Enplug Interviews: Kay Koplovitz on Syfy’s Early Culture
Kay Koplovitz is a powerhouse. In addition to starting two well-known TV channels, USA Networks and Syfy, she is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Springboard Enterprises. Springboard is a national organization that fosters venture capital investments in women-led high growth companies. They’ve helped raise over $5.5 billion in new capital. For 16 years, she’s also sat as Chairman of the Board for Fifth & Pacific (formerly Liz Claiborne). Even in her busy schedule, she’ll also go out of her way to help you.
I met Kay on an 11-hour flight from San Francisco to London, where we both attended the G8 Innovation Summit. When you’re suspended 30,000 feet in the air, it somehow makes it easier to drive conversation. That was several years ago and we’ve stayed in touch. I reached back out to her recently, inviting her to contribute to our downloadable book on company culture.
Here are our favorite answers from her:
How did you determine what kind of company culture you wanted to build at the companies you started?
My first corporate post was the Communications Satellite Corporation , a company I really aspired to working for after I wrote my Master’s Thesis on Satellite Communications . There was one thing I observed while working there that didn’t meet my expectations and that was a propensity of executives to spend too much time in self- promotion, maneuvering to outplay others and going to too many 3-hour lunches. I was determined to have a different perspective on how people advanced in a company I started and made team work, collaboration and transparency a part of my value system. This is what I expected from employees and how I would judge their leadership . I trusted them. It worked, as I made my priorities clear before hiring them.
What were the most unique activities you did to grow company culture?
In order to grow this value system within the company, I made sure every employee knew they had value to the company and that their ideas and criticisms would be taken seriously. This was in keeping with the discussions I would have with senior staff before hiring them, and they knew it was part of their expectation to deliver the message and act upon it with their management teams
How did you know you had the right company culture?
You need to know what you truly believe and act upon it. Trust is a key factor, trusting others to fulfill the collective promise of the company values and operating tenets. Leaders need followers, and one of the best ways to have followers is to let them own the leadership vision. Each person can implement the vision in the way they need to achieve the results, but always in keeping with the commonly held values.
For more helpful tips directly from successful founders, check out our downloadable free eBook, Company Culture Cookbook: 33 Recipes for a Happy Team.
Liked this post? You’ll love the other articles in our Enplug Interviews series!
Enplug Interviews: Matt Hoffman on DigitalOcean’s People and Mission
Enplug Interviews: Erika Kavanaugh on DogVacay’s Company Culture
Enplug Interviews: Uri Levine on Waze’s Company DNA
Image credit: Inc.