A 28-year-old startup CEO named in Forbes 30 Under 30 explains how 'compassion culture' is good for business

Kiley Taslitz‘Compassion culture’ can create openness and foster productivity among employees, says James Shani, CEO of Madison+Vine.

James Shani is creating a new kind of workplace.

The 28-year old CEO of Madison+Vine, an LA-based startup which creates digital content for brands, was featured on the Forbes 2017 30 Under 30 List, three years after his Tesla ad went viral on social media.

Whether it’s intellectual freedom or flexible hours, something at Madison+Vine is working — the company launched two years ago, has grown to 20 employees, and has worked with clients including Gatorade, Pepsi, and Taco Bell.

Shani encourages a “compassion culture” at his company, which he described as an openness among employees to discuss any personal issues or problems they may be having, without fear of shaming or guilt.

“Everyone feels totally free and never feels hesitant to mention something they’re going through,” he told Business Insider, recalling a time when an employee had a medical emergency and had to leave the office, and his teammates “rallied behind him and said ‘I’ve got your back on this project, I’m taking ownership on it, let me know how I can help you,'” he recalled.

“That speaks to the openness and environment we’ve created, and that’s a big thing to have, and everyone feels OK and empowered to feel vulnerable,” said Shani. This, he believes, makes employees feel valued and motivates them to do their best work.

“For us, our culture is about finding new emerging millennial talent and really giving them autonomy and freedom,” Shani said. The company doesn’t necessarily have strict 9-5 office hours, but rather supports a “get the work done mentality, which inevitably allows the people and the culture to do their best work and be the most creative,” he continued.

“Work-life balance” may be coveted by Baby Boomers and Gen X, but Shani prefers the term “work-life integration.” “How do you fully integrate your whole life into the work that you do? It’s always going to be part of your life, but the other aspect of your life has to be great, too,” he explained.

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