Let's Rethink "Culture"

Welcome to this week’s Snow Report:

There’s a lot of talk about “culture wars” these days. And anyone who works for a company (or runs one) is bound to be hearing a lot about “culture” as well.

In either context, there’s an important principle when it comes to culture that I think we shouldn’t forget. I made a little chart to explain:

The thing that makes culture wonderful is it’s made up of different people with different things to contribute. That’s what made the USA awesome in the first place: all of these different people from different parts of the world, making a risky journey and combining under one shared sense of purpose and identity to become something cooler than the sum of their parts.

So when we talk about culture today, why do we say, “You’re in or you’re out?” Perhaps it’s because we forgot what culture is. Perhaps it’s because we’ve spent so much time becoming little cults and punching other cults in the face, rather than hashing ideas out like ladies and gentlemen—and realizing our differences are what make things interesting.

I come from a big family (7 kids!). Now that we’re all grown ups, we have branched out to different cities and careers and ideas. Some of us go to church. Some of us are hippies. Some of us have tattoos. Last election we voted for 3 different candidates. And the best part: we’re still family. We can be goofballs without being shunned. We can all come home for Thanksgiving and share stories and debate and still feel the love. That’s culture, and I’m grateful for that.

Anyone who’s seen Hamilton (or who knew the story before) knows that the great compromise between Thomas and Alexander wasn’t easy. Nobody left that room perfectly happy. But nobody told anyone to STFU. And this bought us a couple hundred years of relative stability.

So next time a debate fires up—in our companies or countries, with our friends or our families—let’s stop and ask: does culture have to be a war? What if we made it a potluck instead?

From Mexico with love,

Shane

P.S. Liked this one? Consider buying a hardcover of my upcoming book about working together better (and also about pirates and rappers and detectives) as a thank you! <3