The Path to True Belonging with Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis at the CultureLab Podcast

Belonging – it’s a concept that hits close to home for each and every one of us. Feeling accepted for who we are, finding our place in the world, and being seen and heard – it’s what we all crave. But there’s more to belonging than meets the eye. As I delved into the concept of belonging during my research, I uncovered a deeper truth:

To belong, we don’t only need to feel like we are being embraced for who we are today but also for who we aspire to become in the future.

Traditionally, social acceptance was granted as long as you played by the rules. Knew your place, stayed in your lane, didn’t kick up too much fuss.

The message was clear:

Don’t aim too high or step out of line, and you’ll be one of us.

But what happens when people dare to dream bigger? What if their aspirations don’t fit in the box they’ve been put in?

This is where the notion of belonging gets really juicy.

True belonging isn’t about stifling your potential to maintain the status quo. It’s not about making yourself smaller to fit in. It’s about being embraced not only for who you are right now but also for who you dare to become.

That means if you’re in a group where you’re given the side-eye for having different aspirations or aiming higher, then you’re not experiencing belonging. You’re experiencing conformity.

I wanted to explore the notion of belonging with someone who is equally committed to help leaders make their hybrid or remote teams work better by creating a culture of belonging and this is why I invited Lorne Rubis to the show.

In our chat, we dive into Lorne’s project – the Belongify System – a tool he and his team designed. You’ll hear about what Lorne thinks are the important parts of Belongify and get some ideas for how to try them out with your own team.

Episode highlights
  • The 5 elements of the Belongify system:
    1. Connect: “The power of connecting before content” is the idea of checking in with each other before we dig into the work. Connecting is about knowing each others’ stories and seeing the human being behind the job title.
    2. Contribute: It’s about providing an opportunity for your people to contribute, learn from mistakes and create a learning environment. It requires authenticity, vulnerability, and the freedom to challenge the status quo.
    3. Clarify: This is about creating clarity of purpose because working on the same mission and understanding that they are all part of the journey liberates and empowers people.
    4. Differentiate: Being the same can be limiting, embracing our uniqueness and becoming difference-makers unleashes people’s potential.
    5. Advance: It’s about relentless improvement and holding each other accountable for making progress and achieving extraordinary results.
  • Campfire conversations: Powerful connection lies in the simple act of bringing people together, asking meaningful questions, and giving everyone a chance to share without judgment or feedback.
  • Psychological Safety: In environments with psychological safety, individuals feel free to share ideas, make mistakes, and learn from them. This fosters a culture of learning. Building psychological safety requires refraining from judgement and encouraging open and authentic interactions.
  • Leadership: Great leaders create an environment where people can experience the impact of their contributions.
  • Onboarding: Welcoming the new people that join the team in the right way is a powerful driver of belonging.
  • Off-boarding: Like any other important transition or “a moment that matters,” off-boarding can be a great opportunity to cultivate a sense of belonging.

“The more that we get into connecting and having people understand the relationship between precisely what they do and the purpose of the organisation, the more the work is considered to be meaningful, even indispensable.”

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

More about Lorne

Lorne Rubis has more than 40 years of culture, leadership and transformation experience in various C Suite roles at organizations throughout North America and Europe. He currently advises CEOs from start-ups to well established, large corporations in both the private and public sector. He also recently co-founded Belongify ( to focus on the evolution from inclusion to belonging in organizations. Lorne held the positions of Chief Evangelist and Chief People Officer with ATB Financial and was instrumental in advancing ATB’s culture, to where it became widely recognized as one of the top companies to work for in North America (In 2019 #1 Great Place to Work in Canada).

Lorne has held executive positions driving culture and business transformation for a number of companies in the United States, including as an officer of a Fortune 50 company and as Vice President, Operations with the Los Angeles Kings. He has been the CEO of two privately held international companies, is a sought after thought leader, speaker, and cultural strategist. Lorne is a published author (The Character Triangle) and was awarded the 2018 Ivey School of Business/HRD Magazine Canadian Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the Human Resource community and advancing the workplace in Canada. In 2020 the HRD Magazine included Lorne in their Global 100 list of top HR Leaders.

Lorne is a retired FortisAlberta Board of Directors member and served from 2019-2023. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and an invited mentor at The Unreasonable Group. Lorne has also been recognized in the World’s Top 30 Culture Professionals for 2021 and 2022. Lorne holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta and a Master of Science in Industrial and Labour Relations from the University of Oregon. He teaches courses on Culture and HR strategy at the U of Alberta EMBA program and at Harvard’s School of Extension. You can learn more about him at and he is currently active on all social media.

Lorne and his wife/partner spend most of their time on their family vineyard in British Columbia, Canada.

People mentioned in this episode

Amy Edmonson

Timothy Clark

Brenée Brown

Companies mentioned in this episode



Books mentioned in this episode

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Masters of Scale by Reed Hoffman

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Heart of Business by Hubert Joly

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Additional resources

CultureBrained® Community – a one-of-a-kind virtual community for Heads of Culture, founders, and leaders who want to up their culture game.

The Culture Playbook Guide.

Discover Your Personal Values.

Latest episode of Daniel Coyle at the CultureLab podcast- The Culture Playbook

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