This article is excerpted from a letter by MOI Global instructor Michael Shearn, portfolio manager of Compound Money Fund, LP.

Sometimes the best questions are the hardest to answer. I was having lunch recently with a friend who works in the investment business. We started talking about one of my favorite topics: the benefits of investing in businesses with highly engaged employees. Ever the contrarian, my friend started listing successful businesses that do not meet my criteria for a great culture and yet are undeniably customer oriented – companies like Danaher, Colfax, and Middleby. Their cultures are often described as ruthless. Middleby, which is probably best known as the owner of high-end kitchen brands like Viking, is a highly decentralized business that relies on financial incentives to motivate its employees.

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