Ask the DP Pro – John Brix

Q What are the Initial Steps you recommend for Creating a Company Culture of Safety?

A By John Brix

“You are a used car salesman…” the words echoed from my mentor’s mouth, as we sat down sipping bitter, burnt coffee. My mentor offered this advice to me when I took my new role in the police service’s training unit and asked him how to be a great instructor. I wanted to reach the level of his professional teaching ability because he was a major factor in my personal growth, not only giving me a foundation to base my knowledge from, but it changed me, changed my entire class and ultimately cultivated a culture.

“You see, cultural change is a used car… half of your students will just want to drive the car. They don’t care about what model it is, what year it is or what engine it has. They just want to drive the car off the lot. You have another 30% that need to be convinced why this is a good used car, they need some coaching and guidance but in essence, very little work needs to be done with this group. If the majority from this group buy in, they will accept the used car.

“Now, the last 20%, they don’t want your used car. You need to sell them the car and to do this you need to know who they are, what they want and what their background is. This group will take the most effort and time but when you convince them that this is the used car they want to buy, they may become your greatest advocates for your used car. You just need to be a good used car salesman.”

Fifteen years later, I have moved into the occupational safety industry and have accelerated my career by using this philosophy to help radically and positively transform culture.

Here are a set of philosophies that I use to create a successful cultural change.

PHILOSOPHY #1 – Pink Cow: In a field of cows there is nothing new or extraordinary. No reason for people to stop, to talk about this field of cows or for them to want to share their experience. Now, put a pink cow in that field, people will stop, they will talk about it and share your message for you. Whenever you are moving forward to communicate a message, remember that you need to be a conceptualizer to stand out and create an innovative product. You need a pink cow.

PHILOSOPHY #2 – Make it Me Mail: You need to cultivate your communication style to build these connections and relationships. Your message needs to be changed for each group, showing how this message relates to them, how it affects them in a positive manner and why it is important to them. If it’s not about them, you are not communicating properly.

PHILOSOPHY #3 – Watch your Language: This pitfall must be avoided. “Corporate Talk” is not the appropriate language we need for field level or supervisory personnel. Each one will need a specific language spoken to match their subculture and we need to adjust our message continually to ensure we are communicating properly.

PHILOSOPHY #4 – Create Otakus: Otaku is a Japanese word for a person or group with an obsessive interest. By creating Otakus, you will have these people sell your “used car” for you. I didn’t purchase my first iPhone because I did a lot of research and then made the step forward. I was sold the iPhone by a fellow coworker, an Apple Otaku, and his relentless day in and day out obsessing convinced me to buy that product.

PHILOSOPHY #5 – Anyone can Present: Creating a message that anyone can present to their group of peers is very important because it allows for high value actions and results. If you are planning on being the sole deliverer, the activator of change, you will find that you cannot get the job done alone.


Before getting into the gas and oil industry, John Brix was a police officer for a major metropolitan city for over 13 years. During that time, he gained training and instructor certification from the FBI and various other institutions. He has created a set of instructional philosophies which increases the efficiency of your safety program, reduces the cost of safety programs, increases the learning potential of workers, and cultivates a culture that is productive, innovative and adaptive. He can be reached at



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