry’s team, day in and day out, was exactly like the experience in that week long program. I LOVED coming to work.
“Eventually, Jerry handed me the project of a lifetime. He wanted me to take the ideas he used to build his team culture, and teach them to the YMCAs in the country’s roughest neighborhoods.
“I went to Ys in South/ Central LA, San Diego, and San Francisco; places that had heavy teen gang presence. Some of the kids in these gangs were drug users. Others were into prostitution, robbery, even murder.
“It was our job to make the Y a compelling enough place so that teens would leave their life of crime and violence.
“We created a strategy built upon what teenagers want: a sense of belonging, cool activities, and meaningful contribution. These same wants explain why kids are attracted to gangs.
“Slowly, our ideas on creating a better culture started taking hold. YMCAs began seeing teenagers return to their programs and buildings.
“Some of the kids became Y-camp counselors, bus drivers, and camp directors. Others became YMCA program directors, and a few went on to become YMCA executives.
“I remember one kid in particular. He told us he had been a member of a street gang. But he was intrigued about cool stuff happening at his YMCA, so he joined the California Youth & Government program. In Youth & Government, he learned parliamentary procedure, wrote bills, and served as a legislator in the actual Capitol facilities.
“His finest moment was standing on the floor of the Assembly in a borrowed suit, passionately presenting his bill to his peers in the youth legislature. He was articulate, inspiring, confident – and immensely proud when his bill passed the house.
“Jerry Nutter taught me how powerful culture is – great ones and lousy ones – to drive performance and values-alignment (or not).
“I was so transformed by my experiences with Jerry that I wanted to expand those ideas out as far as I could. I figured, if having a more values-aligned culture could turn around gang members, perhaps it could work in other places.
“Over twenty years ago I started teaching these same principles in corporations, helping bosses be great and helping organizations be inspiring places to work.”
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