Create a Positive Company Culture with Founder of Thirst and Dottie’s Kolaches, Sierra McCleve

Sep 14, 2022


Serial entrepreneur Sierra McCleve, founder of two successful Utah-based food businesses, Thirst and Dottie’s Kolaches shares on the Creative Counsel Podcast how created a positive team culture in the challenging food industry. She shares her wisdom as a baker, manager, owner, mom, wife, garage gym fitness enthusiast and now investor in other projects. Sierra talks about how radical ownership can transform your role as a founder and CEO and help create a positive customer experience – even in a business with lots of moving parts and people. 

Creative Counsel Episode: 73

In this episode we discuss: 

  • How to decide if a business model is viable
  • When to pay attention to competition and when to ignore it
  • The secret to good customer experiences
  • The real role of an owner/manager
  • What to do when stuff goes wrong in your business
  • How to create positive company culture
  • Why owning everything in your business is actually liberating
  • How to forecast in the food business
  • How to make your team feel valued
  • How to make your check-ins and meetings more effective 
  • Creating and nurturing superfans
  • Sierra’s top 2 business book recommendations


“Create value and just find that thing that people need, that people want – and then try to figure out how to solve that need.”

“One of our mottos is employee satisfaction is number one. And we believe that it will translate to the customer experience, customer satisfaction, and even quality of products.”

One thing that I’ve learned that’s very painful, but also very liberating – everything is your fault. 

When you have ownership, you have control over it, whereas if it’s someone else’s fault, I have no control over that person.”

“I tell my team – as a owner, I work for every single one of you. And my job is to get you the tools and the education you need to do your job super well. So, let’s not get it confused with the traditional business management pyramid. I think that gives managers and employees the ability to more quickly come to you with problems and issues that are going to be solved much quicker as opposed to keeping them quiet because they’re worried they’ll get in trouble.”

“Over communicate on appreciation.”

“If you can’t step away from your business for a day or for an afternoon, you need to work on your systems so you can trust that your people are going to get it done.”

“On Conflict and risk management: Be a good human, be honest, take ownership of your mistakes and treat your people well.”

“You have to get buy-in from every single person at every level of your company. So, I would say be deliberate about it. Consider nicknames and retreats and just stuff like that – make people feel valued. Be really liberal with your praise and, limit your criticism, but deliver it in a way that’s going to be uplifting 

“Do not be audacious enough to think that everyone is there to serve you.” 


Sierra’s Favorite Tools for connecting with team members: 






Jocko, Willink, Extreme Ownership. 


Other episodes:

Creative Counsel episode 54: HOW TO BUILD A BUSINESS FOR THE LIFE YOU WANT WITH EMYTH VP TRICIA HUEBNER – how to find your “primary aim”


Brand Protection:

Interested in securing and protecting your own brand name? Chat with Brittany about whether you are ready for a federal trademark registration to protect your brand assets.


Team Protection:

If you are trying to build a positive team culture, make sure you have clear expectations for your contractors and employees! Independent contractors or 1099ers need to have a solid independent contractor agreement and employees should have an employee agreement, an employees handbook, and other HR compliant systems like payroll, Unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensations. 


Connect with Sierra

Her Instagram

Her Podcast: Make a Dent




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