What is Culture and Why You Need a Strong One

There surely isn’t one definition of culture, but I’ll posit one here so that we’re all on the same page as we chat. Culture is the “way” in which your company operates. It’s the way you treat your employees, customers, and vendors and more generally, the way you interact with the world around you. Operationally, this translates to everything from hiring and firing to how you take to pay your bills and whether or not you recycle.Surely, we won’t touch on every aspect of culture, as it applies to operations, but let’s be clear that culture really applies to everything.

A strong culture is both the seed and the fruit of a highly successful company. That is, by nurturing a strong culture, your company attracts employees, vendors, and customers that share your vision.These people (the “fruit”) will continually “seed” your company toward exponential growth.Through great culture, regardless of the product or service your company offers, you can drastically impact the world.Ben and Jerry’s, of course, makes ice cream, and while it’s super yummy, it in itself, is not what most of us think of when we think of “things that change the world.”But Ben and Jerry’s didn’t think of themselves as an ice cream company.The founders really didn’t care what they made, as long as they could build a successful business and use it as a vehicle for social change.Obviously, they weren’t short on financial success, either.

A strong culture is both the seed and the fruit of a highly successful company.

So, please, whether you make solar panels or rubberized dog poop, treat cancer or paint lines on the highway, know that you can make a giant difference in the world.While many of us know that culture is important, how to get there seems kind of abstract.I attended a panel discussion a while ago where several very successful entrepreneurs, and a few HR directors, said over and over that the most important thing about anyone you hire is “cultural fit”.Yet, no one was willing or able to define what culture is, what a “good” culture is, or how to know if someone would fit or not.Benefits of a Strong CultureOne of the most important aspects of a strong culture is that “problems” don’t seem to arise nearly as often and when they do, they often seem to sort themselves out, and if not, they don’t seem as daunting.

Imagine people wanting to follow you because they understand the vision of the company

Each company’s metric will be different, but as I see it, culture is difficult to measure, because it’s not the culture that really matters, it’s the way that you benefit that matters.A strong culture that withstands the test of time and weathers the many storms you’re bound to encounter.Imagine calling in an employee to your office and saying, “Hey, can you do me a favor.” or “Hey, I need you to do something.”Imagine them saying, “Absolutely, what do you need? How can I help you? What’s up, captain?”Imagine people wanting to follow you because they understand the vision of the company and have an innate sense that what they are doing, even if they don’t understand the meaning of what they are doing in the moment, is important and meaningful! Imagine being able to summon your entire team with a single request.Imagine what happens when people’s internal conflict shifts from having to stay at work to wanting to stay at work, without having to provide tangible “incentives”. Imagine what happens when your employees’ daydreams around work shift from that giant pile of work they have to do to creative, innovative ideas.

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