Your Culture is YOUR Brand

There’s a lot of talk about culture these days.

I am in the process of hiring and have been thinking a lot about it myself.  I am hoping to be able to effectively communicate our culture in a traditional boring job description.  I am not sure I will be successful.  Culture is hard to quantify.  But it is also one of those elements that can make or break a company.  So I pay attention to it, and I think you probably do too.

Culture is not the hierarchy, management and processes you create within your organization.  It’s not the employee appreciation program you put on annually or semi-annually.  It’s not the fact that a company has a position or a person whose job is to address employee morale.  It’s not even the training that goes into bettering a manager.  It’s not the owner.  It’s not the employees.  It’s not the products or services; it’s not the mission statement or the core values on the wall.

There’s a lot of “NOT” here.  I think you get the idea.

 a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business) -Merriam Webster (

Culture is pervasive.  It’s HOW you do things as an organization.  I know it’s a lot to think about, but you can probably identify and unpackage it by thinking about how you – and others – would describe your company.

Pick 3 words.

I am doing it for Carlson Integrated, too.  My three words are:  positive, strategic, creative.  I never made the cheerleading team, but I am determined to build a company that looks for the good.  We celebrate our clients, we encourage our team, we try to function in a world of gratitude.  I do get super wrapped up in other things and sometimes forget.  But our culture doesn’t rely on my availability or focus to happen.  It’s who WE are.  All of us.  Because it’s actually the way we think.

I can do it for clients, too.  When I think about Colette Rodon Hornof and her company, Vesta, I think of these words: knowledgeable, innovative, dedicated.  She and her team literally know EVERYTHING about modern interior design and apply that knowledge to phenomenal award-winning kitchen, bathroom and closet designs.  Moreover, they work really, really hard.  They take long, complicated projects from being a fleeting idea into a beautiful reality.  I see the fruit of her culture.

When you bring together a team of experienced professionals, they inevitably have multiple experiences with culture and can provide really great feedback into the environments that have worked – and not worked – in their experience.  Great jobs in horrible environments are not great jobs, after all.  The truth is that we all have the opportunity to create culture.  I’ve done it in organizations as well as companies.  Change can occur from the inside out, and from the bottom up to the top over time.  I think we make the mistake sometimes of thinking the culture is already baked and we have to take what we get.  Nothing is further from the truth.  If you are intentional about building a new and different culture, you can do it.  You start small with the people you touch inside the organization.  Then you invite more people into your way of thinking by living that way authentically.

There are difficult situations in every business.  A client being a pill, or a boss having a bad day and being hard on you, or a co-worker communicating poorly, are all a part of real life.  Glitter dragons and unicorns are perfect for tween daughters.  They’re not real, and they’re certainly not in business.  Culture is bigger than occasional negative circumstances, and that is important to remember.  It’s when the challenges are the rule rather than the exception and mindset overall has started to shift – toward negativity or being cutthroat or chronic worry – that it might be a good time to review the culture and think about building it in a more positive direction.

Working on my job description, my business coach David J.P. Fisher told me to do something I’d never heard before but makes a LOT of sense:  Define the ideal.  Not the real, and not the fantastical.  The ideal.  I’m going to attempt to explain our culture in such a manner that our eventual new hire knows how we want to think and to act at CI.  Together, we will continue building our culture.  And hey, if you or someone you know is interested in a part-time Project and Account Manager role, go ahead and send us an email and resume if you’ve got one.



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