Omaha’s city lead, Valerie Rivera, shared her story for engineering an ideal workplace culture. Her mission to “Take Back Work” started in the Air Force. As Technical Sergeant she pitched the idea of a new job title to her command: Culture Consultant. In her new role, she improved operations and experiences by coaching leaders on the importance of intrinsic motivation and front-line feedback. She also started what would eventually become the branch-wide Spark Tank competition, a platform for any airman with a mind for innovation.

From Military to Entrepreneur

After leaving the Air Force, Val continued to develop her skills and inspire leaders through education, community organizations, and her successful startup. While pursuing her MBA at Stanford, she led discussions on the importance of workplace culture. She quickly recognized the value of having a community that understood both her service and her entrepreneurial ambition. Excited to create this experience for other vets, Valerie volunteered to help establish the Bunker Labs chapter in Nebraska. Omaha is also where runs her successful start-up, Take Back Work, helping leaders around the world use design thinking to create environments where people can thrive, and businesses can succeed.

Val offered expert advice on how to develop a unique and effective culture for your company while surviving life as an entrepreneur.

Building your workplace culture & surviving as an entrepreneur:

  1. Develop culture as early as possible. It will cost nothing, and it will help your business stay on track at every stage of growth.
  2. Establish your purpose and values. Define the characteristics that make your company exceptional, and the mission that drives you to do what you do.
  3. Build the right team. Look for employees who embrace your values and share your purpose.
  4. Be a magnanimous decision maker in your own life.  It is easy to get bogged down by the endless to-do list. Find time to shut off, and be with your friends and family. Val finds balance by “going hard” and then making time to vacation with her family.
Veteran Entrepreneur Valerie Rivera Take Back Work

Bunker Labs veteran entrepreneur “Narratives” tell the stories of people in the thick of their entrepreneurial journeys and the magic that happens at the intersection of business and humanity.

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