Select Page

Benefits and money are not culture

The keg, the lotto pool and other tokens of fun are simply the artifacts of your culture. So, what is culture?

I’ve thought long and hard about what culture means to me and our firm. Brian Chesky of AirBnB has a good definition of both what culture is, and why it is important in his seminal “Don’t Fuck Up The Culture” blog entry. Here is an excerpt from that piece:

“By upholding our core values in everything we do. Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to fuck up the culture. Each one of us has this opportunity, this burden.

Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap. Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.”

This quote has stuck with us at our company and has star-power here. Chesky talks about trust and the culture of families, this is particularly poignant if you think about the opposite scenario. Think about the child who is given no love, no support and no trust; this child will likely act out, display apathy and probably leave. How is it any different for your team? Culture is not something that magically appears, it is the sum total of leadership, support, team and most of all love. You have to LOVE your company, LOVE your team and LOVE what you work on everyday.