Why Carlyle Group’s Culture Is the Basis of Good Building and Investing

Billionaire buy and hold investor Ron Baron says he invests in people, not companies.

Longtime employees attest to this. No matter who an employee was or what his or her position was within the organization they say you could hear Rubenstein’s (and fellow Carlyle co-founder Daniel D’Aniello’s) long-term philosophy in their investment discussions. Little reminders of the company’s long-term philosophy are also sprinkled in all of the offices around the world.

“We want to remind employees that they’re all in this together.” stressed Rubenstein. From visual reminders like the chotskies on employees’ desks to posters in the lunchrooms. One longtime employee told me this “reminds us [what] we stand for.” I have been told it brings employees who visit the various offices around the world a nice source of comfort and camaraderie.

The firm emphasizes the culture by awarding one employee in the world each year with a “One Carlyle” award. I have been told it is considered the highest honor that can be bestowed on an employee. And even outside the office, their culture and values influence discussions. At the Baron Investment conference in November 2013, Glenn Youngkin, COO of Carlyle, discussed culture and business etiquette off camera. He said, “We have two rules—always return your calls and walk people to the elevator.” The Carlyle team makes a mental note of those rules when other companies they are looking to invest in don’t have such common courtesies. In the end, it can influence if Carlyle takes the plunge or not.

In the classic rule of threes, Rubenstein hits on the three essential pieces he personally lives by and has woven into the Carlyle fabric:

  • A person’s greatest asset is his or her reputation.
  • Skills of communicating well, through written or spoken means, are rarer than they should be; therefore, spending time on trying to communicate well will usually help with the achievement of desired goals.
  • Little can be attained by one person; a team is needed for real success and accomplishment.

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