Daniel Weinand on Interpersonal Relationships

2 Jul

Today we are so glad to welcome Daniel Weinand to our Sister Leadership blog; Daniel is Co-Founder, Chief Design Officer and Chief Culture Officer at Shopify. He was also part of that fascinating discussion on corporate culture at the latest Ottawa WXN talk. (Not to forget a talented, generous fellow who mixes his computer and programming knowledge with leadership and a love for photography and design.) Following the WXN discussion on corporate culture, we thought we’d ask him a few questions on interpersonal relationships.

Interpersonal relationships are the ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by intimacy and by giving and receiving affection. From the discussion last week, it seems clear that at Shopify there’s a back and forth exchange that values each individual’s perspective. So with no more delay, here are some very interesting responses and ideas from Daniel in terms of interpersonal relationships and working together well.

1.  What efforts do you put in to maintain healthy and effective relationships at work? How do you know when a working relationship is effective?

Being genuinely interested in the people around me. I don’t ask “how’s your weekend” as a set phrase. I really want to know. I take a fair bit of time every day to chat with people across all departments – doesn’t matter if they report to me or not.

At Shopify, we also have a system in place that we call “Unicorn”. It is a peer-based bonus system. Instead of managers saying who should get how much bonus we thought it makes more sense to have peers reward each other. The way it works is that each month a percentage of our revenue is being put into a pool of bonus money and then evenly divided amongst all employees. The catch is that you can spend your share only on your co-workers to acknowledge their achievements or simply to say ‘thanks’ for someone going out of their way to help you. This helped us create an even more collaborative environment where everyone at Shopify has a stake in helping each other.

There are articles explaining the system in greater detail here:





When there is a difficult situation – for instance someone has to sacrifice time for the greater good – you can measure someone’s reaction to gauge how effective the working relationship is.

2.   Tell us about a time when you had to put extra effort into maintaining a close relationship. What value did this relationship have in your life?

I am finding that the definition of a close relationship is that you’re willing to put in extra effort and that a close relationship is something of extraordinary value in my life. As a German – maybe that’s a stereotype, I don’t know – I have trouble being overly superficial and the relationships I build are often tight and I care deeply about all of them.

What I found more challenging is to maintain close relationships to the people I grew up with after moving to a different country. Remote relationships require both parties to be cool with periods of silence.


cararesourcesWe’d very much like to thank Daniel for his time in sharing his insights on interpersonal relationships. Ottawa is a fortunate city to welcome businesses like Shopify that value their employees so highly, and have such a great value system backing up those relationships. What a different sort of approach to giving bonuses in a business, no wonder there’s a spirit of supporting one another.

And now it’s time for the resource tool box to be opened. 🙂

Chances are, if you admire what you’ve read in today’s interview and the previous conversation on corporate culture, then you yourself are carrying the values needed to build strong interpersonal relationships. And we’re going to dig out those qualities right now.

Your first challenge:

Grab a piece of paper and pen, or open a document on your computer to take some notes. (Or whatever way of recording ideas you feel comfortable with.)

Got it set up? Excellent!


Identify three (or more) things that people seem to like about you. Remembering what is likeable about you will help you have confidence in interpersonal situations.

 And now:

Identify three people whom you like.


Identify what it is about each person that you like.

Think about how you meet and work with others, and look for those things that you tend to like in these other people. Make it an intellectual game for yourself to see if you can discover traits in these other people that you like but did not know that they had. Liking someone else increases the chances that they will like you back.

Now, look at these lists. Do you see anything matching up? Chances are the traits you like in others are going to somehow match the values and qualities you see in yourself. It’s so important to know your values when building relationships and culture within the workplace and within life.

If you are wondering what your values are, we have another exercise that will take you deeper, and you are very welcome to try. Just click here and follow the form. If you like, print it out and fill it in. 🙂

Any and all insights from Daniel’s conversation or the exercises are totally welcome. Shoot them our way, we’d love to hear from you.

Until next week!


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!

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