Rethink Culture

“I think that culture has always been there […] There are two fish swimming in a pond, and a bigger fish swims past them and says, “How's the water?”. And when he swims away, the fish look at each other and say, “What's water?” […] Culture is always there. It's always around you. You can feel it, but you don't even realize you're in it.”

S01E11 of the Rethink Culture podcast shines the spotlight on Miren Oca, the visionary behind the Ocaquatics swim school in Miami, a business whose primary customers are its own employees and for whom culture is the real competitive advantage.

Listen to find out:
- How Miren founded Ocaquatics when her life took an unexpected turn at 19.
- How growing up in a restaurant shaped Miren’s commitment to customer service and her passion to teach people
- What makes Ocaquatics' hiring process unique, and Miren’s worst firing mistake
- Why Ocaquatics is not a family but a high performance sports team
- The Leadership Ocademy, providing leadership skills like meditation, financial literacy, and soft skills like emotional literacy.
- Why it’s important to really be intentional about the kind of culture that you want
- What steps Ocaquatics took to attain their B Corp Certification, failing first before succeeding
- How Miren and her team turned a one-star Google review into a wealth of five-star feedback while having lots of fun
- The long term commitment to culture: “we want to have such a great business that you would want your children to work with us”

Further references:
- Miren Oca on LinkedIn:
- Ocaquatics:

Books referenced:
- "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh:
- "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber:
- "Integrity" by Henry Cloud:
- "Atomic Habits" by James Clear:
- "The Infinite Game" by Simon Sinek:

Creators & Guests

Miren Oca

What is Rethink Culture?

Rethink Culture is the podcast that shines the spotlight on the leaders who are rethinking workplace culture. Virtually all of the business leaders who make headlines today do so because of their company performance. Yet, the people and the culture of a company is at least as important as its performance. It's time that we shine the spotlight on the leaders who are rethinking workplace culture and are putting people and culture at the forefront.

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. Welcome to Rethink Culture, the podcast that

shines the spotlight on business leaders who are rethinking workplace culture.

My name is Andreas Konstantinou and I'm your host and I'm also chairman and founder at SlashData.

I am an accidental micromanager who turned servant leader and over the years developed

a personal passion for workplace culture. If you have any thoughts you'd like to share on

a personal passion for workplace culture. If you have any thoughts you'd like to share on

the podcast or have a guest we should definitely bring on the show, please let me know by


Today I have the pleasure of inviting a friend and

maybe I would say co-student because we've been studying at a course together who's Miren Oca

and Miren is the founder and CEO of Ocaquatics in Miami, South Florida and she's been running

that business for nearly 30 years and it teaches 6,000 swimming lessons a week and besides that

culture is a very big story and a passion for both Miren and the team and she's going to tell

us lots about it. Miren, welcome to the Rethink Culture podcast.

Well thank you, it's a pleasure to be here. This is going to be fun.

So let's start with what is Ocaquatics and how on earth

did you decide to start a swimming school?

Well Ocaquatics is a locally owned, you know,

I'm the owner and it's a community involved business in Miami. We teach swimming lessons

to mostly children but we also teach to some adults and we have this really amazing culture

of team and we have this really great, just this really great environment and vibe and our families

choose, I think they really do choose to come swim with us because of the amazing people that

work with us. So we do teach, you know, between 6,000 and 6,500 swimming lessons per week.

We did that last week and we have 175 team members. 55 of those are full-time and the

We did that last week and we have 175 team members. 55 of those are full-time and the

rest are part-time college and high school students and so we have a tremendous, we have a

lot of people and we have a really great group of people, you know. We really do, I think the

culture that we've built and the fact that we're a certified B Corporation, we really do attract

people who want to work in an environment with a strong culture that is really focused on

community and planet and saving lives because we really do, the work that we do, we save lives, so.

And how did you decide to start the business?

Okay, so I actually was in college and I was

teaching swimming lessons in high school and college and I was a college student getting

my degree in biochemistry and I wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon. I knew what I wanted. I had

my whole life planned out and at the age of 19, I got pregnant in college. So I decided to take a

little break from school and I moved back to Miami and because my family was here and I kept teaching

swimming lessons and because, and it was what I knew how to do and I really did need to provide

for my little growing family and then I decided I would go back to school later and I would go back

to med school later. But as I kept teaching, you know, it just, I really, I was always in love with

teaching swimming, but I realized that I could make a living doing it and I started hiring people

and they were helping and, you know, my passion really was teaching the children to be safer

around the water, but then later it kind of evolved into teaching the teachers and teaching the people

that we were working with and so I think that the more I did it, the more it grew, the more people I

could hire and it just, it really became this really great opportunity to keep hiring people

and I really, it's just grown and grown and grown and in February, we're celebrating 30 years, so

it's been quite a journey and quite a ride.

And how much of teaching is the technical side of

swimming? So it is a technical sport, but how much of it is how to deal with people and team and service?

So it's interesting, you know, our youngest student is six months old, so we start very, very early,

very young and the majority of our students are beginner swimmers under the age of, I would say,

eight. You know, our average age is probably three or four and so we teach a lot of children

and we teach, it's a lot of child psychology, it's, I'm not hiring people who are superstar swimmers

to teach, I'm hiring people who are superstar people. They have great character, they have great

attitude, they work well with children, they have great positive, just great vibes about them

and that's, they might not know how to swim well and so we will hire somebody who's a really great

positive person over a really great swimmer because I can teach swimming, I can teach them

how to swim, but I can't teach them how to be really great and happy and positive and warm

and wonderful. So we really are focused on bringing in really great, happy, positive people

and they do the magic.

So someone comes at Ocaquatics and says, I want to work here and

how do you know if that is the right person?

Well, we actually have several steps in the

interview process. Our first interview, you know, we have a phone interview and we just kind of

screen them and talk to them a little bit, get to know them, but then we bring them in and we

actually do a surf interview where they get in the water with us and we get to see how they

interact with children and how they like being in an aquatic environment and we just, you know,

they learn a lot about us when they're there and we get to learn a lot about them while they're

there. They meet with some of the managers and then they meet with me and I do, you know, I ask

all sorts of questions, but really it's, we have them come in for several different interviews

because we want them to see the environment, we want them to see the children around, we want

them to see everything because we want them to make a good decision also. It's a good spot for

them because, you know, we are totally different than any other, I didn't, I'm doing an orientation

this afternoon and in orientation I will say, you know, driving to Ocaquatics, they probably pass

10 places that would give them a job immediately. As soon as they applied, they would get the job.

We are different because we make a difference and because we, you know, we really are looking for

people who want to have a very caring heart and want to work with children and want to make them

safer around the water, but also want to work with their team members and want to have this really

great environment.

And when did you become this conscious about the fact that you're creating

culture and not just swim lessons? When did culture become consciously important?

I think that culture has always been there. It's, I was telling you a story earlier about, you know,

there are two fish swimming in a pond and a bigger fish swims past them and says, how's the water?

And when he swims away, the fish look at each other and say, what's water? You know, culture

is always there. It's always around you. You can feel it, but you just, you don't even realize

you're in it. And so I think I've always had a culture. It's always been there, but I think I

became very intentional about the kind of culture I wanted to have in my business in 2008. And that's

when I ran across Tony Hsieh's book, Delivering Happiness, you know, the Zappos story, and I

actually visited Zappos. I've been a couple of times since then. But then I realized that it's

really important to actually be intentional about the kind of culture that you want. And so we

started putting some systems in place because that's what it is. It's about, you know, kind of

putting it down and documenting it and deciding, being very, very purposeful and very intentional

putting it down and documenting it and deciding, being very, very purposeful and very intentional

about the kind of environment and the kind of culture that you want. So I think I started in

1994. And so from 94 to 2008, it was always there. Everybody has a culture, you know,

everybody has one, but I was very, very intentional after 2008.

And even before that, was there a childhood experience or an influential

mentor or parent that shaped how you see culture today?

Well, I grew up. So I grew up in Louisiana. I was born in Louisiana, and my parents were

immigrants. My father was from Spain and my mother's from Cuba. And they moved to the United

States and they opened restaurants. They met in Louisiana and they opened restaurants together.

And I think, you know, being in the restaurant business, it's all about hospitality. It's all

about, they were very high-end restaurants and it was all about exceptional service and taking

care of the customer, like taking supreme care of the customer. And so I think that

became part of who I was, you know, that was a big part of, it's what you did.

And so then when I opened my own business, we really did focus on the customer. We really did

want to provide a great experience for them. But over the years, I think I've evolved in that we

still want to provide a great experience for our customers, but we've evolved in that our primary

customer is no longer just the swimmer. Our primary customer is our team member.

We want to provide the best experience possible for our team members. And then our team members

turn around and provide the very best experience for our families. Does that make sense? You know,

it's one of those things where the environment I grew up in, we were focused on the customer

and that was all. And now we're really focused on the team and on our employees. We call them

team members. And then by default, they take really great care of our swimmers and our families

and our, you know, of the community. So, so our team members, our primary customer.

It reminds me of Arnie's from Arnie Malham of “take care of your people and they will take care of your business.”

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, and I think it's a, you know, from the container store,

maybe a Kip Tindell quote or something like that as well. So I think there is something to that.

And I think it's really important to consider that.

Before we talk more about Ocaquatics and the culture there, I wanted to

do this little game of two truths and one lie with you and try and guess

what is the truth and what are the, what's the lie and what are the truths?

So what is two truths and one lie about you?

Okay. So two truths and one lie.

So I have a, I, well, I did go back to school and I have a

degree in business from the university of Miami. My first job was at the age of, well,

at the age of 10 working in our family business in the restaurant. And

I started teaching swimming lessons at a very, very young age before I would ever hire somebody

to teach swimming lessons now. So, and I was actually hired by the YMCA in Louisiana at the age of 14.

So, okay. So the three facts are you finished school. Yes. You finished

the university. With a degree in business. Yeah. And then you started your restaurant job at 10

and your swimming lessons at 14. Did you say? Yes. Okay.

If I would place a bet, I would place it on not finishing school. Let's see. We'll get to it to the

end. Okay. So back to, back to Ocaquatics, you shared some fun stories earlier. So I asked you,

is Ocaquatics like a family? And you said, no, and very consciously so. So why, why is it not like a family?

We are a team. We're like a high performance sports team. So we actually,

you know, a lot of people go instantly to, it's a family, but you can't choose your family members.

And we are highly selective of who we allow onto our team. And our, you know, that's why we have

such a long interview process. It's why we do an orientation. It's why we do all these different

things, because we really want to bring people onto the team who are great team players, team

players is one of our core values. And we want people who are going to work as hard as we do

and play as hard as we do, and also be as purpose-driven and as focused on the community

and the environment as we are. So, and that's, that's hard. You know, our selection process is

pretty, pretty, pretty dynamic. Like we really do a lot of steps in it because we want to make

sure we're bringing the right people onto our, our team. And I think it shows our team is really

amazing. And we have an amazing group of people and they have helped grow this business.

You know, more than I ever could have imagined. So I'm super proud of our team.

What are some of the things that affected how you think about team and culture today? So

one of the things I wanted to ask you about is B Corp certification. I know you talk a lot about

it on the website and there's pictures with like a furry animal and a B Corp and a dolphin and the,

so it's not furry. It's the entire team around the B Corp logo. So you, so you, you look like,

you know, it's something important for you. Yeah. So can you tell us a little more about B Corp,

but really what has it meant for the business to be more conscious, more?

Sure. Yeah. Yeah. I love talking about B Corp certification. So B Corp certification,

it's a third party verification and it is, it's like, you know, fair trade for coffee or for

chocolate. It's like a lead certification for a building, but a B Corp certification is for

businesses. And it is, you're certified by B Lab, which B Lab is a nonprofit in the United States.

But now actually there are, there's a system of it in South America, there are B Corporation

offices all over the world. And actually I think there are probably 6,500 B Corps in the, on the

planet. And half of them are outside of the United States, more than half are outside of the United

States. So it's an, it's a global certification and it really shows that a business is focused

not just on shareholder profit. It's not just driven by the amount of money maximizing that

shareholder return, but it's focused on a triple bottom line. So it's people taking care of their

people, taking care of the planet and taking care of profit as well so that you can have a sustainable

business. And it's, you know, it's just this wonderful certification because it's, it goes

through all of your stakeholders, community, your workers, your environment, governance. And

one more, let's see, I've forgotten one, but it just evaluates the business on all those different

areas. And you can get a possible score of 200 and you have to get an 80 to get certified. So 40%

shows that it's pretty difficult to get. And the first time we took the certification was in 2018

and we scored a 50 or just like a 51. And that really showed me that we had work to do. You know,

we had work to do. We really needed to get some structure in place, some systems in place.

We wanted to improve the way we were showing up for the world, for our community, for our team

members. And finally, we did, you know, get over the 80 threshold. We did get certified

in September of 2022. We're recording this in August of 2023, so we're almost at our year.

And it's just been really a great opportunity for us to show the world that we really are working

hard at, you know, at what we preach, at what we talk about. We were the first certified B Corp

on the planet Earth, our swim school, the first certified swim school planet, you know, planet.

And since then, two others have become certified. And we really do want to help other businesses to

become more environmentally and socially responsible because we think business is an

incredible, is so powerful and can do so much for so many. It's not just about, you know,

that bottom line of profit. It's about what you can do for the world.

Do you encourage a sense of ownership or how do you encourage a sense of ownership among

staff, among team members?

So it's so interesting that you say ownership, because that is really, really important to it,

to us. We talk about an ownership mentality. We have five different locations. We have teams

at the five locations and we want people to own it. We talk about it, own it. You know, it's about,

um, you're given responsibility, right? You know, we give them responsibility,

but they take ownership. And we talk about that a lot in terms of this is their building. They,

when they wear an Ocaquatics t-shirt or a sweatshirt, um, at school or in the community,

and someone talks to them about it, we want them to feel really, really proud.

And because of that, we need to make sure that we are just working as hard as we do.

But also, um, showing up for the team. So we don't have any individual superstars

at Ocaquatics. Everything that you do is for the benefit of the team.

And we have said, you know, we might have one superstar who's an amazing teacher and they are

an amazing, um, they know how to do really great swimming lessons, but they're not

a great team player. And we will let them go because they need to, they need to find a job

where they can be the superstar because at Ocaquatics Swim School, the team is the superstar

because they own, you know, the environment, they own the culture. They really work hard for that.

So it sounds super fluffy and super squishy, but that's really what it's all about at Ocaquatics.

We are really, really, um, that's important to us.

I'd love to hear more about the details.

And you were telling me earlier, you spend, um, a lot of time on personal development,

or at least you've thought a lot about personal development. You have this,

I think it's called Ocademy?

The Leadership Ocademy, the Ocademy. So yes. Um, you know,

and that is something that we are growing our people, uh, or we're create, you know,

and let me rephrase that. We're creating an environment for them to grow in. They,

they actually have to make the decision to say, I I'm here and I want to grow.

Um, and not everybody does, but the majority of them do take part in, you know, we provide like

from the very beginning, we provide, um, like the Calm app. I don't know if you know, it's an app,

a meditation app. So we provide that for all of our team members. Um, we have access to SmartDollar

which is a, you know, not to promote SmartDollar, but to promote any financial

responsibility tool. So it's something that teaches fiscal literacy and it teaches team

members how to budget and how to, um, be able to use their savings and how to not use credit cards

and how to different things like that. So, um, we do, um, Leadership Lunch and Learns once a month

and we do them on unconscious bias or emotional intelligence. Um, we do them on having difficult

conversations and they're all, they're soft skills and they're soft skills of leadership that

are really, really important and they're really hard. So we do, you know, the lunch and learns

we do are not on how to teach a better backstroke. They're on how to work with others, how to work

with others who are maybe different than you. So we have a lot of those. And the first four

months of the year, we actually have a manager and training program where we have a weekly lunch and

learn. And then throughout the entire rest of the year, we have monthly sessions. So, um, we really do

believe on all of this, the, the sessions that we do with our team help them in their job, but more than

that help them in their lives. So that's really, really important. And that's where the personal

development is, but also leadership development, and we want them to grow with us. So if they're

learning all these skills, they're going to become better leaders too.

You also mentioned to me earlier about leading by example and recognizing mistakes

and how you have a different term for mistakes, right?

Well, a couple of things from there is

we, we, one of our guiding principles is model the behavior you want to see.

So, you know, we talk about that a lot, but we did some work with Garry Ridge, you know,

from WD-40, and he did a presentation to our team and he calls it learning moments. You don't have

mistakes, you have learning moments. And that's what they call them at WD-40. We call them learning

lessons. So, you know, it's how you learn. If we make a mistake, we want people to own it and not try to pass

on the mistake to somebody else or not to, not to make excuses and not to, you know, again, not make

excuses. We would rather somebody say, I messed up. I'm sorry. This is how I'm going to fix it.

I'll do better next time. That's great. That's what we want because they've learned. They've

learned from that. So yes, learning, learning lessons are really, really important to us.

I don't like the word mistakes. It's just not part of our vocabulary. So.

Yeah, I recently read a different definition on instead of feedback, feed forward, which

basically redirects the intention for the action, not to what happened, which is how we usually see

mistakes, but how are you going to improve a future behavior? So it sounds like similar intent.

Yes, absolutely.

And then you said that service is something you're passionate about

And then you said that service is something you're passionate about

in Ocaquatics and you shared with me a story earlier about how you share or have customers

rate your, rate your firm. Okay. Do you want to share that?

Sure. Sure. So our culture is about service and relationships and team. Those are like the three

big words that we focus on. And service to us is taking care of people, taking care of the

customers, taking care of our primary customer, because we believe in servant leadership. So we

do take care of our team members and then they turn around and take care of our, our families.

So yes, we actually, at the beginning of the year, the end of last year, we got a one-star

review on Google and it was from somebody who doesn't even swim with us. They just made a

comment about us and gave us a one-star and we thought, well, we can fight this or we can just

get so many five-star reviews that we kind of push it down to the bottom. And so we went to

our team and we said, Hey, for every location, we have five locations, for every location who gets

10 five-star reviews, you will get free lunch on the weekends. And these are college kids.

And they're like, who doesn't want free lunch on the weekends? You know, when they come to

their shift, when they come to work, well, the campaign was quite successful and we received

over a thousand five-star reviews in the first six months of the year. We actually got 852 in

the first four months in that semester because our team they just go above and beyond anyway.

And they provide this really great service. Like they walk our families, I'm in Miami where it

rains quite a bit. And if it's raining, they will walk you to your car with an umbrella

because the mothers are holding a baby and a backpack, or the fathers are pushing the

stroller and we take umbrellas to keep them dry. So we do all sorts of above and beyond

things like that. And so when somebody would say, wow, this is amazing. Thank you so much.

Our team member would respond. Would you mind writing us a review? And so that's how we were

able to get a thousand reviews in six months. It really did push that one star down because I think

we have an average rating of five stars on all five locations. It's really amazing. You know,

it's a reflection of our team and our families just write the most, the most amazing reviews

and they call out people by name and it's really amazing. So yes. And we do like games. You know,

I do have a younger team, so we like that. And that was a game. It was a competition. It was fun.

And fun is a huge part of our culture. It's just a huge part of our swimming lessons,

but also our team member environment as well.

Reminds me how I started my journey

in paying attention to culture, which is we had a one star on Glassdoor and it was an employee

I had just fired, but really mishandled that fire. I should have done it very differently.

And so I deserved that one star. But then that got me into a journey of being very intentful about

culture. Not just about increasing our Glassdoor score, but also because I fundamentally believe

in taking care of the people and not just of looking after performance, which is why,

you know, this podcast exists.

That was a learning lesson. It wasn't a mistake. It was

something that, you know, I mean, Andreas, I'm super embarrassed to tell the story,

but like the first person I ever parted ways with, the first person I ever terminated,

I thought, oh my gosh, you know, it was horrible. It was just, he wasn't a bad person,

but I told him at the beginning of the day, Hey, today's your last day. I said,

then he had to work another five hours with me. You know, that was just the wrong way to do it.

And I, uh, we just learn, we, we have it's feed forward. What you said earlier,

we just have to learn from these, these experiences and just get better over time.

So we are works in progress.

We all are. We are perfect in our imperfections.

Absolutely. Which is why I love this Japanese art of Kintsugi, if I'm pronouncing it correctly,

which is, um, taking a cracked porcelain and filling the cracks with gold, which makes it

a work of art, um, you know, even better than the original. Absolutely.

So back to Ocaquatics and culture, uh, you also talk about conscious capitalism

and you're a member of the, uh, that network. I think there's a conscious capitalism leader network.

Um, what does it mean to you and how has it impacted how you think about culture and business?

So, you know, you and I have met through entrepreneurs organization, EO, and we're

part of a peer group. We're also part of, uh, uh, an education opportunity. Uh, and so

conscious capitalism is also, it's very, very similarly structured to EO in that it is, um,

a peer group and I love peer learning, you know, I think, and peer experience share. I think

we learn so much from the experiences of others and the group that is in conscious capitalism.

Um, you know, I read it, this was a group conscious capitalism. It was started.

I don't know how long ago, but by Raj Sisodia and by, um, John Mackey from Whole Foods,

the founder of Whole Foods or the co-founder of Whole Foods. And it's about bringing people

together who want to use business as a force for good. And again, it's not just about shareholder

return. It's about doing so much more for others and taking care of the people and taking care of

the community and the environment. So, um, when I, when I joined that organization, it really helped

to find that peer group and experience share with other entrepreneurs who were very purpose-driven

like-minded and who had a lot of the similar views that I did. And I, it's been really great.

I love it. I love going to their summit every year. And it's actually in October

and it has really helped me to, um, you know, we all know that entrepreneurship can be kind

of lonely sometimes. And I think this has really helped me find a good group of people to work with

much like EO, this one conscious capitalism is also really great group, really great organization.

So for anybody who's very purpose-driven values aligned, um, I think it's an amazing organization.

Do you have, um, thinking about the Ocaquatics culture,

do you have your team members who let's say recently joined, come back and say, well,

I now understand what's different about Ocaquatics. Have you had like

beginner experiences or testimonials of staff that come and describe how they see the world?

Of that, you know, their, their work life.

Well, you know, I I'm doing orientation this afternoon. And one of the things we talk about

is we have a lot of boomerangs on our team, meaning they work with us while they're in

high school or college, they leave us, they go off into the world, get their college degrees,

get their real jobs. I'm putting that in air quotes. And then they come back to us because

and then they come back to us because they say, Oh my gosh, the world is a different place. Like

I, you know, I didn't realize everybody wasn't like this. And our goal is that a hundred percent

of our team members come back to us as boomerangs, either as future team members, they want to come

back and work with us or future, uh, parents in our swim school or bringing their neighbor's

children to swimming lessons or their cousins or their, you know, because we want them to have

had such a great experience working at Ocaquatics that we want them to come back to us,

you know, in some way, you know, um, and when we want them to become evangelists out there talking

about the experience they had as a team member, but also, um, the opportunity for children to

learn how this life-saving skill. So, um, so I think that the people we work with,

some of them tend to be, it's their first job. A lot of them, it's their first job.

And so when they work with us, they think, well, everybody's like this,

you know? And so we hear more stories when they leave. I actually heard from a team member

yesterday. I got a text message. He hasn't worked for us in 10 years, but he texted just to talk

about something he was doing at work and how it reminded him of Ocaquatics, you know,

and he's a financial planner now, but it's just so funny. We hear, we hear from our team members so much.

And now that you'll be well soon, uh, in six months celebrating the 30 year

anniversary, what do you think you'll be very proud of? Like looking at the legacy you've created?

Oh, um, I, you know, I am incredibly, incredibly proud of, I mean, I'm proud of so much. I really,

I never would have imagined ever 30 years ago that this is where the business would grow to.

I love our community involvement. Uh, I love the environmental, uh, responsibility

programs that we have. I love everything, but it's the team that makes it happen. I love my team. I'm

so incredibly proud of my team. Um, we have people who have been around for 10, 12, 15 years,

and they've watched the organization grow as well. And, you know, it's just an amazing

evolution, you know, because of where we started and how we've grown here and all that we've been

able to do. All the children we've been able to make safer around the water is huge. We do

life-saving work. But in addition to that, we also do community cleanups and beach cleanups.

We go to the zoo and help clean out pins and build cages and do all sorts of things.

We make contributions, um, to gifts for the planet. We have a gifts for the planet program where

when our team members have a birthday. So if one of them is turning 20 years old,

we donate $20 in their honor to an environmental, um, nonprofit. Um, so we have all of these

different just initiatives that we've done. We built a community garden we've, and it's kind of,

you know, that, that expression that now I look at it and it's like, wow, look at everything we've

done, but overnight success takes a very long time. I think it was Steve Jobs who said that

it's taken so long to get here. And it's just been on the relentless pursuit of let's do more.

Let's do more. Let's do more. But what more can we do? And, um, I'm super proud of it all,

but there's no way I would have been able to do it without this amazing, wonderful, cool, fun

team that we have. Um, they're really, they're really amazing. So you have to visit one day,

so I can introduce them.

We as leaders are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yeah.

So if you could, um,

whisper to the ears of leaders who are less intentional about culture

and help them see what they're missing, what would you tell them?

What do they need to rethink about culture?

Um, uh, you know, culture is an opportunity.

It is such an opportunity to be able to add to the business that you have, to be able to add

to the lives that you're impacting, the people you're hiring, the people that you're serving.

Um, but it, it is just such an amazing opportunity to be able to add this layer. Cause not everybody

is intentional about their culture. So I think if organizations suddenly say, you know, we need to

do some more work around our culture. I think it's an opportunity. It's, I think, frankly,

it's our competitive advantage. I think there are a lot of different organizations that teach

swimming lessons in my area. And I think culture is our competitive advantage. So I think there

are a lot of people out there who could gain something by, um, starting some culture initiatives

and really being intentional and being purposeful and thinking on what kind of culture they would

like to have. It doesn't have to be like ours. It has to be the way they want their organization to

be and how they want their culture to be. So. And we talk a lot about customers, but every customer

be and how they want their culture to be. So. And we talk a lot about customers, but every customer

is usually an employee at someone else's business. And we forget how, um, how to be,

to lead, help our customers, sorry, our staff lead fulfilling lives and not just,

you know, have satisfied customers. Well, you know, it's interesting because everyone we work

with, we kind of, sometimes we just get in that mode of thinking of our team members and our

customers is just that transaction. And really every customer, whether it's a team member or

a customer is somebody else's, you know, child or somebody else's grandparent or somebody else's,

you know, and, and how would, how, if they were our family member, how would we want them treated?

You know? So we always say that we want to have such a great business that you would want your

children to work with us, you know, and, um, we, we joke with our, with our customers, our swimmers

all the time, you know, Oh, we're, we're building this place so that your children will be able to

work here one day, you know, and it's just creating that place where it is a community.

We want that community so that people feel like it's just a warm, a really warm spot in Miami.

Um, so we are in Miami and Miami is not known for having exquisite customer service.

Um, it's kind of a bunch of different cultures, you know, people from different countries thrown

in traffic's crazy. It's hot. Um, it's just a really impatient. Um, I don't want to say the

word culture because we've used it so much in this, but it is, that's the way it is in Miami.

And we really want to make Miami different. We are, people walk into our, our business sometimes

and say, what is going on? Why is everybody so happy here? And that's a win. That's what we want.

So we're, we're always working towards that.

Like, uh, it reminds me like, uh, sorry,

that's my, that's my dog in the background. Um, Gene Browne in a previous episode said that one

of his values is treat your customers like you'd like a business to treat your parents,

which I really loved. It's so like, um, meaningful, right? Absolutely. You're right.

That's a very good way to put it.

So, as we wrap Miren, um, I have two more

questions for you. So you have a ton of books behind you in your library. Is there one or two

that you think more people should be reading or listening to? Um, so I have a ton of books. I mean,

I have bookshelves in front of me, behind me on the side of me at work everywhere. Um, you know,

there's that expression that leaders are readers. And I think there's some truth to that, but more

than that, I think leaders are learners. And so I think you can learn so much from books.

I love books. I listen to audio books as well, but you can also learn so much from podcasts

like this podcast. Um, you can learn from mentors, you can learn from peer groups.

So I, I, you know, I hate to sometimes just say you have to read this book because people,

if they're not readers, they, they turn off. And I think that you can learn so much from,

from groups and from other people. So, um, now I do love books. So, you know, the first book

that I read that really transformed my business, which is not maybe now it's from 30 years

ago was the E-myth, the E-myth revisited by Michael Gerber, because it really showed me

how to set systems in place for my business. And then, you know, but now, you know, I've read

Integrity by Henry Cloud, which is one of my favorites I've read. I mean, there are just so

many I could name, but now I really love Atomic Habits by James Clear, really, really great.

I read it every year and I give it away a lot to my team members. And then probably one of my

all-time favorites is, um, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. And it's because, you know,

I've been doing this 30 years, you know, and, and there's no winning in business. And I think that

that's what this book is about is it's a game and it keeps going and you want to keep going.

And I was telling you earlier that one of my favorite at the prologue, right at the beginning,

he starts with, you know, you're in a race and there's a fork in the road and one side,

one way says victory and the other says fulfillment. And I'm on the road of fulfillment,

you know, and that doesn't end. You just keep going and you keep making it better. And you,

you just keep, again, we're working some progress because we can always do better.

We can always do more. We can always just find new opportunities. So,

so I'm really excited about that one.

And finally, do you want to tell us about what

of the three facts was a truth and what was a lie?

So I do not have a business degree from the university of Miami, but I actually did go

back. I finished my degree. I got it in biology. So I, cause I really thought I was going to go

back to medical school. And I thought I was just going to wait until my son was a little older.

He's 31 now. Um, I thought I'll go back when he's three or four and I never went to med school. I

did this and it's been the best thing that's ever happened to me. So the day I found out I was

pregnant, I probably was not the most grateful person on the planet, but now I realize it was

the best thing that could have ever happened to me because I got my amazing son, Ian. And it also

changed the trajectory of my life in that it put me on this path of running the swim school,

owning the swim school, and just doing so much more than I ever thought I could do.

Yeah, every challenge I firmly believe it's one of my values. Every challenge is an opportunity

and we might not see it now. In fact, we should try and see it like, uh, the pandemic was an

opportunity for a lot of things, self-reflection, spending time with ourselves, cutting down on

things we don't really need to do, uh, reconnecting with friends and so on. Um, so

it's up to us to see the challenge as an opportunity and, and make the most of it.

Absolutely. And COVID was hard, you know, and it was, it was sad because people did lose loved ones

and, and it was tough. You know, we were closed for three months, but at the end of it, we have

made, um, changes and we did get better and we did grow stronger, but we did it because

we were together. We had a really great team. I could not have pulled through COVID without my

team. So yeah, again, that culture of team really important.

So I'm waiting for the,

I'll be waiting for the pictures from your 30th year anniversary. Absolutely. I'm sure it will be

an amazing party and very, very well deserved. Miren, it's been a pleasure, uh, learning from

your love for people and team and giving your soul and your heart to, um, building not a family,

but something that is as strong as a family, even if you get to choose everyone who's part of it.

Right. Um, and, uh, and keep leading.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you for the time today. This was fun.