work journal

MJ Matute leads with empathy.

August 16, 2022

MJ Matute first came to Big Sky Resort on a J1 student visa from Lima, Peru. Now 15 years later, she’s helping create a more inclusive culture for the resort’s restaurants.

“Employee culture is how you feel when you walk in through the door,” Matute told me in. “Do you feel appreciated, cared for, and taken care of? It’s our job as managers to make decisions based on making people feel that way. What are we doing wrong that is making you not feel appreciated?”

MJ’s story is part of a series I pitched to my friends at the resort's marketing team, Stacie Mesuda and Shelby Thorlacius a year ago, focused on how resourceful, caring people are responding to challenges

Through people like MJ, banquet manager Stuart Fuke, and snowcat driver Ed Seth, we’ve surfaced barriers and limitations, and gained insight into what’s working, what’s not, and why.

This is a framework I learned from the Solutions Journalism Network and have found eminently applicable to business.

Stories don’t have to be a one-way information stream.

Right now, I’m using them (and the adjacent skills I’ve learned over 20+ years writing them) to help gather information, discover blind spots and risks, map systems, build culture, and cross-pollinate ideas.

Having written profiles for 20 years, there's also another pattern I love:

The experience of looking at your story through someone else's eyes sheds light on the value and impact of your work. As MJ told me:

"When I read your story, it makes me realize that the little changes and the baby steps I take are really worth it. My time here is worth it."

How do you use stories? What have you learned from someone else this week?

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