Some years back as a part of a “Vistage” business owner’s group I am a part of, I was challenged to define our culture. I furrowed my brow and looked to the sky for inspiration, hmmmm…. What is culture? Are we born with it? Do we have a culture? How do we get some, and where does it come from? Is it just there? What does it cost? Who is in charge of it? Do we make it up? Does it evolve? Is it words? Is it a pledge?

It has been said that culture trumps everything, both in life and business, so I reasoned that if we didn’t have it, we had better get some. Here is my attempt at being helpful and not too salesy during this pandemic crisis.

There are some obvious answers to some of the culture questions. You are not born with it. Instead, it is developed through our parents, family, upbringing, and life experiences. I kind of set up my own exercise of observing who we are as a company and how we do things. I observe customers, suppliers, competitors, nurse daughters, my son-in-law the cop and my friends. If I have been lucky enough to work with you, then I have learned from you. It can be a challenge to attach meaningful words or phrases that help define your culture as a company.

Honesty; integrity; common sense; people before profit; build lasting value; build trust; provide personal service; personal responsibility; be reliable; have a servants heart; be willing to adapt; call out B.S. when you see it; use your practical farm experience and good work ethic; model the behavior you expect; have a can-do attitude and a strong desire to win; have passion for what you do; be a self-starter; be committed; be a good listener; be vulnerable; be grateful; walk the talk; deliver on promises; teamwork wins; make things personal because they are.

For gosh sakes, wash your hands, make your bed, be kind, and be on time.

Of course, you have to do the work, but we hire, fire and review based upon our culture. We use culture to influence our mission and you can find it in everything we make and do. We function better knowing what our culture is and it makes us a better company for knowing it. Our culture is who we are, and it will help us weather this COVID-19 crisis.

One can call it culture, guiding principles, or teamwork pledge if that seems more fitting, but join the club, get some, and install it right away.

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